News Roundup for November 3, 2016

November 3, 2016

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J Street in the News

J Street Calls on Israel’s Ambassador Dermer to Decline Award from Islamophobic Hate Group, Condemn Group’s Activities, J Street Blog

“J Street is deeply disturbed that Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, plans to accept an award from the Center for Security Policy (CSP), an organization that traffics in repulsive Islamophobia and has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. We call on Ambassador Dermer to decline this award and to condemn the dangerous activities and views of the CSP and its president and founder, Frank Gaffney…..The CSP is engaged in an assault on the basic values of tolerance, civility, and democracy. These are American values and Jewish values. Millions of Americans and American Jews will be heading to the polls on Tuesday to cast votes in defense of them. These values have historically formed the backbone for the US-Israel relationship. Ambassador Dermer’s willingness to accept an award from such a group raises serious questions as to whether he misunderstands those values, or does not share them.”

Israel’s U.S. Envoy Ron Dermer to Be Honored by anti-Muslim Hate Group, Haaretz

“Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer will be accepting an award in New York next month from an American organization identified as an anti-Muslim hate group….J Street, a pro-Israel pro-peace organization, called on Dermer to decline the honor on Wednesday. ‘In the course of a long career of spreading anti-Islamic hatred and fear, Gaffney has accused President Obama of having secret Muslim heritage; charged that Muslim Members of Congress should not receive classified information; accused Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin of having ties to terrorist groups; and lavished praise on a prominent white nationalist, Jared Taylor,” the organization said in a statement. ‬’The CSP has had a significant role in fueling the fire of the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant politics that have come to the forefront in the 2016 election cycle. Bogus CSP ‘polling’ alleging that a large number of American Muslims support violence has been cited by Donald Trump. A CSP ‘report’ released in 2015 called for a full moratorium on Muslim immigration to the United States,’ it added.”

Israel’s US envoy to be honored by think tank accused of Islamophobia, Times of Israel

“J Street called on Dermer to refuse the award from the group it described as ‘an organization that traffics in repulsive Islamophobia.’ In a statement, J Street said ‘We call on Ambassador Dermer to decline this award and to condemn the dangerous activities and views of the CSP and its president and founder, Frank Gaffney.’”

Top Lobbyists 2016: Grassroots, J Street Blog

“Dylan Williams, J Street: The left-leaning U.S.-Israel group has put its weight behind the nuclear deal with Iran, airing ads against lawmakers in tough Senate races who opposed the accord.”

Top News and Analysis

Donald Trump Releases Detailed Israel Policy Plan — 6 Days Before Vote, JTA

Ron Kampeas reports, “Less than a week before the presidential election, Donald Trump’s two top Israel advisers released a detailed plan that pledges assistance to Israel beyond current levels but stops short of pledging to kill the Iran nuclear deal….The statement also hews to the Republican platform approved this summer in retreating from over a decade of a commitment by both major American parties to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The U.S. cannot support the creation of a new state where terrorism is financially incentivized, terrorists are celebrated by political parties and government institutions, and the corrupt diversion of foreign aid is rampant,” it says.”

Is the JFNA legitimizing settlements?, Times of Israel

Lara Friedman writes, “Last week, Jewish Federations of North American (JFNA), an organization representing federations across the United States, opened the door, as a matter of formal policy, to taking Americans to visit Israeli settlements. These are the areas located east of the 1949 Armistice line separating Israel and the occupied territories (aka “the Green Line”) in which Israel has been actively settling its citizens since 1967. This decision, upending longstanding JFNA policy, doesn’t come in a vacuum. Rather, it comes in the context of a campaign to legitimize settlements in the eyes of American law and in the minds of American Jews — contrary to consistent US law and policy since 1967 rejecting the legitimacy of both settlements and the occupation, and contrary to the vital interests of Israel.”

Battle Over Israel’s Supreme Court Escalates as Chief Justice Refuses to Work With Minister, Haaretz

“The battle over appointments of new judges to Israel’s Supreme Court escalated Thursday as Israel’s chief justice accused the justice minister of “putting a gun on the table,” and said the bench would not work with minister on any new appointments. In Israel, Supreme Court judges are appointed by a panel consisting of ministers, Knesset members, Bar Association representatives and sitting justices. But because Supreme Court appointments must be approved by at leave seven members, the justices effectively have a veto over their own successors. Supreme Court President Miriam Naor said she and Israel’s other justices will not hold any discussions with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked because of new legislation she is promoting which will de facto take the justice’s veto power, Naor told Shaked on Thursday morning.”


