News Roundup for October 5, 2018

October 5, 2018

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J Street in the News

Government said to use Canary Mission blacklist to bar visitors, Times of Israel

“Reports by a secretive right-wing website that collects and publishes information about anti-Israel activity of university students and others are being used by Israeli authorities to question or ban people attempting to enter the country, according to a report Thursday….Responding to the Haaretz report, the dovish J Street lobby called the government’s reliance on Canary Mission ‘outrageous.’ ‘This is just the latest evidence that the Israeli government is partnering with extreme right-wing groups, funded by American Jewish donors, to silence criticism, dissent and non-violent political activism,’ the group said in a statement.”

Canary Mission received donation from charity headed by UC Berkeley Board of Visitors member, Daily Californian

“Shira Klasky-Gamer, co-president of J Street U at Berkeley, said this website is not representative of a pro-Israel voice and harms the work of pro-Israel activists by allegedly targeting students and creating ‘an atmosphere of fear’ that prevents dialogue on college campuses. She added that the Jewish Community Federation had previously funded Canary Mission and that J Street U had prompted the foundation to cease these donations and promote transparency in its finances. Klasky-Gamer said she was not aware of the connection between Canary Mission and the campus Board of Visitors and could not comment on Safier’s involvement.”

Trump Admin’s Internment of Migrant Children is an Assault on Core Jewish, American Values, J Street

“Reports that the Trump administration has forced hundreds of undocumented children into what can only be accurately described as an internment camp, in Tornillo, Texas, demonstrate that this administration intends to continue — and even intensify — its barbaric policies toward migrant families….As the descendants of immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, we are outraged and horrified to see a US administration in the 21st century target those seeking a better life and refuge in our country today with practices that recall some of the most devastating episodes of the Jewish people’s historical experience.”

Israeli Government’s Use of Far-Right “Canary Mission” to Ban Student Activists is Outrageous, J Street

“J Street is appalled by a new report that the Israeli government is using information provided by the far-right organization Canary Mission as a source to bar student activists from entering Israel. This is just the latest evidence that the Israeli government is partnering with extreme right-wing groups, funded by American Jewish donors, to silence criticism, dissent and non-violent political activism. By compiling a shadowy online blacklist of students who criticize Israel, Canary Mission aims to promote a toxic atmosphere of harassment and fear on US college campuses and beyond. It is outrageous that Israeli officials are using this blacklist as a tool to promote their travel ban on BDS activists. Like the travel ban itself, these activities risk doing massive damage to Israeli democracy.”

Top News and Analysis

Jared Kushner’s Peace Plan Would Turn Jordan Upside Down, Foreign Policy

Khalil E. Jahshan writes, “The Trump administration’s attempt to pressure Jordan to strip its Palestinian refugees of their status struck a nerve in the kingdom at a time of unprecedented economic and political turbulence. In presenting their ill-conceived plan to Jordanian officials, U.S. peace negotiators Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt have demonstrated a bias and ineptitude that will derail Washington’s self-proclaimed peace plan and further undermine U.S. credibility in the Middle East.”

Young Jewish Activists Furious Over San Francisco Federation’s Support of Blacklist Group Canary Mission, Haaretz

Allison Kaplan Sommer reports, “For young activists charging that the mainstream American-Jewish establishment is actively working to muzzle criticism of Israel, the revelation Wednesday of a major donation funneled by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco to shadowy blacklist group Canary Mission represents an ‘I told you so’ moment. ‘It opens a window into the lengths that the American-Jewish establishment will go to silence dissent around the occupation,’ said Sarah Brammer-Shlay, a leader of the anti-occupation Jewish group IfNotNow.”

Bolton 2.0: Trump’s tough guy on Iran picks his battles, Reuters

Steve Holland, Jeff Mason, Jonathan Landay report, “Over the years, Bolton has advocated for regime change in both Iran and North Korea, opposed direct negotiations with both and said the United States should stage pre-emptive attacks against their nuclear facilities.He was also a firm supporter of the Iraq war and has been a longtime advocate of tough policies toward Russia. Now, in the most influential position of his long career, the 69-year-old Bolton has softened some of those bellicose positions, at least in public, and says he is happy to follow the president’s lead. That has kept him in good graces with Trump, who has made improved ties with both North Korea and Russia a centerpiece of his foreign policy, and who does not like being overshadowed by his staff. And it allows Bolton the room to shape and execute a hardline strategy on Iran.”

