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  • AIPAC may be celebrating now, but the BDS battles in Congress have just begun -

    House vote shows that Democrats object to BDS, but they can expect growing Republican pressure to support more thorough anti-boycott legislation
    Allison Kaplan Sommer
    Jul 27, 2019

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-aipac-may-be-celebrating-now-but-the-bds-battles-in-congress-have-
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7579761.1564254632!/image/2682968047.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/2682968047.jpg

    You could practically hear the champagne corks popping and fireworks exploding across AIPAC’s social media feeds on Wednesday.

    The celebration was justified. At a time of unprecedented partisan division, it was no small feat for legislation condemning the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel to make it through the Democrat-led House of Representatives, let alone by a vote of 398-17. Even better for the pro-Israel lobby, which aspires to wall-to-wall support of the Jewish state, the overwhelming endorsement garnered “yea” votes from prominent progressives, including a member of the vaunted “squad” — Rep. Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts).

    Supporters of AIPAC were delighted that with the passage of House Res. 246, no less than 92 percent of the House had agreed “to condemn the BDS campaign as anti-Israel, anti-peace and damaging to U.S. interests.” This, they said, was “representative of the broad, bipartisan support in Congress for Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

    But anyone who believes that this resolution will in any way resolve or mitigate the bitter political wrangling over BDS has been drinking too much celebratory champagne, said Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace — a nonprofit that promotes a two-state solution.

    “You’d have to be delusional to think that this is over,” said Friedman.

    The nonbinding vote Wednesday may have been impressive, but it was just a short chapter in the saga of BDS legislation that has been underway for two years and will continue into the future. And even as the celebrations continued, future battles were shaping up on both sides of the aisle.

    Although the passage of the resolution did put Democratic objections to the “the Global BDS movement” on the record, Republicans openly dared them to move beyond mere words and support binding legislation that would deliver real consequences to entities that boycott Israel or the settlements.

    Sen. Marco Rubio (Republican of Florida) is author of the Combating BDS Act, which encourages state governments not to sign contracts with supporters of boycotts against Israel or its settlements (passed by the Senate in February). He goaded House Democrats and Speaker Nancy Pelosi by saying that for months she “has refused to bring my bipartisan bill to combat the BDS movement’s discriminatory conduct and strengthen America’s security in the Middle East to the House floor. … Out of fear of retaliation from the far left wing of her conference, it’s clear that Speaker Pelosi has allowed the radical, anti-Semitic minority in the Democratic Party to dictate the House floor agenda.”

    Rubio’s bill was the latest manifestation of legislation that has been in limbo for the past two years. In 2017, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act was first proposed in the Senate, in an attempt to target government-sponsored boycotts of Israel and update laws drafted in response to the Arab League boycott of Zionist goods and services in what was then British Mandatory Palestine in 1945.

    Objections to the legislation — primarily, but not exclusively, among Democrats — focused on the argument that such laws violate free speech, a charge led by the American Civil Liberties Union.

    In his reaction to the House vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican of Kentucky) scoffed while speaking on the Senate floor that “this symbolic BDS resolution is held up as a major victory, while Senate-passed legislation that would actually take action — actually do something against BDS — doesn’t even get a vote.”

    On the Democratic side of the aisle, progressives who were not among the 17 members who voted against the resolution (which included the three other “Squad” members, Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib) were on the defensive, following criticism that they caved to pressure from the pro-Israel lobby.

    In a Twitter thread, Pressley said that while “there are a lot of anti-BDS bills out there that infringe on 1st Amendment rights,” in her view the House resolution “wasn’t one of them.” That, she said, convinced her to support “what I heard resounding” in her district: “That voting yes on this resolution affirmed to my constituents raised in the Jewish faith Israel’s right to exist, a view I share as a supporter of a two-state solution.”

    She vowed that she would never vote for a bill that would punish those who support BDS, and stressed that “this resolution does not mitigate the pain and trauma of the Palestinian people and as with my co-sponsorship of the McCollum bill, I will continue to be a strident voice critiquing conservative Israeli policies.”

    Pressley was referring to the bill introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (Democrat of Minnesota), which would “require that the Secretary of State certify that American funds do not support Israel’s military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.”

    Another Democratic congressman who voted for the resolution, civil rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis, also defended himself by pointing to another piece of legislation he co-sponsored: a bill introduced with Tlaib and Omar last week. That bill, which did not mention Israel by name, affirms “that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad.” Lewis said it “was a simple demonstration of my ongoing commitment to the ability of every American to exercise the fundamental First Amendment right to protest through nonviolent actions.” Squad members Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez made a point of signing on as co-sponsors of the bill later in the week as well.

    At the same time, Lewis said he co-sponsored House Res. 246 “as a longtime friend of Israel,” and because he wanted “to make it very clear that I disagree strongly with the BDS movement. Economic, educational and cultural interaction with Israel, America’s democratic ally, is not only in the best interest of Israelis and Americans, but it improves the climate for peace with Palestinians, which is in everyone’s interest to encourage.”

    Friedman, of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, says Democratic leaders are fooling themselves if they think that passage of the resolution will “release some of the pressure on them” to sign onto more punitive anti-BDS legislation and “neutralize the issue as a weapon for attack against them.”

    She predicts that it will have exactly the opposite effect: “Right now, you see Republicans celebrating that they managed to corner the Democrats. For people motivated to go after Democrats, they have signaled that this is an issue on which they — the Democrats — are vulnerable. Once you give into bullies, you are going to get bullied more. I expect BDS to come up in every possible context and that Republicans will keep pushing Democrats, asking them why they won’t move on the Combating BDS Act. They’d have to be nuts not to. the way they see it, this is the gift that keeps on giving.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/794731 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Bahrain debacle marks crash of Trump team’s campaign to diss Palestinians into submission

    Kushner’s Peace for Prosperity includes Utopian projects funded by non-existent money as part of peace deal that won’t happen
    Chemi Shalev
    Jun 25, 2019 9:12 AM

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-bahrain-debacle-marks-crash-of-trump-team-s-campaign-to-dis-palest
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7407619.1561414064!/image/816352067.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/816352067.jpg

    The unveiling of the U.S. administration’s long-awaited production of Peace for Prosperity, premiering in Bahrain on Tuesday, garnered mixed reviews, to say the least. Barak Ravid of Axios and Israel’s Channel 13 described it as “impressive, detailed and ambitious – perhaps overly ambitious.” Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt Dan Kurtzer offered a slightly different take: “I would give this so-called plan a C- from an undergraduate student. The authors of the plan clearly understand nothing,” he said.

