News Roundup for October 3, 2018

October 3, 2018

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J Street in the News

GOP Rep. ties opponent to terrorists, Hill

“Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who was indicted along with his wife last month for using at least $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, released an ad Wednesday connecting his Democratic opponent to terrorism….[Democratic candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar] is endorsed by the pro-Israel group J Street, which promotes a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ‘J Street is proud to support Ammar Campa-Najjar in the face of reprehensible and absurd attacks from Rep. Duncan Hunter. Campa-Najjar is a Latino-Arab American who is deeply committed to pragmatic, diplomacy-first foreign policy and to the promotion of peace, security and a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike,’ J Street said in a statement released by Campa-Najjar’s campaign. ‘By shamefully targeting Campa-Najjar on the basis of his Mexican-Palestinian heritage and a relative who died sixteen years before he was born, Hunter clearly hopes to distract from his own troubled candidacy — and from the serious, substantive issues that matter to voters,’ it added.”

Jacky Rosen Takes Lead in Nevada Senate Race Polls, Despite Sheldon Adelson, Haaretz

“Jacky Rosen is closer to becoming only the third Jewish woman to serve in the U.S. Senate – and the first to be elected from a state other than California – after a new poll shows her holding a slim but consistent lead over incumbent Nevada senator Dean Heller in the November midterms….Last May, Heller criticized Rosen – who has been endorsed by nonprofit Jewish liberal group J Street – for her support of the Iran deal.”

Trump’s Latest Blow Against Unaccompanied Children is Unbelievably Cruel, J Street Blog

J Street’s Alan Elsner writes, “Earlier this summer, the entire nation and much of the world was shocked and appalled by the Trump administration’s policy of tearing infants and children crossing the US-Mexico border away from their parents and incarcerating them in squalid detention centers. The administration, reeling under a wave of condemnation and compelled by court orders, backtracked partially on that policy. Now we learn that the administration has learned nothing from that debacle. The New York Times has reported that the administration has pulled nearly 2,000 unaccompanied children out of shelters around the country in the dead of night and bused them to a “tent city” in the desert town of Tornillo, Tex., where they have no access to formal education or legal services. Imagine the trauma these migrant children are being exposed to when they are suddenly roused in the middle of the night, loaded onto buses and then deposited in the middle of the desert where they can expect to stay for months.”

In New Letter, 112 Members of Congress Oppose Trump’s Disastrous Cuts to Aid for Palestinians, J Street

“A new letter from 112 Representatives demonstrates significant congressional opposition to the Trump administration’s disastrous moves to eliminate all US humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the West Bank and slash assistance to Palestinian refugees throughout the region. J Street strongly supports the Representatives’ leadership in opposing the cuts, which exacerbate suffering, threaten Israel’s security and undermine the United States’ ability to serve as a credible mediator in the Middle East.”

Top News and Analysis

The United States and Iran: It’s Like “50 First Dates”, New Yorker

Robin Wright reports, “I spoke twice with [Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif], who was educated in the United States. He compared diplomacy with the United States to the 2004 movie ‘50 First Dates’, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, about a man who keeps having first dates with a woman who has short-term memory loss and forgets him the next day. ‘We live in a world of possibilities, so nothing is impossible, but we need to see,’ he told me. ‘First of all, we’re not angry. Now, if it’s going to lead to resolution, you need to be able to build on what you already have, because, I mean, you remember the movie ‘50 First Dates,’ when you start all over again the following day. We can’t. This is impossible. You need to be able to have a relationship that is based on some foundations. And we have a document’—the nuclear deal—’that is a hundred and fifty pages long. It’s not a two-page document,’ he said, referring to Trump’s agreement with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at their June summit.”

The Taming of the Palestinian Authority, Foreign Policy

Anas Iqtait writes, “The PA is caught in a trap. Caving to public opinion by suspending security coordination with Israel or adopting an aggressive foreign policy would most certainly lead to Israel halting the transfer of clearance revenue, which would financially doom the PA. But failure to respond to any provocations, including the Trump administration’s plans to strip millions of Palestinian refugees of their status, will continue to erode the PA’s legitimacy and distance its leadership from the rest of Palestinians.”

Palestinians brace for Israeli bulldozers in the West Bank: ‘If we lose Khan al-Ahmar we lose Jerusalem’, Independent
Bel Trew reports, “Despite desperate appeals by Khan al-Ahmar’s residents, the Israeli authorities gave them until 1 October to destroy their own homes and leave. On Monday, as the deadline passed, residents said women and children were scared about the expected attack but were determined to stay put. ‘Ordering us to destroy our own homes is like telling us to bury ourselves with our own hands,’ said Abu Khamas, 52 a father-of-seven in a protest tent within the village where dozens of activists were also waiting for the bulldozers. ‘We are not soldiers, we don’t have tanks, we can’t stop them but we will resist and sleep under the sky if needs be. The woman and children are very scared.’ The Bedouin leader said the Israelis planned to destroy the village and more than a dozen others like it to drive a wedge into the West Bank and connect major Israeli settlements such as nearby Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem.”

