News Roundup for September 20, 2019

September 20, 2019

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J Street in the News

Ro Khanna, a rising star among progressive Democrats, navigates a careful pro-Israel line, JTA
“Khanna said his views hew close to younger Jewish Democrats in favoring a close U.S. relationship with ‘progressive values.’ Just as young Indian Americans like himself favor relations with India but long for peace with Pakistan, Jewish Democrats of his generation support the relationship with Israel but long for peace with the Palestinians. The political action committee affiliated with J Street, the liberal Israel lobby that supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has endorsed Khanna.”

The Ballots Are (Mostly) Counted. What Comes Next?, J Street
“It’s important and encouraging for Israeli democracy that Netanyahu failed to achieve his aim, and that millions of Israelis rejected his extreme, anti-democratic rhetoric and tactics . It’s a reminder that Israeli society remains deeply divided. While defenders of democracy have been under sustained attack from Netanyahu and his allies, they still have the capacity to fight back — and need all of the support we can give them to help win that fight. This election result by itself does not guarantee that Netanyahu’s days of political power are over — or tell us exactly what the composition, policies and priorities of the next Israeli government will be. Nor does it mean we’re likely to see a major change in the status quo when it comes to the occupation or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We’re determined to bring an end not only to the era of Netanyahu, but also to the era of Trump, and to the era of unending conflict and occupation.”

Top News and Analysis

Tillerson: Netanyahu, Israelis ‘played’ Trump, Politico
Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that Israeli officials “played” President Donald Trump in their conversations with him, warning that a “healthy amount of skepticism” is needed in dealings with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Committee publishes ‘almost final’ results; Blue and White lead Likud 33-31, Times of Israel
The Central Election Committee published early Friday what it said were the “almost final” results from Tuesday’s election, with Benny Gantz’s Blue and White centrist party maintaining a two-seat lead over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

Israel Election Results: Netanyahu Clings to Power With Bluff and Bluster – but His Days Are Numbered, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Like Richard Nixon, the prime minister’s refusal to depart gracefully will cement his name in history as an unrepentant crook rather than world-class statesman.”


Parties jostle for position, hold talks in bid to break coalition impasse, Times of Israel
The newly elected factions of the 22nd Knesset spent Thursday engaging in a dizzying array of political maneuvering, as they jostled for position ahead of consultations with the president over who should be Israel’s next prime minister, set to kick off Sunday.

US military presenting range of options to Trump on Iran, AP
The Pentagon will present a broad range of military options to President Donald Trump on Friday as he considers how to respond to what administration officials say was an unprecedented Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry.

Liberman denies Gantz deal, says will be fine sitting in opposition or coalition, Times of Israel
Yisrael Beytenu chief says won’t speak to Blue and White leader or Netanyahu ahead of Rivlin meeting; jokes Odeh should send PM flowers as thanks for increase in Joint List seats.

Poway killer told 911 he was ‘defending our nation against the Jewish people’, AP
“I’m defending our nation against the Jewish people, who are trying to destroy all white people,” the caller, who identified himself as John Earnest, told the dispatcher in an even, almost casual tone.

Four in five Arab and Druze voters cast ballots for Joint List, numbers show, Times of Israel
An estimated 81.3 percent of Arab and Druze voters cast ballots for the Joint List in Tuesday’s national elections, an Israel Democracy Institute report said after analyzing the near-final poll tallies.

Opinion and Analysis

American Jews may wish booting Netanyahu will fix Israel’s problems. It won’t, Washington Post
Mairav Zonszein writes, “An Israeli government without Netanyahu in charge could provide a fig leaf for American Jews to breathe a sigh of relief, assure themselves that Israel is a vibrant democracy and go back to hoping for peace while avoiding confrontation with Israel’s apartheid-like one-state reality — which was there before Netanyahu, and will be there after him.”

Fantasy politics: Game playing the 2020 election, Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle
Dan Resnick writes, “The fourth rule is to attack the Democratic party as soft on anti-Semites. This has the effect of denying the party’s role in defending human rights and setting up the president as the arbiter and definer of what is anti-Semitism.”

Netanyahu and Gantz Agree on Unity, but Not on What It Means, New York Times
Isabel Kershner writes, “Mr. Netanyahu, a brutal political warrior who had vilified his opponents during the campaign as soft leftists, is loudly staking a claim to be the bridge builder.”

As Netanyahu offers Gantz a hand in unity, his fingers are crossed, Times of Israel
Raoul Wootliff writes, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Thursday call for Blue and White chief Benny Gantz to enter talks to form a national unity government ‘without preconditions’ could have been seen as a statesmanlike offer to wipe the slate clean after a bitter, hard-fought election campaign.”

What Iran’s hardliners stand to gain from the Abqaiq attack, The Interpreter
Mahmoud Pargoo writes, “One theory is that hardliners and IRGC want to curtail a potential thawing of relations between Iran and the US. Indeed, all the positive signals in the last two months might have led IRGC commanders to the conclusion that a Trump-Rouhani meeting and agreement at the UNGA was imminent, and they simply tried to prevent it from happening. “

Israel Election Results: Netanyahu Suffered Defeat Despite the Center-left’s Abysmal Campaign Flop, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Benny Gantz and his cohorts may have miffed a historic opportunity for fundamental change.”

Netanyahu might be on his way out, but Israelis are still firmly right wing, +972 Mag
Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “Voters might be weary of Netanyahu’s decade-long reign, but the numbers show that the vast majority of Israelis remain consistent in their voting habits.”