    The plan, released in a colorful pamphlet on the eve of the Bahrain economic summit, is being portrayed by the White House as a vision of the bountiful “fruits of peace” that Palestinians might reap once they reach a peace agreement with Israel. Critics describe it as an amateurish pie-in-the-sky, shoot-for-the-moon, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink hodgepodge that promises projects that cannot be implemented, funded by money that does not exist and contingent on a peace deal that will never happen.

    But the main problem with Peace for Prosperity isn’t its outlandishly unrealistic proposals – such as the $5 billion superhighway between the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel will never agree to; or its occasional condescending and Orientalist attitude towards Palestinian society - their great hummus could attract millions of tourists; or even its offer to manage and foster Palestinian institutions and civil society in a way that can be viewed either as implicit state-building or as imposing foreign control on a future Palestinian government.

    >> Read more: ’There is no purely economic solution to the Palestinian economy’s problems’ ■ Trump’s Bahrain conference - not what you imagined ■ Kushner’s deal holds some surprises, but it’s more vision than blueprint ■ The billion-dollar question in Trump’s peace plan

    The Palestinians would have been suspicious in any case, even if Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama were President. They have always been wary of the term “economic peace”, especially when detached from the real nitty-gritty of resolving their dispute with Israel. Nonetheless, if the President was anyone other than Trump, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas would have more or less emulated Benjamin Netanyahu’s reaction: Somber nodding of the head, then a non-committal reaction to Peace for Prosperity, followed by effusive but general praise for our lord and savior Donald Trump. Israelis and Palestinians would have attended the Bahrain conference, while doing their best to suppress their inner guffaws.

    If it was anyone by Trump and his peace team - which often doubles as Netanyahu’s cheerleading squad – the Palestinians might have allowed themselves to believe that A. A comprehensive peace plan isn’t just a mirage and is indeed forthcoming. B. The deal won’t be tilted so far in favor of Israel that it will be declared stillborn on arrival and C. That it isn’t a ruse meant to cast Palestinians as congenital rejectionists and to pave the way for an Israeli annexation of “parts of the West Bank”, as Ambassador David Friedman put it when he pronounced Trump’s imperial edict conceding territory to Israel, which even Palestinian minimalists claim as their own, in advance of any actual talks.

    But because the plan bears Trump’s signature, it was received in most world capitals with shrugs, as yet another manifestation of the U.S. administration’s preposterous handling of foreign policy – see North Korea, Europe, Mexico, Venezuela et al. Israel, of course, didn’t miss the opportunity to regurgitate the cliché about the Palestinians “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.
    A Palestinian man steps on a painting depicting U.S. President Donald Trump during a protest against U.S.-led Bahrain workshop in Gaza City, June 24, 2019.
    A Palestinian man steps on a painting depicting U.S. President Donald Trump during a protest against U.S.-led Bahrain workshop in Gaza City, June 24, 2019. \ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS
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    For Palestinians and their supporters, however, Kushner’s bid was but the latest in the Trump team’s never-ending stream of slights, slanders and slaps in their collective faces. In Palestinian eyes, the economic bonanza isn’t a CBM – confidence building measure – but a con job and insult rolled into one. It dangles dollars in front of Palestinian noses, implying they can be bought, and it sets up a chain of events at the end of which Jason Greenblatt will inevitably accuse them on Twitter of being hysterical and dishonest while praising Netanyahu’s bold leadership and pioneering vision. They’ve been there, and done that.

    This has been the Trump approach from the outset: Uncontained admiration for Israel and its leader coupled with unhidden disdain for Palestinian leaders and contempt for their “unrealistic” dreams. Trump’s peace team swears by Israel’s security needs as if they were part of the bible or U.S. Constitution; the ongoing 52-year military occupation of millions of Palestinians, on the other hand, seems to have escaped their attention.

    For the first ten months of Trump’s tenure, the Palestinians put up with his administration’s unequivocal pledges of allegiance to Israel as well as the White House’s departure from past custom and continuing refusal to criticize any of its actions – not to mention the appointment of a peace team comprised exclusively of right-wing Netanyahu groupies, which Palestinians initially thought was surely a practical joke.

    Trump’s announcement in December 2017 that he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy there was both game-changer and deal-breaker as far as the Palestinians were concerned. While Netanyahu and most of Israel were celebrating Donald the Daring and the long-awaited recognition of their eternal capital, Palestinians realized they were facing a President radically different from any of his predecessors - one willing to break the rules in Israel’s favor and to grant his bestie Bibi tangible victories, before, during and after elections - without asking for anything in return.

    The Palestinians have boycotted the Trump administration ever since, embarrassing Friedman, Greenblatt, Kushner and ultimately Trump in the process. They, in response, have increasingly vented their anger and frustrations at the Palestinians, and not just in words and Tweets alone: The administration shut down the PLO’s office in Washington, declared Jerusalem “off the table” and indicated that the refugee issue should follow it, cut aid to UNRWA and is endeavoring to dismantle it altogether and slashed assistance to Palestinian humanitarian organizations.

    In March 2018, in a move strongly supported by Israel and vigorously endorsed by Evangelicals and other right wing supporters, Trump signed the Congressionally approved Taylor Force Act that prohibits U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as it continued to pay monthly stipends to the families of what the Act describes as “terrorists”. Palestinians, who, to many people’s regret, regard such terrorists as heroes and martyrs, noted that the passage of the Taylor Force Act embarrassed Israel and spurred it to legislate its own way to withholding Palestinian tax money for the very same reason.

    Throughout the process, Trump and his peace team have lectured the Palestinians as a teacher reprimands an obstinate child. The Palestinians need to face reality, to lower their expectations, to land back on earth, Kushner and colleagues insist. Not only will they never realize their dreams and aspirations, they should also forget their core demand for an independent state free of outside control and not confide inside Israeli-controlled gates. Israelis are worthy of such independence, the Palestinians are told, but you are not.

    Trump approach is a product, first and foremost, of his own inexperience, arrogance and unwillingness to learn anything from a past in which he wasn’t in charge. It is fed by anti-Palestinian prejudices prevalent in his peace team as well as his advisers and most of his political supporters. Trump and his underlings basically adhere to the arguably racist tenet encapsulated in the Israeli saying “The Arabs understand only force.” The more you pressure them, the greater the chance they will succumb.
    Women protest against the U.S.-led workshop in Bahrain in the Moroccan capital Rabat, June 23, 2019.
    Women protest against the U.S.-led workshop in Bahrain in the Moroccan capital Rabat, June 23, 2019.AFP

    At this point at least, it hasn’t worked out that way. Bahrain, by any measure, is a humiliating bust. As Trump and his aides contemplate the reasons for their abject failure they are likely to blame stubborn Palestinians who don’t know what’s good for them, along with radical Muslims, perfidious Europeans, idiot liberals and all the other usual suspects.

