News Roundup for September 29, 2016

September 29, 2016

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J Street in the News

Bill Clinton’s unfinished business in Israel, Politico

“[M]any believe that Clinton hasn’t given up his idealistic dream for peace, despite a growing global consensus that the peace broken is broken—perhaps beyond repair. ‘Anybody who was around the former president over the years on this issue knows the sense of personal frustration, that this was a goal that eluded him, that it was unfinished business from his presidency,’ says Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a liberal Israel policy group that supports the peace process…. ‘The nice fairy tale of history doesn’t necessarily follow a direct line to a happy ending,’ said Ben-Ami, who questioned whether either party is ready for serious peace talks. ‘Just putting the former president into that role [of a peace envoy] probably isn’t the single magical solution right now.’”

From J Street to ADL, Jewish Groups Praise the Late Shimon Peres, Haaretz

“Peres ‘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,’ J Street said in a statement, which called Peres ‘the grandfather of the entire nation (who) was in many ways its moral conscience, preaching untiringly the need for peace and reconciliation with the Palestinians.’”

Top News and Analysis

Shimon Peres’ Funeral: One of the Largest and Most Complex Events Ever to Be Held in Israel, Haaretz

The state funeral of former President Shimon Peres, which will be attended by United States President Barack Obama and scores of other world leaders, will be one of the largest and most complex events ever held in Israel. A massive operation, integrating the Israel Police, the Border Police, the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet security service, government ministries and other state bodies, will ensure security, deal with traffic arrangements and maintain public order during Peres’ lying-in-state at the Knesset and funeral at Mount Herzl on Friday.

Netanyahu, Israeli leaders mourn the loss of Shimon Peres, JTA

At a special session to mourn and honor Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet that the late president ‘did so much to protect our people.’….Peres’ successor as president, Reuven Rivlin, issued a statement from Ukraine, where he attended ceremonies marking the anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre. Rivlin noted that he was located a short distance from the birthplace of Peres, who was born Szymon Perski and later immigrated to Israel…..Israeli schools dedicated the first hour of classes Wednesday morning to the memory of Peres by instruction of Education Minister Naftali Bennett…..Israeli author Amos Oz told The Associated Press that Peres radically changed his political views as he aged. ‘When I met Peres in the early ’70s, he was in my eyes a banal hawk. Supporting settlers, a settler lover, a security man, the more land the better, the more power the better. He changed before my eyes … into an enthusiastic and stubborn believer in Israeli-Palestinian peace and Israeli-Arab peace.’”

Shimon Peres and the Case for Unstoppable Israeli Optimism, Forward

Jane Eisner writes, “[W]e in the Diaspora needed someone like Peres, who could reflect our loftiest values and ideals, and whose belief in the possibility of implementing those ideals never flagged. He wasn’t naïve; he understood that a people under threats of terror — as Israelis were in the bloody months leading up to that smashing 1996 loss — will revert to a basic instinct of protection…..Now that he is gone, I find myself asking: Who will be Israel’s optimist? Who will dream on behalf of all its people? Peres was never able to duplicate the partnership he crafted with King Hussein; his political skills never matched his rhetorical ideas. But the journey he took from war to peace, from pessimism to optimism, toward an Israel that truly lives up to its democratic potential, cannot be buried with him. We need Shimon Peres, or someone like him, today more than ever.”

Peres: 93 Years Young, The New York Times

Tom Friedman writes, “Peres was almost unique among the Arab and Israeli leaders I’ve covered as a reporter in the Middle East in two crucial respects: He could stand in the other guy’s shoes, and he was determined to let the future bury the past and not let the past bury the future….Peres believed in applied hope, and he never stopped applying it. He had no respect for the pessimists. It was partly because he was onto their shtick. That is, he knew their pessimism often was a cover for a right-wing political agenda that wanted to keep the conflict frozen where it was, that wanted to believe that nothing that Israel said or did could ever influence the other side, so Israel should never take any initiative for peace….The man who in earlier incarnations had been responsible for building so many of Israel’s walls came to believe that its true security could be achieved only by webs — it could come only if Israel could be woven into a web of relationships with the Palestinians and with its Arab neighbors.”


