News Roundup for October 4, 2018

October 4, 2018

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

J Street in the News

Majority of Democratic Congress Members Plea to Restore UNRWA Aid, Jerusalem Post

“Almost two-thirds of Democratic members of Congress, 112 representatives of the House of Representatives and 34 senators, sent a letter in appeal to US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reverse the decision to “end vital United States contributions to the United National Relief [and] Works Agency (UNRWA)….J Street, a Washington-based advocacy group, released the letter in a press release, in which it claimed that ‘this administration’s reckless actions can and must eventually be reversed – and replaced with policies that promote Israelis’ and Palestinians’ shared aspirations for a secure and peaceful future.’”

Democratic lawmakers protest US cut in aid to UNRWA, World Israel News

“One-hundred-and-twelve members of the US House of Representatives, mostly Democrats, sent a letter to the Trump administration protesting its recent move to cut all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)….The left-wing J Street organization, which published the letter, stated that it ‘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.’ Thirty-four senators sent a similar letter, which, according to J Street, shows that ‘Congress does not support the president’s extreme policies towards Israel and the Palestinians.’ ‘This administration’s reckless actions can and must eventually be reversed — and replaced with policies that promote Israelis’ and Palestinians’ shared aspirations for a secure and peaceful future,’ J Street demanded.”

Stirrings On The Left, New York Jewish Week

“Last Saturday, in the living room of a private home on the Lower East Side, about 25 Israeli-Americans gathered to discuss forging their own political, liberal-minded faction, which would function as a local branch of the popular Israeli social movement Mechazkim (Strengthening), one of the Israeli left’s first experiments in big-tent politics. Co-organized by Kobi Cohen, a former program director of the leading national Israeli-American establishment group, the Israeli-American Council (IAC), and Gili Getz, a J Street activist and independent theater director, the evening’s featured speaker was Ori Kol, Mechazkim’s 25-year-old founder and a rising star of the Israeli left.”

Top News and Analysis

Revealed: Canary Mission Blacklist Is Secretly Bankrolled By Major Jewish Federation, Forward

Josh Nathan-Kazis reports, “One of the largest Jewish charities in the U.S. has been secretly funding a shadowy online blacklist targeting college students who criticize Israel. For three years, a website called Canary Mission has spread fear among undergraduate activists, posting more than a thousand political dossiers on student supporters of Palestinian rights. The dossiers are meant to harm students’ job prospects, and have been used in interrogations by Israeli security officials.At the same time, the website has gone to great lengths to hide the digital and financial trail connecting it to its donors and staff. Registered through a secrecy service, the site is untraceable. Now, for the first time, the Forward has definitively identified a major donor to Canary Mission. It is a foundation controlled by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, a major Jewish charity with an annual budget of over $100 million.”

Breaking a taboo: Jerusalem elections and the Palestinian vote, Christian Science Monitor

Dina Kraft reports, “It’s a long shot, but [Jerusalem mayoral candidate Ramadan Dabash] is hoping his bid galvanizes fellow East Jerusalemites to break with more than 50 years of boycotting municipal elections. The boycott, initiated to protest Israeli rule, is rooted in an argument that to vote would be to recognize Israeli sovereignty. But that, he argues, has kept Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem politically powerless….The boycott is pushed heavily both by Muslim leaders in the city and by the Palestinian Authority itself. But a survey jointly conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and by the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, suggests that almost 60 percent of East Jerusalem residents believe Palestinians should vote in the city elections, while only 13 percent hold firm to the boycott position.”

‘I don’t want more wars,’ Hamas leader claims in interview with Israeli paper, Times of Israel

“In a remarkably conciliatory interview with Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip claimed he does not want any more wars and sees a ‘real opportunity for change.’ ‘A new war isn’t in anyone’s interest, definitely not in our interest. Who wants to confront a nuclear power with four slingshots? War doesn’t achieve anything,’ Yahya Sinwar said in an excerpt published Thursday from the interview. Yedioth said the full interview will be published on Friday.”


Merkel: Germany Making Efforts to Advance Israel-Gaza Deal, Haaretz

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that Germany is “making efforts” to advance an Israel-Gaza deal, though she said she did not wish to elaborate on what those efforts entail.

Gaza youth killed in border protest-Palestinian health officials, Reuters

A Palestinian teenager was killed on Wednesday when a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops during a border protest hit him in the head, Gaza health officials said.

Gaza Tensions: Israeli Military to Boost Forces Along Strip’s Border, Haaretz

The Israeli army announced Thursday it was significantly boosting its forces in the south, citing its policy to “thwart terrorism and prevent penetration into Israel along the Gaza border fence.”

US withdraws from Vienna treaty amendment to avoid Palestinian lawsuit, i24NEWS

The United States on Wednesday withdrew from an amendment to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to avoid being sued by the Palestinians over its embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

U.S. Withdraws From 1955 Treaty Normalizing Relations With Iran, The New York Times

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday that the United States was pulling out of a six-decade-old treaty with Iran that had provided a basis for normalizing relations between the two countries, including diplomatic and economic exchanges. The largely symbolic move came hours after the International Court of Justice ordered the United States to ease some of its recently imposed sanctions against Iran, including those related to the supply of humanitarian goods and civil aviation safety.

Israel seen behind WhatsApp warning to Beirut residents about Hezbollah facility, Times of Israel

Thousands of residents in Beirut’s southern suburbs received WhatsApp messages overnight Tuesday-Wednesday, believed to have been sent by Israel, warning them that their homes are in close proximity to a Hezbollah weapons facility, Israel’s Channel 10 news reported on Wednesday night.

Tunisian President Meets Ahed Tamimi, Palestinian Teen Jailed for Slapping IDF Soldier, Haaretz

Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi, who was imprisoned by Israel for eight months for slapping an Israeli soldier, met with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi on Tuesday, the pan-Arab Al-Araby Al-Jadeed media outlet reported.

Opinion and Analysis

Pew Poll Proves Israel’s Isolation as Adoring Trumpland, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “Among the 25 countries included in Pew’s latest Survey of Global Attitudes and Trends, Israel is in second place in its confidence in Trump’s ability to manage the world, closely behind the Philippines, led by our newfound buddy and alleged mass murderer Rodrigo Duterte. Israelis trust Trump more than anyone in the world to look out for their country’s interests. And only in Israel is support for Trump actually increasing, by leaps and bounds. Outside the Israeli bubble, the world’s confidence in American leadership is collapsing, especially when compared to the latter years of Barack Obama’s tenure as president.”

Netanyahu wants peace with Arabs, not Palestinians, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar writes, “Like all his recent speeches to the annual UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Sept. 27 address to the international forum successfully concealed the Palestinian issue behind the Iranian bomb. Netanyahu has made it a habit to lash out in such speeches at Western Europeans for allying with Tehran and at the same time embrace the Arab states that fellow victims of the Iranian menace. Netanyahu told the UNGA that the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran had brought Israel and many Arab states ‘closer than ever, in an intimacy and friendship that I’ve not seen in my lifetime and would have been unimaginable a few years ago.’”