News Roundup for May 3, 2019

May 3, 2019

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Top News and Analysis

‘Let’s just not say it’: Jared Kushner says ‘two-state’ label hinders Middle East talks, The Guardian
“If you say ‘two-state’, it means one thing to the Israelis, it means one thing to the Palestinians,” Kushner said on Thursday at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “We said, ‘you know, let’s just not say it. Let’s just say, let’s work on the details of what this means’,” he said. Kushner declined to give extensive details about the plan before its release but, asked if it would cover the final status between Israelis and Palestinians, he said: “That’s correct, we will.”

Kushner hopes Israel will look at peace plan before any West Bank moves, Reuters
“I hope both sides will take a real look at it, the Israeli side and the Palestinian side, before any unilateral steps are made,” Kushner said, adding he had not discussed the issue of settlement annexation with Netanyahu. Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt have spent the past two years developing the peace proposal in the hopes it will provide a framework for a renewed dialogue between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ Is Another Tragic Farce in the Making, Haaretz
Salman Masalha writes, “A short visit to Washington reveals a gloomy picture for the Palestinians. Someone forgot to remove the flags from the building that housed the Palestinian embassy. A copper plate was torn out of the building’s wall. The gate is rundown and dirty and only the two faded flags still fly on top of the building in the Georgetown neighborhood. The site’s neglect symbolizes more than anything the Trump administration’s treatment of the Palestinians and what is about to take place.”


Friedman plays down statistics linking white supremacy to anti-Jewish violence, Times of Israel
David Friedman, the American ambassador to Israel, said Thursday that it was a “mistake” to rely on statistics when analyzing the recent surge in violent anti-Semitic attacks in the United States. Speaking to The Times of Israel at the Birkenau death camp in Poland before the March of the Living ceremony, Friedman also addressed a recent cartoon in The New York Times that was widely deemed anti-Semitic, saying he could not forgive the paper for printing it.

Netanyahu Bars All 181 Palestinian Participants From Attending Joint Memorial Day Ceremony, Haaretz
Israel turned down all 181 applications of Palestinians from the West Bank invited by the organizers of a joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony in Tel Aviv. Sources told Haaretz that the order banning the Palestinians came from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister. Netanyahu’s bureau declined to comment.

Annexation and immunity: Likud, Union of Right-Wing Parties open coalition talks, Times of Israel
The URWP is demanding that Netanyahu commit to annexing all Israeli settlements in the West Bank as well as support legislation that would grant the premier de-facto immunity from prosecution, a spokesman for a senior lawmaker in the far-right faction told The Times of Israel this week.

Anti-Semitic Incidents Up by 82 Percent in NYC, Police Report, Haaretz
The rate of anti-Semitic incidents in New York has risen by 82 percent since 2018, CBS New York reported on Thursday. A report by the New York Police Deparment showed a 67 percent increase in general hate crimes, and especially crimes based on sexual orientation. The report examined figures from the first quarter of 2019, January through April. 

At White House, Poway synagogue rabbi thanks Trump, ‘a mensch par excellence’, Times of Israel
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, one of the victims of a weekend gun rampage at a California synagogue, praised US President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday as a “mensch par excellence,” using a Yiddish phrase for a person of integrity.

Senior Hamas official heads to Egypt for talks on Israel, The National
A Hamas delegation led by its Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar left the enclave for Cairo on Thursday for talks with Egyptian officials on a truce with Israel, the group’s officials said. Egypt has long been the broker between Israel and the group that runs Gaza.

Shin Bet Men Suspected of Ordering Search of Palestinian Woman’s Private Parts Likely Won’t Stand Trial, Haaretz
The State Prosecutor’s Office is expected to close down the investigation against two Shin Bet officers suspected of ordering female soldiers to search a Palestinian woman’s private parts for no particular reason in 2015.

Facebook is banning anti-Semites like David Duke, Louis Farrakhan and Alex Jones, JTA
For critics of how the largest social media platforms have handled anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric, it has been a long time coming: David Duke, Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, and their ilk are no longer welcome on Facebook. A statement from a Facebook spokesperson confirmed that several bigoted public figures have been removed from the social networking giant. 

Islamic Jihad Warns It Will ‘Hit Israel’s Biggest Cities’ After Airstrikes Hit Gaza, Haaretz
Hamas issued a statement on Thursday condemning the airstrikes conducted by the Israeli army against targets belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip following the launch of incendiary balloons from the enclave the day before.

Opinion and Analysis

Stop Trying to Justify Israel, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Is there anything more ridiculous than Israel’s obsession with hasbara? The constant harping on why isn’t hasbara better and if only it was better at explaining and justifying government policies, then the whole world would love us? How exactly could hasbara be any better? Israel has a prime minister who is the hasbarist-in-chief, government departments, an entire IDF division, embassies, well-financed NGOs, websites, books, television channels and countless thousands of volunteers all equipped with a multitude of arguments and devoted to putting what they see as Israel’s case to the world. What more do they want?”

How Palestinians Should React When Trump Unveils His Peace Plan, The Forward
Hussein Ibish writes, “With the Donald Trump/Jared Kushner ‘peace plan’ probably to be released in June, Palestinians are facing a terrible conundrum. To save their national project, they must defend the terms of reference for peace formally agreed upon in the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles. But it’s not going to be easy, because the whole point of the Trump/Kushner project appears to be to destroy those terms and replace them with a new framework that inexorably leads not to two states but to some version of a Greater Israel.”

Netanyahu’s Partners Are Blackmailing Him – and a New Election Won’t Save Him, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “The weakness of the person cobbling the government together has unleashed a feeding frenzy among his coalition partners. In a fit of bulimia, they are pouncing on the booty without even stopping to wipe away the cascades of foaming saliva from their mouths.”

Why President Trump desperately needs a White house Jewish liaison, JTA
Aaron Keyak writes, “The lack of a liaison with regular contact with the diverse Jewish community was on display when President Trump organized a recent White House briefing to ostensibly discuss issues “impacting the community” on the eve of Passover. Not a single movement leader of the two largest Jewish denominations in the United States, neither Conservative nor Reform, was invited.”

My Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commemoration Was One Long Obscenity; and It’s Not Over, Haaretz
Bradley Burston writes, “In the guise of honoring the six heroic, magnificently vital survivors who were to light memorial torches later in the ceremony, he opened by exploiting them. Some would say, humiliating them. One by one, breathlessly, the consummate over-actor, my prime minister stole their stories before they themselves could tell them, finding some way, through it all, to interpose himself and his wife into the narrative. It was one long self-serving obscenity.”

Trump Has Brought Jews and Muslims Even Closer Together, The Forward
Dean Obeidallah writes, “Of all the religious groups in America, Muslim approval of Trump is the lowest, at 16% (Who are these 16%?!). Not far behind and the second lowest faith group that approves of Trump is Jewish Americans, clocking in at a paltry 27%.”