Gaza Tension: Abbas-Hamas Rift Threatens to Blow Up in Israel’s Face, Haaretz

Amos Harel writes, “Once again it’s a race against the clock in the Gaza Strip to head off yet another military escalation. As Haaretz reported on Thursday, Qatar agreed – after considerable arm-twisting – to allocate $60 million to purchase diesel fuel for the Strip’s sole power plant. The move, which was negotiated by United Nations Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov, should enable the generating plant to double the number of hours it supplies electricity from a daily average of four to eight, thus easing one of the main factors in the latest flare-up of tensions with Israel. The Palestinian Authority, however, continues to create obstacles, threatening to block the contracts to purchase fuel from Israel for the West Bank, while further cutting its spending on electricity for the Strip.”


Trump’s mideast envoy meets with key senators on peace plan, i24NEWS

Jason Greenblatt, one of US President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East, said on Friday that he met with a group of senators to discuss the peace plan their administration has touted for nearly a year.

Jerusalem to remove UN agency for Palestinians from city, Associated Press

Jerusalem’s mayor said Thursday he plans to remove a U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees from the city, accusing the body of operating illegally and promoting incitement against Israel.

Police to grill Netanyahu for 12th time in graft probes, Times of Israel

Police investigators were set to question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the 12th time on Friday in a series of burgeoning corruption investigations.

Now the holidays are over, Liberman warns Hamas that Israel ready for war, i24NEWS

Following a period of restraint during the Jewish High Holiday period, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned the Gaza-based Hamas group on Friday that Israel was ready to go to war over the recent surge in border violence.

Merkel, Netanyahu play down differences during Israel visit, Associated Press

The leaders of Israel and Germany, countries that have built a strong alliance since the horrors of the Holocaust, put on a display of unity in Jerusalem on Thursday, even as the two states continue to grapple with gaping disagreements over Iran and the Palestinians.

US keeps aid flowing for Palestinian security forces, for now, Al-Monitor

Although the United States has slashed funding to the Palestinian territories, the Palestinian security services continue to receive American assistance. In a recently released report, the US State Department praises the efforts by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to prevent terrorist operations against Israel.

Opinion and Analysis

Bulldozers Idling in Israel, but Only Until Merkel Leaves, Haaretz
The Haaretz editorial board writes, “In view of the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which began Wednesday, the government decided to put off the demolition and evacuation of the Jahalin Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar for a few days, so as not to embarrass her. The village residents, exhausted by four months of public and legal struggles and fearing the moment the bulldozers, police and army arrive, have gained another few days of anxiety-wracked waiting….This temporary consideration for the German government shows that the Israeli leadership is well aware of the serious differences in the two countries’ attitudes regarding the proper treatment of Palestinians living in the West Bank in general and the Bedouin in particular. The government seems to understand very well that it has turned its back on the values that were once shared by Israel and Western Europe. The government is prepared to dress up for a few days and behave properly, but once the visit is over, it will return to business as usual.”

What’s behind Hamas’ message to Israel?, Jerusalem Post

Khaled Abu Toameh writes, “Although Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar on Thursday said that he did not grant an interview to the daily Yediot Aharonot, he did not deny the statements attributed to him, including the one that his movement does not want another war with Israel….Sinwar is hoping that his public statement that Hamas is not interested in another war will convince Israel that the only way to end the ongoing violence along the border with the Gaza Strip is for both sides to ignore [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] and strike a new truce deal. He is also hoping to send a message to the international community that Hamas did its utmost to prevent another major military confrontation with Israel.”

Netanyahu, defense minister battle discreetly over new IDF chief, Al-Monitor
Ben Caspit writes, “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s multiyear tenure is now entering its most dangerous phase: Netanyahu is losing his grasp over his own internal checks and balances system that, in the past, caused him to avoid security-related ‘adventures.’ Now he is itching for a fight and wants to ‘leave his mark’ on Jewish history….Netanyahu is making it hard for Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to conduct an organized, transparent process for the appointment of a successor to Gadi Eizenkot; the latter is expected to return the keys on Jan. 1. Netanyahu favors the appointment of the youngest, least experienced contender among the four candidates. His goal: to receive a docile, submissive chief of staff who will owe his appointment to the Big Boss in Jerusalem.”

In funding Canary Mission, Jewish Federation betrayed us, Forward

Rebecca Pierce writes, “The revelation that mainstream Jewish organizations like the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco have been secretly funding Canary Mission, a widely-condemned online blacklist of students and professionals critical of Israel, pulls back the curtain on a stunning abuse of the trust and esteem placed on these groups by the Jewish communities they purport to represent. It also speaks to a deep crisis within the US Jewish community, where unflinching support for even the worst acts of the Israeli government and its supporters from some of the community’s most mainstream organizations comes at the cost of Jewish anti-racist values and those who uphold them. As a Jew of Color from the San Francisco Bay Area who is both active in my community and publicly critical of Israel, I’ve received everything from racist harassment to rape threats following targeting by Canary Mission.”