News Roundup for May 23, 2019

May 23, 2019

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J Street in the News

Democratic Voters Seen As ‘Nuanced’ When It Comes To Israel, The New York Jewish Week
“Two new polls — one from J Street, the dovish lobby group, and one from the non-partisan Jewish Electorate Institute — make clear that Democratic primary voters want the United States to be an ‘honest broker’ in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that Jewish voters and Democratic primary voters believe one can be pro-Israel while criticizing the Israeli government […] ‘This poll helps to define a new playbook for Democratic candidates on Israel and Palestine,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s president, of the J Street poll in a call with reporters last week.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump Doesn’t Want Peace. He Wants Palestinian Surrender, New York Times
Saeb Erekat writes, “The members of Mr. Trump’s Middle East team claim that they want to boost the Palestinian economy and improve Palestinian lives, but economic growth can never be a substitute for the right to live in dignity, free from military occupation and oppression, in our homeland. The main obstacle to Palestinian economic growth is clear: the occupation.”

Protests spread against Netanyahu’s immunity law, Al-Monitor
Ben Caspit writes, “‘We will set the streets on fire,’ say the Blue and White party leaders, who have been organizing a massive demonstration in Tel Aviv to take place on the night of May 25. The opposition party’s highest echelons swear they will not allow Netanyahu to become Israel’s almost omnipotent Erdogan without a fight. ‘We’ll fight for our values, for our political viewpoints, for democracy,’ they say.”

Israeli Generals to Prime Minister Netanyahu: Stop Annexation, Commanders for Israel’s Security
“Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu, Hundreds of members of the Commanders for Israel Security movement and many other senior members of the defense establishment wish to warn you of the dangers to the security of the state embodied in the unilateral steps towards the application of sovereignty in the West Bank, and call on you to stop these unilateral moves immediately.”


Supreme leader criticizes Iran’s politicians amid US tension, AP
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has final say on all matters of state, and his blaming the deal’s unraveling limits the influence of President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif — relative moderates within Iran’s Shiite theocracy who had struck the deal.

Netanyahu Won’t Try to Change Immunity Law but Will Go After High Court, Likud Sources Say, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will likely not promote the new so-called immunity law, which automatically gives governing legislators immunity from prosecution, associates of the premier have said.

Former chief justice: Netanyahu seeking to ‘destroy’ courts to avoid prosecution, Times of Israel
Former Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch on Thursday lashed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apparent plan to clip the High Court of Justice’s wings in a manner that could shield him from prosecution.

US officials: Plan may send up to 10,000 troops to Mideast, AP
Officials said the move is not in response to any new threat from Iran, but is aimed at reinforcing security in the region. They said the troops would be defensive forces, and the discussions include additional Patriot missile batteries, more ships and increased efforts to monitor Iran.

Israel demolishes record number of Palestinian homes in a single day, The National
The number of Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem that were demolished by Israel’s military in a single day peaked on April 29, when 31 structures were flattened, the UN’s envoy for Middle East peace said on Wednesday.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said he supports move of US Embassy to Jerusalem. Pro-Palestinian groups are calling him out, JTA
Pro-Palestinian groups have called on Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to retract his statement saying he supports the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Garcetti, a Democrat, made the statement last week in Jerusalem while leading a delegation from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee Project Interchange, on a five-day visit to Israel.

US, Israeli officials to dedicate Golan town named for Trump in June, Times of Israel
American officials will attend a ceremony next month with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lay the cornerstone for a new town in the Golan Heights named for US President Donald Trump, the area’s regional council said Tuesday.

Israeli Government Admits Journalists Beaten by Soldiers in 2015 Didn’t ‘Lead Riot’, Haaretz
The government has retracted its claim that two news photographers “led a riot” in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh more than four years ago, and that their beating by soldiers was therefore justified.

Opinion and Analysis

What the press gets wrong on the US-Iran relationship, Columbia Journalism Review
Andrew Lee Butters writes, “Iran’s reaction to the US is a natural retort rather than an escalation. Its government has been jilted; despite shutting down its nuclear program, Iran never received much in the way of benefits from the lifting of sanctions […] The US, it must not be forgotten, has done its fair share to threaten Iran: encouraging Iraq to invade Iran in the 1980s and kill hundreds of thousands of Iranians, invading Iraq in 2003 and soon after eyeing Iran, selling billions of dollars worth of weapons to anti-Iranian Middle Eastern autocrats, embracing a known anti-Iranian terror cult—the MEK—in the hope of fomenting a regime change.”

Even Democrats Keep Thinking Iran Is Worse Than Saudi Arabia, The Atlantic
Peter Beinart writes, “By echoing the GOP’s confrontational language, Democrats are forgetting a crucial lesson of the Iraq War. America didn’t invade Baghdad only because people such as John Bolton, then undersecretary of state for arms control, misrepresented intelligence on weapons of mass destruction. America invaded because, under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Democrats and Republicans so inflated the threat from Saddam Hussein that restoring normal economic and diplomatic relations with his regime became politically impossible. The result was a web of sanctions that no administration could lift, and a glide path to war.”

How to Prevent an Accidental War With Iran, Foreign Policy
Steven Simon and Richard Sokolsky writes, “[The] risk that an accident could trigger a much larger U.S.-Iranian military confrontation is intolerably high. Establishing crisis management and conflict prevention measures at the operational level would be a low-risk way of talking to the Iranians and ratcheting down tensions.”

Palestinians Won’t Ever Warm to Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century,’ Israeli Army Tells Government, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “The assessment posits that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will continue opposing even the plan’s first stage, the economic conference to take place in Bahrain in late May. Most Israeli security and defense agencies also say the PA has only two to three months to go before a process of economic collapse begins, given its economic straits.”

It’s The Occupation, Stupid. No Amount Of Cash Can Buy Palestinian Freedom, The Forward
Muhammad Shehada writes, “The plan hopes to cure the disease by treating its symptoms with painkillers. For the truth is, the economic problems in Palestinian society stem directly from the Israeli occupation and blockade, and throwing money at the economic problem while the cause of that problem remains intact is not only foolish but dangerous.”

Trump May Expect Riyadh to Invest in Peace Deal, but Saudi Dollars Come at a High Price, Haaretz
Zvi Bar’el writes, “At the beginning of the year, when the question of Syria’s reconstruction was discussed, Trump made it clear that he would not invest American money in rebuilding a country where there’s ‘nothing but sand and death,’ but he also thanked Saudi Arabia for agreeing to shoulder some of the burden in the future. Riyadh, meanwhile, has not yet shelled out a single dollar for Syria, nor has it done anything for the residents of Gaza.”