European Jewish Congress
Israel Press Review of 18/11/2016
Israeli Press Review
Israel Press Review of 18/11/2016

Major Headlines 
  • Israel’s right strengthening alliance with future Trump government

Israel’s right-wing camp will continue to align itself with US President-elect Donald Trump’s evolving administration next week, when Education Minister Naftali Bennett attends a Jewish gathering in New York City alongside controversial Trump adviser Stephen Bannon, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Bennett, the chairman of the Bayit Yehudi, and Bannon, whom Trump has appointed as chief White House strategist, are scheduled to attend the Zionist Organization of America’s Louis D. Brandeis Award Dinner, which is honouring Republican Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Trump donor Sheldon Adelson is also slated to attend the event.

“Steve Bannon is as pro-Israel and pro-Jewish as anyone I’ve ever met,” ZOA President Morton Klein told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

“Anyone who knows me and ZOA knows that nobody fights against antisemitism and for Israel stronger,” he added. “If there was a hint of antisemitism, I’d be all over that. I’m a child of Holocaust survivors, I lost my whole family to Hitler, I don’t tolerate antisemitism for a second.”

Bennett and other Israeli right-wing politicians in recent days have called for Trump to rethink US policy on Israel and the Palestinians. On Monday, Bennett said Trump’s victory was an opportunity to “rest and rethink everything.” Last week he said the election means the “era of a Palestinian state is over.”

The ZOA issued a statement earlier this week defending Bannon and appearing to defend the Breitbart News website, in light of strong criticism by the Anti-Defamation League of his appointment.

Bannon – a Harvard Business School graduate, and a former US Navy officer and Goldman Sachs investment banker – has been criticized largely for his tenure as executive chairman of Breitbart.

His former colleagues have characterised him as a firebrand, and he has been accused of personally harbouring prejudice against Jews.

Klein slammed the ADL, which earlier in the week announced that it opposed Bannon’s appointment over his affiliation with the altright movement and for running a website that serves as a platform for white nationalists and racists.

Two divides within the US Jewish community appear to be emerging: over what policy approach is best for Israel; and over what is seen in the direct interests of the American- Jewish community.

Groups focused on the Diaspora community are emphasising issues that have long preoccupied American Jews: pluralism, religious freedom and social welfare. This is where the ADL and AJC have identified concerns with some of Trump’s supporters and aides after an ugly campaign season featured crude attacks on Muslim, Jewish and immigrant communities.

Ahead of Thanksgiving next Thursday, the AJC’s CEO took the opportunity to outline what the group “stands for.”

“We cherish our great nation and the unprecedented freedom and opportunity it affords, including the precious right to vote, free and fair elections and smooth transfers of power from one administration to another,” David Harris said. “We take special pride in the American motto ‘E pluribus unum’ [Out of many, one]. Indeed, at AJC, we are, and have always been, passionate pluralists.

“The strength of our nation derives in such large measure from its rich tapestry of racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds, he added. “We aspire to live in a society which doesn’t simply ‘tolerate’ diversity, but welcomes it, seeing it as a vital component of who we are as a nation.”

Earlier in the day, the ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said his office is steeling itself for several battles.

“I pledge to you right here and now that if one day in these United States, if one day Muslim Americans will be forced to register their identities, then that is the day that this proud Jew will register as Muslim,” Greenblatt said, reacting to talk from Trump surrogates about the establishment of a registry of Muslim Americans or for Muslims entering the US homeland.

Click here to read the full article in Jerusalem Post

  • Lieberman: Settlement building should be coordinated with US

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday that Israel would benefit from putting together a West Bank settlement construction policy together with the incoming US administration rather than continuing efforts to establish facts on the ground by itself, the Times of Israel reports.

During a visit to the port city of Ashdod the minister also warned that the caustic rhetoric between coalition members over Amona, a controversial West Bank settlement outpost slated for demolition, could threaten the government.

During a briefing to reporters on Wednesday, Lieberman, who himself lives in the outlying settlement of Nokdim southeast of Jerusalem, said he was ready to freeze building outside the blocs in exchange for an agreement with the incoming Trump administration to expand settlement building in Efrat, Ma’ale Adumim and other areas widely expected to remain under Israeli sovereignty in the event of a future peace deal.

Click here to read the full article in Times of Israel

  • Mayors from around the world visit Israel, focus on innovation

Twenty-six mayors from North and South America, Europe and Africa are visiting Israel this week as part of a forum organised by the American Jewish Congress and the American Council for World Jewry, Arutz Sheva reports.

The mayors will meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, local municipalities and Israeli technology entrepreneurs in the fields of health, security, water and the environment. They will also visit the telecommunications group Bezeq Telecom and a Tel Aviv start-up.

"We expect that as a result of this visit, we will create a better understanding of the political environment and greater longer term cooperation between Israel and the mayors’ home countries," Jack Rosen, the AJC's president and ACWJ's chairman, said in a statement.

On Thursday, twenty of the mayors signed a statement criticising the recent adoption by two UNESCO committees of resolutions that deny Jewish connections to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and other holy sites in Israel. The statement was to be presented to Netanyahu at their meeting that afternoon.

The mayors resolved “to work to end politically inspired falsehood and distortions, and to speak the truth about all relevant history.”

The statement also called on UNESCO to "cease repeatedly exacerbating tensions, as evidenced by the most recent news of disputing Israeli heritage of the Dead Sea Scrolls, one of the major archaeological discoveries of the 20th century that sheds light on the biblical era.”

Click here to read the full article in Arutz Sheva

Friday, November 18, 2016
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