As good a time as any, Trump team eyes releasing Mideast peace plan ahead of Israeli elections – Jewish Insider

Posted By on January 11, 2020

Good Wednesday morning!

On Capitol Hill, Top administration officials will brief members of Congress on the situation with Iran. More below.

In Albany, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will deliver his state of the state address. Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg of Monsey will deliver the invocation.

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Iranlaunchedmore than a dozen ballistic missiles atIraqi military baseshousing U.S. troops last night in retaliation for the U.S. killing of Qassim Soleimani last week. President Donald TrumptweetedAll is well! and So far, so good! as the Pentagonindicatedthat there were no American casualties in the attacks.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zariftweetedthat Iran does not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression. Zarif said the retaliatory attack had concluded and called it proportionate measures.

Trump saidhe plans to make a statement this morningabout the ongoing situation in Iran. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said yesterday that the U.S. will not be withdrawing troops from Iraq, though the administration isreportedlydrawing up potential sanctions against Iraq if it orders the expulsion of U.S. troops.

Explain yourself:The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), hasinvited EditSignSecretary of State Mike Pompeo to appear before a hearing next week on From Sanctions to the Soleimani Strike to Escalation: Evaluating the Administrations Iran Policy.

Window for diplomacy:Pompeohas ordereddiplomats to limit any contact with Iranian opposition groups, including Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which maintains close ties with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. The directive warns that meetings with such groups could jeopardize U.S. diplomacy with Iran.

Brian Hook, the special representative for Iran and a senior policy advisor,reiterated the administrations stance during a news conference at the Simon Wiesenthal Center yesterday. Calling Suleimani the deadliest terrorist in the world, Hook said, We do not make a distinction between the Iranian regime and the proxies it organizes, trains and equips around the Middle East.

2020 watch:Democratic presidential frontrunner former Vice President Joe Bidensaidlast night at a fund-raiser that he is praying, as we speak, that [Trump is] listening to his military commanders for the first time, because so far that has not been the case. At a rally in Brooklyn, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said the attack on U.S. troops is a reminder of why we need to de-escalate tension in the Middle East. The American people do not want a war with Iran.

Now were alone:BidentellsNBC News Lester Holt that relations with Iran deteriorated after Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, explaining: We had a united front relative to Iran until the time he walked away from a treaty that was functioning. He added, We were together. Now, were alone.

In other news:A Ukrainian Airlines Boeing 737 flight from Tehran to Kyiv burst into flames andcrash landedshortly after taking off from Tehran in the early hours of Wednesday morning, killing all 180 passengers on board. The first reports indicated that the crash occurred due to technical problems. The Ukrainian embassy in Iran initially posted a statement on its website that the crash was not caused by terrorism or rockets; that post was later removed and replaced with a new statement saying that it was too early to conclude the crashs cause. Also last night, a 4.9 magnitude earthquake struck southern Iran near the Bushehr nuclear plant.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is holding a hearing this afternoonon how the U.S. and the international community can counter the growing threat of antisemitism around the world on Capitol Hill.Watch live hereat 1:30 p.m. EST.

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), co-chair of the Senate Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism, will deliver opening remarks. When antisemitism and bigotry occur, it is critical that we not allow ideological or partisan thinking to blur our perspective of what is right and what is wrong. Combating hate is always a nonpartisan issue, Rosen is expected to say, according to excerpts obtained byJewish Insider. As members of Congress, it is our responsibility, to our neighbors, to our friends, and to our children, to eradicate this evil.

Panelists includeSpecial Envoy on Antisemitism Elan Carr; Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Holocaust historian and author Deborah Lipstadt; Gary Bauer, a USCIRF commissioner; the ADLs Sharon Nazarian; and Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, among others.

Fight it out:Lipstadt, the Dorot professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, shared a preview of her testimony with JI. The hatred that is antisemitism can best be compared to a herpes virus, a disease that cannot be cured, according to Lipstadt. There are no easy correctives, no magic pills, and no silver bullets. This fight might be one that can never result in total victory. The roots of this hatred may be too deeply embedded to ever be fully eradicated. However, we must act as if we will be able to achieve that victory. The costs of not doing so are too great.

