News Roundup for September 26, 2017

September 26, 2017

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J Street in the News

Jewish groups join criticism of Trump’s updated travel ban, Times of Israel

“The left-wing group J Street issued a statement in which it said it ‘strongly opposes the latest iteration of President Trump’s travel ban.’ ‘This updated executive order continues to be an unacceptable affront to our Jewish and American values,’ J Street wrote. ‘As the descendants of immigrants, many of whom came to the United States seeking refuge from persecution, we recognize these bans for what they are: A betrayal of our country’s proud legacy of welcoming immigrants.’”

Revised Trump Travel Ban is Still Dangerous and Discriminatory, J Street

“J Street strongly opposes the latest iteration of President Trump’s travel ban restricting entry to the United States. While previous iterations of these bans were intended to last just 90 days, this latest executive order would indefinitely prohibit millions of citizens of the eight affected countries from entering the United States. Like the earlier travel bans, this one will likely do far more harm to US national security interests than good. An analysis by the Cato Institute has found that these bans would not have prevented the entry of a single person accused of terrorism in the US since the 9/11/2001 attacks. Rather than making Americans safer, the travel ban will further erode the United States’ image around the world, helping the cause of terrorist organizations which promote anti-American sentiment. This updated executive order continues to be an unacceptable affront to our Jewish and American values. While this ban targets some non-Muslim majority countries, it clearly remains designed to limit Muslims’ ability to travel to the United States. As the descendants of immigrants, many of whom came to the United States seeking refuge from persecution, we recognize these bans for what they are: A betrayal of our country’s proud legacy of welcoming immigrants.”

Top News and Analysis

Three Israelis Killed in Terrorist Attack in West Bank Settlement, Haaretz

“A Border Police officer and two Israeli security guards were killed in a shooting attack in the West Bank settlement of Har Adar, near Jerusalem, on Tuesday morning. The 37-year-old Palestinian attacker was shot dead. Another Israeli, the security coordinator of Har Adar, sustained serious injuries.  The officer killed was named as First Sgt. Solomon Gabariya, 20, from Beer Yaakov. He is survived by his parents, two sisters and a brother. The security guards killed were identified as Yussef Utman, a resident of Abu Gosh village near Jerusalem, and Or Arish, 25, from Har Adar.”

Embarrassment on the World Stage, J Street

Alan Elsner writes, “Over the course of my career, I’ve seen many presidential speeches. Some have been soaring and inspiring in their rhetoric, while others have been mediocre and disappointing. But none were like President Trump’s last Tuesday. His address to the United Nations General Assembly was likely the most dangerous and alarming speech an American leader has ever given to a major international body. It was a national embarrassment — but more than that it was an urgent call to action for all of us who care deeply about world peace, peace in the Middle East and the security of the US and Israel.”

For the sake of national security, Trump must honor the Iran deal, The Hill

David Wade writes, “I spent close to 15 years working in the United States Senate for John Kerry, who was deeply engaged in foreign policy, and then another two and a half years at the State Department working on those issues from a different vantage point. I saw from both of those perspectives the important role Congress can and should play on national security, but also how dangerously fractious foreign policy has become at home. I don’t envy my former colleagues on Capitol Hill who are too often the targets of President Trump’s “weapons of mass distraction,” and I don’t diminish for a second just how hard that makes the conduct of responsible, bipartisan foreign policy. But if on Oct. 15, President Trump zigs when facts command him to zag, then Congress must follow the real facts, not the “fake news,” and put the United States back on course.”

The Danger of Alienating Diaspora Jews, Haaretz

Yehudah Bauer argues, “The threat posed by the axis of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas is no right-wing invention but rather reality. Israel’s capacity to face up to this threat, whatever Israeli government is in power, is dependent upon international forces. They will be influenced, as they have been in the past, by the attitude of the Jews of the world, particularly American Jews, towards Israel. Without their support, the State of Israel would not have been established, and it cannot exist without such support today either. The Israeli government’s policy toward non-Orthodox streams of Jewry, which represent 90 percent of American Jews, threatens the connection that American Jews have to Israel, and is liable to weaken that link to such an extent that it results in apathy and a refusal to act on Israel’s behalf even during a crisis. Simply put, the policy of the current Israeli government is endangering Israel’s existence.”


New Order Indefinitely Bars Almost All Travel From Seven Countries, New York Times

President Trump on Sunday issued a new order indefinitely banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country. The new order is more far-reaching than the president’s original travel ban, imposing permanent restrictions on travel, rather than the 90-day suspension that Mr. Trump authorized soon after taking office.

Supreme Court cancels oral arguments on Trump travel ban, Politico

The Supreme Court has canceled oral arguments that were set for next month on President Donald Trump’s travel ban executive order. The high court announced Monday afternoon that it has scrubbed the Oct. 10 session after Trump issued a new set of travel restrictions Sunday, as his earlier visa ban on six majority Muslim countries was set to expire.

