News Roundup for May 20, 2019

May 20, 2019

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J Street in the News

Economic workshop’ will launch Trump’s Middle East peace plan, POLITICO
“Others agree it is unlikely that Palestinians will agree to abandon political rights for the sake of economic improvement. ‘You can’t buy people off like that,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the left-leaning Jewish advocacy group J Street. ‘No amount of industrial zoning is going to actually substitute for the right of a people to be free in a land of their own. It isn’t in human nature to be like, ‘That’s OK. We’ll accept second-class rights.’’”

Most Democratic voters don’t follow Israel news that closely, J Street survey finds, JTA
“Most Democratic primary voters don’t follow news about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict all that closely and agree that ‘someone can be critical of Israeli government policies and still be pro-Israel.’ Those are some of the findings in a recent survey commissioned by the liberal pro-Israel group J Street.”

Top News and Analysis

US to roll out economic part of Mideast peace plan, Washington Post
The Trump administration will unveil the first phase of its long-awaited blueprint for Mideast peace next month at a conference in the region designed to highlight economic benefits that could be reaped if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved, the White House said Sunday.

Saudis say they will defend themselves, as Trump warns Iran, AP
Saudi Arabia does not want war but will not hesitate to defend itself against Iran, a top Saudi diplomat said Sunday after the kingdom’s energy sector was targeted this past week amid heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf. US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, warned Iran that it will face destruction if it seeks a fight, while Iranian officials said their country isn’t looking for war. Trump spoke after a rocket hit near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ hasn’t a hope of bringing peace, The Guardian
Yehuda Shaul writes, “Around the clock, my unit went on missions whose goal we were explicitly told was ‘to make our presence felt’ in order to ‘create a feeling among the Palestinian population of being pursued’. During these missions, we would enter random Palestinian homes in the middle of the night, waking up sleeping families for the sole purpose of intimidation, or search random shops during daytime hours. These patrols were perhaps the most routine part of my service in Hebron.”


Trump to Open Middle East Peace Drive With Economic Incentives, New York Times
After more than two years of study and deliberation, President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have decided to take a businessman’s approach to Middle East peace: They will try to buy their way to a deal.

Iran dismisses possibility of conflict, says does not want war, Reuters
“There will be no war because neither do we want a war, nor has anyone the idea or illusion it can confront Iran in the region,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Iran’s IRNA state news agency before ending a visit to Beijing.

Iran’s top diplomat presses efforts to save nuclear deal, AP
Iran’s foreign minister traveled Friday to China on his Asian tour aimed at keeping world markets open to Tehran amid an intense sanctions campaign from the US as tensions across the Persian Gulf remain high.

German parliament condemns ‘anti-Semitic’ BDS movement, Deutsche Welle
The German Bundestag has passed a resolution describing the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign against Israel as anti-Semitic. Parliamentarians said some BDS slogans recalled Nazi propaganda.

Israel’s Supreme Court won’t change route of Jerusalem Day flag march, JTA
Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition to prevent an annual Jerusalem Day march from passing though the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. During the event, tens of thousands of religious Zionist teens march through the Old City, including the Muslim Quarter, in an event that has frequently caused tension between Jews and Arabs.

Former CIA chief Brennan to brief Dems on Iran, AP
House Democrats will hear from former CIA Director John Brennan about the situation in Iran, inviting him to speak next week amid heightened concerns over the Trump administration’s sudden moves in the region.

Israeli host expecting Eurovision ‘punishment’ for Iceland’s Palestinian flag display, Reuters
The Israeli broadcaster of the Eurovision Song Contest said on Sunday that an unauthorized display of Palestinian flags by Iceland’s band could draw “punishment” from the event’s organizers.

Eurovision scolds Madonna for Palestinian flag display, AP
Eurovision Song Contest organizers said on Sunday they were taken aback by the display of a Palestinian flag during Madonna’s guest appearance, which defied contest rules. While Madonna performed her new single at the contest, hosted in Tel Aviv, two of her dancers onstage flashed Israeli and Palestinian flags pinned on their backs.

Opinion and Analysis

Rashida Tlaib’s critics have Palestinian history all wrong, Washington Post
Maha Nassar writes, “[Her] critics are fundamentally misreading Palestinian history in three key ways. First, by focusing on episodes of violence, they ignore the long history of Arab-Jewish coexistence in Palestine. Second, by downplaying how harmful British colonial rule was to Palestinian society, they imply that Palestinians were driven to revolt by blind hatred rather than a desire for freedom. Finally, by citing the pro-Nazi propaganda of Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husayni to claim that ‘Palestinian leaders at the time sided with Hitler,’ they conflate the statements and actions of a single individual with those of an entire people.”

In Iran, a plunging economy trumps fears of US confrontation, AP
Mehdi Fattahi and Nasser Karimi write, “Battered by US sanctions and its depreciating rial currency, Iran’s 80 million people struggle to buy meat, medicine and other staples of daily life. Now they wonder aloud about America’s intentions as it rushes an aircraft carrier and other forces to the region over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Iran.”

New Independent Jewish Student Network Seeks ‘Judaism On Our Own Terms’, The Forward
Aiden Pink writes, “The clubs in the network are political and spiritual homes for people either looking for a periodic alternative to Hillel, or are outright alienated by the major group’s stance: officially welcoming of Jewish students who support boycotts of Israel, but banning the groups they’re in that advocate for them.”

Once again, Iraq caught up in tensions between US and Iran, AP
Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Bassem Mroue write, “As tensions escalate, there are concerns that Baghdad could once again get caught in the middle, just as it is on the path to recovery. The country hosts more than 5,000 US troops, and is home to powerful Iranian-backed militias, some of whom want those US forces to leave.”

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Israel’s Eurovision Extravaganza, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “The kitschy, gay-friendly spectacle gave liberal Israelis a tantalizing glimpse of the country they once cherished – but it could turn out to be their swan song.”