News Roundup for November 15, 2016

November 15, 2016

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J Street in the News

Pro-Israel Groups J Street and AIPAC Split on Steve Bannon Appointment, Forward

“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee declined to weigh in on Bannon, perhaps in hopes of keeping open a pipeline of influence over the incoming administration’s Middle East policies, Politico reported….But the dovish J Street slammed Bannon as a hate-monger who would be bad for the Jews — and Israel. ‘He and his website have a history of aggressively targeting individuals and organizations, including J Street, with vicious attacks that show no regard for basic decency and tolerance, or for the truth,’ it said. J Street accused Trump of ‘fanning the flames of hatred’ by appointing Bannon.”

ADL, J Street, Democrats Denounce Trump’s Choice for Senior Aide Over ‘anti-Semitic and Misogynistic Views’, Haaretz

“The progressive Israel lobby J Street said in a statement that Bannon ‘has an extensive history of championing the views of the extreme right in the United States and around the world….He and his website have a history of aggressively targeting individuals and organizations, including J Street, with vicious attacks that show no regard for basic decency and tolerance, or for the truth.’ J Street said that Bannon’s appointment was ‘alarming and unacceptable’ and gives many groups ‘legitimate reason to fear that their rights may be threatened by a Trump administration.’ It accused Trump of ‘fanning the flames of hatred’ by appointing Bannon.”

Here are the groups that oppose Steve Bannon in the White House, CNN

“J Street, a progressive pro-Israel group, also called on Trump to ‘rescind this appointment immediately.’ The decision, they said in a statement, ‘gives the many groups that Bannon and Breitbart have targeted — from women to Muslims, from Latino immigrants to African-Americans, from LGBT people to conservative Republican Jews who oppose the ‘alt-right’ — legitimate reason to fear that their rights may be threatened by a Trump administration.’”

J Street U Issues Open Letter to the Jewish Community on Leadership in the Era of Trump, J Street Blog

“We urge you to act on our community’s shared values in the coming months and years – even and especially when that means speaking truth to power and resisting dangerous actions emanating from the most powerful people in our country. During the previous administration, we could largely feel secure in the knowledge that our most basic values were respected by our country’s leaders. We now face a different landscape. In our new reality, it is even more urgent that our leadership be vocal about what the Jewish community fundamentally stands for when it comes to both domestic and foreign policy.”

Israeli Bill to Legalize Setlement Outposts Wpuld Be Disastrous for the Two-State Solution and the Rule of Law, J Street Blog

“A Knesset bill that would retroactively legalize settlement outposts built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank, approved on Sunday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, would be disastrous for Israel and would completely undermine its commitment to the two-state solution and the rule of law….It is no accident that this bill is being moved forward this week, with the Amona situation looming and in the wake of the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. The bill’s chief proponent, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, said last week that ‘The victory of Trump is a huge opportunity for Israel to immediately announce that it renounces the idea of establishing Palestine in the heart of the country. The era of the Palestinian state is over.’ Bennett and his movement have been buoyed by the Republican Party’s removal of the two-state solution from its platform, and by statements from Trump’s advisers that show support for settlement expansion.”

Top News and Analysis

Steve Bannon’s Appointment Is a Moment of Truth for U.S. Jews, Haaretz

Alison Kaplan Sommer writes, “Less than a week after Election Day, a clear moral dilemma is presenting itself to the American Jewish community: To work with or against the most powerful leader in the world – one who has placed a white supremacist and anti-Semite at his side….If violence against minorities continues to mount, and a Bannon-strategized White House continues to dismiss, ignore or in any way encourage it – the Jewish grass roots, particularly young Jews, won’t stay silent when Jewish organizations and Israeli leaders “normalize” President Donald Trump with the usual “warm and productive” meetings and photo-ops that characterize the opening days of a presidency.”

High Court Rejects Gov’t Petition: Israel Must Evacuate Illegal West Bank Outpost by Year’s End, Haaretz

The High Court of Justice on Monday rejected a state petition to postpone the deadline for the evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona. “We see that any time-frame specified, however long, is not enough,” Justices Miriam Naor, Esther Hayut and Hanan Meltzer said in their ruling. “The obligation to honor court rulings is not a matter of choice. It is essential to government by law to which everyone is subject, as part of the values of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Israel’s Right, Cheering Donald Trump’s Win, Renews Calls to Abandon 2-State Solution, The New York Times

“Emboldened by the Republican sweep of last week’s American elections, right-wing members of the Israeli government have called anew for the abandonment of a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians. ‘The combination of changes in the United States, in Europe and in the region provide Israel with a unique opportunity to reset and rethink everything,’ Naftali Bennett, Israel’s education minister and the leader of the pro-settlement Jewish Home party, told a gathering of the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem on Monday. Mr. Bennett, who advocates annexing 60 percent of the occupied West Bank to Israel, exulted on the morning after Donald J. Trump’s victory: ‘The era of a Palestinian state is over.’’”

