News Roundup for November 18, 2016

November 18, 2016

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

J Street in the News

How It’s ‘Absolutely’ Possible For Steve Bannon To Be Pro-Israel And Anti-Semitic, Huffington Post

“J Street, a liberal pro-Israel lobbying organization, has also been critical of Bannon. Jessica Rosenblum, the group’s vice president of communications, told The Huffington Post that it is “completely appropriate’ to apply the label of anti-Semite to those who use and promote anti-Semitic rhetoric and who ‘routinely aid and stand with white supremacists in demonizing Jews and other religious and ethnic minorities.’ ‘Steve Bannon’s friends on the far right of the Jewish community can make facile claims about his support for Israel, but that does nothing to change the fact that Bannon spreads an ideology of hatred and bigotry that is extremely hostile and dangerous to American Jews and to all of the values – like tolerance, diversity, and equality – that we stand for and that protect us in this country,’ Rosenblum said in a statement.”

If Liberal Jews Are the Targets of Trump-inspired anti-Semitism, Is It Really anti-Semitism?, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “The ZOA gala is a one-time event, but its extraordinary koshering of Bannon could come to symbolize the potential schism inside the Jewish community and the exacerbation of its already tense relationship with Israel. If the Jewish right and the government of Israel stand by a Trump administration that will continue to promote hostility towards women, foreigners and minorities, including Jews, and will change the liberal character of America, these fissures could become irreversible. The internal tensions are already rising to the surface. The organized Jewish community is splitting into three distinct groups: those that endorsed Bannon, such as the ZOA and the Republican Jewish Coalition; those that are refraining from comment but their silence speaks volumes, such as AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee; and those that have called on Trump to rescind the appointment, such as J Street and the Anti-Defamation League (though the latter has since clarified that it knows of no anti-Semitic statement directly made by Bannon). America’s most influential Jewish groups. Peter Beinart wrote that AIPAC and the AJC have prioritized Netanyahu over U.S. Jews’ safety.”

A Divisive Result, Baltimore Jewish Times

“Aaron Levin, chair of J Street Baltimore, said Trump’s attitude and language directed toward all minority groups should put everyone on alert. ‘Obviously, I think there are a lot of disturbing things we have seen from Trump so far,’ Levin said. ‘People from all different minority backgrounds, I think, have every reason to be fearful.’”

Top News and Analysis

Israeli Officials Mull Granting Settlers ‘Protected Population’ Status in West Bank, Haaretz

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked are examining three possible solutions to legalize settlements in the West Bank, including defining settlers as a local population like the Palestinians. Such a solution would allow Israel to expropriate Palestinian land for settlements. Other possibilities include making use of abandoned and unclaimed assets, and introducing a compensation mechanism similar to one used in Cyprus that has gained approval from the international community….Regarding the first suggested solution, the Justice Ministry is checking whether settlers can be declared “protected persons” in an area categorized under international law as a ‘war zone.’ The settlers do not currently have this status and, therefore, Israel can only operate in the West Bank for security purposes or for the sake of the Palestinians, who are defined as ‘protected persons.’”

Israel’s Alarming Settlement Bill, The New York Times

The editorial board writes, “Right-wing Israeli politicians see Donald Trump’s election as helpful toward their goal of burying the prospect of a Palestinian state. On Wednesday, Israeli lawmakers gave preliminary approval to a bill that would retroactively legalize settlements built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank. The bill is intended to prevent the court-ordered demolition of an illegal outpost by Dec. 25….On Wednesday, Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said that the government should strike a deal with the Trump administration to authorize expanded construction in the major West Bank settlements. Any move in that direction would be misguided and dangerous for the United States….Mr. Trump’s personal views on the settlements are unclear. He recently told The Wall Street Journal that he aspired to broker the “ultimate deal,” to bring an end to the conflict between Israel and Palestinians, “for humanity’s sake.” If that is indeed his aspiration, he should immediately signal to the Israelis — not to mention his advisers — that he will need time and consultation to develop a coherent policy on the region. Absent such a signal, the right wing in Israel will be further encouraged to forge ahead with a new and dangerous expansion of settlements.”

Protesters Stormed the Building Where Donald Trump’s Transition Team Is Based, Time “Protesters marched into the lobby of the General Services Administration in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, where Donald Trump’s White House transition team has been meeting. They were there to protest Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon as his chief White House strategist, Patch reports. The group chanted and held signs calling for Trump to “Fire Bannon.” Formerly the head of the alt-right news website Breitbart, Bannon has given voice to some of the unsavory forces floating around the conservative movement’s fringe, including a resurgence of white nationalism….The Jewish activist group IfNotNow played a role in organizing the march, and protesters identified themselves on Twitter as the Jewish Resistance. Once inside the GSA lobby, protesters continued to rally.”


ADL leader: US anti-Semitism worse than at any time since 1930s, JTA

“At the opening to the Anti-Defamation League’s conference on anti-Semitism, the organization’s national director said anti-Jewish hatred in America is worse than at any point since the 1930s….Addressing reports that Trump’s transition team is considering creating a registry of Muslims in the United States, Greenblatt pledged that he would sign up as a Muslim. “As Jews, we know what it means to be registered, or targeted, held out as different from our fellow citizens,” Greenblatt said. “We as Jews know the right and just response. I pledge to you right here and now, because I’m committed to the fight against anti-Semitism, if one day American Muslims will be forced to register their identity, that is the day this proud Jew will register as a Muslim.”