    In a better world, they would take a hard look at themselves in the mirror and possibly have an epiphany. They can make an immediate adjustment that will cost them nothing but possibly achieve dramatic results. Instead of incessantly rebuking, reproaching, reprimanding, threatening and intimidating the Palestinians in a way that garners cheers from Christian messianics and Jewish zealots, they could try and treat them, as Aretha Franklin sang, with just a little respect. And perhaps, if it isn’t asking too much, take down their fawning for Netanyahu a notch or two.

    It might not be enough to reconcile irreconcilable differences or to make peace, but it will signal that Trump is finally getting serious about his claim to be the peacemaker the world has been waiting for. Alternatively, the Palestinians will continue to frustrate his designs and pray to Allah for his quick departure.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/789433 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • In the U.S., more Jews than Christians see Trump’s policies as too pro-Israel, poll finds

    42 percent of Jews said that Trump’s policies were too favorable to Israel while 26 percent of Christian thought so and 15 percent of Evangelicals held this view
    Amir Tibon
    May 06, 2019 8:09 PM

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-poll-in-the-u-s-more-jews-than-christians-see-trump-s-policies-as-
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7210205.1557163403!/image/2984646525.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/2984646525.jpg

    American Jews are more likely than American Christians to think that President Donald Trump’s policies are too favorable to Israel, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center. As part of a national poll on American attitudes toward Israel, the respondents were asked whether they thought Trump’s policies in the Middle East were too favorable to Israel, too favorable to the Palestinians, or had the right balance.

    Among Jewish respondents, 42 percent said that Trump’s policies were too favorable to Israel. Only 6 percent said that his policies were too favorable to the Palestinians, while a plurality of 47 percent said the policy struck the right balance. Among Christian respondents, meanwhile, only 26 percent said Trump’s policies were too favorable to Israel, while 59 percent said the 45th president has the ‘right balance.’

    Within the different Christian denominations, there are different views on the subject. Among Evangelical Christians, 72 percent think Trump’s policy strikes the “right balance,” and only 15 percent think he is too favorable to Israel. Among Catholics, 34 percent think he is too favorable to Israel, and 51 percent think he has the “right balance.” In addition, 33 percent of the respondents who belong to the “historically black” church said that Trump’s policies are too favorable to Israel, and 40 percent of them said it has the right balance.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/779442 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • U.S. denies entry to BDS founder Omar Barghouti
    Noa Landau | Apr 11, 2019 7:22 PM | Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/bds-founder-omar-barghouti-denied-entry-to-the-united-states-1.7110679
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7110707.1554999920!/image/3657035394.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/3657035394.jpg

    The U.S. government denied entry to co-founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement Omar Barghouti on Thursday.

    Airline staff at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport informed Barghouti that he could not fly to the United States, despite holding valid travel documents. He was told that U.S. immigration officials ordered the American consul in Tel Aviv to deny him permission to board the flight.

    Barghouti was told that it is an “immigration matter,” according to a statement by the Arab American Institute, a Washington-based advocacy group. They added that Barghouti often faces travel restrictions from Israel, but not from the United States.

    Barghouti was set to attend his daughter’s wedding, who lives in the United States. He was also set to speak at Harvard, New York University and a Philidelphia bookstore owned by Marc Lemont Hill, whose contract at CNN was terminated last year over his support for Palestinian rights. (...)

    #expulsions #renvois

    https://seenthis.net/messages/773884 via Loutre


  • Ilhan Omar has sparked panic in AIPAC

    Rep. Ilhan Omar has apologized for her inexcusably insensitive tweet. But the core issue behind her comment - whether the U.S. should continue to reflexively embrace the views of the Israeli government - won’t go away
    David Rothkopf
    Feb 13, 2019 2:37 PM

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-ilhan-omar-has-sparked-panic-in-aipac-1.6935041
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.6934483.1550062047!/image/2919236305.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/2919236305.jpg

    U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota has apologized for her offensive tweet that suggested Israeli influence in the U.S. Congress was “all about the Benjamins.” But that does not mean that the core issue underlying the controversy surrounding the tweet, Representative Ilhan and new voices critical of Israel in U.S. politics, is likely to fade away.

    I’m not going to defend Omar.Her own apology was unequivocal and the tweet itself was, at best, inexcusably insensitive. But it is vitally important we distinguish between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism. And, as importantly, we also must recognize the massive response against Rep. Omar for what it is - a spasm of fear about our changing times.

    >> Aaron David Miller: No, Israel and America Aren’t Breaking Up. Don’t Believe the Hype

    The entire infrastructure that has been built over the years to advance the interests of Israel in the U.S. is quaking in its boots - not because of the badly developed arguments of a rookie Congresswoman - but because of the coming generational change in U.S. views of Israel and because support for the Israeli government has been damaged among Democrats by the choice of the Netanyahu administration to so closely tie itself to Donald Trump and the Republican right wing in America.
    Supporters of US President Donald Trump cheer during a rally in El Paso, Texas on February 11, 2019
    Supporters of US President Donald Trump cheer during a rally in El Paso, Texas on February 11, 2019.AFP

    Rep. Omar damaged her own credibility by embracing an old anti-Semitic trope. There is no place for that in American politics. But even as she should be condemned, her views of Israel need to be heard. There is no reason all American views on a foreign government should be in lockstep.

    Quite the contrary, Americans who seek to protect and advance our interests should no more reflexively embrace the views of the Israeli government than they do those of a pro-Brexit UK government or an anti-refugee Italian government.

    Israel’s defenders would like the relationship to be deemed so important that it must not be criticized. This echoes the position, say, of the Saudis in the wake of the Khashoggi murder. And it is just as indefensible.

    A growing number of Americans realize that. Further, a growing number of American Jews feel the positions of the Netanyahu government are contrary to both U.S. interests and the values of Judaism, and thus the rationale for a Jewish state. In other words, they see Netanyahu’s actions as undermining the reasons Israel might have a special claim on their support.

    Indeed, no one, in fact, has done more to damage the standing of Israel than a Netanyahu government that has actively waged war on the Palestinian people, denied them their rights, responded disproportionately to threats and refused to acknowledge its own wrong-doing.

    Anti-Semites, with their stale and discredited attacks, can never do the kind of damage to the U.S.-Israel relationship that rampant Israeli wrong-doing can (especially when the Israeli government weakens the arguments against anti-Semites by embracing them, as in the case of Victor Orban in Hungary, or hugging those like Donald Trump who promote anti-Semites and anti-Semitic ideas about “globalists” or George Soros.)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban share a light moment during the reception ceremony in front of the Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary, July 18, 2017.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban in front of the Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary, July 18, 2017Balazs Mohai/AP

    None of this is to diminish the real and ever-present threat of anti-Semitism. Which is why, of course, it is essential that we are careful to distinguish between it and legitimate criticism of the government of Israel.

