News Roundup for October 24, 2018

October 24, 2018

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J Street in the News

Lapse in Jordan Peace Treaty Component Stems in Part from Disastrous Trump Policies, J Street Blog

J Street’s Alan Elsner writes, “In the turbulent Middle East, Israel’s peace treaty with Jordan is a linchpin of regional stability that plays a positive role far beyond the territory of the two nations. For that reason, it is a troubling sign that Jordan has decided not to renew an agreement embedded in the peace treaty that allowed Israel to use two tracts of Jordanian land along the border….Whether or not Kushner ever releases his so-called plan, the reality is that Trump has gutted US relations with the Palestinians and is doing his best to inflict real suffering on innocent civilians. It is now clear that his one-sided, punitive policies could undermine a peace treaty between Israel and an Arab partner already in place — a treaty that has worked well for over two decades.”

The Memo: Trump remark sparks debate over nationalism, Hill

“President Trump incited a national debate about the other N-word at a rally in Houston on Monday night. “You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, OK? … Use that word,” he told a crowd of cheering supporters….[The] next day, J Street, a liberal Jewish organization focused on the Middle East, issued a statement condemning the president’s “intensely xenophobic rhetoric and imagery.’ The organization took exception not just to Trump’s use of the term nationalist but to the way in which he contrasted his views with those of ‘globalists.’ The latter term, J Street said, was ‘used constantly by the white nationalist alt-right as an anti-Semitic dog whistle.’”

Republicans and Democrats Both Try to Paint the Other Side’s Candidates as Worse for the Jews, Haaretz

“In Texas, Cruz, in a surprisingly tight re-election bid, has attacked his Democratic opponent, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, for accepting the endorsement of J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, and once voting against emergency funding for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. (O’Rourke has said he objected on procedural grounds.)”

The Daily Kickoff: October 23, 2018, Times of Israel

“Birthdays: […] Director of rabbinic and community engagement at J Street, Shaina Wasserman turns 41”

US Reform movement vows deeper connection to Israel, World Israel News

“The Reform Movement has faced challenges for acceptance in Israel where the Orthodox stream of Judaism exercises significant political and religious influence. Much of the conflict in recent years has centered around the issue of egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall, where the Reform Movement has fought to create a space for men and women to pray together at the area abutting Judaism’s holiest site. Political issues, too, divide the Reform Movement from Israel’s government. Rabbi Jacobs, who served on the Board of Directors of J Street, a left-wing U.S. group calling for a Palestinian state, has publicly quarreled with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling on him to resign.”

‘I’m proud of our country, and I am a nationalist’: Trump goes all in on self-professed nationalism saying he has ‘never even heard’ the term being associated with racism, Daily Mail

“J Street, a liberal group that fights anti-Semitism and promotes policies that are pro-Israel, attacked Trump after the event as ‘deploying intensely xenophobic rhetoric and imagery — including anti-Semitic tropes — in a transparent attempt’ to rally the base before the midterm elections. ‘Like his credo ‘America First,’ Trump’s ‘nationalism’ is clearly rooted in a long legacy of xenophobia on the American far right,’ the group said in a statement. ‘The term ‘globalist’ is used constantly by the white nationalist alt-right as an anti-Semitic dog whistle against Jewish people.’”

IDF veteran recounts violence in West Bank, Justice

“Brandeis’s chapter of J Street U hosted Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli Defense Forces veterans sharing their stories about serving in the West Bank, in a lecture on Monday. Merphie Bubis, an IDF veteran who served in the West Bank from January 2013 to March 2015, was the headlining speaker of the event….Sivan Ben-Hayun ’19, a Northeast regional co-chair for J Street U, concluded the event with a prepared statement. ‘As students living in the United States, we have to change the way we talk about Israel and Palestine in order to use our power and our privilege to work towards an end to the occupation,’ Ben-Hayun said.”

Trump’s Enablers must Condemn his Dangerous, Xenophobic “Nationalism”, J Street

“With just two weeks until the midterm elections, President Trump and his enablers are deploying intensely xenophobic rhetoric and imagery — including anti-Semitic tropes — in a transparent attempt to rally their right-wing base. They are using fear-mongering and lies to incite hatred directed at Democratic candidates, immigrants and minorities throughout the country. In his Monday night campaign rally with Sen. Ted Cruz, the president proclaimed himself ‘a nationalist’ and accused Democrats of wanting to “Restore the rule of corrupt, power-hungry globalists.” Like his credo ‘America First,’ Trump’s ‘nationalism’ is clearly rooted in a long legacy of xenophobia on the American far right. The term ‘globalist’ is used constantly by the white nationalist alt-right as an anti-Semitic dog whistle against Jewish people, Jewish elected officials and prominent Jewish philanthropists like George Soros.”

