News Roundup for October 15, 2018

October 15, 2018

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J Street in the News

Israelis and Palestinians: How U.S. Politics Has Evolved, The New York Times

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “Re ‘New Wave of Democrats Tests the Party’s Blanket Support for Israel’ (news article, Oct. 8): While focusing on a handful of Democratic candidates who have faced heavy right-wing criticism for their positions on Israel, your article misses the larger evolution in American politics on the issue.Instead of relying on the outdated idea that support for Israelis and Palestinians must be mutually exclusive, a growing majority of Democratic candidates increasingly recognize that it is possible and necessary to promote policies, like the two-state solution, that benefit both peoples.They understand that criticizing some policies of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — like settlement expansion — is actually vital to defending Israel’s long-term survival as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people. And they know that spurious charges of ‘anti-Israel’ from hyperpartisan groups like the Republican Jewish Coalition don’t carry any weight with most voters or with most American Jews.”

ADL, J Street and Reform movement back student BDS activist barred by Israel, Times of Israel

“Several progressive American Jewish groups have given their support to a US student refused entry to Israel and held at the airport for 10 days over her alleged support for anti-Israel boycott efforts, saying the move undermined Israel’s democracy….Statements from the Reform movement and J Street U, J Street’s college arm, likewise said that barring Alqasem does not accord with Israel’s democratic values….’As pro-Israel, pro-peace American Jewish student activists, we strongly oppose attempts to silence and repress college students or any other individuals on the basis of non-violent political views and activities,’ J Street U wrote in a letter Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who heads the state’s anti-boycott activities.”

Israel upholds ban on US student refused entry for 10 days, i24NEWS

“The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and the liberal Jewish lobby group J Street on Wednesday joined calls for Israel to permit Alqasem’s entry to Israel, characterizing her deportation as undemocratic….’Targeting BDS supporters — or those who merely have critical political views — and banning them from entering Israel does not counter their arguments or stem the global tide of concern for the Palestinian people. It only undermines Israel’s democracy, international legitimacy and long-term future,’ J Street wrote in a letter to Erdan.”

In New Remarks, Secretary Pompeo Spread Falsehoods and Stoked War Tensions with Iran, J Street

“In public remarks to a right-wing advocacy group on Wednesday evening, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo once again stoked tensions with Iran — and disgraced his office by spreading falsehoods about the JCPOA nuclear agreement and the policies of the Obama administration. Pompeo’s speech is just the latest warning sign that the president has surrounded himself with a regime change-obsessed war cabinet that is encouraging his most dangerous impulses on foreign policy. In response to this threat, members of Congress are increasingly affirming their constitutional responsibility to check the president’s war-making powers.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump’s Middle East ambitions have been exposed as misguided fantasies, Washington Post

Jackson Diehl writes, “When Donald Trump was unexpectedly elected president, two nations in the Middle East that had been particularly aggrieved by the policies of the Obama administration rushed to take advantage. They were Saudi Arabia and Israel — and they succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. In a matter of months, Trump reversed Obama’s strategy of encouraging a regional equilibrium of power between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, siding unequivocally with the Saudis. He also abandoned decades of U.S. attempts to balance Israeli interests with those of the Palestinians. He tore up the Iran nuclear deal, moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and cut off aid for Palestinian refugees. Trump and his supporters argued that this radical shift would lead to Mideast breakthroughs that eluded the Obama administration, including a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that the Saudis would help to broker. His son-in-law and Middle East point man, Jared Kushner, talked expansively both of forging that ‘ultimate deal’ and of an ‘Arab NATO’ to roll back Iranian influence across the region. Today, those ambitions have been revealed as the misguided fantasies they always were. The disappearance and alleged murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul has exposed the real return on Trump’s gambits: a string of reckless acts by the Saudis and Israelis that have made the region more rather than less unstable.”

