News Roundup for November 5, 2018

November 5, 2018

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J Street in the News

These Midterms, It’s a MitzVote for Jewish American Students, Haaretz

“I get the sense that folks feel this is an ‘all-in’ kind of time,’ Matan Neeman-Arad, a 20-year-old Haverford College student says of the  midterm elections, when Americans will vote in hundreds of congressional, state and local races….Back in Pennsylvania, Arad-Neeman has been campaigning hard for the Democratic Party. ‘I feel this is really the moment we can turn the tide,’ he says. A J Street-affiliated student, he is focused on domestic issues – the separation of children from their parents along the Mexican border has especially outraged him – but says he also cares deeply about a diplomatic push to try to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ‘We need to have congresspeople who are pro-diplomacy, pro-peace,’ he says. ‘The current situation is a pro-peace sham. There is thinking that by somehow taking Jerusalem off the table or defunding [Palestinian refugee agency] UNRWA, we are being brought closer to peace. But if we had a pro-diplomacy majority in Congress, we would have more leverage in telling [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu he cannot get away with, for example, demolishing people’s homes or having such a heavy hand in the disproportionate civilian death toll in Gaza.”

With Latest Violation of Nuclear Agreement, Trump Betrays US Allies and Hands Victory to Iranian Hardliners, J Street

“President Trump’s reimposition of broad sanctions on those doing business with Iran puts the US in further violation of the JCPOA nuclear agreement, which has successfully blocked all Iranian paths to a nuclear weapon. This action hands an astonishing victory to Iranian hardliners seeking to harm the US and our allies, and could help lead our country down the path to another destructive war of choice in the Middle East. Iran’s hardliners have long worked to undermine diplomacy-oriented domestic political rivals, sew regional instability and diminish US influence on the world stage. Now, by unilaterally abrogating the anti-nuclear pact, an American president has done all three.”

Top News and Analysis

U.S. Reimposes Sanctions on Iran but Undercuts the Pain With Waivers, The New York Times

“The Trump administration announced on Friday that it was exempting eight countries from bruising sanctions that the United States was reimposing against Iran, undercutting its pledge to economically punish Tehran’s regional aggressions while widening a profound rift with European allies. Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, did not identify the eight countries that were being granted six-month waivers, but a senior official confirmed that they include India, South Korea, Japan and China — among the world’s largest importers of Iranian oil. Mr. Pompeo said the European Union, which recently announced the creation of an economic channel to continue financial dealings with Iran, was not among those receiving waivers.”

Egyptian Pressure and Qatari Aid Bring Israel and Hamas Closer to a Gaza Deal, Haaretz

Amos Harel observes, “The gradual reduction in violence allows for measures to improve Gaza’s dire economy. Qatar has been recruited to pay the salaries of Gaza’s civil servants. Islamic Jihad is sitting on the fence – and not playing spoiler as it did a week earlier. It’s even possible that the Palestinian Authority will stop trying to thwart a deal in Gaza. All this explains the Israeli government’s willingness to continue a policy of restraint even though it might do damage politically….If Hamas achieves an agreement as a direct result of the diverse types of violence it has employed – from firing rockets to trying to send masses of Palestinians across the border – it will have significantly improved its position. Not only will the blockade of Gaza be eased, but Egypt, the United Nations, Qatar and effectively the entire international community will have begun treating it as a legitimate partner rather than demanding that anything done in Gaza be done via the Palestinian Authority.”

Want to understand today’s climate of hate? Look at Trump’s 2016 closing ad, Washington Post

Greg Sargent writes, “Indeed, in retrospect, it’s remarkable how well [Trump]’s 2016 campaign previewed some of what we’re seeing today. In light of all of it, it’s chilling to go back and watch his two-minute closing ad, which was the perfect statement of this type of xenophobic populist nationalism….The point is not that Trump is to blame for that massacre; it’s that in its wake, Trump has continued to feed this crackpot conspiracy-mongering with more dangerous lies. Trump not only continues to hype the migrant caravan as a national emergency, even sending in troops to dramatize the point; he has also even continued to encourage the view that Soros is engineering it…Trump was warned during the campaign that these ideas were combustible. He has now seen this come to fruition in the most horrifying way possible. And as president, he’s continued to feed them. And so have many other Republicans.”


