News Roundup for May 7, 2019

May 7, 2019

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J Street in the News

Officials: U.S. carrier group, bombers going to Mideast due to multiple Iran threats, NBC News
“Dylan Williams, vice president of the J Street advocacy group, which has sharply criticized the administration’s approach to Iran, said the White House appeared to be laying the ground for war. ‘With aggressive statements about the deployment of US warships to the region and other belligerent rhetoric, the Trump administration is laying the groundwork for an unnecessary new war of choice which Congress has not authorized and which the American people do not want. It’s now vital that lawmakers take responsible steps to head off this steady march towards armed conflict before it’s too late.’”

Top News and Analysis

A Strange Symbiosis: Why Israel and Gaza Keep Fighting Brief Battles, New York Times
David M. Halbfinger writes, “The cycle of violence-ceasefire-repeat that keeps verging on all-out war may look like pointless destruction to the outside world. But analysts say it is amply serving the interests of the two main antagonists. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel gets to batter Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, while bolstering his argument that the Palestinians are not ready for peace and that a two-state solution is impossible. Hamas, which sought and apparently received renewed assurances of a loosening of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, gets to show skeptical, impoverished Gaza residents that its strategy of armed resistance is working.”

President visits bereaved families of Israelis killed by rocket fire, Times of Israel
President Reuven Rivlin on Monday paid condolence visits to the families of three Israeli men killed a day earlier by rockets fired at southern Israel by Gaza terror groups. The three were Moshe Agadi, 58, killed when a rocket hit his home in the southern city of Ashkelon early Sunday morning; Ziad al-Hamamda, 47, killed in a separate rocket attack on a factory in the same city; and Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman, 21, fatally struck by shrapnel while running for cover in the city of Ashdod on Sunday evening.

Iran Appears Ready to Reduce Compliance With Nuclear Deal, New York Times
Iran on Monday strongly suggested that it was about to reduce compliance with the landmark 2015 nuclear deal because of sanctions reimposed by President Trump when he repudiated the Obama-era accord. Reports in Iran’s state media said that the Iranians intended to inform the other countries in the agreement of unspecified changes ahead of the Wednesday anniversary of the American withdrawal ordered by Mr. Trump.


Israeli Government Ordered Military to End Gaza Fighting Before Eurovision, Haaretz
Israel’s political leadership ordered the Israeli army to “achieve the necessary operational goals” in the recent flare-up in Gaza before the upcoming Independence Day and Eurovision Song Contest, defense officials said Monday, despite the military’s position that it should show its willingness to keep fighting.

Hamas says it beat Iron Dome with concentrated salvos. The IDF says it didn’t, Times of Israel
Officials say that despite new tactic by Gaza terror groups, relatively few projectiles managed to penetrate Israel’s missile defense system, which had an 86% success rate.

Start of Ramadan marred by bombing, poverty in Gaza, +972 Mag
Markets remained empty and many worshipers stayed away from mosques during the first few days of the Muslim holy month due to a violent escalation with Israel that left 27 Palestinians and four Israelis dead.

As Ramadan Begins, Gazans Come to Grips With Destruction – and Fear Next Round of Violence, Haaretz
Hundreds of families in the Gaza Strip have been left homeless as a result of the attacks and the Palestinian government in Gaza and humanitarian groups are obligated to find solutions for them, [Gaza Labor Ministry Director Naji Sarhan] said. “Along with finding alternative housing, there are families who need immediate assistance with basic and humanitarian supplies,” Sarhan added.

Gaza’s homemade rockets still stretch Israel’s sophisticated defenses, Washington Post
The key to the weapons’ effectiveness is not their sophistication in terms of range or precision but just the opposite. Many of the rockets are so cheap and easy to manufacture, in some cases requiring little more than metal casing and an explosive, that the groups have been able to accumulate them in significant numbers.

Navy downplays Iran hawks’ messaging on latest deployment, Al-Monitor
A day after US national security adviser John Bolton trumpeted the deployment of a US carrier group as a “clear and unmistakable message” to Iran, the US Navy’s top admiral lowered the temperature a notch this morning in a speech near Washington.

23,741 Fallen Soldiers: Israel Prepares to Mark 71st Memorial Day, Haaretz
In the year since last Memorial Day, 56 servicemen have joined the ranks of those who fell while serving in Israel’s security forces, according to the numbers released by the Defense Ministry ahead of Memorial Day, which begins Tuesday evening.

Jews more likely than Christians to be critical of Trump’s Israel policy, study shows, JTA
The Pew Research Center found that 42 percent of American Jews said that Trump was favoring the Israelis too much, while a similar share, 47 percent, said he was striking the right balance between the Israelis and Palestinians. Among Christians, 59 percent said the president was striking the right balance between the two sides and 26 percent said he favors the Israelis too much. 

Opinion and Analysis

It’s the Deadliest Year Ever to Be Jewish in America: What Trump Must Do to End the Terror, Haaretz
Stuart Wexler writes, “The emerging wave of anti-Semitic violence in the United States is unique for its lethality. The attack on The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh alone produced more casualties than any year or any decade of anti-Jewish violence in American history; and if John Earnest, the shooter at San Diego’s Poway synagogue had had his way, he would have killed far more victims than Lori Gilbert-Kaye, the congregant who died shielding her friend and rabbi from Earnest’s bullets.”

US move to deter Iran also carries risk of confrontation, The National
Joyce Karam writes, “Although deterrence is the primary goal, ‘this kind of belligerence also increases the risks of miscalculation’, Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group said. ‘This is a routine deployment that John Bolton is trying to exploit as a credible military threat against Iran,’ he told The National.”

Gaza Flare-up Is Over for Now; Next Up: Iran, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “By every indication, Israel will be giving Hamas exactly what it had committed to a month and a half ago, but the army is already discussing prospects of a broad military campaign in the coming months as rather reasonable.”

Stories of devastatingly normal suffering in Gaza, +972 Mag
Tania Hary writes, “I heard many stories yesterday from our friends, clients, partners and other contacts in Gaza. They weren’t necessarily the most dramatic stories; they didn’t make it to the nightly news. They were the devastating but normal stories of the lived experienced of so many people in Gaza. They were the stories of the new normal of Groundhog Day in Gaza.”

The Fighting Is Over, but Gaza’s Economic Problems Remain, Haaretz
Sami Peretz writes, “As far as Israel’s government is concerned, Gaza is a problem out of which no good can come. But we need to start discussing its future”

The Future Is Here, and It Features Hackers Getting Bombed, Foreign Policy
Elias Groll writes, “After blocking a cyberattack that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said was launched by operatives working on behalf of the militant group Hamas, the IDF carried out an airstrike in Gaza targeting the building in which the hackers worked, partially destroying it. The strike appears to be the first time that a nation’s military has responded in real time to a cyberattack with physical force.”