Heard last night:In a panel on antisemitism hosted by the UJA-Federation of New York at Central Synagogue, Carr discussed recent efforts by the far-right to drive a wedge between African American and Jewish communities: There are far-right neo-Nazi groups [that] are undertaking internet campaigns to turn African Americans against Jews You have neo-Nazis that are creating they have an actual operation for this, and the name of the operation, Im not going to repeat it here because it contains deplorable ethnic slursspecifically a far-right operation to turn [the African American community against the Jewish community], and its despicable.

The Trump administration isreportedly consideringrolling out its long-delayed Mideast peace plan ahead of the March 2 elections. White House Mideast Envoy Avi Berkowitzmet withIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz this week during Berkowitzs first trip to Israel in his new role.

Why it matters:The political component of the peace plan was delayed twice last year after Israel failed to form a coalition governmentand is now heading to a third consecutive election. Former Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatttold JI last monththat it was the correct decision at the time not to release the plan in the midst of an election process and a government formation process.

What changed?A former U.S. official tells JIs Jacob Kornbluh that in order to keep the plan viable, the administration would have to release it by spring, ahead of Trumps reelection battle. While the White House wanted to wait until the Israeli elections are over, the official explained, there seems to be no end in sight. The former official suggested that releasing it in the coming months would be as good a time as any.

In the drivers seat:Following the Trump administrations policy reversal on settlements and Netanyahuspushto get U.S. support for the annexation of the West Bank, the plan rollout could benefit the embattled prime ministers campaign, if its contents are favorable to his right-wing base.

Red light for Blue and White:According to Nimrod Novik, a fellow at Israel Policy Forum and former advisor to Shimon Peres, releasing the plan will help Netanyahu divert from his legal situation. Novik said it could also siphon votes from right-wing parties to the benefit of Likud, andhas the potential of motivating a tired base to go out to vote.

View of Jerusalem:Netanyahu, speaking at the Kohelet Policy Forum conference today at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, said, There is a window of opportunity; it opened, but it could close. However, during a press conference on Wednesday, Gantz expressed his hopes that the administration would not release the plan before the elections. This would be a blatant and real intervention in the election process, he said.

Early Warning Signs:Sara Bloomfield, director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, discusses the lessons of the Holocaust and the warning signs of hatred and facism inan interviewwithThe Washington Posts Rachel Manteuffel. Nazis didnt fall out of the sky in January 33, she explains.[WashPost]

Cash Reserves:The Atlantics Edward-Isaac Doveredelvesinto the far-reaching consequences of billionaire and 2020 contender Michael Bloombergs spending habits. What he finds is that Bloombergs spending on his campaigns pales in comparison to the money he poured into pushing certain policies.[TheAtlantic]

Profiles in Courage:The New York TimesprofiledCapt. Kavon Hakimzadeh, an Iranian-American who after fleeing Iran as a child in 1979 now commands the aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman in the Persian Gulf.[NYTimes]

Beating Expectations:The long-awaited $5 billion American Dream mega-mall in New Jerseyhas securedan almost 90% lease rate, nearing full capacity ahead of its opening in the spring.

On the Job:DP World, the Dubai ports operating giant, hashiredex-Mossad agent Ari Ben-Menashe to lobby the U.S. government on its behalf.

Protest Vote:Polish President Andrzej Duda said Tuesday that hedeclinedan Israeli invitation to attend a forum in Yad Vashem marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz because he was not given a speaking slot.

Never Forget:A record 2.3 million visitorstouredAuschwitz in 2019, the museum said yesterday.

Hatred Lives:At least a dozen graves in a Jewish cemetery in southwest France were discoveredvandalizedon Tuesday.

Heavy Hitters:The Bloomberg presidential campaign hassecureda 60-second commercial spot, worth $10 million, to run during the Super Bowl next month. The goal is to get under Trumps skin, the campaign told theNYTimes. The Trump campaign alsopurchasedspots worth $10 million expected to run early in the game.