    In fact, if we in the U.S. stand for what is best about America and hope for the best for Israel, then we must welcome those who would criticize Israel’s government not as our enemies but as the true defenders of the idea of Israel, and of America’s deep investment in the promise of that country.

    With that in mind, we must be careful that we do not allow the justifiable aspects of the critique against Rep. Omar to lead to a reflexive position where we silence active criticism of the Israeli government, or the worst actions of the State of Israel.

    Judging from comments in the media about her that pre-dated these statements, and comments about Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and comments about the “left” becoming anti-Israel, in my view we are in the midst of a pre-emptive push to combat the coming rethinking of the U.S.- Israel relationship.
    Feb. 5, 2019, photo, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., left, joined at right by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., listens to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, at the Capitol in Washington
    Feb. 5, 2019, photo, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., left, joined at right by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., listens to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, at the Capitol in Washington.J. Scott Applewhite,AP

    It will seize upon the fact that some elements who offer the critique of Israel are in fact anti-Semitic or tap into anti-Semitic rhetoric and traditions, in order to tar with the same brush those who legitimately disapprove of the behavior of the Israeli government.

    That would be a mistake. Because it would not only silence a debate we need to and deserve to have, but it would undermine the ability of the U.S. to be a force for positive change in Israeli policies - change that is necessary to the future of Israel and to U.S. interests in that region.

    We must combat anti-Semitism. But we should also combat those who have no tolerance for democratic processes, or who would seek a political purity test for politicians based on narrowly-defined, traditionalist, outdated guidelines.

    The future of the U.S.- Israel relationship - and the future of Israel, the Palestinian people and peace in the region - depends on our willingness to look past biases of all sorts to the facts on the ground, to the justice that is required and to our interests going forward.

    David Rothkopf is a foreign policy expert and author, host of the Deep State Radio podcast and CEO of The Rothkopf Group, LLC a media and advisory firm. His next book, on the national security threat posed by the Trump administration, is due out later this year. Twitter: @djrothkopf

    https://seenthis.net/messages/759998 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Forget Tlaib and Omar, Democratic 2020 front-runners should worry Israel more

    While the new generation of pro-BDS lawmakers are making news, Democratic presidential contenders’ opposition to ’pro-Israel’ legislation signals a much deeper shift
    Amir Tibon Washington
    Feb 04, 2019
    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-forget-tlaib-and-omar-democratic-2020-front-runners-worry-israel-m
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.6906441.1549297149!/image/2923256127.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/2923256127.jpg

    WASHINGTON – Two newly elected congresswomen may be generating a lot of headlines, but Israeli officials are most concerned about the heated Senate debate about Israel in the past month than the pro-boycott statements of Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.

    While Israeli officials are worried about the media attention Tlaib and Omar are receiving – which is seen as helping to advance their views and possibly creating more support for them – they are not perceived as having the potential to weaken or delay pro-Israel legislation in Congress. The representatives’ ability to pass laws that would harm or upset the Israeli government is seen as even more limited.
    Haaretz Weekly Ep. 13Haaretz

    But talking with Haaretz, Israeli officials admit greater concern that close to half of all Democratic senators voted against the anti-boycott, divestment and sanctions legislation proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (Republican of Florida) last week.

    Almost all of the Democratic senators who are potential 2020 presidential nominees – from Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders (an independent who caucuses with the Democrats) to Sherrod Brown, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand – opposed the legislation, citing concerns over freedom of speech. The senators said that although they oppose BDS, they also oppose legislation that would force state contractors to sign a declaration saying they don’t boycott Israel or its settlements in the occupied territories.
    Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar smiling during a news conference with Nancy Pelosi on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 30, 2018.
    Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar smiling during a news conference with Nancy Pelosi on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 30, 2018.Bloomberg

    The anti-BDS legislation being opposed by high-ranking Democratic senators and presidential hopefuls has been a flagship project of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States for the past decade. It has also received strong support and encouragement from senior officials in the Israeli government. The pushback on the Democratic side to the legislation, which is coming from the mainstream of the party, is more consequential in the long-term than the provocative statements of freshman members of the House of Representatives, according to Israeli officials.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/757671 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Palestinian Authority tells U.S. it will stop taking aid to avoid multi-million dollar lawsuits - U.S. News - Haaretz.com

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-pa-informs-u-s-it-will-stop-receiving-aid-to-avoid-multi-million-d
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.6809646.1548037039!/image/211445616.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/211445616.jpg

    WASHINGTON – The Palestinian Authority informed the Trump administration that it will stop taking any form of government assistance from the United States at the end of the month, as a result of legislation passed last year by Congress.

    The law that led the PA to make this decision is the “Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act”, known as ATCA, which makes it possible for U.S. citizens to sue foreign entities that receive U.S. assistance for past acts of terrorism.

    The Palestinian decision could lead to the end of the U.S. support for the PA’s security forces. These forces work regularly with the Israeli military to thwart terror attacks. In his last appearance before the Israeli government last week, outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said that the security coordination between Israel and the PA’s forces helps save lives and maintain stability in the region.

    >> Trump’s ’Arab NATO’ push against Iran comes to a head, and he’s the biggest obstacle | Analysis

    During 2018, the Trump administration cut all forms of U.S. civil assistance to the Palestinians, but it did not touch the security assistance, stating that the security coordination between the PA and Israel serves American foreign policy interests. Now, however, U.S. support for the PA security forces could end at the end of January, putting at risk the continuation of efficient security coordination.

    The ATCA bill, which the PA blamed for its decision, was promoted last year in Congress in response to rulings by U.S. courts that rejected multi-million dollar lawsuits against the PA. These lawsuits were filed by American citizens who were injured or lost loved ones in terror attacks committed by Palestinians, mostly during the Second Intifada. The Supreme Court in Washington affirmed a ruling by a lower court that the American legal system does not have jurisdiction to deal with such lawsuits.

    This led members of Congress to promote the ATCA bill, which states that U.S. courts will have jurisdiction to hear terrorism-related lawsuits against any foreign entity reviving U.S. government assistance. This means that if the PA will receive even one dollar of U.S. funding, it could face lawsuits asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation. The law has also created concern in other countries in the Middle East that rely on U.S. assistance. It would not apply to Israel, however, because of the specific sources of funding through which Israel receives U.S. security assistance.
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    Only after the bill passed Congress and was signed into law by President Trump, senior administration officials became aware of its possible impact on security coordination. In recent months, the administration tried to negotiate a “fix” to the law together with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. As reported in Haaretz two weeks ago, these efforts have stalled because of the ongoing government shutdown.

