News Roundup for September 28, 2016

September 28, 2016

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J Street in the News

J Street Mourns Shimon Peres, J Street Blog

“J Street expresses deep sorrow at the news that Shimon Peres, the last surviving member of Israel’s founding generation of leaders, has passed away. Shimon Peres made an indelible contribution to Israel as a senior aide to David Ben Gurion, as Defense Minister, as Prime Minister, as Foreign Minister and as President. He will be remembered for his tireless efforts to keep Israel safe and in his latter years to reach a just peace with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution. He was a friend of J Street, always ready to meet with our leaders and supporters, who will be sorely missed. Originally a security hawk who was the father of Israel’s nuclear program, Shimon Peres over time became convinced that there was no military solution to the conflict with the Palestinians and that Israel had to reach an accommodation with its neighbors that allowed them to exercise their self-determination alongside Israel.”

US Jewish groups mourn Shimon Peres, laud his contribution to Israel, Jerusalem Post

“The organization J Street, which advocates for the two-state solution, described Peres as ‘an ethical beacon and a voice of optimism for Israel’ who remained ‘unbowed and undeterred.’ J Street described Peres, the last surviving member of Israel’s founding generation of leaders, as “originally a security hawk” who later found a ‘more healthy path’. ‘Over the course of his long and productive life, Shimon Peres epitomized the best of Israel and of the Zionist movement,’ they said. ‘He was a fighter turned peacemaker, a hawk turned dove, a fierce political fighter turned unifier. We shall not see his like again.’ The group added that ‘He will be remembered for his tireless efforts to keep Israel safe and in his latter years to reach a just peace with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution.’ ‘He was a friend of J Street, always ready to meet with our leaders and supporters, who will be sorely missed.’

Donald Trump’s embrace of settlements and the one-state solution would be disastrous for Israel, Times of Israel

J Street U leader Leah Susman writes, “Every US administration since president Johnson has regarded Israeli settlements as illegitimate or illegal because they threaten a two-state solution, which subsequently threatens Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. Donald Trump’s GOP regularly lauds Israel as “the only democracy in the Middle East,” while simultaneously embracing the settlements. They simply can’t have it both ways….The disastrous effects of a Donald Trump presidency would not be restricted solely to our own country, but would have impact in Israel, the Middle East and around the world. Trump and the GOP’s support for pro-settlement policies threaten Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.  As American supporters of a peaceful and prosperous future for Israel, we have a responsibility to do everything that we can to oppose him.”

Campaign Spotlight: House Challengers in New York, J Street Blog

The latest campaign spotlight looks at the Congressional races of J Street endorsees Anna Throne-Holst and John Plumb.

Top News and Analysis

Shimon Peres of Israel Dies at 93; Built Up Defense and Sought Peace, The New York Times

“Shimon Peres, one of the last surviving pillars of Israel’s founding generation, who did more than anyone to build up his country’s formidable military might, then worked as hard to establish a lasting peace with Israel’s Arab neighbors, died on Wednesday in a Tel Aviv area hospital. He was 93…..As prime minister (twice); as minister of defense, foreign affairs, finance and transportation; and, until 2014, as president, Mr. Peres never left the public stage during Israel’s seven decades. He led the creation of Israel’s defense industry, negotiated key arms deals with France and Germany and was the prime mover behind the development of Israel’s nuclear weapons. But he was consistent in his search for an accommodation with the Arab world, a search that in recent years left him orphaned as Israeli society lost interest, especially after the upheavals of the 2011 Arab Spring led to tumult on its borders.”

Shimon Peres and His Quixotic Path From Eternal Outsider to Israeli Icon, Forward

Anshel Pfeffer observes, that Peres “broke nearly all the Israeli political records of longevity. He served as Knesset member for over 47 years, no one else comes even close. He is the only man to have ever served in all four top government jobs − defense, foreign and finance minister, as well as prime minister. He had reached the top again and again, won the Nobel Peace Prize. But it was never enough and he always wanted to keep going.”

Netanyahu Polls His Coalition Partners: Who’s for Adding Herzog?, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu polled his coalition partners about the prospect of opposition head Isaac Herzog and his Zionist Union joining the coalition at the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The cabinet was sparsely attended, with only Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), Interior Minister Aryeh Dery (Shas), Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (UTJ) and Degel HaTorah chairman Moshe Gafni, the head of the Knesset Finance Committee, attending. No one reportedly expressed objections.

Five Things Last Night’s Debate Proved Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About the Iran Deal, J Street Blog

Logan Bayroff reviews the key aspects of the Iran deal’s success that Trump doesn’t understand – or refuses to accept.