New Human Rights Watch Report Highlights Abuses by Palestinian Authority, Hamas, J Street

“J Street is disturbed by a new Human Rights Watch report that details systemic human rights violations committed by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza….The international community has a responsibility to address the issues raised by Human Rights Watch. Leaders and governments working to advance a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should simultaneously push Palestinian leadership to demonstrate consistent respect for human rights, democratic governance, political freedom and the rule of law.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump’s New Cold War, Atlantic

Peter Beinart writes, “The Trump administration’s support for Saudi barbarism is a symptom. The disease is its enthusiasm for a new cold war in the Middle East. When it comes to the Middle East, Trump and his foreign-policy advisers have a simple analysis: Iran is the problem and Saudi Arabia is part of the answer. The Iranians are revolutionaries; the Saudis are moderates. Iran promotes chaos; Saudi Arabia promotes stability. Iran sponsors terrorism; Saudi Arabia helps combat it. Iran, in the words of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is an ‘outlaw regime.’ By contrast, Saudi Arabia, Trump says, ‘share[s]’ America’s ‘aim of stamping out extremism.’…America should be trying to ease the Iranian-Saudi cold war, which has fueled the hideous proxy wars that have devastated Syria and Yemen. Instead, Trump is inflaming it.”

Merging the U.S. Consulate and Embassy in Jerusalem Is a Mistake, Foreign Policy

Hady Amr and Ilan Goldenberg write, “On Oct. 18, U.S. President Donald Trump treated the world to the latest twist in what he says is his quest for the ‘ultimate deal.’ His secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, announced that the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, which opened in 1844 and has served as the United States’ principal venue for communication with the Palestinian people and Palestinian leadership, would be merged into a subunit of the U.S. Embassy in Israel—which Trump moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May….Merging units sounds efficient. But this merger does major harm to the United States’ ability to act as a mediator in the conflict and serves as a severe blow to the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace through a two-state solution. First and foremost, it signals to all involved—Arabs and Jews, Israelis and Palestinians—that the United States sees one political entity between the river and the sea. Having subsumed the role of Washington’s primary interlocutor with the Palestinians to that of the ambassador to the Israelis sends a clear message: The United States is no longer truly pursuing a two-state solution and will treat the Israelis and Palestinians as a single political entity instead of two.”


Israeli Soldier Hurled Rocks at Haaretz Staff Documenting Site for Khan al-Ahmar Evacuees, Haaretz
An Israel Defense Forces soldier hurled rocks on Tuesday on an Haaretz crew (the paper’s photographer and correspondent) that was reporting on the dismantling of the temporary site that was intended to house residents of the West Bank village Khan al-Ahmar after their evacuation from their illegal encampment.

Netanyahu said to forgo early vote over fear Rivlin wouldn’t let him form new gov’t, i24NEWS
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition whip said Wednesday that he would promote new legislation curbing the authority of the President to decide who to appoint to form a new government after elections, following a report that Netanyahu opted to forgo early polls out of fear that President Reuven Rivlin would not appoint him to do so.

Did lightning strike trigger Gaza rocket attack on Israel?, Reuters

A theory that a lightning strike triggered Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza last week gained traction in Israel on Tuesday and might explain the Israeli military’s limited response.

Netanyahu Reaffirms Commitment to Demilitarized Palestinian State, Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his commitment to the idea of Palestinian self-government in the West Bank, provided that Israel preserve total security control of all territory west of the Jordan river.  Speaking at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America on Wednesday, Netanyahu said that he believed in a solution where the “Palestinians have all the powers to govern themselves and none of the powers to threaten us.”

Investigators said to wrap up graft probes into Netanyahu, Times of Israel

Police have finished a series of corruption investigations into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli television reported Tuesday, with a decision on whether to indict the premier expected in the next six months.

Palestinians to Pass ‘Dangerous Resolutions’ on Relations With Israel, U.S., Says Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian National Council, which will meet at the end of the month, is expected to pass important and dangerous resolutions concerning relations with Israel and the United States, as well as Hamas and the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians: Israeli troops kill youth in West Bank clash, Associated Press

The Palestinian health ministry says Israeli troops have shot and killed a Palestinian youth who threw stones at the soldiers during West Bank clashes.

Opinion and Analysis

Why Abbas wants to dissolve legislative council, Al-Monitor

Rasha Abou Jalal reports, “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is moving toward dissolving the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in a legally questionable step. The amended Palestinian Basic Law of 2003 does not grant the president or any official Palestinian committee the power to dissolve the PLC. Abbas’ move would remove any remaining authority and power Hamas has in the PLC, where it won the majority of seats in the last parliamentary elections in 2006. Such a move would further deepen the Palestinian division between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Fatah’s Revolutionary Council led by Abbas issued a statement Oct. 14 after the council had been convening over three consecutive days in Ramallah. In the statement, the Revolutionary Council called on the PLO’s Palestinian Central Council (PCC), which is also led by Abbas, to dissolve the PLC and prepare for general elections in the Palestinian territories within a year.”

Jordan’s Warning Message, Haaretz

The Haaretz editorial board writes, “The decision by Jordan’s King Abdullah not to renew Israel’s lease of two parcels of land in southern and northern Israel when it ends in October 2019 sends a clear message to the government. Amman, which could have permitted the lease to renew automatically, chose to demonstrate that nothing can be taken for granted in its relations with Jerusalem.”