News Roundup for November 17, 2017

November 17, 2017

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J Street in the News

Violence Against Reform Jews at Western Wall is Inexcusable, J Street

“J Street is appalled by an incident at the Western Wall today when a delegation of Reform Jews was roughed up by Israeli security guards when they tried to hold a Torah-reading service. According to Haaretz, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, was hit and punched by security guards employed at the Western Wall, one of whom threatened to spray him with mace. This happened after around 150 Reform Jews, including the entire board of governors of the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, arrived to hold a service in honor of four new rabbis. The guards are employees of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the Orthodox-run organization that administers the site.”

Top News and Analysis

Israeli military chief wants closer Saudi ties as Iran tensions rise, The Guardian

Peter Beaumont reports, “Israel’s military chief has given an ‘unprecedented’ interview to a Saudi newspaper underlining the ways in which the two countries could unite to counter Iran’s influence in the region. Speaking to the Saudi newspaper Elaph, Gen Gadi Eisenkot described Iran as the ‘biggest threat to the region’ and said Israel would be prepared to share intelligence with ‘moderate’ Arab states like Saudi Arabia in order to ‘deal with’ Tehran. The interview, however, is particularly striking in its very public and confrontational messaging: an appeal by Israel to Riyadh for a joint action on Tehran, delivered by Israel’s most senior soldier.  It is the latest dramatic twist in weeks of turmoil in the region, which followed an unexpected purge of Saudi princes and officials by crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, who has also increasingly locked Saudi Arabia on a path to confrontation with Iran.”


Two injured, one seriously, in West Bank car ramming; terrorist shot, Times of Israel

A Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into two people, seriously injuring one of them, before getting shot while trying to stab soldiers in the central West Bank on Friday morning, the army said.

Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan, Jewish Insider

The top-secret White House Middle East peace effort to design the “ultimate deal” and solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a major discussion topic in the Knesset’s corridors. The deadline for the grand plan’s announcement continues to be extended.

Israel Claimed Iran Refused Its Offer for Humanitarian Aid. Red Cross Says Otherwise, Haaretz

Israel did not receive an “immediate refusal” from Iran or Iraq following its offer to send humanitarian aid after last week’s earthquake, contrary to statements made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

Israel demolishes Palestinian Bedouin village for 121st time, Ma’an

Israeli authorities on Thursday morning demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev desert in southern Israel for the 121st time, leaving all the families in the village homeless, according to locals. Residents of the al-Araqib have rebuilt the village 120 times after each demolition, the latest of which was October 25th.

ZOA Boss Calls Young Jewish Activist A ‘Mindless Idiot’ On Twitter, The Forward

Days after hosting a gala attended by former Trump advisors Sebastian Gorka and Steve Bannon, the Zionist Organization of America’s longtime chief took to Twitter to unleash on leftist critics. In tweets this week, ZOA president Mort Klein attacked two young Jewish left-wing activists, calling one a “mindless idiot” and another a “pathetic frightened Jew”.

Opinions and Analysis

Former White House aide Gorka says Iran ‘every Friday declares war on us,’ Politifact

Paul Specht writes, “Gorka said the Iranian regime ‘declares war’ on America ‘every Friday.’ The government-sanctioned prayers on Fridays sometimes include chants of ‘death to America.’ Experts say those chants are rhetoric and not serious declarations of war. Iran has never formally declared war on the US even once, let alone on a weekly basis. We rate Gorka’s claim False.”

Israel is nervous about the Syria ceasefire deal, Axios

Barak Ravid writes, “Israeli leaders are worried about the ceasefire deal in southern Syria signed last weekend between the U.S., Russia and Jordan. That’s because the deal will allow Iranian-backed forces to position themselves as close as 3.5 miles from the Israeli border in the Golan Heights. But they also think it sends an alarming signal about the Trump administration’s policies. Israeli officials see the deal as a sign that the Trump administration is too eager to pull out of the Middle East, and not willing to back up its rhetoric about confronting Iran’s negative regional behavior with action.”

Forty years after historic visit to Israel by Egypt’s Sadat, both countries further apart, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar writes, “The only thing that could fundamentally change the state of the Israeli-Egyptian relationship for the better would be an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which would extricate the flags of Egypt and Jordan from their isolation in Tel Aviv. Netanyahu, however, is doing everything in his power to perpetuate the Israeli occupation as well as the separate peace with Egypt and Jordan. He is even mobilizing the peace agreements with them in the struggle against the Palestinians.”

The World Zionist Organization’s Land Theft Division, Haaretz

The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “Any other person, company or organization that would methodically behave in this fashion would certainly be prosecuted. But no one has even investigated the Settlement Division. The Civil Administration, Israel’s governing body in the West Bank, has done nothing, nor have the police raided the division’s offices. From Justice Ministry documents it emerges that the state doesn’t even know which lands have been allocated to the division and on which lands it is operating without any authority.”

How Judaism Became a Dirty Word in Israel, Haaretz

Anshel Pfeffer argues, “Unlike Aloni, Gabbay isn’t proposing that we all wear shtreimels, as long as the left can get back to power… But instead of the left taking up Gabbay’s challenge and proposing their own versions of secular and progressive Judaism, they prefer to shut down the debate. Interestingly, all of this is happening at a time when in the United States – the largest Jewish community in the world – young Jews are challenging the establishment and redefining Jewish values for our generation. But the chorus line of the Israeli left has deserted the fight and seems hell-bent on proving that Netanyahu was right.”

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