    The PA’s letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which was first reported over the weekend by NPR, could create a sense of urgency in Washington to solve the security assistance question.

    Two sources who are involved in the negotiations on the subject told Haaretz that a possible solution could emerge with the involvement of the CIA or the Pentagon, but its exact mechanism hasn’t yet been drawn in full. “Everyone wants a fix, but it’s still not clear how we can get it,” explained one of the sources, who asked not to be named in order to discuss politicallly-sensitive negotiations.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/753857 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Is Saudi Arabia repaying Trump for Khashoggi by attacking Linda Sarsour? - U.S. News - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-how-saudi-arabia-is-repaying-trump-for-his-support-on-khashoggi-1.
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.6728916.1544468512!/image/1252672079.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/1252672079.jpg

    There is nothing earth-shattering about seeing Women’s March leader and Arab-American activist Linda Sarsour criticized as a dangerous Islamist by the conservative right and pro-Israel advocates in the United States. But the latest attack on the activist comes from a new and somewhat surprising source: Saudi Arabia.

    #Al_Arabiya, a Saudi-owned, pan-Arab news channel closely linked to the country’s royal family and widely viewed as reflecting Saudi foreign policy, published an article Sunday strongly suggesting that Sarsour and two incoming Muslim congresswomen are puppets planted by the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar to undermine the Trump administration.

    #arabie_saoudite #Israel #sans_vergogne

    https://seenthis.net/messages/742926 via Kassem


  • Anti-Semitism, assimilation and the paradox of Jewish survival – an interview with David Myers, new president of the NIF

    #BDS

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-anti-semitism-assimilation-unlikely-keys-to-jewish-surviv

    And the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, BDS, has no anti-Semitism in it?
    “Let’s try to make some distinctions here. Yes, some who support BDS are motivated by anti-Semitism. But I don’t believe all who support BDS are anti-Semitic. BDS is a nonviolent movement that would not have come into existence were it not for the occupation. Among its supporters are those who say that the State of Israel should be a state of all its citizens. Is that anti-Semitic? Not necessarily. It’s a political vision based on democratic principles. On the other hand, when someone comes along and says that the Jews are not a nation – as [BDS co-founder] Omar Barghouti says – that makes me mad. It’s no different from a Jew or an Israeli saying that there’s no such thing as a Palestinian people.”
    So is Barghouti an anti-Semite?
    “I have no idea what’s in his heart. And he is not preaching for the death of Jews, as they are on the right. But I don’t like people telling me who I am. That impulse to deny the right to self-definition of the other deeply disturbs and offends me.”
    But you still work with them?
    “How so? I neither support BDS nor work with BDS groups. I do have friends who support BDS. And they’re not anti-Semites. That said, BDS is not my way. Nor is it the most effective way to fight injustice and inequality in Israel.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/736605 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • From New York to Michigan, is a wave of ’anti-Israel’ Democrats about to reshape U.S. politics - U.S. News - Haaretz.com

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-from-new-york-to-michigan-is-a-wave-of-anti-israel-democrats-about

    In a three-part video series, Haaretz’s Allison Kaplan Sommer explains how Israel, anti-Semitism and the Jewish vote are affecting the Midterms – and what the results could mean for all three.
    Allison looks at the various key races and the likelihood of Democrats taking the House of Representatives, while Republicans will keep the U.S. Senate – unless of course a synagogue president in Nevada can take down the Republican incumbent as part of a blue wave across states like Arizona and Florida.
    Part 1: Allison discusses some of the key races involving Jewish candidates and voters. It used to be that the American Jewish community could really unite around and rally together in order to keep their communities strong and safe. The mantra, the key word, for successfully supporting Israel and fighting anti-Semitism in America used to be bipartisan – but anyone paying attention now knows times have changed.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/733776 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Bernie Sanders cites Israel’s nation-state law in slamming Trump for inspiring authoritarianism

    ’There’s no question that other authoritarian leaders around the world have drawn inspiration from the fact that the president of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy is shattering democratic norms,’ said Sanders

    JTA
    Oct 10, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-bernie-sanders-cites-israel-s-nation-state-law-in-slamming-trump-1

    In a major foreign policy speech identifying an emerging authoritarian strain around the world, Bernie Sanders included the passage of Israel’s nation-state law as an example of President Donald Trump’s inspiring anti-democratic moves.
    “It should be clear by now that Donald Trump and the right-wing movement that supports him is not a phenomenon unique to the United States,” Sanders said Tuesday in a speech to the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. “All around the world, in Europe, in Russia, in the Middle East, in Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere we are seeing movements led by demagogues who exploit people’s fears, prejudices and grievances to gain and hold on to power.”
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    Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, said Trump by himself was not responsible for the rise of authoritarianism but was spurring it forward.
    “While this authoritarian trend certainly did not begin with Donald Trump, there’s no question that other authoritarian leaders around the world have drawn inspiration from the fact that the president of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy is shattering democratic norms,” said Sanders.
    He cited as examples the rise in popularity of a far right-wing politician in Brazil, increased repression in Saudi Arabia, and policies of the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
    >> There’s a reason the opposition didn’t attend the nation-state protest | Opinion
    “It’s also hard to imagine that Israel’s Netanyahu government would have taken a number of steps— including passing the recent ‘Nation State law,’ which essentially codifies the second-class status of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, aggressively undermining the longstanding goal of a two-state solution, and ignoring the economic catastrophe in Gaza — if Netanyahu wasn’t confident that Trump would support him,” Sanders said.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/728046 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • How #Israel Spies on US Citizens
    https://orientxxi.info/magazine/how-israel-spies-on-us-citizens,2598

    A never-shown Al Jazeera documentary on the pro-Israel #Lobby in the US reveals possibly illegal Israeli spying on US citizens, and the lobby’s fear of a changing political mood. An investigative documentary by Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera scheduled for broadcast earlier this year was expected to cause a sensation. Its four 50-minute episodes centred on the young and personable James Anthony Kleinfeld, British, Jewish, an Oxford graduate who speaks six languages including Dutch and Yiddish (...)

    #Magazine

    / Israel, #Qatar, #Propaganda, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), #United_States, Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS), Lobby, (...)

