News Roundup for November 15, 2017

November 15, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

Congress moves bill jeopardizing Iran nuclear deal, Al-Monitor

Bryant Harris reports: “As Congress moves to ratchet up pressure on Iran, a key House panel today approved a bill that could run afoul of the 2015 nuclear deal. The Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act would make it much more difficult for Iran to purchase commercial aircraft from firms that do business in the United States. Iran’s ability to replenish its aging civil aviation fleet, which was depleted by decades of sanctions, was a key incentive for Tehran to sign onto the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The House Financial Services Committee voted to advance the bill 38-21 today, paving the way for the full House to vote. All of the Republicans on the committee voted yes, joined by only five Democrats.”

ZOA Rolled Out The Red Carpet For Steve Bannon — And It Backfired, The Forward

Batya Ungar-Sargon writes, “Thanks to these controversial characters, a protest had assembled outside the hotel, revealing a deep rift in the Jewish community. Indeed, rather than an event for pro-Trump Jews, the evening turned into a contest for the future of American Jewry. At issue was a defining question: Are American and Israeli Jews still embattled enough that when figures with anti-Semitic affiliations like Gorka and Bannon come along and profess Zionism, we should embrace them as allies in our fight for survival? Or should Jews reject these figures for refusing to repudiate anti-Semites, and should Jews likewise refuse to embrace an Israel that doesn’t live up to progressive standards? What Sunday showed was that for today’s American Jewish community, this question spells not just a political conflict, but a generational one as well.”


Threatened south to north, IDF seeks calm while steeling for worst, Times of Israel

With tensions rising in the south amid fears that the Islamic Jihad terror group will attempt to avenge a tunnel demolition two weeks ago, the Israeli military is finding that striking a delicate balance between keeping terror groups from preparing for a future war and keeping the region relatively calm is easier said than done.

Steve Bannon and the alt-right asked Jews to join their war against the Republican Establishment, Newsweek

Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon is urging American Jews to join his war against the Republican establishment — and he’s bringing along a host of white supremacists and alt-right conspiracy theorists with him.

Congressional bill would prevent US funding for Israel’s detention of Palestinian children, JTA

A Minnesota congresswoman has introduced a bill that seeks to prevent the United States from funding Israel’s military detention of Palestinian children. The legislation introduced Tuesday by Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat, has at least nine co-sponsors. It would require the secretary of state to certify annually that U.S. assistance to Israel has not been used in the previous year to militarily detain, interrogate or abuse Palestinian children.

President Rivlin to U.S. Jews: I Feel Your Pain, but ‘Religion and State’ Is Political in Israel, Haaretz

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday addressed the Jewish Federations’ General Assembly in his first major speech to the Jewish community outside Israel. Speaking to the 3,000 attendees at the Los Angeles confab, Rivlin conveyed his understanding to the distress many American Jews feel towards the Israeli government these days while offering a lesson in Israeli realpolitik.

Israel to expropriate Palestinian land for settlement expansion in northern West Bank, Ma’an

Israeli authorities on Tuesday reportedly notified Palestinian farmers that they intend to expropriate plots of land near the village of Shofeh, southeast of Tulkarem in the northern occupied West Bank, in order to expand the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Avnei Hefetz.

Bannon: Breitbart is More ‘Pro-Jewish’ Than The Forward, The Forward

Steve Bannon thinks that his “alt-right”-promoting website Breitbart is “the most pro-Jewish site of any news site, and I include The Forward in that.”

Opinions and Analysis

The Zionist Organization of America Has Forgotten What It Means to Be Jewish, Haaretz

Bradley Burston argues, “By a huge margin, the Jews of America believe that a female American or an African American or a Mexican American or a Muslim American or an LGBTQ American or a disabled American are, and ought to be, respected and treated as full citizens of the United States of America. The Jews of America haven’t forgotten what it means to be Jewish. But the Zionist Organization of America has.”

Israeli right’s anti-democratic laws penetrate everywhere, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar argues, “Netanyahu is turning the state prosecutor’s office, the police and the media into punching bags. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is conducting an aggressive campaign against the Supreme Court and the separation of powers. Bennett has mobilized the school system for a religious, right-wing brainwashing of the country’s youth. The Knesset and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit have managed to scuttle some of the more outlandish proposals, such as the ‘French law’ that would have precluded criminal probes of an incumbent prime minister. But the notion that a prime minister is above the law has already become a legitimate issue for discussion.”

American Jews, Lay Off Linda Sarsour, Haaretz

David Schraub argues, “So I call for a moratorium on the attack campaign on Linda Sarsour. It’s not because she’s beyond criticism. She most certainly is not. And it’s not because there’s no reasonable linkage to be made between her politics and anti- Semitism. There is. But the vitriol directed towards her has so wildly blown past any reasonable accounting of her missteps that it is doing more to obliterate the space for a useful critique than it is to provide one. It is no longer a productive conversation, and, until it becomes one, there’s no good reason to throw oneself onto the pile.

Trump’s Mideast Peace Initiative Could Be Netanyahu’s Hail Mary Escape Ploy, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev argues, “A U.S. peace initiative at this volatile Middle East juncture could have far reaching consequences. Despite efforts to put up appearances, it could ultimately blow up in Mohammad bin Salman’s face and be received as a Saudi betrayal of the Palestinians. If that is not the case, it is certain to set off a political chain reaction in Israel’s ruling coalition, a large portion of which won’t support a Palestinian deal under any and all circumstances. Ah, yes, and there’s always the chance, however remote, that it will be President Trump, of all people, who will convince Israelis and Palestinians to beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”

For Many Sunni Muslim Countries, Iran Is Not Necessarily a Threat, Haaretz

Zvi Bar’el argues, “The Israeli and American satisfaction with Riyadh’s anti-Iran campaign, which depicts the Iranian threat as the principal axis around which the Middle East revolves, is misguided. This simplistic outlook primarily serves the Israeli and American need to find an ultimate enemy and build a military policy around it. But this view of the Iranian threat is not shared by all Arab states, including ones that have signed peace agreements with Israel.”

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