News Roundup for September 6, 2017

September 6, 2017

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J Street in the News

US Jewish Groups Vow to Fight Trump Decision to Cancel DACA, Jerusalem Post

“Jewish organizations across the political spectrum expressed their outrage at US President Donald Trump’s decision on Tuesday to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, and vowed to take action against it….The left-wing group J Street also called the decision ‘cruel and destructive,’ and vowed to use its advocacy tools to urge Congress to take action upholding DACA and defending the Dreamers. According to the group, ‘it is absolutely clear that this decision by the Trump administration is not based on legal or economic concerns’ but is ‘pure and simple, just the latest in a series of punitive acts designed to cater to the fears and hatreds of an extreme minority of Americans. Indeed, this administration to date has shown little respect for the rule of law or the basic principles of our democracy,’ they said. ‘We will do everything we can to support the incredible efforts of the organizations on the front lines of this fight, both in the Jewish community and beyond.’”

Jews Mobilize To Defend Dreamers After Trump Ends DACA, Forward

“The dovish Israel advocacy group J Street….call[ed] the decision ‘just the latest in a series of punitive acts designed to cater to the fears and hatreds of an extreme minority of Americans.’”

Decision to End DACA is Cruel and Destructive – Congress Must Defend Dreamers, J Street

“J Street condemns President Trump’s cruel and destructive decision to end the DACA program and throw the future of over 800,000 undocumented immigrants into chaos….It is absolutely clear that this decision by the Trump administration is not based on legal or economic concerns. Indeed, this administration to date has shown little respect for the rule of law or the basic principles of our democracy. The decision is, pure and simple, just the latest in a series of punitive acts designed to cater to the fears and hatreds of an extreme minority of Americans. J Street is a pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy organization. Our work is informed in all aspects by our Jewish and American values, and that is why – in this troubling political environment – we will add our voices to the fight for the Dreamers and for the millions of immigrants and other vulnerable minorities who face threats from the Trump administration. We will do everything we can to support the incredible efforts of the organizations on the frontlines of this fight, both in the Jewish community and beyond. Over the vital weeks ahead, we will use our advocacy tools to urge Congress to take action to uphold DACA and defend the Dreamers.”

J Street’s Elsner weighs in on Israel as well as US, Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle

“J Street was founded in 2007 as a nonprofit focusing on advocating for American policies that could lead to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While that focus remains constant, the group has been lending its voice to several domestic issues as well since the 2016 American election. ‘We have since the last election somewhat broadened the number of issues that we have spoken out on and acted on, issues that go to the heart of the Jewish American experience and what we perceive to be core values,’ said Alan Elsner, special advisor to J Street’s president Jeremy Ben-Ami. ‘So, we’ve been talking about immigration and [attacks] on immigrants, Islamophobia and obviously now anti-Semitism.’…J Street will be focusing its efforts in the coming year on shoring up support for maintaining the Iran nuclear agreement and on endorsing candidates in the 2018 election, according to Elsner.”

Top News and Analysis

How Iraq War Hawks Can Help Stop Trump From Going to War, New Yorker

Jon Finer, Rob Malley and Jeff Prescott write, “These days, it is hard not to think back to 2002. Now, as then, a new Administration seems to have come into office with a Middle Eastern country in its crosshairs: this time, it is Iraq’s neighbor, Iran. Now, as then, a President is making increasingly menacing threats and politicizing intelligence to fit alternative facts. And now, as then, some of the same influential voices outside the Administration will play a crucial role in either legitimizing or discrediting decisions that risk another unnecessary and reckless war…. Having worked on these issues under President Obama, who championed the nuclear deal, and whose rise was fuelled by his opposition to the war in Iraq, our position is no surprise. The more interesting question now is what those Trump critics who supported the Iraq War will do. Most have been conspicuously quiet on this topic, despite their opposition to the nuclear deal and past support for muscular action. Given all they have written about the new Administration’s incompetence and duplicity, will they jump on the bandwagon of another unnecessary conflict, this time under the authority of a President whom they have deemed unfit to serve as Commander-in-Chief?”

Haley: Trump ‘has grounds’ to say Iran violating nuclear deal, Politico

“Donald Trump’s UN ambassador says the president “has grounds” to declare that Iran is not complying with the 2015 nuclear deal, stoking doubts about whether Trump intends to keep an international agreement and core legacy achievement for former President Barack Obama. Nikki Haley, speaking Tuesday in Washington, said she did not know what Trump plans to do next month when he is due to certify to Congress whether Tehran is complying with the agreement. But she appeared to lay the groundwork for Trump to declare that Iran is in violation of the deal. Haley stressed that such “de-certification” does not invalidate the nuclear deal or constitute a U.S. withdrawal. But it would likely enrage Iran and rattle U.S. allies in Europe and beyond who fear that Trump wants to unravel the agreement without actually declaring that the U.S. will no longer honor it.”

Trump to Meet Netanyahu and Abbas on Sidelines of UN to Advance Peace Talks, Haaretz

“President Donald Trump is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in two weeks to discuss his planned peace initiative, senior Israeli and Palestinian officials told Haaretz. These would be Trump’s first meetings with Netanyahu and Abbas since his visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority in May. A senior White House official said Trump plans to meet with a long list of world leaders on a wide range of issues during the General Assembly session in New York, and a complete list will be published once his schedule is finalized. He added that talks with Netanyahu and Abbas about Trump’s peace initiative will take place before the General Assembly and will continue afterwards.