    #American_Israel_Public_Affairs_Committee_Aipac_ #Boycott_Divestment_Sanctions_BDS_ #Espionage
    « http://www.aljazeera.com/investigations/thelobby »
    « https://zoa.org/2018/04/10377872-zoa-mort-klein-convinced-qatar-to-cancel-anti-semitic-al-jazeera-jewis »
    « https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/al-jazeera-denies-claims-pro-israel-group-lobby-films-180417145630034.htm »
    « https://mondediplo.com/2017/07/02Qatar »
    « https://theintercept.com/2018/08/01/rex-tillerson-qatar-saudi-uae »
    « https://mondediplo.com/2017/07/04USSaudilobby »
    « https://www.conservativereview.com/news/inside-qatars-20-million-a-year-lobbying-effort-in-washington »
    « https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/qatar-doubles-down-on-pr-campaign-appealing-to-u-s-jews-d-c-bigwigs-1.57460 »
    « https://electronicintifada.net/content/qatar-funded-zionist-organization-america/24936 »
    « https://mondediplo.com »
    « https://mondediplo.com/subscribe »
    « https://www.richardsilverstein.com/2018/02/08/israel-lobby-pressures-qatar-kill-al-jazeera-documentary »
    « https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-embassy-to-u-s-we-oppose-qatar-s-outreach-to-pro-israel-jew »


  • كيف تتجسس إسرائيل على مواطنين أمريكيين
    https://orientxxi.info/magazine/article2602

    الفيلم الوثائقي الذي أنتجته قناة الجزيرة حول اللوبي الإسرائيلي في أمريكا ثم امتنعت عن بثّه يفضح احتمالات التجسس الإسرائيل غير القانوني على مواطنين أمريكيين، كما يكشف خوف اللوبي من تغير الأجواء السياسية حياله ظهر الشاب على الشاشة بمظهر “الجنتلمان” المثالي. سحنته توحي بعفوية طالب جامعي، إلا أن طوني كلاينفيلد، البريطاني اليهودي، الكامل الأوصاف للوهلة الأولى، المُجاز من جامعة أوكسفورد المهيبة، المتحدث بست لغات منها الهولندي واليديش، والمتمرس بشؤون النزاعات في الشرق الأوسط، كان يمكنه بكل سهولة أن يجد عملاً في أحد مكاتب وزارة الخارجية في أي بلد غربي، أو في أي (...)

    #Magazine

    « https://zoa.org/2018/04/10377872-zoa-mort-klein-convinced-qatar-to-cancel-anti-semitic-al-jazeera-jewis »
    « https://theintercept.com/2018/08/01/rex-tillerson-qatar-saudi-uae »
    « https://www.conservativereview.com/news/inside-qatars-20-million-a-year-lobbying-effort-in-washington »
    « https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/qatar-doubles-down-on-pr-campaign-appealing-to-u-s-jews-d-c-bigwigs-1.57460 »
    « https://electronicintifada.net/content/qatar-funded-zionist-organization-america/24936 »
    « https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-embassy-to-u-s-we-oppose-qatar-s-outreach-to-pro-israel-jew »


  • Top U.S. officials to Haaretz: Peace plan will be basis for talks, not ’take it or leave it’ document

    Senior officials say the plan will be revealed soon and stress that Trump sees Palestinian President Abbas as the only ’relevant address’

    Amir Tibon
    Jun 13, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-white-house-to-haaretz-peace-plan-is-basis-for-talks-not-blueprint

    WASHINGTON – The Trump administration’s plan for peace in the Middle East won’t be a “take it or leave it” proposal, but rather a basis for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, administration officials told Haaretz this week. They said the plan will be revealed soon, and that the White House hopes to share it not only with the leaders in the region, but also with the general public.
    The officials said previous reports that the plan would be released immediately at the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan were incorrect. “We hope to release it in the near future, but not immediately after Ramadan,” one official explained. “Our top priority is to put it out at the right moment, so that the various spoilers who don’t want us to succeed have less of a chance to cause damage.” 
    >> Palestinians to U.S.: No ’Deal of the Century’ if Jerusalem Not Addressed ■ U.S. Hopes to Unveil Breakthrough in Gaza Cease-fire Alongside Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan
    While there have been some reports asserting that the plan will be a blueprint for a final peace agreement that the two sides will have to either accept or reject, the officials who spoke with Haaretz said those reports, too, were inaccurate.
    “We have said all along that we don’t want to impose an agreement. So presenting the plan as a ‘take it or leave it’ kind of document would be inconsistent with that,” one official explained. “We are a facilitator. It would be arrogant to assume we know better than anyone else,” said a second official. “At the end of the day, the two sides need to negotiate and reach an agreement. We want to help them reach that point, but we can’t structure the agreement for them.”
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    The officials criticized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for refusing to engage with the administration, a position he has held to ever since Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last December. “We assume there will be fair and substantial criticism of the plan, but we are astonished that Abbas won’t even see it,” one official said. “It would be a shame for the Palestinian people if the Palestinian leadership refuses to engage with this plan.”
    At the same time, the officials stressed that the Trump administration is not looking for a way to bypass Abbas, and is not speaking to any other Palestinian political figures. “We are not trying to engage with any Palestinian politicians except President Abbas. He is the relevant address, and he is the one we hope to work with,” one official said. 
    >> Trump Mideast envoy: The Palestinians deserve so much more than Saeb Erekat ■ Erekat fires back: Trump administration is killing the peace process, not me
    Last month Haaretz reported that the only recent contact between high-ranking Palestinian and American officials was a meeting between Abbas’ security chief, Majid Faraj, and Mike Pompeo, who is now Secretary of State and headed the CIA at the time of the meeting. Palestinian officials explained that the meeting focused only on security and intelligence issues, which are not included in the Palestinian Authority’s political and diplomatic boycott of the administration.

