News Roundup for November 12, 2018

November 12, 2018

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J Street in the News

Good News for Jewish Candidates After US Midterm Elections, Jerusalem Post

“Beyond being a good night for Democrats, who took control of the House of Representatives and won several governorships, Tuesday had good news for Jewish candidates. According to a spokesman for the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA), all 23 Jewish incumbents who ran for reelection – 21 of them Democrats – won. In addition, eight Jewish candidates entered the House, two Jews won governorships (in Illinois and Colorado), and one, Jacky Rosen, won her Senate race in Nevada. All are Democrats. The next House of Representatives will have a total of 28 Jews, and there will be nine Jewish senators….According to Jim Gerstein of GBA Strategies, a Democrat-aligned pollster commissioned by the liberal Israel lobby J Street, Jewish voters’ strong preference for Democrats was driven by their disapproval of President Donald Trump, and their blaming him, specifically, for helping influence the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue two weeks ago. Seventy-five percent of Jewish voters disapprove of Trump, versus 25% who approve, and 72% of Jewish voters hold Trump very or somewhat responsible for the Pittsburgh shooting, in which 11 people died, a GBA poll found….J Street PAC, the political action committee affiliated with the liberal Mideast policy group, spent $5 million in midterm contributions and saw 128 of its 167 endorsees – all Democrats – win their races, including 22 new House members and 14 of 17 senators they endorsed. Forty-seven of the 58 candidates endorsed by the JDCA won. ‘We like to think of it as pulling the emergency brake on the out-of-control administration and president we’ve been under for the past two years,’ Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s president, said on the conference call. He noted that more than half of the House’s incoming class is endorsed by J Street.”

US support for Israel unclear after congressional midterms, Ynetnews

“J Street, the American liberal lobby attempting to promote an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, scored a big achievement….The pro-Israeli lobby doubled the sums it raised for its candidates in the 2014 midterm elections, and now supports more than half of the Democratic members in the Senate and the House. J Street’s President Jeremy Ben-Ami said, ‘Voters across America, including a large majority of American Jews, strengthen the democratic values in the US and its ability to demonstrate responsible leadership to the world.’ ‘By impeaching many of Trump’s allies, US citizens said no to hatred, no to racism, and no to wars of choice in the Middle East. They elected a Congress that will act with responsibility to restrain Trump and his policy,’ Ben-Ami explained.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump Has Only Sticks, No Carrots, The New York Times

Gardiner Harris reports, “The Trump administration imposed crippling sanctions on Iran on Monday in a widely anticipated slap at the country. The penalties, which grew out of President Trump’s decision in May to abandon the Iran nuclear accord, take aim at Iran’s oil, banking, shipping, shipbuilding and insurance sectors, and are intended to force Tehran to either abandon its foreign policy ambitions or collapse. Administration officials became almost gleeful in the run-up to Monday: There was a 12-day countdown clock on the State Department’s website that resembled an advent calendar; Mr. Trump tweeted a movie-poster-style image of himself with the words ‘Sanctions Are Coming’ in a nod to the popular HBO series ‘Game of Thrones.’ In the show, though, counterattacks are frequent, and the Trump administration is now facing its own backlash. European diplomats are quietly insisting they will complete work in the coming days or weeks on an alternative payment system with Iran that will bypass American sanctions. China, India, Russia and Iraq are likely to defy the new sanctions, too, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said this week that he would ignore them. Iran’s leaders remain defiant.”

A Reminder of the Need for a Gaza Deal, Haaretz

The Haaretz editorial board writes, “The need to reach a temporary cease-fire agreement with Hamas, via Qatar and Egypt, makes it clear to what extent Israel is still responsible for the lives of Gaza’s residents and how much the security of Israelis living along the Gaza border depends on the welfare of Gazan residents. This is hardly a new notion. The Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service were the first to explain this connection to the government and the first to warn about the threat of a public explosion, until the warnings were no longer needed because of the repeated flare-ups of recent months. Any additional eruption in the south is liable to drag Israel into a war, or at least a violent confrontation, which will imprison Israelis in bomb shelters and rocket-proof rooms. On Sunday, Israel received an additional warning of this. It must seek an arrangement and pay no attention to the political background noise. Ignoring this opportunity deliberately puts Israeli citizens at risk.”


