News Roundup for May 2, 2018

May 2, 2018

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J Street in the News

John Kerry tweets defense of Iran nuclear deal, CNN

“‘Every detail PM Netanyahu presented yesterday was every reason the world came together to apply years of sanctions and negotiate the Iran nuclear agreement – because the threat was real and had to be stopped. It’s working!’ Kerry wrote Tuesday. ‘That’s why Israeli security experts are speaking out,’ said Kerry, referring to an open letter signed by former Israeli officials and published by the liberal-leaning advocacy group J Street as evidence of Israeli security experts speaking out.”

U.S. Jewish Groups Denounce Abbas’ Speech, Accusing Him of anti-Semitism, Haaretz

“The left-wing Jewish group J Street put out a statement opposing Abbas’ speech, saying that ‘there is absolutely no excuse for this kind of incendiary rhetoric. With diatribes like this, President Abbas only undermines the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Palestinian people, and distracts from the need for international action to help alleviate the crisis in Gaza and advance the two-state solution.’”

J Street Strongly Condemns Incendiary, Offensive Remarks by President Abbas, J Street

“J Street strongly condemns remarks made by President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday that featured absurd anti-Semitic tropes and deeply offensive comments on the history of the Jewish people and Israel. There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of incendiary rhetoric. With diatribes like this, President Abbas only undermines the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Palestinian people, and distracts from the need for international action to help alleviate the crisis in Gaza and advance the two-state solution.”

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu’s Flimflam on Iran, The New York Times

“Mr. Netanyahu did not provide any evidence that Iran had violated the deal since it took effect in early 2016. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors the deal, has repeatedly judged Iran to be in compliance with its commitments, as have top American security officials. Many of Israel’s past and present military and intelligence leaders also say the deal is effective and should be kept in force. But Mr. Netanyahu remains intent on killing it…..The dangers of rising tensions in the Middle East were reaffirmed on Sunday when Israeli jets reportedly again struck Iranian targets in Syria, killing at least 16 people. Those alarm bells make maintaining the nuclear deal even more important.”

Israel’s Calm Before the Storm, Foreign Policy

Phil Gordon writes, “On the horizon, there are a number of looming risks that could shatter the apparent calm in an instant if they are not managed carefully.On the horizon, there are a number of looming risks that could shatter the apparent calm in an instant if they are not managed carefully. Indeed, as the former head of Israeli military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, said in an interview last week, the coming month of May could prove to be the most perilous Israel has faced for decades. Unlike in May 1967, of course, Israel does not face the prospect of being invaded by any of its neighbors, and unlike in decades past its existence is not under military threat from abroad. But those realities should not lead Israelis or their friends abroad to overlook the seriousness of the threats that could explode in the coming weeks.”

Israel seems to be preparing for war with Iran, U.S. officials say, NBC News

“An Israeli airstrike on the western Syrian city of Hama on Sunday killed two dozen Iranian soldiers and targeted arms recently delivered from Iran, said three U.S. officials, and is the latest sign that Israel and Iran are moving closer to open warfare. ‘On the list of the potentials for most likely live hostility around the world, the battle between Israel and Iran in Syria is at the top of the list right now,’ said one senior U.S. official.”

Netanyahu’s allegedly huge Iran revelation, explained, Vox

Zack Beauchamp writes, “This speech was political theater, a lobbying effort aimed at the president of the United States — a point Netanyahu all but admitted at the end…. there’s a hole in Netanyahu’s logic. His argument appeared to be that Iran lied about nuclear activities in the past, which means it’s likely to lie about it in the future….The problem, experts say, is that the Iran deal isn’t actually based on trust. It’s based on a deeply rigorous system of inspections, one that has repeatedly confirmed that Iran is not, in fact, cheating by, say, restarting prohibited centrifuges.”


British Foreign Minister Says Netanyahu’s Speech Stresses Iran Deal’s Importance, Haaretz

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in which he revealed Iranian nuclear documents highlights that the “importance” of the nuclear deal with Iran. “The Iran nuclear deal is not based on trust about Iran’s intentions,” Johnson said in a press release, “rather it is based on tough verification, including measures that allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

US has known about Iran nuclear files for ‘a while,’ Pompeo tells reporters, JTA

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged that the United States has known “for a while” about Israel’s cache of stolen documents concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Pompeo told reporters on the airplane traveling from Jordan to Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C., that he had been aware of the existence of the documents, and that he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had discussed them when they met in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

Egyptian Army Amasses Forces on Israel Border for Extensive Campaign Against ISIS, Haaretz

The Egyptian military informed Israel it was preparing to launch a significant attack in the area bordering on Gaza, Israel and Sinai. Egyptian forces were amassing near the border with Israel, near Rafah. Many ISIS fighters have arrived in Sinai and are locked in a daily war with Egypt. The Egyptian offensive is coordinated with the Israeli army.

Netanyahu said to tell ministers to keep quiet about Iran, Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly ordered ministers in his cabinet to turn down the dial on their public comments about Iran and the nuclear archive revealed by the premier this week in an elaborate presentation.

Opinions and Analysis

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Nuclear Nothingburger, The New York Times

Steven Simon writes, “That the Trump administration has evidently colluded with Israel to influence Americans’ understanding of a major strategic issue fits an established, dispiriting pattern. If the president can convince us that the Iran nuclear deal damages our national interest, which encompasses the security of our allies, very well. But if he can’t, then I’d prefer not to hear it from a foreign leader.”

How American Jews Enable Bibi’s Never-Ending Cycle Of Abuse, Forward

Anshel Pfeffer writes, “It is too late for Netanyahu. He has been in the echo chamber for too long and won’t change. But hopefully he is finally nearing the end of his career, brought down by the weight of his own corruption. A reckoning among American Jews who have been Netanyahu’s enablers for so long must take place now, before his successor takes office. Another Israeli leader must never again be allowed to use and abuse American Jews in such a way and take the Diaspora for granted.”

Israel Says Iran Lied; European Leaders Say That’s Exactly Why Nuclear Deal Matters, NPR

“[S]upporters of the deal, including officials from European governments, say the documents simply prove what they already knew — that Iran was lying about its nuclear ambitions. In fact, that was the motivation behind the deal, according to Germany and the U.K. And France said that Israel’s revelations only make the accord between Iran and six world powers more pertinent.”

Iran and Israel draw closer to war than ever, CNN

Oren Liebermann writes, “It’s no longer Israel confronting Hezbollah in a form of proxy war with Iran. Now, Israel and Iran face each other with Syria as the setting for their rivalry. What was for so long a war of words and covert actions between Israel and Iran risks moving closer to open confrontation. When an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace in February, it marked the beginning of a new phase between Israel and Iran — two adversaries vying for regional positioning. It has become one of the biggest subplots in Syria’s seven-year civil war, with the potential to draw in even more actors, including, if the situation escalates enough, Russia and the United States.”

Under Cover of Iran, Netanyahu Just Took Three New Steps Toward Fascism, Haaretz

Bradley Burston writes, “As the prime minister spoke, however, as a war-anxious nation and an attentive, approving White House hung on his every word, a little over 30 miles up the road, in Jerusalem, a mortal threat to Israel was being assembled under our very noses. In the Knesset, no less. A set of three time bombs, complex, deadly, radioactive. Each of them a step toward annihilating Israel as we have come to know it. Each of them a step toward dictatorial rule, toward fascism. Each of them approved by – spurred by – Netanyahu himself.”