Hollywood:Longtime Hollywood exec Howard Kurtzman isretiringas business operations leader at 20th Century Fox TV, and will be replaced by Carolyn Cassidy.

Funny Man:Ultra-Orthodox British comedian Ashley Blaker is set toriff onantisemitism and Jewish rituals in a new off-Broadway show called Goy Friendly at SoHo Playhouse next month.

Winning the Battle:The Ninth Circuit Court of AppealsupheldArizonas anti-BDS law on Monday, vacating the preliminary injunction that kept the state from enforcing the legislation.

Phone Addiction:The judge in Harvey Weinsteins rape trialthreatenedto throw him in jail on Tuesday after he was caught using two cellphones in the Manhattan courtroom defying previous warnings to put the devices away.

Roll Call:The American Historical Associationvoted downtwo anti-Israel measures at their annual meeting over the weekend.

New Owner: Hedge fund manager Israel Englanderpurchasedan Upper East Side townhouse tied to the Sackler family for $38 million.

Behind Bars:Elliot Kline, the organizer of the deadly 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, has beenjailedfor failing to comply with court orders in a federal lawsuit.

Defiant Hater:Jersey City school board member Joan Terrell-Paige, who called Jews brutes after the Jersey City shooting, isrefusingto step down weeks after state officialscalledfor her ouster.

Whatcha Hiding?The Forwardclaimsthat its repeated efforts to obtain records about antisemitic crimes in New York City have been foiled by the NYPD.

Words Matter:Israels Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef has set off afirestormin Israel after he was recorded calling Russian immigrants communist, religion-hating non-Jews.

Bon Appetit:Impossible Foodsannouncedon Monday new fake pork and sausage products for the first time since it launched the first plant-based burger in 2016. But does it hold up? A Muslim reportersampledthe latest fake-meat product.

Distance Dining:Eaterincludedthe Israeli city of Akko on its list of the 19 best global food destinations for 2020.

Tragedy:A 68-year-old Orthodox Jewish womanwas killedyesterday after being struck by a cement truck in Borough Park.

Remembering:Elizabeth Wurtzel, the author of 1994s groundbreakingProzac Nation,diedyesterday of breast cancer at age 52.

Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL)hostedan interfaith roundtable discussion on antisemitism and Holocaust education at the Jewish Federation of Broward County in Florida on Tuesday.

VP of wealth management at GCG Financial in Deerfield, IL, he was an NFL tight end for the Bears and Vikings (1988-1994),Brent Novoselskyturns 54

Talmudic scholar living in Bnei Brak, Israel, widely acclaimed as the leader of the Haredi community, HaravChaim Kanievskyturns 92 Actor and comedian,Larry Storchturns 97 Sociologist at the American Enterprise Institute, one of his controversial books discussed the high average IQs of Jewish people,Charles Murrayturns 77 Moscow-born classical pianist, living in the U.S. since 1987,Vladimir Feltsmanturns 68 Founder and chief investment officer of Pzena Investment Management,Richard Rich Pzenaturns 61 Co-founder and co-owner of Pizza Shuttle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,Mark Goldturns 57Founder and president of DC-based Professionals in the City,Michael Karlanturns 52

Attorney, patron of contemporary art, she is the founder and CEO of lobbying firm, Invariant,Heather Miller Podestaturns 50 Former state senator in Maine (2008-2016),Justin Loring Alfondturns 45 Singer-songwriter, musician and actress, she was the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the indie rock band Rilo Kiley,Jenny Lewisturns 44 Public policy program manager for Facebook, she was previously deputy director of the White House Council on Women and Girls for President Obama,Avra Siegelturns 38 Dayton, Ohio native, former deputy editor ofNewsweek, he was previously atTheNew York Timesand theWall Street Journal,Ross M. Schneidermanturns 38 Actor, screenwriter and director, he is a son of film director Barry Levinson,Sam Levinsonturns 35

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As good a time as any, Trump team eyes releasing Mideast peace plan ahead of Israeli elections - Jewish Insider

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