News Roundup for September 7, 2017

September 7, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

Israel reported to have bombed Syrian chemical weapons facility, Guardian

“Israeli jets have reportedly bombed a Syrian government facility in the north-west of the country believed to be associated with Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons programme. The strikes were initially reported by Hebrew and Arab media sources on Thursday morning. A Syrian military statement appears to confirm the reports. The air raid on the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre near the town of Masyaf was reported to have taken place overnight. Western intelligence reports have linked the centre to Syria’s chemical weapons programme. A statement from the Syrian military said that the attack had occurred early on Thursday and hit a facility close to the Mediterranean coast. It said Israeli warplanes fired several missiles after entering neighbouring Lebanon’s air space.”

Abbas Scales Back Israeli-Palestinian Security Coordination as He Preps for Diplomatic Confrontation, Haaretz

Amos Harel reports, “September seems to be the most sensitive month for Israeli-Palestinian relations, Israeli intelligence officials say. This September, defense officials are worrying about the erratic, often belligerent behavior of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Frustrated at the Trump administration’s Mideast policy and the international community’s apathy toward the Palestinian problem, Abbas is thinking about renewing the Palestinian Authority’s applications for acceptance into a host of international organizations. He’ll also be taking a hard line in his address to the UN General Assembly. Moves like this could affect facts on the ground, especially during the High Holy Days and the usual tensions concerning the Temple Mount during that time. For the time being, the Palestinians have scaled back security cooperation with Israel, which could impair efforts to thwart terrorism. Defense officials increasingly feel that Israel is living on borrowed time in the territories until the next violent upheaval.”

While Netanyahu Is Away: Largest Settlement Expansion in East Jerusalem Set for Approval, Haaretz

“The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee will convene on Sunday to discuss granting building permits for 176 housing units for Jews in the heart Jabal Mukkaber neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The move, first reported by Kan, the newly formed public broadcasting corporation, would constitute a significant expansion of the Nof Zion settlement, which was populated six years ago near Jabal Mukkaber. The settlement today includes 91 apartments, and if the expansion is approved it would become the largest settlement inside the Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem – surpassing Ma’ale Zeitim with its 200 families….Approval of the new units would take place as Netanyahu heads for a ten-day visit to Latin America and the UN General Assembly in New York. He is expected to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the General Assembly to discuss advancing the administration’s peace initiative.”


Netanyahu Bars Al Jazeera’s Israel Chief From Government Press Seminar on Freedom of Speech, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Government Press Office to remove Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem bureau chief Walid Al-Omari from a state-sponsored seminar on freedom of speech planned for Thursday. “The prime minister instructed that legal steps be taken to deny press passes of all Al Jazeera journalists working in Israel and to close their offices in Israel,” the GPO announced in a Facebook post.

Ex-IDF intel chief: Israel enforcing its ‘red lines’ with Syria strike, Times of Israel

Former head of Israeli military intelligence Amos Yadlin said Thursday that an overnight airstrike on a Syrian chemical weapons facility that was attributed to Israel sends a message to world powers that the country intends to enforce its red lines when it comes to protecting itself.

Reform Jewish Leader Warns: Ex-chief Rabbi Comparing Reform Jews to Holocaust Deniers Could Lead to Violence, Haaretz

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the leader of the Reform Movement in North America, warned on Wednesday that the recent comments by the chief rabbi of Jerusalem, who said that Reform Jews were “worse than Holocaust deniers,” could lead to threats and acts of violence against non-Orthodox Jews in Israel. Jacobs added that it is “indefensible” that the senior Rabbi who made these comments, is receiving a salary from the Israeli government.

Speaking to immigrants, Lapid urges expulsion for African migrants, Times of Israel

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid on Wednesday said Israel should deport the majority of illegal migrants from Africa, while harboring the “small group of refugees” who fled persecution in their home countries. Speaking at a town hall meeting in Jerusalem to a crowd of 500 English-speaking immigrants, the opposition MK lamented the “horrible” situation in south Tel Aviv, in neighborhoods that have seen a large influx of Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers. He also signaled he may support government-backed legislation to step up deportation measures.

Senators push bill urging Trump to tackle hate groups, Times of Israel

Virginia’s two Democratic senators joined with two Republican senators to sponsor a resolution condemning white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups and urging the White House to address the issue following a white-nationalist rally in Virginia that descended into deadly violence.

Israeli settlers assault, injure Palestinian teen in Nablus, Ma’an

A group of Israeli settlers assaulted and wounded a Palestinian teenager near Israel’s illegal Homesh settlement in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Wednesday. Locals told Ma’an that 16-year-old Osama Jamil Daghlas, from the Burqa village, sustained wounds across his body after being assaulted by several settlers at the main road near the Homesh settlement, where locals said the settlers reside. According to locals, the settlers struck the minor with sharp objects and wood, and stripped off his clothes.

In First, Israel Threatens to Cut Theater’s Funding Over Show for Palestinian Poet, Haaretz

“Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev scored a key victory Wednesday in her crusade against what she and her right-wing backers see as the country’s left-wing cultural establishment. At her insistence, the Finance Ministry said it would consider cutting funding to the Jaffa Theatre, a Jewish-Arab theater Regev claims has overstepped the boundaries of freedom of expression. This would mark the first time the Finance Ministry has ever used its power – granted under the relatively new and controversial so-called Nakba Law (the Palestinian term to describe the formation of the State of Israel) – to deny funding to institutions that engage in activities defined as harmful and disrespectful to the state and its symbols.”

Opinions and Analysis

Miller the DACA-killer: Trump Aide a Disgrace to Jews, and to Our Common Roots, Haaretz

Bradley Burston writes, “Stephen Miller is my lantsman (Yiddish for countryman).. His people come from my dad’s hometown, the shtetl of Antopol, in what is today Belarus. As President Donald Trump’s senior advisor for policy, he is by far the most famous person descended from the villagers of Antopol. He’s also a disgrace. As the president’s point man on immigration, it’s his job to help kill the DACA program and jeopardize the future of 800,000 so-called Dreamers, who were brought to America as children, Americans in every sense but citizenship.”

Noose of investigations tightens around Netanyahu, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit writes, “This has been one of Netanyahu’s worst weeks. Just prior to anticipated trips to South America and North America, starting Sept. 11, the noose of investigation is tightening around the neck of Israel’s eternal prime minister. In addition to his increasingly bleak-looking position regarding File 1000, the investigation in File 2000 — involving Netanyahu’s conversations with publisher Arnon Mozes for an alleged deal for positive media coverage — is also advancing. In addition, the submarine and naval vessel affair ratcheted up a notch, with another wave of arrests shaking up the Israeli military and political establishments. Netanyahu is currently not under suspicion in the submarine affair, but since the investigation has only recently gotten underway, and a large percentage of the suspects are close associates and advisers of Netanyahu, anything is possible.”

Trump and Putin Are the Real Targets of Israel’s Alleged Strike in Syria, Haaretz

Amos Harel observes, “[T]he attack attributed to Israel, the first to be reported since the agreement was reached, may be interpreted as an Israeli signal of sorts to the world powers: You still need to take our security interests in account. We’re capable of disrupting the process of a future settlement in Syria if you insist on leaving us out of the picture.”

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