    The administration officials emphasized that they are encouraged by signs that Arab countries are getting closer to Israel, but added that they have no illusions about the Arab world “abandoning” the Palestinians as part of an alliance with Israel. “It’s not realistic to expect that the Arabs would abandon the Palestinians. That’s not going to happen,” one of the officials stated. The Arab states, in the administration’s view, can help encourage the two sides to move forward with negotiations – but aren’t expected to force anything on either side.
    Under previous administrations, there were different approaches with regard to public exposure of detailed plans for Middle East peace. The George W. Bush administration released its “Road Map for Peace” in a speech by the president. The peace plan of former Secretary of State John Kerry, by contrast, was never made public (although drafts of it were published by Haaretz last June.)
    The current administration is considering making its peace plan available to the public, but only after its final version is shared with the leaders in the region. “We want the public to know what is in it, at the right time, because the public needs to support it, not just the leaders,” said one official. “At the end of the day, the public is part of the process. The leaders need to have public support for going forward with this.” 
    The officials who spoke with Haaretz could not share specific details about the plan, which they said is close to being finalized. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will travel to the region next week with Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East peace process, to discuss the plan with leaders in Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and possibly also other countries.
    The Trump administration’s main foreign policy focus this week, of course, was the summit in Singapore in which Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The officials who spoke with Haaretz said the summit proves that Trump’s unusual approach to foreign policy is working, adding that “this event should give hope to people in the Middle East that things can get better.”
    One official contended that “this event shows how suddenly and unexpectedly things can change, and how intractable positions can potentially be softened and modified. The members of our peace team have a lot of experience as negotiators. We know that positions can change. We know that views can be morphed.”
    The officials said a Middle East peace deal is still a top priority for Trump. “The president has the same level of dedication on this issue as he does on the Korean issue,” they maintained. 
    When asked if it is possible that following his summit with Kim, Trump will lose interest in an Israeli-Palestinian deal since he no longer needs a foreign policy achievement to present to the American public, one official used a metaphor from Trump’s real estate career to explain why he’s convinced that that’s not going to happen.
    “The president built Trump Tower, and then what did he do after that? He went and he built another five Trump Towers,” the official said.
    “He didn’t just stop with one.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/701969 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • U.S. Jewish leader Ronald Lauder gave $1.1 million to covert group pushing anti-Muslim campaign
    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/ronald-lauder-gave-1-1-million-to-group-pushing-anti-muslim-campaign-1.5977

    The president of the World Jewish Congress was one of the biggest backers of a secretive group that spent millions of dollars on targeted campaign ads predicting a Muslim takeover of the United States.
    Ronald Lauder gave $1.1 million to the group Secure America Now, the watchdog group Open Secrets revealed Thursday, citing IRS forms it had acquired. Secure America Now is not required to disclose its donors.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/684067 via Nidal


  • Trump, Saudi Arabia in lockstep: Give Syria up to Assad, ignore Gaza -

    Trump’s talk with the Saudi crown prince made him conclude that there’s nothing Washington can do in Syria; they also see eye to eye on the weekend’s events in Gaza and the question of Hamas’ status

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-trump-saudi-arabia-in-lockstep-give-syria-up-to-assad-ignore-gaza-

    They also see eye to eye on the weekend’s events in the Gaza Strip and the question of Hamas’ status. Last Friday, the United States opposed a Kuwaiti motion in the UN Security Council to condemn Israel for the violence. Riyadh did its part by refusing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ request that it convene an emergency Arab summit to discuss the killing of Palestinians in Gaza. The kingdom gave Abbas the cold shoulder, saying the regular Arab League summit would take place in a few weeks anyway, so no additional summit was needed.
    The disinterest Mohammed and Trump both showed in the events in Gaza, combined with their capitulation to reality in Syria, reveals a clear American-Saudi strategy by which regional conflicts will be dealt with by the parties to those conflicts, and only those with the potential to spark an international war will merit attention and perhaps intervention.
    >> Gaza carnage is a victory for Hamas – and a propaganda nightmare for Israel ■ With riots and live fire, Gaza just went 25 years back in time >>
    An example of the latter is the battle against Iran, which will continue to interest both Washington and Riyadh because they consider it of supreme international importance, not just a local threat to Israel and Saudi Arabia.
    Syria, in contrast, doesn’t interest the world, and to the degree that it poses a threat to Israel, Israel’s 2007 attack on Syria’s nuclear reactor and its ongoing military intervention in Syria show that it neither needs nor even wants other powers involved.
    >> Ten years of silence on Syria strike. Why now? ■ A turning point in Israel’s history ■ Before successful strike, Israel’s most resounding intel failure
    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is also no longer seen as a global threat, or even a regional one. Therefore, it’s unnecessary to “waste” international or pan-Arab effort on it. If Egypt can and wants to handle the conflict from the Arab side, fine. But for now, that will be it.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/682046 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • New U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has a hawkish history on Iran and Israel - U.S. News - Haaretz.com

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-new-u-s-secretary-of-state-mike-pompeo-has-a-hawkish-history-on-ir

    In November 2015, Pompeo visited Israel and met with Netanyahu, a meeting which he said left a strong impression on him. “Prime Minister Netanyahu is a true partner of the American people,” Pompeo said after their discussion at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. “Our conversation was incredibly enlightening as to the true threats facing both Israel and the United States. Netanyahu’s efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons are incredibly admirable and deeply appreciated.”
    During the same visit, Pompeo met senior officers in the Israeli police and was briefed by them on the “lone wolves Intifada” that included dozens of stabbing and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians across the country. A statement by his office described the Israeli police officers he met as “a group of officers who not only bravely defend the people each day, but have also been targeted themselves by terrorists.” Pompeo said that “by putting on their uniform, the men and women of the Israeli National Police put a target on their back for terrorists who want to murder law enforcement. In the fight against terrorism, cooperation between Israel and the United States has never been more important.”
    Two weeks after his visit, Pompeo released a statement condemning “the ongoing violence in the State of Israel,” explaining that “I can tell you that the Israeli people and the Israeli National Police are demonstrating admirable restraint in the face of unspeakably cruel attacks.” He added that "We cannot let these acts of terror go on any longer. Those who carry out, encourage, or defend this violence should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. We must stand with our ally Israel and put a stop to terrorism. Ongoing attacks by the Palestinians serve only to distance the prospect of peace.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/676641 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Trump’s threat to defund UNRWA could cost Israel as much as the Palestinians - U.S. News - Haaretz.com

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.832920

    U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s declaration that the United States intends to cut aid the Palestinians, and possibly to UNRWA, the United Nations’ relief agency for Palestinian refugees, is no less worrying to Israel than it is to the Palestinian Authority. Officially, Israel has come out time after time against UNRWA employees’ flirtation with messages supporting terror and the funding the agency provides for the grandchildren of the original Palestinian refugees from 1948. In practice, however, the agency is funds educational activities and medical services for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and a sharp cut in its resources could bring thousands of them into the streets to confront the Israeli army.
    Moreover, if a war were to break out in Gaza, international organizations would be the only ones that Israel could turn to in order to prevent a humanitarian disaster in the enclave. The Israeli army is being careful to maintain an ongoing working relationship with UNRWA, and recently a senior official from the agency was even invited to speak to a group of top Israeli army commanders to explain the severe state of Gaza’s infrastructure.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/656944 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • At anti-Semitism panel, Linda Sarsour asks, ’I am the biggest problem of the Jewish community?’

