News Roundup for October 18, 2017

October 18, 2017

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J Street in the News

Israel finds a welcome audience with Christian journalists, AP

Jeremy Ben Ami, president of J Street,a liberal pro-Israel group in Washington that is often critical of the Israeli government, said the evangelicals do not necessarily have Israel’s best interests in mind. ‘Israel should be wary of embracing extreme Christian Zionist groups that may be more concerned with their own theological agendas than with Israel’s long-term survival as a secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people,’ he said.

J Street To Schumer: Don’t Play Ball With Trump On Iran, The Forward

“Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has already made clear he opposes abandoning the Iran nuclear deal and even got slammed for this position by President Trump. The dovish pro-Israel lobby J Street wants to thank Schumer for his effort and make sure he and fellow Democrats don’t waver in the face of the president’s attack. In an email to Washington DC-based supporters Tuesday, J Street urged them to reach out and ‘tell Leader Schumer you support Democrats holding the line and doing everything they can to save the Iran deal.’”

Top News and Analysis

Trump doesn’t understand Iran. He’s making policy based on a caricature, Washington Post

“Iranians — and that includes many government officials — long to be a ‘“normal’ country, with and without disputes and disagreements with neighbors and other nations. The nuclear deal is itself evidence of that. And if, through that deal, brand new Boeing airliners appear at Tehran airports in Iran Air livery next year, while they might not lift the standard of living of most Iranians or offer them new jobs, they will, after a decades-long absence, after a devastating eight-year war, after years of sanctions and of Iranians holding passports that were unwelcome and suspicious in most countries in the world, after feeling deeply misunderstood by Westerners, to Iranians it would signal that their country is becoming normal. Trump’s raining on that Iranian parade will not change Iranian ‘behavior’ in the region, it will not eliminate one ballistic missile, will not encourage nuclear caution and likely will not bring about peace in the Middle East. It will, however, risk greater proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region, signal to allies and adversaries alike that American negotiators are not to be trusted and validate the hard-liners inside Iran while undermining the reformists and pragmatists. Sadly, it can also turn what many writers, journalists, observers and travelers have described as the most pro-American population in the region — one that has pushed its successive governments to resolve their country’s differences with the United States — into potentially one of the most anti-American.”

The Right-wing Assault on Israeli Democracy, Haaretz

“The breaking and smashing frenzy, which is slated to peak in the Knesset’s upcoming winter session, is shared by cynical politicians and true fanatics. The former are looking for headlines that will grab their incited voters but the latter represent a comprehensive world view that derides Western and liberal values and seeks to replace them with an authoritarian regime in which Jews reign supreme. They want to discriminate between Jews and Arabs without knee-jerk liberals getting in their way, to grab Palestinian land while the High Court cowers in the corner, and to continue managing the occupation in darkness, without the rays of disinfecting sunlight occasionally shed by NGOs such as Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem. This aggressive campaign is fed by the right wing’s perpetual self-victimization, orchestrated and conducted by Netanyahu himself, and by the arrogance of Likud politicians – and those from the national-religious Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) Party even more so – who show no compunction about undermining the values that made Israel what it is today. Maybe their amok is a function of an urge to erase the last remnants of the Israel in whose creation and consolidation their political movements played only a minor role. After the mission is accomplished, the internal destroyers and demolishers of the Zionist revolution which created the state can continue pretending that they are its children and successors.”

Israel should practice what it preaches to the Palestinians, Al-Monitor

“Instead of risking a three-front war with its current policy of settlement expansion, Israel would do better if its leaders followed through on previous peace initiatives and the commitments it has made in negotiations with the Palestinians.”


Palestinian man shot after running at soldiers with knife in West Bank, Times of Israel

IDF soldiers on Wednesday shot and wounded a Palestinian man who ran at them with a knife at the Gush Etzion Junction in the West Bank, the army said. No Israelis were reported injured in the incident.

Judge Temporarily Halts New Version of Trump’s Travel Ban, New York Times

President Trump’s attempts to block travelers from a handful of countries — most of them predominantly Muslim — from coming to the United States hit another legal snag on Tuesday, when a federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order freezing most of Mr. Trump’s third travel ban the day before it was to take effect. At least for now, the judge’s order will prevent the Trump administration from stopping almost all travel to the United States indefinitely from most of the countries named in the ban.

Israel Says Will Not Negotiate With Palestinian Government Supported by Hamas, Haaretz

Israel’s security cabinet decided during a meeting on Tuesday that Israel will not engage in political negotiations with a Palestinian unity government, if such a government is indeed established following the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Bennett says PA security cooperation to continue despite Fatah-Hamas unity deal, Times of Israel

Israeli security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority should and will continue, even under a Palestinian unity government that includes the terror organization Hamas, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Wednesday.

Israeli Army Raids Multiple Palestinian Media Outlets Across West Bank, Haaretz

The Israeli army raided the offices of TV channels and production companies in the West Bank overnight on Tuesday, confiscating equipment and closing some of them down. The IDF Spokesperson said that eight media companies were raided and two Palestinians were arrested.

Opinions and Analysis

Palestinian Women Are Harassed And Humiliated At Checkpoints. Here Are A Few Of Their Stories, The Forward

Mariam Barghouti writes, “Since 1967, about 40% of the Palestinian male population has been detained by Israel. With their men in jail, Palestinian women are left to continue surviving and ensuring the well-being of their families. From confronting increased Israeli violations to earning a living while also being caregivers, Palestinian women have had to pick up twice the weight, while living under the pressures of Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank. One aspect of this occupation are the military checkpoints. As of 2017, there are 98 fixed Israeli checkpoints around and within the West Bank. This is discounting the hundreds of flying checkpoints that sporadically erupt across the region. According to OCHA, more than 2.4 million people are affected by the physical restrictions in the West Bank. While Israel claims these checkpoints are necessary for security reasons, Palestinians say that this is another measure to further inhibit any control they have over the little space afforded to them. Rather than security, many Palestinians view the checkpoints as a way to humiliate them, and further diminish their dignity.

Checkpoints are also destructive to Palestinian economy and welfare, and women and girls were no exception to the negative consequences of checkpoints. These are some of their stories.”

Israel may regret hasty UNESCO exit, Al-Monitor

Rina Bassist writes, “The outcome of UNESCO’s leadership vote only emphasized this dichotomy in Israeli diplomacy. It turned out that Kawari lost when 30 countries out of 58 voted for France’s Audrey Azoulay, giving her a four-year term as director-general. The French candidate evidently benefited from the division in the Arab vote, split by anti-Qatar sentiments within the Arab world this past year, and probably also Trump’s decision. Where does this outcome position Israel? Instead of congratulating UNESCO for its choice of a woman obviously dedicated to advancing culture, science and education, Israel is stepping back. Instead of rejoicing over the nomination of a woman attached to the people of Israel (even if not to its government), Israel is pulling away. Instead of taking the opportunity where UNESCO has appeared to be shifting toward a more conciliatory approach toward Israel, Jerusalem is staging for war.

John Oliver — Iran Nuclear Deal, HBO

On “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver calls Trump’s Iran deal decision “equal parts danger and disaster.”