Revealed: The Jerusalem Jews Behind the Israeli Conduit Funneling Money to Canary, Haaretz

Uri Blau reports, “Haaretz has revealed new information about Megamot Shalom, the mysterious body through which funds were allegedly transferred to fund Canary Mission, a controversial online blacklist that tracks Palestinian rights activists and supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Haaretz found that Jonathan Bash, who heads Megamot Shalom, is also the owner of Royal Research, a company which provides ‘research, data collection and website preparation services.’ The company was founded in September 2015, a few months after Canary Mission started to operate online. In an expose published by the Forward, two sources who spoke with the paper said that Bash, a resident of the Old City of Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, told them he was the person behind Canary Mission. Ben Packer, an American-born rabbi who runs the Jerusalem Heritage House and is known to be an outspoken supporter of the far-right extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, is a shareholder in Megamot Shalom alongside Bash.”


Israel’s Supreme Court halts deportation of American student, Associated Press

Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday agreed to hear the appeal of an American graduate student who is fighting an expulsion order over her involvement in the boycott movement against Israel.

Israel says Palestinian refugees number in the thousands, not millions, Reuters

An Israeli government study shared with Washington argues that Palestinian refugees number in the thousands, not the millions designated by a U.N. aid agency whose funding has been slashed by the Trump administration, an Israeli official said on Friday.

Palestinian shot dead after attempted stabbing attack in West Bank, i24NEWS

A Palestinian man was shot and killed after attempting to stab an Israeli soldier near the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

Israel warns Hamas of ‘painful’ strikes if protests go on, Associated Press

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday threatened “very painful blows” against Gaza’s Hamas rulers if they don’t halt protests along the perimeter fence that have led to clashes with Israeli troops.

Seven Palestinians killed in border protests: Gaza health officials, Reuters

Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians on Friday in protests along Gaza’s border, Gaza health officials said. Israel said its troops had shot a group who broke through the fence with a bomb and attacked an army post.

US envoy tells Christian media: World secretly respects Trump’s Jerusalem move, Times of Israel

The world secretly respects the US administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, despite vocal international protests against the move, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Sunday.

Rouhani: US Admin. Seeking ‘Regime Change’ in Iran, Jerusalem Post

he United States is seeking “regime change” in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday, adding that the current US administration is the most hostile that the Islamic Republic has faced in its four decades.

Israeli PM favors naming envoy to Christian world, Associated Press

Israel’s prime minister says he favors appointing an envoy to the Christian world, a sign of Israel’s efforts to foster close ties with its Christian allies.

Israel, Syria to reopen Golan crossing on Monday: U.S. envoy to U.N., Reuters

Israel, Syria and the United Nations have agreed to open the Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights on Monday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Friday.

Opinion and Analysis

Khan al-Ahmar demolition could be imminent, activists fear, +972 Magazine

Oren Ziv reports, “The residents of Khan al-Ahmar are preparing for the imminent demolition of their village, which activists and residents fear could take place as early as Monday morning. Saturday night saw a record number of people staying the night at Khan al-Ahmar’s protest tent, with around 300 Palestinians and 30 Israeli and international activists sleeping in the schoolyard tent encampment. The activists woke at 6:30 a.m. Sunday to find over 15 police vehicles parked at the entrance to the village. Like a similar last week, activists and residents speculated that the police officers were there to gauge their response. Israeli and Palestinian activists — who have been consistently sleeping in the village since the High Court of Justice ruled greenlighted the demolition of the village — say they will resist nonviolently and try to delay Khan al-Ahmar’s demolition for as long as possible. Dana Mandler, an activist with the diaspora Jewish anti-occupation group All That’s Left, who slept in the village on Saturday night, said, ‘as an Israeli and American, it is clear to me that the best way for me to be in solidarity with Khan al-Ahmar is to be physically present in the village along with other activists.’”

So Much Winning: Why Mahmoud Abbas Thinks He’s Beating Trump – and Israel, Haaretz

David Makovsky writes, “For Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the U.S. and Israel are two countries using political and economic leverage to force him to accept policies that he finds objectionable – or else risk being completely marginalized. Yet, Abbas believes that he has so far withstood at least three key challenges presented by the U.S. and Israel in recent months, and thus he believes he is scoring political victories. He may not be bringing his people an inch closer to statehood or bringing them major benefits, but he sees himself as a political survivor. Leading a movement that historically has been about defiance, he sees survival as its own reward.”

In Negotiations With Iran,‘There’s Always One More Thing’, Foreign Policy’s The Editor’s Roundtable Podcast

Former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman discusses her experience negotiating the JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran.