News Roundup for September 26, 2018

September 26, 2018

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J Street in the News

America’s Jews are watching Israel in horror, Washington Post
“Netanyahu’s moves toward authoritarianism and away from negotiated peace also make it more difficult for traditional liberal supporters of Israel to counter the left’s Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement, founded by Palestinians and tainted by anti-Semitism. Jeremy Ben Ami, who runs the liberal pro-Israel group J Street, says ‘the splits happening on the left are very troublesome.’”

Israel lauds Trump’s ‘impressive’ UN speech, while Palestinians lambast it, Times of Israel

“Israeli officials on Tuesday praised US President Donald Trump’s speech to the UN General Assembly, while Palestinians and dovish US Jews decried the address as harmful….The dovish Jewish US lobbying group J Street slammed Trump for his ‘bellicose and extreme rhetoric’ and for advancing a ‘dangerous agenda’ on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trump has ‘replaced our nation’s commitment to world leadership, diplomacy and human rights with aggression, bullying and ultra-nationalism,’ J Street President Jeremy Ben Ami charged in a statement. ‘Attacking diplomacy and international cooperation, this administration is leading us down a path toward armed conflict with Iran,’ he added, calling on the US Congress to ‘restrain’ the president. ‘When it comes to the Iran nuclear agreement and to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the president is advancing the dangerous agenda of his war cabinet and far-right political backers, while jeopardizing the interests and security of both the US and Israel,’ Ben Ami concluded.”

Lawyer for Kavanaugh’s Accuser Faces Tough Scrutiny, Wall Street Journal

“Debra Katz has long been a Washington fixture on sexual harassment cases and the #MeToo movement. But never has she faced anything like the scrutiny accompanying the Brett Kavanaugh case, with its far-reaching political, social, and legal stakes….Ms. Katz has given more than $12,500 this year to federal Democratic candidates, including Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, as well as Nevada Senate hopeful Rep. Jacky Rosen. She also contributed $2,000 to J Street PAC, a Democratic Jewish group.”

34 Senate Democrats ask Trump to restore aid to the Palestinians, Jewish Telegraphic Agency

“Two-thirds of Democrats in the Senate and a third of the entire body signed a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to reinstate assistance to the Palestinians, saying the cuts risk exacerbating tensions in the region….The letter was supported by J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group. ‘By exacerbating the humanitarian nightmare in Gaza, these cuts promote instability and increase the security threat to Israelis,’ the group said in a statement.”

Know your candidate: Democrat Dan Kohl, running for 6th Congressional District, Fox11NEWS
“Dan Kohl is one of two candidates on the ballot for 6th Congressional District.

According to his website, Kohl joined J Street, a pro-Israel advocacy organization, as vice president of political affairs in 2009. Before that, he worked for the Milwaukee Bucks in several capacities, including assistant general manager.”

Top News and Analysis

Rebuking Trump, major powers reaffirm Iran nuclear deal, Politico

David M. Herszenhorn reports, “Europe’s big powers joined with Russia and China in reaffirming their commitment to the Iran nuclear deal, once again rebuking U.S. President Donald Trump for his unilateral decision to withdraw from it. Officials from the EU, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia met in New York, where world leaders are gathered at the United Nations, and issued a statement saying they are committed to ‘ensure the full and effective implementation’ of the accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) despite Trump’s reimposition of economic sanctions. The meeting on Monday also included Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. The EU was represented by its foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.”

It’s time for American Jews to stand up for the Israeli Left, Forward

Noam Bercovitz writes, “Israel’s democracy is crumbling and on its ruins is rising a populist right-wing regime. As Jan Werner Müller, a researcher of populism at Princeton, explains, “populists (like [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu) see themselves as the only legitimate representatives of the people. There is no longer a legitimate political debate because any criticism of the regime — a demonstration on the street, a court ruling or an investigative report on TV — is labeled as anti-democratic since it undermines the will of the people.”

40 years later, Camp David Accords hold many lessons for Trump, Hill

Stuart Eizenstat, former chief White House Domestic Policy Adviser to President Jimmy Carter, writes, “September 17 marked the 40th anniversary of the historic Camp David Accords brokered by President Jimmy Carter between Israel and Egypt, who had fought five wars since the Jewish state’s creation in 1948. In one of the greatest acts of presidential diplomacy in American history, Carter helped create a framework for Israeli security that has lasted for two generations and greatly enhanced U.S. national security interests. If Donald Trump is serious about forging a peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as his administration has stated, he’d do well to study Carter’s playbook.”

Russia Promises Advanced Missiles to Syria After Rift With Israel, The New York Times

Andrew E. Kramer and Isabel Kershner report, “President Vladimir V. Putin said Monday that Russia would supply the Syrian military with a sophisticated air defense system, a move that reflects Russia’s increasing tensions with Israel and that could heighten the risks of the air war over Syria. Israel, which has long opposed the weapons transfer, has carried out more than 200 strikes on Iranian-affiliated targets in Syria in the past two years as Russia, Syria’s main patron, has mostly looked the other way. But relations between Russia and Israel have frayed since a Russian military plane was shot down over Syria a week ago, killing 15 Russian service members.”