Obama, Bill Clinton Among World Leaders to Attend Shimon Peres’ Funeral in Israel, Haaretz

U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Bill Clinton are among the world leaders who will attend the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres on Friday at 11 A.M., according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Hillary Clinton communications chief Jennifer Palmieri told U.S. media that she will not be attending the funeral.

Back From New York, Netanyahu Touts Israel’s Diplomatic Advances, Haaretz

Israel is in better diplomatic shape than ever, and it doesn’t matter who is elected US president, Prime Minister Netanyahu told his cabinet on Tuesday, after returning from his official visit to the United States. Netanyahu admitted “it’s no secret that President Obama and I have disagreements, first and foremost on the Iranian issue,” but stressed that these disputes do not impact the robust relations between the two countries, which “not only share substantial joint interest but also joint values unrivaled in the world.”

Israeli authorities carry out spate of demolitions across occupied territory, Ma’an

Israeli authorities carried out a large number of demolitions in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank on Tuesday, destroying two family apartment buildings, a classroom, a restaurant, four water cisterns, and parts of a home in the latest instances of a policy which rights groups have said has increased drastically in past months.

Ehud Olmert Corruption Appeal Rejected, ex-Israeli Prime Minister to Serve Another 8 Months, Haaretz

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s appeal against his conviction in the “cash envelopes” affair in which he accepted cash-filled envelopes from American Jewish businessman Morris Talansky. Olmert will thus serve another eight months in prison, on top of the 19 months he is serving for his bribery conviction in the Holyland corruption affair – involving the construction of a luxury apartment complex in Jerusalem.

Opinion and Analysis

The Countless Contradictions of the Late and Great Shimon Peres, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “Peres was abundantly rich in contradictions. It made him fruitful and fascinating, complicated instead of straightforward, multilayered rather than direct. It was his greatest strength but also his biggest weakness. Throughout most of his life, the Israeli public shied away from Peres’ complexity. It was misinterpreted as a sign of deviousness and even corruption. It sparked fear and hostility, before these emotions evolved, in the twilight of his life, to appreciation and admiration.”

Obama and Israel: It ain’t over till it’s over, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit writes, “The president is about to decide whether to initiate a diplomatic process through the Security Council, to coordinate such an initiative with the French or give up and let the Palestinians and Israelis continue to squabble. As of now, Jerusalem believes that Obama will make his decision on the day after the US election, once the whole world knows which candidate is about to enter the White House.”

The Art of the Nuclear Deal, London Review of Books

Jeremy Bernstein observes, “The bottom line seems quite simple to me. Before the agreement, the Iranians were only a few months from having enough fissile material to make a bomb. Now they are some years. Despite Trump’s misinformed rhetoric this was never a business deal. It was a security deal and the US is now much more secure. Trump argued for countries like Japan and South Korea to construct their own nuclear weapons. He seems to have no understanding of the power of these weapons and has not stated clearly when he would order their use if he was ever elected president.”

Without Solution to Palestinian Issue, No Arab State Will Seek Relations With Israel, Haaretz

Zvi Bar’el argues, “The crudest lie is not that there are Arab states prepared to establish relations with Israel without a solution to the Palestinian issue. Worse than that is selling the idea that Israel would be willing to withdraw from territory in return for such peace. Does anyone believe a Netanyahu government would draw the country’s new borders in return for peace with Tunisia? With Kuwait? Or even with Saudi Arabia? And let’s say that a miracle happens, and leaders of those countries announce they are ready to forge an everlasting peace with Israel. What are the chances that Netanyahu will suffice with their recognition of the State of Israel and not lay the minefield of recognition of “the Jewish state”?”

Likud cheers as Netanyahu returns, but polls tell another story, Al-Monitor

Mazal Mualem observes, “Historically, there has never been a situation like this within the Likud. Netanyahu is not only alone at the top, but is no strong option waiting on the sidelines to offer an alternative to his control of the Likud. What likely kept the Israeli prime minister awake that night was a poll released by Channel 1 at the time of the festive event. It showed the chairman of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, growing stronger and his party emerging as the largest in the country. The poll indicated that Yesh Atid would win 25 seats, and the Likud 21, if the election were held today. What this means is that since the last election in 2015, the ruling party led by Netanyahu has lost almost a third of its strength. More bad news for Netanyahu came from his rivals on the right: The poll gave the HaBayit HaYehudi chair, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, 13 seats and the Yisrael Beitenu chair, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, nine. Their growth in strength since the last election comes at the expense of Netanyahu and the Likud.”

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