If Trump Wants the Ultimate Deal, He Must Not Repeat These Mistakes, Foreign Policy

Dennis Ross and David Makovsky write, “Washington cannot make peace between two parties that are incapable of making it. If they lack the will and the means—and, as is the case today, they are divided by very wide gaps—even the best plan will fail. More important, the parties must own the peace so they have the stake to stand up to the inevitable resistance they will face from their domestic rejectionists who can simply not give up their respective national mythologies. That, however, is not an argument for the United States to remain passive or play no role. The U.S. role can provide cover, explanation, reassurance—and commitments, all of which make it easier for both sides to make hard decisions. Learning from Washington’s past mistakes—as well as the past mistakes of the Israelis and Palestinians—can help in the peacemaking process and should inform the Trump administration’s approach to the peace plan it intends to unveil at some point. The tendency to cast blame but assume no responsibility for why the process of peacemaking has failed is also a contributing factor to why 25 years after Oslo, there is still no peace.”


Merkel Heads to Israel Amid Calls to Prevent Demolition of Contested West Bank Village, Haaretz

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will land Wednesday evening in Israel for a traditional bilateral cabinet consultation between the two governments. The visit takes place as the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar faces imminent demolition, despite calls from Germany to block the eviction.

UN agency withdraws Gaza international staff after protests, Associated Press

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees on Tuesday said it has evacuated international staff members out of the Gaza Strip following mounting protests by employees upset over layoffs and cutbacks.

Iranian Official Says Oil Deal With Europeans Is Close Despite Threat of U.S. Sanctions, The New York Times

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Saturday that Tehran was closing in on an agreement to sell oil to European nations despite American threats of sanctions against any countries that do business with Iran.

U.N. court says U.S. must lift Iran sanctions on “humanitarian” goods, CBS News

The United Nations’ top court on Wednesday ordered the United States to lift sanctions on “humanitarian” goods to Iran that President Donald Trump re-imposed after pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Hitting back, Netanyahu says nuke watchdog hasn’t checked Iran site he revealed, Times of Israel

Israel accused the UN nuclear watchdog of failing to inspect a suspected nuclear site in Iran Tuesday, pushing back against claims by the agency’s chief that it had checked all relevant nuclear sites in the Islamic Republic.

Palestinians strike in support of Israel’s Arab minority, Reuters

Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem held a general strike on Monday in support of an Israeli-Arab protest against Israel’s new Nation State Law.

Lebanese president: ‘We will confront any Israeli aggression’, i24NEWS

Tensions between Israel and Lebanon continued on Tuesday when Lebanese President Michel Aoun threatened to confront any “Israeli aggression” after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented the United Nations with “proof” of three underground missile production facilities near Beirut belonging to Hezbollah.

Israel Denies Entry to American Student Even Though She Had a Visa, Haaretz

Israel prevented on Tuesday the entry of Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old American student whose grandparents are Palestinian, despite her having recently been granted an A/2 Student Visa for her masters’ degree in the Hebrew University.

Israeli ministers engage in war of words over handling of Gaza violence, i24NEWS

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday engaged in yet another spat over how to handle violence coming from Gaza, an argument the two ministers have engaged in earlier this year when Israel and Hamas almost came to a war.

Opinion and Analysis

The UN General Assembly Was a Disaster for Palestinians, Forward

Muhammad Shehada writes, “Three days ago, Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres opened his UN General Assembly remarks by noting that “Palestinians and Israelis are still locked in endless conflict, with the two-state solution more and more distant.” As if to affirm this statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 40-minute speech on Thursday made no single mention of peace with the Palestinians, focusing instead on the Iranian regime. It signified how Israel has unilaterally moved on from peace. Netanyahu did say he’d back a “Palestinian State under Israeli security control.” But he remains crippled by two fanatical politicians — Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman, who proudly announced on Thursday that ‘I  do not care about Palestinian state.’”

Israel Defends Interrogations Of Left-Wing Activists At Airport, National Public Radio

Daniel Estrin reports, “Israeli authorities are defending a recent series of interrogations of left-wing activists at Israel’s airport and borders, saying the practice is necessary to prevent violence and terrorism. But a prominent civil rights advocate in the country called the government’s justification ‘shameful and dangerous.’…In a letter Thursday to Israeli groups protesting the practice, Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber said the interrogations were not intended to block demonstrations but rather ‘to thwart and prevent illegal activity, whether on a nationalist basis or with a connection to terror.’”

The Real Lesson, J Street Blog

General (res.) Shlomo Gazit writes, “Every year, as Yom Kippur approaches, discussions of the 1973 war — specifically the intelligence services’ failure to anticipate the attack — come rushing back. The disclosures of new information that seem to surface each year continue to surprise me. They renew old debates and fuel new ones about the circumstances surrounding the war. But while I certainly don’t underestimate the importance and consequences of the intelligence failure, I don’t think the issue gets at the core of the Yom Kippur War’s greatest impact. Rather, I see the lasting legacy of the war in the set of national and strategic issues that Israel grapples with most acutely today. These large-scale, definitional challenges are beyond the scope of the IDF and intelligence officials. They deal with the kind of country we, Israelis, are building — and the kind of country we aspire to be.”