Trump Is Said to Offer National Security Post to Michael Flynn, Retired General, The New York Times

“President-elect Donald J. Trump has offered the post of national security adviser to Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, potentially putting a retired intelligence officer who believes Islamist militancy poses an existential threat in one of the most powerful roles in shaping military and foreign policy, according to a top official on Mr. Trump’s transition team….General Flynn, for instance, has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States (it is not). His dubious assertions are so common that when he ran the Defense Intelligence Agency, subordinates came up with a name for the phenomenon: They called them ‘Flynn facts.’”

Lieberman Slams Bennett for ‘Irresponsible’ Stance on Amona, Settlements, Haaretz

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized cabinet colleague Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) on Thursday for his behavior over the planned evacuation of the illegal outpost of Amona and the settlement-legalization bill that is progressing through the Knesset.

Israeli Supreme Court rejects Palestinian village’s appeal over confiscated land, Ma’an

The Israeli Supreme Court rejected an appeal filed by residents of the occupied West Bank village of al-Nabi Elyas over Israel’s confiscation of 100 dunams of Palestinian land, Israeli radio reported on Thursday. According to the Arabic-language Voice of Israel station, the court ruled on Wednesday that residents of al-Nabi Elyas in the district of Qalqiliya could not prove ownership of land which had been seized to build a road.

Israeli ambassador to U.S. vouches for Trump, Bannon, Politico

The Israeli ambassador to the United States on Thursday praised President-elect Donald Trump as a “true friend of Israel” and said that Israel looks forward to working with the administration — extending a specific mention to incoming top White House adviser Steve Bannon.

Abraham Foxman withdraws from ZOA dinner, calling it ‘politicized’, JTA

Abraham Foxman, the former longtime national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he will not be attending a Zionist Organization of America dinner because the event has been “politicized.”

Israeli Settler Group Tries to Evict Nine Palestinian Families From East Jerusalem Homes, Haaretz

Ateret Cohanim, an organization that seeks to settle Jews in East Jerusalem, recently asked the courts to evict another nine Palestinian families from East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood.

This brings the total number of Palestinian families whom the group is seeking to evict to 72. All live in a section of Silwan called Batan al-Hawa.

Opinion and Analysis

They Went Low With Donald Trump and Steve Bannon — We Should Go Lower, Forward

Jay Michaelson writes, “Stop this handwringing, progressives! Stop bowing your head like a bulrush! The right-wingers are laughing at you. Get in their face! Fight fire with fire. Use your white privilege, if you’re white, to call out racism. Don’t be a “good German” who lets the likes of Steve Bannon, a man who was content to let white nationalists spew hate on his site, run the White House. Personally, I will not be the Neville Chamberlain of the next four years….This is what my Jewish tradition teaches me: not to be silent, or cowed, or introspective, or apologetic in the face of injustice….There’s a lot of talk about not ‘normalizing’ Trump. Wake up, people: This is the new normal. We are the abnormal: not just progressives, but true conservatives and moderates as well, people who believe in rational discourse, in civility, in science. Defense hawks (pro-Israel and otherwise) who believe that America must lead, not cower. Defense doves who believe that violence should be the last resort, not the first choice. We are all the marginal; the know-nothings are the normal.”

Jerusalem Mayor Uses Arab Residents as Club to Beat Supreme Court, Haaretz

Nir Hasson observes, “There are very few things that right-wing activist Arieh King, left-wing organizations and lawyers representing Palestinians in Jerusalem can agree on. But the announcement by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Wednesday that, following the High Court of Justice ruling that the state must evacuate the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona by December 25, the municipality would accelerate the demolition of Palestinian buildings built on private Jewish land, pulled off that near-impossible feat. Everyone, right and left, agrees that the announcement is a bit of spin by Barkat aimed at attracting Likud voters to his political campaign…..Despite his best efforts, Barkat failed in his attempt to regularize construction in East Jerusalem. The number of building permits issued for East Jerusalem, and the number of building plans approved there, pale in comparison to both the demand and amount of illegal construction that takes place there. But at least a practical use for the city’s Palestinian residents has now been found: if not as residents with equal rights in a united city, then at least as a club to be wielded when trying to scare or threaten the Supreme Court.”

ARZA Statement on Steve Bannon and Two-State Solution, ARZA

“The Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) is alarmed at the appointment of Steve Bannon as an advisor and strategist to President-elect Trump. Mr. Bannon led the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ — a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists, a true affront to our open, pluralistic society….The strong America-Israel relationship is of the utmost importance to us, and we express our deep concern that President-elect Trump may set aside the policy of every previous American President who supported a two states for two peoples resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We are deeply concerned that since the election of Donald Trump, several Israeli ministers in the Knesset have openly considered this as an opportunity to forgo the establishment of a Palestinian State. Evidence of this trend can be seen not only in the public discourse of various ministers but also in their actions. A bill to retroactively legalize illegal settlements just passed its first Knesset reading today.”

Israel’s Brewing Settlements Law Could Stir Problems in Washington, Washington Institute

David Makovsky observes, “Netanyahu recently told settlers that the most sensitive moment in the United States is the period between a presidential election and an inauguration. He therefore urged them to avoid provocative steps for fear of triggering US steps at the Security Council. Yet a unique set of circumstances has led his rival Bennett to put forward sweeping legislation that is bound to anger the White House and force Netanyahu’s hand in the process. Ironically, dovish NGOs have seemingly been unable to achieve what a right-wing leader’s outpost bill is poised to do: make it very difficult for the White House to look away from the settlements issue in its waning days.”

Questions, comments, or suggestions? Please email [email protected]