News Roundup for October 12, 2018

October 12, 2018

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J Street in the News

Israel’s DC envoy refuses to meet J Street, snubs other left-wing Jewish groups, Times of Israel

“Since taking his post as Israel’s ambassador to the United States in 2013, Ron Dermer has refused to meet with J Street, a liberal Middle East advocacy group. He has likewise not engaged with other left-leaning Jewish groups often critical of the Netanyahu government….’He may deeply disagree with our views, but they are representative of the majority of American Jews on Israel and a viable solution to the conflict,’ Jessica Rosenblum, J Street’s senior vice president of public engagement, told the Times of Israel. ‘And it’s not just a majority of American Jews, but a growing majority.’…Dermer’s predecessor, Michael Oren, who held the post from 2009 to 2013, regularly met with J Street and other progressive Jewish organizations. ‘There was a lot of frustration and disappointment and even outrage among some Democrats when [Ron Dermer] was chosen, because you were coming off the widespread impression that Netanyahu strongly wanted Mitt Romney to win in 2012,’ said Logan Bayroff, J Street’s director of communications. ‘After Obama’s re-elected, you have the choice of a former Republican political operative as your ambassador. I think that sends a clear message about where your priorities lie.’… ‘J Street was pretty much the Obama administration’s branch into the American Jewish community,’ [former Ambassador Oren] said. ‘I met with that branch like I met with any other branch of the Obama administration.’…’J Street today is mainstream,’ Oren conceded, adding that it will only become more influential as an opposition group. ‘Usually organizations like that will grow when they’re in the opposition,’ he said.

Israeli Nation-State Law Is ‘Apartheid,’ Says Democratic Congresswoman, Forward

“A Democratic congresswoman described Israel’s nation-state law as ‘apartheid’ at a Palestinian rights event, Mondoweiss reported last week….McCollum, who has represented St. Paul in Congress since 2001, is endorsed by the left-wing Jewish group J Street.”


Top News and Analysis

Second Major Jewish Charity Admits Funding Group Tied To Canary Mission Blacklist, Forward

Josh Nathan-Kazis reports, “A second major U.S. Jewish charity has acknowledged to the Forward that it funded the Israeli charity that appears to run Canary Mission, the online blacklist of student activists that the Israeli government has used to interrogate and detain U.S. citizens. Between November of 2016 and September of 2017, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, one of the largest Jewish charities in the country, made a series of grants totaling $250,000 to Megamot Shalom, the Israeli not-for-profit organization that the Forward has identified as the likely operator of Canary Mission. The foundation now says that it will not fund Megamot Shalom in the future.”

Rand Paul joins Senate effort to block funds for a war with Iran, Axios

Alex Ward reports, “While the Brett Kavanaugh drama was tearing apart Washington last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) quietly signed on to a Democrat-led bill prohibiting the use of federal money for a war against Iran without Congress’s express approval. Paul’s signature officially makes the bill, introduced on September 26, a bipartisan effort to restrict America’s involvement in a potential conflict with Tehran. The legislation would, however, allow for US military action against Iran without congressional approval ‘in response to an imminent threat to the United States’ or ‘to rescue or remove United States citizens or personnel,’ according to the text of the bill.”

Israeli Spy Firm That Approached Trump First Proposed Dirty Tricks Against BDS, Forward

Josh Nathan-Kazis reports, “The Israeli private intelligence company that offered to manipulate social media for the Trump campaign offered similar services a year earlier to a group of U.S. Jewish donors who sought to target Israel’s critics, according to a document obtained by the Forward. In late 2015, the Israeli private intelligence firm Psy-Group approached an ad hoc group of Jewish donors with a proposal to covertly undermine the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. According to a summary of the proposal reviewed by the Forward, Psy-Group said it would seek to damage specific individuals and organizations associated with the BDS movement by disrupting their activities, or leading them to be investigated by the authorities. It also said it would run a media influence campaign.”

How the Missing Saudi Writer Could Affect Israel, Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes, “The missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was an outspoken opponent of rumors that Saudi Arabia was considering increased ties with Israel. His disappearance while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul may now result in a reduction of Washington’s support for Riyadh and have repercussions that affect Jerusalem. Khashoggi was once a powerful insider in Saudi Arabia, an adviser to the kingdom who helped craft its image abroad. However he became increasingly disillusioned with the path chosen by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman after MBS rose to power in 2017…. [Khashoggi] voiced consistent critique of the rumors that the kingdom was growing closer to Israel. He told Al Jazeera in November that Saudi Arabia should return to its role as a leader of the Arab world. ‘He deplored the authorities’ decision to allow some in the Saudi news media to express support for Israel against the Palestinians,’ the article noted.”



PLO informs UN chief Mideast envoy ‘no longer acceptable’: report, i24NEWS

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) informed the UN chief that Nickolay Mladenov has overstepped his role as Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process by pursuing negotiations with Hamas and trying to recruit aid into the Gaza Strip from other Arab countries.

Israel said poised to dramatically worsen Palestinian prisoners’ conditions, Times of Israel

Israel could soon significantly downgrade the prison conditions for Palestinian terror convicts, in a move likely to spark outrage among the prisoners and outside the prison walls.

Hamas leader: We want to reach an agreement to bring calm to Israel, i24NEWS

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Friday that his organization wants to “reach an understanding that will bring calm to Israel.” The Gaza Strip leader claimed that Hamas hopes to reach an agreement with international and regional elements, such as Qatar, the United Nations, and thereby bypass Mahmoud Abbas in return for the lifting of the siege on the coastal enclave.

Amid mounting tensions, Hamas urges Abbas to lift Gaza Strip sanctions, Jerusalem Post

Hamas repeated its call to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday to lift the sanctions he imposed last year on the Gaza Strip.

Israel Nabs Palestinian Suspected of Stabbing Army Reservist in West Bank, Haaretz

Israeli security forces arrested a 19-year-old Palestinian late Thursday who is suspected of stabbing and moderately wounding a reserve soldier near the West Bank city of Nablus earlier in the day.

Israel’s Netanyahu appears poised to call early elections, Associated Press

[There] are growing signs [Prime Minister Netanyahu] may soon call for elections — possibly as early as next week, when parliament reconvenes from its summer break. And though Netanyahu hasn’t committed yet, conditions appear ripe for him to schedule the vote, nearly a year ahead of schedule.


Opinion and Analysis

Bogdanov: “Naive” to think Israel knows what rest of world doesn’t, i24NEWS

Eylon Levy interviews Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov about the current tensions in Israel-Russia relations, the Iran nuclear deal and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Stop the Orwellian Detentions, Jerusalem Post

The Jerusalem Post Editorial Board writes, “The government has painted itself into a corner over the detention of an American student who has been held at Ben-Gurion International Airport for a week. On Tuesday, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said that student Lara Alqasem should repudiate past actions and views that may have supported the boycott of Israel. Only then could she come to study at the Hebrew University in Israel’s capital. Alqasem should be released from detention and the government should reconsider this policy of telling visitors that they must pass a kind of Orwellian test of loyalty to enter Israel. She has been told that only if she makes an “unambiguous statement that boycotting Israel is ‘illegitimate’ and that she regrets her BDS work, then the ministry would consider allowing her to enter.” This policy is counterproductive – and the deeper the government digs in its heals, the worse Israel’s image gets.”