Palestinian Teen Receives Life Sentence for Murder of Israeli Mother of Six, Haaretz

The Judea Military Court issued a life sentence to the Palestinian teenager that murdered Dafna Meir outside her home in the West Bank settlement of Otniel in January.

Netanyahu, Kahlon to Convene Taskforce to Break Logjam Over Public Broadcasting, Haaretz

Amid resistance in his coalition government to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to keep the country’s current broadcasting agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority, in place rather than replacing it with a new broadcasting corporation, he and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon have agreed to convene a taskforce to try to resolve the issue.

US irked as East Jerusalem housing plans move forward, Times of Israel

Israeli planning authorities issued building permits for 181 new homes in East Jerusalem Wednesday, drawing a harsh rebuke from the United States….Jerusalem spokeswoman Brachie Sprung said plans in the Gilo area were first given the go-ahead in 2012 and that Wednesday’s approvals were for ‘technical details of plot distribution.’….Sprung said that more detailed building permits will be required before the units are built. But the approval nonetheless raised hackles in the US State Department. ‘We strongly oppose settlement activity,’ spokesman John Kirby told reporters, accusing Israel of actions that ‘risk entrenching a one-state reality’ and raise serious questions about the Jewish state’s commitment to a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”

Open Hillel Calls on Hillel To Reject of $22M in Israel Government Funding, Forward

Open Hillel, a network of student groups that promote open dialogue about Israel on college campuses, called on Hillel International to reject funding from a project led by Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett. In its statement, Open Hillel said that Bennett, a member of the right-wing Jewish Home party, has political views at odds with Hillel’s mission, including his opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage.

Israeli authorities demolish home in Jerusalem-area village of Beit Hanina, Ma’an

Israeli bulldozers demolished a residence in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina on Wednesday morning, despite the owners saying that the demolition order had been postponed

Thalji Suleiman, the owner of the building said that an Israeli court had postponed the demolition order by two months on Tuesday, and that his family was attempting to obtain building licences from the Israeli municipality but were taken by surprise by the demolition.

Opinion and Analysis

White House Is Trying to Topple Me, Netanyahu Said on Israeli Election Day, Haaretz

Haaretz reports on a reporter who in 2015 heard directly from Prime Minister Netanyahu about “a global conspiracy to topple him that included Washington, espionage agencies, the V15 movement that sought to unseat him, opposition leader Isaac Herzog and the Israeli media…..The investigation by Gidi Weitz and Nati Tucker which will appear in Haaretz’s weekend edition reveals: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu engages obsessively with the media and is paranoid. His goal is to achieve control over all the branches of media, and to weaken it – from the managers who fielded phones rebukes from him in the middle of the night, to regular briefings of all the panelists on Channel 2 television, to his implied threat against the publisher of a newspaper.”

Israel’s defense minister offers Palestinians big stick, tiny carrots, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar observes, “Liberman, like Netanyahu before him who coined the mantra “If they give, they will get; if they don’t give, they won’t get,” has not learned the lessons of two intifadas and the more recent wave of stabbing attacks: that the concept of an “enlightened occupation” has gone bankrupt. The first reason is that the Palestinian independence train left the station 23 years ago. One can try to throw a spanner into the works, but one cannot turn it back. The second reason is that the strong settlement establishment has a clear interest in thwarting the two-state solution and shrinking the Palestinians’ living space. Its representatives will do everything in their power to foil any effort to expand the presence of Palestinians in Area C. They refuse to even return to their rightful owners a baby carrot: the private lands they stole from Palestinians to build the illegal outpost of Amona despite a Supreme Court ruling two years ago ordering them to vacate the outpost. The settlers practice such intimidation against decision-makers that the Cabinet even kept secret its decision to grant the Palestinians a handful of building permits.”

Arab Rapper Tests The Limit Of Israel’s Artistic Freedoms, NPR

A look at Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar and his popularity – and critics – in Israel.