News Roundup for October 26, 2018

October 26, 2018

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J Street in the News

J Street, JINSA offer differing views on Israel security, Cleveland Jewish News

“J Street President Jeremy Ben Ami and JINSA President and CEO Michael Makovsky engaged in a wide-ranging discussion of the threats to Israel’s security at a moderated discussion on Oct. 21. While Ben Ami’s chief concern involves what is happening within Israel’s borders, Makovsky’s primary concern is the threat of Iran….Ben Ami is focused more heavily on creating an Israeli state that aligns with values espoused in Judaism.  ‘I think what’s important is acceptance of differences,’ he told the Cleveland Jewish News, adding that in Israel, compromise is key to adopt the two-state solution that he believes is critical to ensure Israel’s future. Organized by J Street, ‘A Secure Israel, How We Can Address the Challenges of Today and the Future’ drew about 80 people.”

Top News and Analysis

Saudi Spy Met With Team Trump About Taking Down Iran, Daily Beast

Betsy Woodruff and Erin Banco report, “Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri, the Saudi intelligence chief taking the fall for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, hobnobbed in New York with Michael Flynn and other members of the transition team shortly before Trump’s inauguration. The topic of their discussion: regime change in Iran. Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful Saudi crown prince, dispatched Assiri from Riyadh for the meetings, which took place over the course of two days in early January 2017, according to communications reviewed by The Daily Beast. The January meetings have come under scrutiny by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office as part of his probe into foreign governments’ attempts to gain influence in the Trump campaign and in the White House, an individual familiar with the investigation told The Daily Beast.”

$6 Billion of Iranian Money: Why Israeli Firm Black Cube Really Went After Obama’s Team, Haaretz

Chaim Levinson and Hagar Shezaf report, “The name Caroline Tess doesn’t mean much to most Israelis or Americans. Born in 1979, after a career in government as aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and assistant to U.S. ambassadors to the UN Susan Rice and Samantha Power, in 2014 she was appointed senior director for legislative affairs on the National Security Council, under President Barack Obama. In this position, Tess coordinated all the legislative perspectives relating to the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPA) and its approval by the U.S. Senate and House. Haaretz has uncovered that Tess was a target of the Israeli commercial intelligence firm Black Cube, during its private investigation into members of the Obama administration. The Haaretz investigation relies on sources that work or worked in the intelligence company, and internal documents that reveal the broad, comprehensive operation Black Cube conducted against senior Obama administration officials, as well as its objective and its funder.”

It’s time to end America’s double standard on Iran and Saudi Arabia, Washington Post

Jason Rezaian writes, “U.S. sanctions on Iran are scheduled to go back into effect on Nov. 4. On that day, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) will breathe a massive sigh of relief. After weeks of international backlash over the murder of my colleague Jamal Khashoggi, MBS will read Trump’s punitive measures against Iran as a green light for him to once again do as he pleases. But that doesn’t have to be the case. For years, Saudi Arabia has gotten away with funding terrorism and extremism, suppressing the rights of its people and silencing its critics, often by killing them. These are all activities for which the United States rightfully punishes Iran. But it allows the Saudis to do the same things without reproach.

It is time for that double standard to end. The butchering of Khashoggi and Riyadh’s attempts to cover it up offer a necessary moment of clarity. They remind us that our relationship with Saudi Arabia is purely transactional, not one based on common values.”


Egypt brokers Israel, Hamas deal to end Gaza border violence: report, i24NEWS

Egyptian intelligence officials have successfully brokered an understanding between Israel and Hamas which will see a cessation of violence along the Gaza border in exchange for an easing of the Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave, the Al-Hayat news outlet reported on Friday.

Jordan says peace treaty unaffected by scrapping land deals, Reuters

Jordan said on Thursday its commitment to uphold a peace treaty with Israel was not in question despite ending a 25-year special regime that allows its neighbor to use two parcels of land along its borders under its sovereignty.

New Poll Shows Support for Israel Plummeting Among U.S. Liberals, Millennials and Women, Haaretz

A new poll released this week highlights the growing imbalance in U.S. public opinion’s support for Israel and the stark demographic similarities between Israel’s strongest supporters and the profile of the average Donald Trump voter. The poll reveals a generally positive view of Israel, but one that is in constant decline and increasingly split along partisan lines.

Israeli defense minister picks country’s new military chief, Associated Press

Israel’s defense minister has selected Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi as the nominee for the country’s next chief of staff.

Trump Mideast Envoy Greenblatt to Visit Israel Ahead of Peace Plan Unveiling, Haaretz

Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s special envoy for the Middle East peace process, will visit Israel next week as part of the administration’s preparations for releasing its peace plan.

Liberman says he expects quiet weekend on Gaza border, Times of Israel

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Friday said he was “hopeful” that the Gaza Strip would be calm over the coming weekend, without clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops, following weeks of heightened tensions and two flare-ups that threatened to lead Israel and the Hamas terror group to war.

Opinion and Analysis

Barring Students From Study in Israel, Inside Higher Ed

Ken Waltzer and Mark G. Yudof write, “It has been a rough few weeks for American students who wish to study in Israel. An opponent of the Israeli state refused to write a recommendation for a University of Michigan student who sought to study abroad in Israel, while a state agency of Israel, the Shin Bet, acting for Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, barred another American student from entering Israel to begin graduate study at Hebrew University. Now a graduate instructor at the University of Michigan has compounded the problem, similarly refusing to write for a student….As executive director and chair, respectively, of the Academic Engagement Network, we lead a national faculty organization that takes academic freedom and free speech seriously. We believe in international exchange and robust conversation about difficult issues. We oppose efforts to challenge the legitimacy of the State of Israel, including the boycott movement, because they hold Israel to a double standard not applied to other nations, they stand emphatically against academic freedom and they often shun Jewish organizations and sponsor actions on campuses disrupting the speech of those they perceive as pro-Israel.”

Israel Brands Us On The Left As ‘Traitors’ — Like The Palestinians, Forward

Mairav Zonszein writes, “Last week, Hagai El-Ad, the director of Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, had the distinction of being called a ‘collaborator,’ an ‘embarrassment’ and a ‘liar’ — by his own government. This may sound shocking. But it’s actually symptomatic of how politically isolated we are on the Israeli left. This kind of incitement to violence and rigid polarization (you are either for us or against us) has become pretty banal in Israel. November 4 will mark 23 years since the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin — a political assassination that resulted directly from incitement to violence. Since then, the discourse has only narrowed further. Indeed, there’s an irony to the demonization of El-Ad: In portraying him as an enemy collaborator, the Israeli government is casting out the left and running roughshod over our civil rights — creating the very comity with the Palestinians they demonize us for.”