Josh Lederman reports, “Former Secretary of State John Kerry says both Israel and Egypt pushed the United States to ‘bomb Iran’ before the 2015 nuclear deal was struck. Kerry is defending the deal during a forum in Washington. He says kings and foreign presidents told the U.S. that bombing was the only language Iran would understand. But Kerry says that was ‘a trap’ in many ways because the same countries would have publicly criticized the U.S. if it bombed. Kerry says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was ‘genuinely agitating toward action.’”
Dismantling the Foreign Service, New York Times
Nicholas Burns and Ryan C. Crocker argue, “The recent decision by Mr. Tillerson to downsize the Foreign Service by up to 8 percent of the entire officer corps, however, is particularly dangerous. The Foreign Service, which has about 8,000 officers who do core diplomatic work, is a fraction of the size of the military. The service is already overwhelmed by the growing challenges to the United States on every continent. In our view, Mr. Tillerson has failed to make a convincing case as to why deep cuts will strengthen, rather than weaken, the service, and thus the nation. This is not about belt tightening. It is a deliberate effort to deconstruct the State Department and the Foreign Service.”
President Donald Trump on Wednesday shared a series of videos with his Twitter followers portraying Muslims as violent and dangerous. All three videos were originally posted to Twitter by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the far-right, ultranationalist group Britain First. She was found guilty last year of religiously aggravated harassment of a Muslim woman.
At an event marking the 70th anniversary of a United Nations vote that called for the establishment of Israel, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said that Trump is actively considering how to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
Sixty European Parliament lawmakers in a letter asked the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, to cut funding for organizations that support boycotts against Israel.
Ratcheting up the rhetoric in their battle with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Conservative Jewish leaders released a video Monday with a clear message for the Israeli leader: “Mr. Prime Minister, shame on you.”
Israeli forces detained six Palestinians before dawn on Tuesday across the occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. In the northern West Bank, Palestinian sources reported that Israeli forces raided the Burqin town in the Jenin district and detained a “youth,” identified as Ahmad Ateeq.
Hamas, Fatah spar over fate of Gaza employees, Times of Israel
The two leading Palestinian factions sparred Tuesday over the fate of tens of thousands of employees in Gaza ahead of a key deadline, the latest sign that a landmark reconciliation accord was faltering.
How we should relate to Israel, J Street
Alan Elsner argues, “We bring up our children to question everything – and yet when the subject turns to Israel we have nothing to say. We raise them with certain values inherited from our tradition, handed down from generation to generation – and yet when Israel appears to violate these same values, we are supposed to keep silent. A dynamic in which one side stifles its opinions in the name of preserving a false unanimity of views is not healthy. What we need is dialogue based on true give and take between the two communities. We have lost the ability to speak honestly and to listen carefully to one another. We need to restore that as the foundation of a healthy relationship.”
Hamas’ survival strategy, Al-Monitor
Shlomi Eldar writes, “The credibility crisis between Hamas and Fatah regarding the reconciliation agreement signed by both parties Oct. 12 can no longer be ignored. Differences of opinion have deepened, and in the last round of talks in Cairo on Nov. 21, the post-signing smiles were replaced by anger and open recriminations. It would seem that the gaps between the sides cannot be bridged.”
Ben Sales asks, “When Israeli security guards roughed up the head rabbi of the Reform movement at the Western Wall, ripping his suit jacket and shoving a can of mace in his face, Rabbi Jen Lader had a dilemma: How could she talk about the violence without being boring? Lader, a spiritual leader at Temple Israel in suburban Detroit, had already preached about the Israeli government’s apparent disdain for Reform Jews. She had spoken about how Reform Jews cannot marry or perform conversions as they choose in Israel. She had decried the government’s abandonment of the Western Wall deal — an agreement to provide space at the holy site for non-Orthodox prayer. Wasn’t this latest incident at the Western Wall just more of the same?”
Asher Schechter writes, “Minutes before Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour took the stage at The New School’s Alvin Johnson Auditorium as part of a panel on anti-Semitism, one of the organizers went up to deliver a number of key instructions to audience members in case protesters would try to shut down the event. But the fears that the event would be disrupted by right-wing protesters turned out to be for naught. Despite two weeks of a media frenzy, a petition signed by more than 21,000 people and loads of criticism from both left and right, the panel concluded with only two very minor interruptions.”
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