News Roundup for May 9, 2019

May 9, 2019

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J Street in the News

Democrats warn Trump is leading US toward war with Iran, Times of Israel
“The liberal Mideast advocacy group J Street put much of the blame on Bolton, who is known for his hawkish views […] ‘John Bolton was instrumental in pushing the US into a disastrous war of choice with Iraq,’ said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, ‘and now he’s using the same playbook to try to instigate a new confrontation with Iran.’ The group urged members of Congress to pass a bill introduced by New Mexico Senator Tom Udall and California Rep. Anna Eshoo last month to prevent an armed conflict with Iran without Congressional approval.”

Anti-Semitism bill goes where a law shouldn’t, South Florida Sun Sentinel
“[HB 741] makes the State of Florida a party to an intense debate among American Jews over policies of the Israeli government that, to some, violate ethical principles of their faith and foreclose the possibility of a fair and peaceful permanent resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. J Street, a pro-peace Jewish lobby in the U.S., criticized the bill as seemingly intended to ‘crack down on campus critics of Israel’ rather than the ‘xenophobic, white nationalist far right.’”

John Bolton’s Policies Are Making Americans Less Safe, Pushing Us Toward War With Iran, J Street
“Thanks to the policies of this administration, Iran’s nuclear activities are now under fewer constraints, the regime’s hardliners are more empowered and American credibility with many of our closest allies is shattered. Bolton and Secretary Pompeo have undercut effective diplomacy that blocked Iran from developing a nuclear weapon — and their actions are pushing us down the path to war in service of their long-desired goal of regime change.”

Top News and Analysis

The world just got a bit more dangerous after Iran’s nuclear deal announcement, CNN
Ben Wedeman writes, “The stage is set for a confrontation between an unabashedly bellicose United States and an equally defiant Iran. It may all be, as some analysts have suggested, a ‘game of chicken,’ but this sort of ‘game’ also can result in a head-on collision. All the ingredients are in place for a confrontation that could be the most significant outbreak of warfare since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, with some of the same players leading the charge. The likely architect of this high-risk approach is US National Security Adviser John Bolton, a hawk’s hawk who has no regrets about cheerleading Washington’s 2003 Iraq catastrophe…”

By Threatening Nuclear Deal, Iran Is Playing Right Into Trump’s Hands, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Even without the US in the deal. Even after a series of sanctions has been reimposed on Iran. Even after the Europeans have largely failed to compensate Iran for the losses accruing from these sanctions, despite their promises to do so, Iran is still in the deal. In fact, the non-compliances it announced Wednesday exactly mirror two waivers on the export of heavy water and enriched uranium which the US revoked a week ago […] If anything, the latest development is a testament to how much Iran wants to cling to the agreement.”

Trump’s Iran policy is making war more likely, Vox
Alex Ward writes, “While Iran has provoked the international community with its heinous actions, like supporting Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and backing proxy groups that have killed hundreds of US troops, the fault for today’s precarious situation lies mostly at Trump’s feet. ‘This crisis was both foreseeable and completely avoidable, for those who wanted to avoid it,’ Eric Brewer, who worked on Iran in Trump’s National Security Council, told me.”


U.S. officials: Iran official OK’d attacks on American military, NBC News
The US decision to surge additional military forces into the Middle East was based in part on intelligence that the Iranian regime has told some of its proxy forces and surrogates that they can now go after American military personnel and assets in the region, according to three US officials familiar with the intelligence.

We reject any ultimatums’: Europe responds firmly to Iran’s nuclear deal threat, CNBC
“We reject any ultimatums and will assess Iran’s compliance on the basis of Iran’s performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and the NPT,” the joint statement from the EU high representative and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK read.

Iran’s atomic agency says it wants to put nuclear deal ‘back on track’, Times of Israel
“Our goal is to strengthen the JCPOA and bring it back on track,” state news agency IRNA quoted spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi as saying, referring to the nuclear deal.

Rep. Tlaib recruiting Members for ‘Congressional Delegation’ to West Bank, Jewish Insider
Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) is organizing a trip to the Palestinian Territories, slated for the August recess, competing with AIPAC/AIEF’s trip to Israel for freshmen members, traditionally chaperoned by House leadership.