Kurdish Authorities Set to Declare ‘Yes’ on Independence, Despite Iran and Turkey Threatening War, Haaretz

Kurds voted in large numbers in an independence referendum in northern Iraq on Monday, ignoring pressure from Baghdad, threats from Turkey and Iran, and international warnings that the vote may ignite yet more regional conflict. The vote organized by Kurdish authorities is expected to deliver a comfortable “yes” for independence, but is not binding. However, it is designed to give Masoud Barzani, who heads the Kurdistan Regional Government, a mandate to negotiate the secession of the oil-producing region.

Israelis veer between restraint, shock at German nationalist gains, Times of Israel

The success of the right-wing populist AfD in Germany’s weekend elections was met in Israel with a mix of concern and restraint, with the two countries’ close relations a factor. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated German Chancellor Angela Merkel on winning a fourth term in Sunday’s elections but made no mention of the rise of the hard-right.

Right-wing MKs: Call off US peace push over terror attack, Times of Israel

Coalition ministers lawmakers said Israel should call off any attempts to restart peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority following a terror attack on Tuesday morning outside the Har Adar settlement.

Opposition parties deny report they’re boycotting settlement ceremony, Times of Israel

Officials from Yesh Atid and Zionist Union denied a Monday report that their respective Knesset factions were boycotting a state ceremony celebrating 50 years of settlement in the West Bank and Golan Heights. All Knesset members were invited to the official ceremony Wednesday at the Gush Etzion industrial park, which is being funded by the ministries of culture and education to the tune of NIS 10 million ($2.8 million). According to Channel 1 news, Yesh Atid and Zionist Union decided not only to skip the event, but to bar their MKs from attending.

UN envoy slams Israel’s ‘high rate’ of settlement construction, Times of Israel

Israel continues to build settlements “at a high rate,” in defiance of Security Council demands for an end to the expansion, the UN envoy for the Middle East said Monday. Reporting to the council, envoy Nickolay Mladenov accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of using provocative rhetoric to shore up the drive for new settlements.

Opinions and Analysis

If Trump kills the Iran deal, he may give the world another Rocket Man, Washington Post

Jeffery Lewis argues, “Trump is faced with precisely the same choice as Bush — although with one important difference. Unlike North Korea, with its covert uranium enrichment program, Iran remains in compliance with the agreement signed in Vienna. The IAEA is absolutely clear on this fact, and Trump has twice certified that Iran is in compliance. And yet, like Bolton in 2002, there are those who are simply looking for a hammer. Many administration officials must realize this would be a mistake. There is no possibility of renegotiating the agreement with Iran. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and others have stood by the president, making a public show of their dislike for the agreement while reportedly pressing Trump in private to retain it. This, too, is a familiar tale. During the Bush administration, Colin Powell employed the same mix of public criticism and private encouragement to preserve the Agreed Framework. But he was terribly wrong about his ability to influence the president. The deal collapsed, and today we have an arsenal of nuclear-armed North Korean missiles to show for it.”

Trump’s criticism of the Iran nuclear deal may only lead to more nuclear weapons, Washington Post

Nicholas Miller writes, “If Trump withdraws from the deal, it might permanently cement the perception that there is no durable diplomatic off-ramp for adversary proliferators.

Think of it this way: If the United States cannot be trusted to abide by a bargain and will sanction or invade your country even if you agree to limit your nuclear program, why would you agree to any limits? A viable nuclear deterrent is the one thing that might prevent a U.S. invasion, after all. This logic explains why many analysts warn that withdrawing from the deal would cripple any hopes of achieving limits on the North Korean nuclear program diplomatically. Undermining the Iran deal would also strengthen the perception that Washington is not truly committed to opposing proliferation. A weakened or collapsed deal would increase the incentives for countries such as Saudi Arabia to seek their own nuclear weapons. And it would signal that the United States prioritizes preventing missile tests, hemming in Iranian support for proxy groups and achieving regime change in Iran over nonproliferation. Given that several core pillars of U.S. nonproliferation policy are already showing signs of stress, the fate of the Iran deal may be even more important than it initially seems.”

Trump Will Be Hard-Pressed to Get Allies to Stop Buying Iran’s Oil, Foreign Policy

Keith Jonhson and Dan De Luce write, “Some hawkish opponents of the nuclear agreement in Congress want to reimpose the old sanctions in hopes of recreating the economic pressure that squeezed Iran’s economy five years ago and brought Tehran to the negotiating table. One of the hardest-hitting measures required other countries to significantly reduce their purchases of Iranian oil or else face U.S. sanctions. That provision alone cost Iran tens of billions of dollars in annual oil revenues. But the Trump administration almost certainly won’t be able to replicate the chokehold Obama placed on the Iranian economy in 2012 by limiting its crude oil exports.”

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