    The prominent feminist activist and controversial anti-Zionist speaks out against anti-Semitism and the importance of ’organizing at the intersections of oppression’

    Asher Schechter Nov 29, 2017
    read more: https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.825582

    Minutes before Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour took the stage at The New School’s Alvin Johnson Auditorium as part of a panel on anti-Semitism, one of the organizers went up to deliver a number of key instructions to audience members in case protesters would try to shut down the event.
    But the fears that the event would be disrupted by right-wing protesters turned out to be for naught. Despite two weeks of a media frenzy, a petition signed by more than 21,000 people and loads of criticism from both left and right, the panel concluded with only two very minor interruptions.
    skip - fb

    >> American Jews, lay off Linda Sarsour | Opinion
    skip - A video of the panel on anti-Semitism at The New School

    “Apparently I am the biggest problem of the Jewish community? I am the existential threat, Apparently? I am confused, literally, every day,” said Sarsour, addressing the controversy that preceded the event.
    Sarsour, a prominent advocate for Muslim Americans, criminal justice reform and civil rights, is the former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and co-chaired last January’s National Women’s March. During the past year, particularly as her profile in progressive circles increased after the march, Sarsour has raised the ire of conservatives, Zionist activists and so-called alt-right figures who accuse her of supporting terrorists and promoting anti-Semitism – largely due to her support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and her criticism of Israel.
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    >> Extremists on left and right empowering BDS on U.S. college campuses | Opinion
    “I am deeply honored and humbled to be here on this stage with people who have been some of the staunchest allies of the communities that I come from,” Sarsour said during the panel. “We cannot dismantle anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, every phobia and -ism without also dismantling anti-Semitism.”
    “Intersectionality is not about black and white people organizing together or Jews and Muslims organizing together. It is all of us organizing at the intersections of oppression and seeing oppression [as] connected. Anti-Semitism is one branch on a larger tree of racism,” she added. “You can’t just address one branch, you need to address all branches together so we can get to the root of the problem.”

    In her remarks, Sarsour spoke at length about her criticism of Zionism. “Just in case it’s not clear, I am unapologetically Palestinian-American and will always be unapologetically Palestinian-American. I am also unapologetically Muslim-American. And guess what? I am also a very staunch supporter of the BDS movement. What other way am I supposed to be, as a Palestinian-American who’s a daughter of immigrants who lived under military occupation and still has relatives in Palestine that live under military occupation? I should be expected to have the views that I hold,” she said.
    Regardless of their feelings toward Israel, said Sarsour, Jews and non-Jews alike “must commit to dismantling anti-Semitism. The existential threat resides in the White House, and if what you’re reading all day long in the Jewish media is that Linda Sarsour and Minister [Louis] Farrakhan are the existential threats to the Jewish community, something really bad is going to happen and we are going to miss the mark on it.”
    skip - A tweet from Jonathan Greenblatt

    Apart from Sarsour, the panel also featured Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of Jewish Voices for Peace, Leo Ferguson of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and Lina Morales, a member of Jews of Color and Mizrahi/Sephardi Caucus of JVP. The event was moderated by journalist and author Amy Goodman, the host of the alternative news program “Democracy Now!”
    The panel, organized by JVP, Haymarket Books, Jacobin magazine, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and The New School’s Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism program, was preceded by great controversy over Sarsour’s participation. Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, tweeted that “Having Linda Sarsour & head of JVP leading a panel on antisemitism is like Oscar Meyer leading a panel on vegetarianism.” Writing for Tablet Magazine, Phyllis Chesler, a New School alumni, wished that she could give back her diploma.
    “Antisemitism is harmful and real. But when antisemitism is redefined as criticism of Israel, critics of Israeli policy become accused and targeted more than the growing far-right,” read the event’s description.
    The other panelists were similarly critical of Israel and of the Jewish American community that rebukes activists like Sarsour yet embraces far-right figures like Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. “I am angry at the profound hypocrisy of the institutional Jewish community, which has taught us that loving Israel does not mean that you love Jews,” said Vilkomerson. “Because I care about Jews, I am anti-Zionist,” said Morales. “Nothing can be more counterproductive or hurtful to Jews than to be intentionally confusing the issue of anti-Semitism by spreading false charges of anti-Semitism,” said Ferguson, in reference to the “smearing” of pro-Palestinian activists by Jewish-American organizations. Lobbing false accusations of anti-Semitism, he argued, “slowly erodes our ability to accurately assess threats.”
    Two hours before the debate was scheduled to begin, over 15 policemen and security guards and multiple police cars were already surrounding the venue where it was to be held. A small protest took place across the street, with some demonstrators holding signs and chanting against Sarsour and JVP.
    “This panel is spitting in the face of Jews – four anti-Semites talking about anti-Semitism,” Karen Lichtbraun, one of the demonstrators and head of the New York chapter of the Jewish Defense League told Haaretz. JVP, she charged, wanted to “drive a wedge between Jews” by inviting Sarsour. “[Sarsour] wants to bring Sharia law to America. She is brainwashing a lot of young Jews,” she claimed.
    “Nobody has a monopoly on talking about anti-Semitism,” Rabbi Alissa Wise, deputy director of Jewish Voice for Peace and one of the event’s organizers, told Haaretz. “As a rabbi and a Jew, I feel safer in the world knowing that there are more people, non-Jewish allies, Muslims, Christians, people of no faith, who are taking up the question of anti-Semitism seriously.”
    When asked about the commotion in the media that surrounded the event, Wise said: “There’s something particular about the role that Linda plays in the psyche of the American Jewish community. We’ve done these anti-Semitism events in Indianapolis, Chicago, the Bay Area, Philadelphia, and this is not the only one where a Muslim is speaking. Never before have we seen this kind of frenzy. It just seems like a witch hunt of sorts.”
    Tuesday’s event was not the first time a planned appearance by Sarsour caused controversy: Her invitation to deliver the commencement address at the City University of New York School of Public Health in June raised the ire of pro-Israel activists. The uproar included a protest rally against her speech outside CUNY’s main office building, headed by far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who called Sarsour a “Sharia-loving, terrorist-embracing, Jew-hating, ticking time bomb of progressive horror.”
    “When I spoke at the CUNY graduate center back in June, something really disturbing happened,” said Sarsour during the panel. “I don’t care if people protest against me. What was confusing to me at that moment was, how is it that people that are Jewish are standing in a really against me with Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard Spencer, and Gavin McInnes? Why are they there with them? I hope the Jewish community stands up and says that’s wrong, that under no circumstance should Jewish people align with people like Milo or Pamela Geller or Richard Spencer or Gavin McInnes.”
    When asked about her previous statement that feminism is “incompatible with Zionism,” Sarsour said: “I am not as important as I am made out to be. I am not the one that actually gets to say who gets to be in the movement and who doesn’t. Let’s stop talking about the civil rights movement that happened 50 years ago because there is a civil rights movement happening right now. We live under fascism, and we need all hands on deck.”

    Asher Schechter
    Haaretz Columnist

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