Emerging Israel-Hamas Deal Reportedly Includes Partial Lifting of Siege, End of Violence, Haaretz

An emerging agreement between Israel and Hamas aimed at easing violence on the Gaza border will last until the end of 2018, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Saturday. The paper published a draft agreement said to be an Israel-Hamas deal that will limit protest activities near the border and restrict violence. According to clauses in the draft agreement, Egypt will pressure Israel to lift 70 percent of the blockade on Gaza and expand the fishing zone to 14 nautical miles; 5,000 Gazan workers under 40 will be allowed to enter Israel for employment; and Egypt will open the Rafah border crossing.

Netanyahu Tells Trump To Back Saudi Prince After Brutal Khashoggi Murder, Forward

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called senior Trump administration officials to express support for Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, The Washington Post reported on Thursday. The newspaper quoted “people familiar with the calls” as saying that Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi defended bin Salman, saying his effective leadership of Saudi Arabia had important strategic implications.

GOP congressional candidate called Islam ‘dangerous’ and the work of Satan, CNN

The Republican candidate running in a competitive House race in North Carolina has a history of making anti-Muslim comments, a CNN KFile review finds. Harris, as the senior pastor of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church, claimed Islam was “dangerous” and the work of Satan. He also said peace between Israel and the Palestinians could not be achieved until Muslims and Jews accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.

Right-wing lawmaker’s speech drowned out at Rabin memorial in Tel Aviv, JTA

A speech by a Likud government minister was drowned out with boos and noisemakers at an annual rally in memory of slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Many in the crowd of tens of thousands of people at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv called for Tzachi Hanegbi to “get off the stage” and “apologize.”

Record Crowds Attend Synagogues Across the U.S. in Solidarity With Pittsburgh Victims, Haaretz

Organizers of the national campaign to fill up synagogues across the United States in solidarity with victims of the Pittsburgh massacre say initial reports show that Jewish prayer houses were crowded as never before over the weekend.

Israel’s Netanyahu welcomes Brazil Jerusalem embassy vow, BBC

PM Netanyahu welcomed a decision by Brazil’s president-elect to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Mr Netanyahu praised it as “historic, [and] correct”. Palestinians called the move “provocative and illegal”.

Yitzhak Rabin’s Assassination Had ‘No Historical Influence,’ Knesset Speaker Says, Haaretz

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said Sunday that the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had “no historical influence.” In an interview on Israel’s Army Radio, Edelstein said that if the murder “achieved goals, then they were the opposite goals of what that heinous killer intended to achieve.”

Palestinian-American author deported upon arrival at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, JTA

A Palestinian-American writer, Susan Abulhawa, was detained at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport and ordered deported. Abulhawa, author of the novel “Mornings in Jenin,” arrived in Israel on Thursday to attend the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival, which is being held over this week in Jerusalem, Haifa, and around the West Bank. She was returned to the United States on Friday, after appealing the order with the help of a British attorney. The festival is co-sponsored by the British Council.

Opinion and Analysis

American Jews May Never Forgive Israel for Its Reaction to the Pittsburgh Massacre, Haaretz

Allison Kaplan Sommer observes, “Never before has the State of Israel so blatantly demonstrated that it will protect its own political interests at the expense of American Jews. Not only did Israel’s leaders choose Trump over American Jews, but they did so easily, naturally, without hesitation, leaping to the defense of a political leader who is actively and openly fanning the flames of hatred that now has an unprecedented death toll. That they did this, and did so before the bodies of 11 American Jews –   brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers – were even buried, was experienced as a stab in the back that, even if it does heal one day, will leave a scar.”

Mossad chief, Israel’s secret diplomat to the Mideast, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit reports, “The man behind the blooming Israeli diplomacy with the Muslim world is Yossi Cohen, director of Israel’s Mossad, who accompanied Netanyahu to Oman. Cohen has been shuttling at a frenetic pace between regional capitals, deepening clandestine cooperation between Israel and countries with which it does not have diplomatic relations, and maintaining the regional alliance between Israel and the Sunni states, an alliance forged from deep concern on the part of Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states about Iran’s expansion.”