Netanyahu cuts short Paris visit in bid to salvage calm after deadly Gaza flareup, i24NEWS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short his trip to Paris and returned to Israel Monday morning after increased escalation on the Gaza border left one IDF soldier and at least seven Palestinians dead, including one senior Hamas military commander.

‘We Owe Him More Than Can Be Revealed’: Netanyahu, IDF Eulogize Special Ops Commander Killed in Gaza, Haaretz

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot eulogized on Monday the 41-year-old Israeli commander who was killed during a botched Gaza operation on Sunday night. The Israeli army, Eisenkot said, owes the lieutenant colonel “more than can be revealed.”

After deadly raid, Hamas mocks Israeli intelligence as world ‘laughing stock’, i24NEWS

After an Israeli intelligence-gathering operation in the Gaza Strip turned into a deadly clash leaving one Israeli soldier and seven Palestinian militants dead on Sunday night, Hamas claims they have “taught the enemy a tough lesson and made its intelligence system a laughingstock to the world.”

Marking Arafat death anniversary, Abbas rages against US ‘conspiracy’, Times of Israel

Palestinians on Sunday marked 14 years since the death of iconic leader Yasser Arafat, with current leader Mahmoud Abbas denouncing a US-Israel “conspiracy” to implement a nascent peace plan in the West Bank and Gaza.

Saudis Close to Crown Prince Discussed Killing Other Enemies a Year Before Khashoggi’s Death, The New York Times

Top Saudi intelligence officials close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asked a small group of businessmen last year about using private companies to assassinate Iranian enemies of the kingdom, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

Opinion and Analysis

Why is Israel tossing a lifeline to Jamal Khashoggi’s killers?, Washington Post

Jackson Diehl writes, “As Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman tries to escape consequences for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it has been revealing to see who has stepped forward to help him out. There have been fellow Arab dictators, such as Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. There have been cynical opportunists, like Russia’s Vladi­mir Putin. Then there’s Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of a nation whose right to exist has yet to be recognized by Saudi Arabia. You wouldn’t think Israel, in contrast to every Western democracy, would be explicitly endorsing a latter-day version of Saddam Hussein — a man so toxic that even K Street lobbyists are rejecting his money. And yet Netanyahu is emerging as Mohammed bin Salman’s friend-in-need.”

Mourning In Pittsburgh Is Jewish — And Political, Forward

Bend the Arc: Pittsburgh writes, “Before October 27th, if anyone told us that Pittsburgh’s Jewish community would be thrust into the national spotlight as the target of the deadliest attack on Jews in American history, we would not have believed it. For the past two years, under the banner of Bend the Arc: Pittsburgh, we had been organizing locally in the face of rising hate against vulnerable minorities. We never expected that violence would erupt in our own backyard.With both the Jewish and activist connections, we found ourselves in the position to organize a deeply Jewish response, both political and mournful, on behalf of the community we love. Broken and grieving, we had just hours to provide the political context for the violence that had shattered our community. With a reach we had never contemplated, we told the world that Trump was not welcome in our city until he denounced the white nationalism that emboldens vicious anti-Semites.”

The Two-Way Street: Entering Kislev, A Bright Light in the Darkness, J Street Blog

Rabbi Amy Eilberg writes, “Earlier this week, a bright light shone through the recent darkness. We celebrated an electoral breakthrough as talented leaders who boldly oppose anti-Semitic rhetoric, hate and warmongering won across our nation. And yet, we cannot forget what else is happening in our country. Violence and hatred are exploding in many directions, and despair can seem like a rational response. In today’s America, bombs arrive at the doorsteps of former presidents and current office-holders, and the President worries only about the implications for his political prospects. Anti-Semites are empowered to spew their rhetorical venom and, unbearably, to take the lives of dear souls in a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Racist language and imagery is increasingly accessible in public discourse. Democratic institutions, norms of decency, core principles of Jewish ethics and truth itself are all under attack in today’s America. The successes we saw in the midterms this week provided some much needed rays of hope, but the road ahead remains long and challenging.”