Thousands of Palestinians shot by Israeli military face amputation due to lack of medical care, The National
A lack of healthcare funding in Gaza will likely mean that the 1,700 Palestinians most seriously injured by Israeli gunfire during recent protests may need amputations, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for occupied Palestinian territory told reporters on Wednesday.

Israel marks 71st birthday with barbecues, air force shows, AP
People flocked to parks and beaches on Thursday to celebrate Independence Day, enjoying barbeques and watching air force flyovers. The celebrations started as Israel transitioned from melancholy Memorial Day for fallen soldiers — a bittersweet confluence meant to remind the state what was gained from the sacrifice of war.

Israel house arrest for settler accused of killing Palestinian woman sparks outrage, The National
An Israeli court allowed an Israeli teenager accused of killing a Palestinian woman with a rock to be placed under house arrest, prompting uproar among her relatives. The teenager, aged 16, is charged with causing the death of Aisha Al Rabi when he threw a heavy stone at her windscreen last October near the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ for Arab-Israeli peace is doomed by delusions, Washington Post
William J. Burns writes, “Neither Trump nor his son-in-law and chief negotiator, Jared Kushner, invented the steady decay of the two-state solution in recent years, or the pathologies of regional leaders consumed by their grievances and short-term political concerns. Nor is the White House wrong to question past strategies or tactics. Based on what can be gleaned about the new plan, however, Trump and Kushner appear to be animated by a set of terminally flawed assumptions and illusions.”

Why Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Drove Right-wingers Out of Their Minds, Haaretz
Ravit Hecht writes, “The Israeli-Palestinian joint memorial ceremony is growing from year to year, but along the way it has established itself as a magnet for incitement, incrimination and persecution of leftists. It’s not just Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in his role as defense minister blocked the entrance of some 100 Palestinians from the territories who wanted to attend the ceremony and afterward lashed out at the High Court of Justice, who did the minimum expected of a democratic country. It’s not just his son, who called the bereaved families who attend the ceremony “mentally ill.” It’s the whole right wing, which in recent years has attacked the ceremony, which took place for the 14th year, with pursed lips and furious rage.”

The Next Round in Gaza Will Be Deadlier, Foreign Policy
Neri Zilber writes, “Every two months or so for the past year Israel and Hamas have engaged in a deadly but relatively limited round of violence—with the Islamic militant group firing rockets from the Gaza Strip and Israel responding with airstrikes for a day or two until international mediators step in and stop the fighting. The latest round over the weekend was the most lethal since the 2014 war but consistent with the pattern.”

What Netanyahu and Hamas Are Really Fighting for in Gaza, The New Yorker
Bernard Avishai writes, “What seems clear in this fog of euphemism, polemic, and callous score-keeping is that Gaza has become ground for a war of attrition. And the question of whether the war should be thought inevitable depends not on the truths that each side tells about the other but on the half-truths that each tells about itself.”

Israelis, the Time Has Come to Acknowledge the Other Side’s Pain, Haaretz
Alit Karp write, “As much as it’s possible to feel happiness in the context of bereavement, death and pain, the decision by the High Court of Justice to allow the entry into Israel of 100 Palestinians so they can participate in the Israeli-Palestinian memorial service, made me happy. I believe that before any discourse, any negotiations and any discussion of returning territories, it’s important to stop for a moment and remember that the other side is also suffering no less than we are (perhaps even more) and to acknowledge that publicly.”

Israel Ignores Nonviolent Marches But Rewards Hamas’s Rockets, The Forward
Muhammad Shehada writes, “Netanyahu could choose to respect the demands for a decent life coming from tens of thousands of Gazans who march nonviolently with their bare chests to the perimeter fence every Friday, knocking on the bars of the prison-like blockade to bring the manmade uninhabitability of Gaza to an end. Instead, only when hardliners in Hamas launch a bunch of primitive rockets on Israel’s south does Netanyahu finally listen and reward this violence with a meager bribe […] And they say Arabs only understand force.”

This Is How Israel Inflates Its Jewish Majority, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “The bureau counts the Jews in all areas under its control from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. But it counts only the Arabs living within the pre-1967 border, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are left out. Thus Jewish settlers in Hebron are “residents of Israel” and included in the count, while their Palestinian neighbors are not.”