Mahmoud Abbas Sends Condolences Over Death of ‘Brave’ Shimon Peres, Forward

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Shimon Peres a “brave” partner for peace in a condolence letter sent to his family. “Peres was a partner in making the peace of the brave with the martyr Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister (Yitzhak) Rabin, and made unremitting efforts to reach a lasting peace from the Oslo agreement until the final moments of his life,” the letter says, according to the Wafa news agency. Abbas also tweeted in Arabic that “Shimon Peres’ death is a heavy loss for all humanity and for peace in the region,” The Times of Israel reported.

President Obama Orders Flags Flown at Half-Staff in Rare Tribute to Shimon Peres, Forward

President Obama announced he was heading to Jerusalem to attend Shimon Peres’ funeral and ordered flags flown at half-staff, a rare honor for foreign leaders.

Palestinian families forced to raze their homes amid spike in Israeli-enforced demolitions, Ma’an

Two Palestinian families in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina were forced to demolish their own homes for being built without licenses on Wednesday, in order to avoid the expensive demolition fines imposed by the Jerusalem municipality when its employees carry out the demolition themselves. Between the two families, 15 Palestinians were displaced as a result of the demolitions.

Ya’alon: Israel’s “Realistic Defense Policies” Pay Dividends, Pacific Council

The Israel-Palestine conflict should be managed, not solved, former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon told Pacific Council members during a discussion about modern Israeli defense policy and US-Israel relations.

Israeli settler injured after Molotov cocktails thrown at vehicle near Ramallah, Ma’an

An Israeli settler was injured late Tuesday night after Palestinian youths threw Molotov cocktails at their vehicle near the village of al-Lubban al-Sharqiya in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.

Opinion and Analysis

The Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation Shimon Peres envisioned is as elusive as ever, Los Angeles Times

Joshua Mitnick writes, “As the world mourns for former Israeli President Shimon Peres, the eulogies will be clouded by concern that the Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation he had envisioned remains as remote as ever….[M]ore than half of the members of Israel’s right-wing government remain opposed to a Palestinian state. With the unchecked expansion of Israeli settlements throughout the occupied West Bank, observers worry that a two-state solution is being rendered impractical, while a “one-state reality,” in which the two sides will not be able to disentangle themselves from one another, is taking hold. Peres’ death also comes at a time when Israeli parties that support the establishment of a Palestinian state are fractured, with no consensus on a political leader to represent the so-called peace camp in the next election.”

Hawk to Dove, Pro-settlements to Pro-peace: Shimon Peres Was It All, Haaretz

Daniel Kurtzer writes, “[U]nlike so many others, who became intoxicated by military power and by the illusory dream of state sovereignty throughout the ancient homeland of Israel, Peres came to realize and dreamed a different dream, about a time when Israel’s power and presence would convince its Arab neighbors that peace was a far better option than war.  Peres’ dream was much more Jabotinsky than Buber: his dream and vision of peace was predicated on the very strengths of Israel that he had made possible through his own efforts.”

Fulfilling the vision of Peres requires dismantling settlements, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar argues, “Peres’ legacy requires rectification of the inexcusable act in the occupied territories in which he was complicit. The leaders arriving Sept. 30 to accompany him to his final resting place cannot simply heap praise on Peres’ vision and make hollow promises to follow in his footsteps. This path has to pass through difficult decisions against the occupation, which is threatening to turn his life’s work into ashes.”

While eulogizing Peres, key leaders eschew chance to push two states, Times of Israel

Raphael Ahren observes, “In their tributes to Israel’s late president Shimon Peres on Wednesday, innumerable world leaders praised his tireless fight for peace. Some also used the occasion to call on the country’s current leadership to advance a two-state solution, but several others, including perennial critics of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tellingly eschewed the opportunity to connect condolences with appeals for the future.”

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