• irvsafdieh

Abu-gainst the Wall, Separately Together, Herzog Rising


Jared Kushner Criticizes Abbas, Questioning His Ability to Make Peace

David M. Halbfinger, The New York Times, June 24th 2018

Recap:

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser on the Middle East, said Palestinian Authority (PA) President, Mahmoud Abbas, is afraid to make peace with Israel and prioritizes his own political survival at the expense of his people’s needs. The Trump administration is “almost done” preparing its Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal.

The Context:

  • Abbas was elected for the first and only time in 2005 to a four-year term and recently rejected American-led negotiations after Trump reversed decades of United States policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This year, the US also cut $250 million from the budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, or UNRWA [1].

  • Kushner visited Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar [2] before attending meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite the criticism, Kushner emphasized “my job is to work with the parties in charge, so I am ready to work with President Abbas if he is willing [3].”

  • The PA dismissed Kushner’s criticism saying, “America want[s] to dictate a solution, not negotiate it,” and that the PA wants “genuine, lasting, comprehensive peace, based on international law [4]." Despite America’s steadfast support of Israel, Education Minister Naftali Bennett made it clear that although it will seriously weigh Trump’s proposal, Israel will not automatically sign an American led deal [5].

  • In addition to addressing Israeli needs for security and Palestinian demands for statehood, a prospective American deal will likely include “massive investments in modern infrastructure, job training and economic stimulus” that will allow Palestinians access to Israel’s “technological industrial revolution.”

Conversation Points:

  • Is Abbas only focused on political survival rather than bettering the lives of the Palestinian people?

  • Is criticizing Abbas a sound strategy in getting him to cooperate?

  • Does the Trump administration have a heightened sense of hubris following its diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea?

  • Was Kushner’s interview, which was featured in an Arab Newspaper, an attempt to speak directly to the Palestinian people?

Court Overrules Tel Aviv Municipality to Allow Gender Segregated Event

Stuart Winer and Jacob Magid, Times of Israel, June 24th 2018

Recap:

The Tel Aviv District Court ruled that a gender-segregated event can go ahead despite the municipality pulling its approval amid protests from women’s rights groups.

The Context:

  • This week, a Chabad event was scheduled to coincide with the 1927 release of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, from a Soviet prison [6].

  • Orthodox Jewish groups, such as Chabad, observe strict gender division in public spaces. Attorneys for Chabad argued that the planned separation was limited to a small area and that the majority of the large square will be open for men and women to mingle freely. At the hearing, Chabad noted that it had held similar events in the past that were approved by the municipality.

  • Judge Kobi Vardi rebuked the municipality for its attempt to intervene saying, “this is the custom of [their] community and we have to respect that.” Israel Women’s Network said an event of this kind in a space that belongs to all Tel Aviv residents, with men and women seated separately, “harms equality and discriminates against women [7].” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said “[in the future] there will be no separated events in the city [8].”

Conversation Points:

  • What is a fair compromise between Chabad and Israel Women’s Network?

  • Is refusing Chabad the right to hold separate events in the future a form of reverse discrimination?

  • How should countries balance religious traditions that might be at odds with modern culture?

Jewish Agency Confirms Herzog as Chairman

Gil Hoffman and Greer Faye Cashman, Jerusalem Post, June 24th 2018

Recap:

The Jewish Agency appointed Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog as Natan Sharansky’s replacement as Chairman. “A Jew is a Jew is a Jew, and it doesn’t matter what kippa he wears or does not wear and what stream he belongs to,” said Herzog in his acceptance speech. Sharansky will remain in charge of the agency’s emissaries to college campuses.

The Context:

  • The Jewish Agency is a non-governmental organization that works closely with the Israeli government to encourage Jewish immigration and develop ties with Diaspora communities. The organization had a $362 million budget in 2018 [9].

  • Herzog, who was ousted as head of the Labor Party last July, will serve as Chairman for four years and begin his term on August 1st [10]. Herzog’s grandfather was Israel’s Chief Rabbi, and his father, Chaim Herzog, was Israel’s President and UN Ambassador.

  • Encouraging Aliyah is Herzog’s main priority as Chairman. “We must continue to absorb new immigrants and encourage immigration to the State of Israel,” said Herzog. He also plans to focus on improving Jewish education and fighting hatred against Jews in “all its forms [11].”

  • Netanyahu fiercely contested Herzog’s appointment however, changes in the Agency's bylaws no longer require the Prime Minister's approval [12]. Netanyahu favored Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz for the position [13].

Conversation Points:

  • Should politicians be able to weigh in on Jewish Agency appointments?

  • Is Aliyah the ultimate Jewish ideal?

Notes:

  1. Kushner to Palestinians: Don’t let your leaders reject a plan they haven’t seen, Stuart Winer, Times of Israel, June 24th 2018

  2. KUSHNER: U.S. PLAN WILL BE PUBLIC IF ABBAS DOESN'T ‘COME BACK TO THE TABLE', HERB KEINON, JERUSALEM POST, JUNE 24TH 2018

  3. Kushner Attacks Abbas in Rare Palestinian Interview, Questions His Ability to Reach a Deal, Amir Tibon, Haaretz, June 24th 2018

  4. US 'working hard' to topple Mahmoud Abbas, Al Jazeera, June 24th 2018.

  5. KUSHNER: U.S. PLAN WILL BE PUBLIC IF ABBAS DOESN'T ‘COME BACK TO THE TABLE', HERB KEINON, JERUSALEM POST, JUNE 24TH 2018

  6. Tel Aviv Chabad event will take place - with gender separation, Yoni Kempinski, Israel National News, June 24th 2018

  7. Messiah in the Heart of Tel Aviv: Court Allows Gender-segregated Event in Rabin Square, Or Kashti, Haaretz, Jun 24th 2018

  8. Ibid.

  9. Israel opposition leader named head of Jewish Agency, AP, June 24th 2018

  10. Jewish Agency accepts Herzog's nomination as new chairman, Amir Alon and Itamar Eichner, Ynetnews, June 24th 2018

  11. Ibid.

  12. HERZOG TO BECOME JEWISH AGENCY HEAD DESPITE NETANYAHU'S OPPOSITION, Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, June 21st 2018

  13. Jewish Agency accepts Herzog's nomination as new chairman, Amir Alon and Itamar Eichner, Ynetnews, June 24th 2018