U.S. Jewish Groups Blast Trump’s Decision to Scrap ‘Dreamers’ Program as ‘Cruel, Unnecessary’, Haaretz

Leading Jewish American organizations criticized the Trump administration’s decision on Tuesday to end the immigration policy known as DACA, and said they would work to challenge the decision and put pressure on Congress to keep the program in place.

Israel Evicts Palestinian Family From East Jerusalem Home to Make Way for Pre-’48 Jewish Owners, Haaretz

A Palestinian family in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem was evicted from its home in a large police operation on Monday – the first such eviction since 2009 involving the restoration of land to the Jewish family that owned it before Israel’s establishment. In carrying out the eviction of the eight members of the Shamasneh family, including elderly parents in their 80s, police sealed off the streets to the neighborhood and removed the family by force, eyewitnesses said. The family had lived on the land since 1964.

Haredi Orthodox man indicted in Israel for death threats against Reform leaders, JTA

A man from the haredi Orthodox town of Bnei Brak was indicted for making death threats against leaders of the Reform movement and vandalizing a Reform synagogue. The man, whose name has not been made public, was arrested last month and prosecutors asked that he be held in custody until the end of his trial. He was indicted Monday on charges of extortion, threats, vandalism and intent to commit arson. He allegedly also targeted the left-wing Breaking the Silence organization and threatened well-known atheists in Israel. The incidents date back to 2014.

Attorney general says he won’t reveal details of submarine probe, grill PM, Times of Israel

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit rejected Tuesday a petition demanding his office reveal details about an investigation into suspected corruption in the purchase of naval vessels from Germany, saying that to do so would jeopardize a probe that has already implicated a string of current and former senior politicians and military officials. The petition also sought to force Mandelblit to interrogate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a suspect in the affair, despite the fact that the attorney general has said he isn’t a suspect.

Sebastian Gorka To Headline Counter-Terrorism Conference In Israel, JTA

Sebastian Gorka, President Trump’s ousted counter-terrorism adviser, is off to Israel to deliver a keynote speech at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, a private college outside Tel Aviv. An invitation to the conference, scheduled for September 11 to 14, lists Gorka as the main speaker on the conference’s first day, just before a planned memorial ceremony for the 9/11 terror victims. Other speakers at the conference include Israel’s defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, several other cabinet minister, former French prime minister Manuel Valls and counter-terrorism experts from Israel and from across the world.

Hollywood Producer Arnon Milchan Interrogated Over Suspicion That He Bribed Netanyahu, Haaretz

Businessman and movie producer Arnon Milchan was questioned in London this week over suspicion that he gave bribes to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This is the first time Milchan has been questioned under caution, or as a criminal suspect, in what has been dubbed “Case 1000” – a case centered around allegations that Netanyahu and his wife systematically received gifts from benefactors.

Meretz to Vote on Proposal to End Zehava Galon’s Tenure as Leader, Haaretz

The left-wing Meretz party’s internal tribunal decided on Tuesday that the party’s central committee would meet in the coming month to vote on a proposal to end Zehava Galon’s term as party leader. Avi Dabush, a party member who was in eighth place on the Meretz list for the Knesset (which won five seats), submitted the motion to hold the vote. He said that the move was motivated by the party’s need to prepare for the next national elections, and they should therefore hold primary elections as soon as possible. Elections for the next Knesset must take place by November 2019, though the legislature may move them forward. The Meretz central committee, which has 1,000 members, will have to decide by the end of September whether to shorten the party chairwoman’s term and go to new elections. However, party members believe that the chances of Galon’s removal are not high.

Opinions and Analysis

Trump might try to pull a DACA on the Iran nuclear deal, New Republic

Jeet Heer observes, “Nikki Haley, President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, laid out a path on Tuesday for the United States to withdraw from its 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in a manner similar to the administration’s handling of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Trump has announced a phase-out of the Obama-era program, calling on Congress to protect young immigrants as part of a broader immigration reform law. As with DACA, ending the Iran deal would be a controversial move even among Republicans, so rather than biting the bullet one way or another, Trump could pass the buck to Congress, hoping it’ll settle the issue.”

Russia’s Moves on Hezbollah Expose How Trump’s Mideast Policy Endangers Israel, Haaretz

Zvi Bar’el writes, “Russia’s threat at the United Nations over the Hezbollah issue attests to this new trend. Admittedly, there’s no guarantee Russia would have agreed to change the resolution’s wording even if Putin’s relations with US President Donald Trump were superb. But under the circumstances, it was an opportunity for Russia to demonstrate its ability to torpedo American policy in other theaters. This, and not the UN’s definition of Hezbollah, is where the real threat to Israel’s security interests lies, because it’s becoming increasingly clear that when it comes to defending Israel’s borders, though Washington can still provide advanced weaponry and intelligence, in the diplomatic arena Israel has lost an essential mediator – this time through no fault of its own. In the not so distant past, Israel could rely on American presidents to help it mobilize, or even to lead, international coalitions to prevent strategic threats to Israel, such as Iran’s nuclear program. But Trump’s behavior has made him a ‘hostile party’ not only in Russia’s eyes, but in those of other Western states, which won’t rush to cooperate with him to foil threats.”

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