AIPAC Quietly Removes Two-State Solution From Peace Process Talking Points, Buzzfeed

“The website of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has removed a reference to the two-state solution from the page on its website devoted to the peace process….A page on AIPAC’s website about the peace process previously listed the two-state solution as the top talking point on a list of five. At some point since July, the latest version of the page captured on, the page was edited to remove the reference to the two-state solution….. ‘Our position has not changed on two-state solution,’ AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told BuzzFeed News when reached by email. ‘We continue to support a two-state solution,’ he said, referring to the change as part of a routine reorganization of the website.”


Keith Ellison makes DNC bid official, rolls out 40 endorsements, Washington Post

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) on Monday formally launched his bid to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee, offering a show of strength by simultaneously releasing the endorsements of 40 elected officials, state party chairmen and labor leaders. “Democrats win when we harness the power of everyday people and fight for the issues they care about,” Ellison said in a statement.

U.S. State Dept.: Deeply Concerned by Israeli Bill That Legalizes West Bank Outposts, Haaretz

The Obama administration is “deeply concerned” at the government’s approval of a draft law to whitewash illegal outposts in the West Bank, the State Department said on Monday night. The so-called “formalization bill” was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday and will now go to the Knesset for approval. ‘We understand that there are several more steps that need to hope that it will not be passed,” the head of the State Department’s communications department, Elizabeth Trudeau, said in Washington.

Residents of Illegal West Bank Outpost to Fight Evacuation With Aid of ‘Thousands’ of Supporters, Haaretz

Residents of the illegal outpost Amona said on Monday night that they would build a tent city housing “thousands” of people to fight the court-ordered evacuation of the settlement. The residents, who were speaking at the start of a protest meeting, were responding to the High Court’s reiteration on Monday of its previous order that the settlement be evacuated by December 25, The court rejected a state petition that the deadline be delayed to allow more time for an alternative to be prepared for the settlers.

Lieberman on Amona Evacuation: Settlers Must Avoid Confrontation With IDF Soldiers, Haaretz

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that Amona residents and protesters must avoid confrontation with Israeli soldiers during the court-ordered evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona, set to take place by the end of 2016.

Bill to bar BDS activists from Israel passes first reading, Times of Israel

A bill to bar activists from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement from entering Israel was approved by the Knesset Monday in its first reading. The bill would deny entry to individuals calling for a boycott of Israel or representing an NGO that does, but would allow the interior minister to make exceptions.

Israel moves forward with bill to ban Muslim call to prayer over loudspeakers, Ma’an

The Israeli Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved on Sunday draft legislation which could ban the use of loudspeakers to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer in Israel. The bill, which calls for barring the use of loudspeakers for any religious or “inciting” messages as part of the call to prayer, would need to go through several readings in the Knesset — Israel’s parliament — before making it into law, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Sunday.

In letter to Netanyahu, federations call for Western Wall deal to be fully implemented, JTA

The Jewish Federations of North America board of trustees sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu underscoring the “growing sense of urgency” on the part of American Jews to see the agreement to create an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall fully implemented. The letter was approved by the board on Monday during JFNA’s annual General Assembly, which is being held through Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Opinion and Analysis

For Bennett, the Settler Outpost Bill Is a Win-win. Not So for Israel, Haaretz

Yossi Verter observes, “The bill to legalize the illegal outposts in the territories, which was unanimously endorsed Sunday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, is stillborn. No law or “regularization” will come out of it. It will not be the salvation for the settlers in Amona, Ofra and thousands of other homes illicitly built on private Palestinian land as successive Israeli governments turned a blind eye. It is fated to be rejected, to be overturned by the High Court of Justice and to be buried in one form or another. But until it is dead and buried, it will further the State of Israel’s reputation as an occupying, brutal and controlling entity, whose government is prepared to try to legislate blatantly illegal laws, as Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit put it, in an effort to please a handful of settlers and their representatives.”

Will Steve Bannon Be the Anti-Semitic Firebrand in Donald Trump’s Inner Circle?, Forward

“The appointment also raises serious questions about Trump’s much-touted claim that he will be a strong supporter of Israel. Many on the alt-right regularly denounce Israel and international financial organizations as part of a worldwide power structure run by Jews. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, perhaps the leading face of the pro-Israel lobby, was reportedly upset about the appointment, but critics called on it to speak out publicly.”

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