Egypt’s Sissi at UN: World Must Guarantee Palestinian State With East Jerusalem at Capital, Haaretz

Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sissi told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that Cairo is committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Trump takes anti-Iran campaign to UN Security Council, i24NEWS

US President Donald Trump takes his campaign to isolate Iran to the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, chairing for the first time a meeting that will lay bare divisions between Washington and key allies.

Palestinian president to hold anti-Trump conference in New York, Axios

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will hold a meeting in New York on Wednesday with senior officials representing 40 countries and international organizations to discuss ways to block or influence the upcoming U.S. Middle East peace plan, Israeli officials and Western diplomats told me.

Israeli Opposition Leader Meets Palestinian President in N.Y.: You Need to Talk to the U.S., Haaretz

Opposition leader and former foreign minister MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) met Tuesday in New York with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the United Nations General Assembly meetings.

Macron says unilateral action on Mideast peace won’t solve crisis, Reuters

Trampling on the Palestinians and pushing unilateral initiatives will not resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday, taking a swipe at U.S. counterpart Donald Trump’s policy on the issue.

Israel gives Bedouin villagers until end of month to leave, i24NEWS

Israeli authorities issued a notice to residents of a Bedouin village in a strategic spot in the occupied West Bank on Sunday informing them they have until the end of the month to leave.

World Bank report warns Gaza Strip economy is in “free fall”, Associated Press

The Gaza Strip’s economy is in “free fall,” a report from the World Bank warned Tuesday, calling for urgent action by Israel and the international community to avoid “immediate collapse.”

Trump peace plan unlikely until next spring: Palestinian officials, i24NEWS

US President Donald Trump is unlikely to present the White House’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan before next spring, Palestinian officials told i24NEWS Wednesday.

Opinion and Analysis

Not Just Millennials: These Older U.S. Jews Are Disillusioned by Israel Too, Haaretz

Dina Kraft writes, “The focus of much hand-wringing in the Jewish establishment in recent years has been the mounting evidence that young American Jews don’t care as much about Israel as their elders. The Pew Research Center’s 2013 survey “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” for example, found that younger Jews were significantly less likely to feel emotionally attached to Israel than those 65 and older. But it is also the liberal parents and grandparents of these youngsters who appear to becoming more outspoken about the Israeli government and some of its policies.”

Jared Kushner’s Jewishness won’t doom his peace plan. This will., Forward

Aaron David Miller writes, “Sure, the [Trump administration] team lacks expertise about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — its history, politics, and negotiating record; and no one on the team has prior government experience, or experience being immersed in the region. But the real problem is that the team has compromised and undermined America’s ability to present itself as an effective broker, let alone an honest one. Trump’s team, helmed by Kushner, Greenblatt and David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer, are pursuing an approach that hews far more closely to a Netanyahu narrative, and is not only hostile to a Palestinian one, but seeks to dismantle the elements of a two state solution, including on borders and Jerusalem.”

Palestinians ponder reasons for punishing US measures, Al-Monitor

Ahmad Abu Amer writes, “Talal Awkal, a political analyst for the Palestinian Al-Ayyam newspaper, told Al-Monitor that the US measures point toward a total rupture of ties between the United States and the Palestinian Authority. He explained that Washington’s decisions to recognize Jerusalem, halt funding for Palestinians and close the PLO’s office in Washington affirm that the United States no longer recognizes the current Palestinian leadership as legitimate representatives of the Palestinians, and that the United States wants to end any role of the PLO. He added that the US actions align with Israel’s intent to annul the PLO’s role as sole representative of the Palestinian people, or to give the impression that the PLO is unfit to lead Palestinians. The United States, he said, hopes to find a PLO alternative that will abide by the dictates of Washington and Israel and resume direct talks.”

Campus pro-Israel group ‘monitored’ progressive Jewish students, Forward

Josh Nathan-Kazis reports, “In the fall of 2016, roughly a dozen Jewish college students gathered at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, for a weekend-long workshop. Led by young organizers from a tiny progressive Jewish student group called Open Hillel, the students strategized and networked. They had no idea they were being watched by a major pro-Israel organization with a budget of millions of dollars a year and links to the Israeli government. In Washington, D.C., the Israel on Campus Coalition had tasked its research team with keeping an eye on the Open Hillel gathering, according to ICC promotional materials distributed to donors and obtained by the Forward. In the donor materials, ICC said its research team would continue to “monitor activity surrounding the Open Hillel Conference.” The monitoring of Open Hillel adds to an emerging picture of how the ICC has quietly used its $9 million budget, supplied by major Jewish donors like Lynn Schusterman, to discreetly build a sophisticated political intelligence operation on U.S. campuses.”