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J Street presses candidates on aid to Israel

By Jackson Richman

(JNS) U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.),  who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said on Sunday that she “disagreed” with U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in March to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

“It’s not a good idea to negotiate these things right now, but let me be very clear in how strongly I believe that that promise that the prime minister made during his political campaign was wrong,” she said on stage at the annual J Street Conference in Washington, D.C.

Her reply was in response to a question from former White House National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor, who served under former U.S. President Barack Obama, whether she would condition U.S. assistance to Israel on the Jewish state not fulfilling a campaign promise of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex parts of the West Bank.

“That he was going to annex a third of the West Bank,” she continued. “Also the Golan Heights and what he did there. I disagreed with that.”

Candidates including South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have expressed an openness for such a contingency.

Regarding the Golan Heights, Buttigieg told JNS in August that the U.S. recognition was “an intervention in Israeli domestic politics.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks in Manchester, New Hampshire on Oct. 25. (Credit: Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Klobuchar added, “I also strongly disagreed when he, at President Trump’s urging, said that members of Congress couldn’t even visit Israel,” in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) being barred from entering Israel in August for their support of the anti-Israel BDS movement.

Trump called on Israel to reject the freshmen congresswomen from entering the country.

“It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!” he tweeted.

Tlaib was later granted a humanitarian request to visit her elderly grandmother in the West Bank. In the end, she chose not to go.

In her remarks, Klobuchar reiterated her positions, including re-entering the United States into the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris Climate Accord, and the need to fight anti-Semitism. She also noted the one-year anniversary of the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, where 11 worshippers were killed in the deadliest attack in American Jewish history.

She did not reiterate whether or not she would keep the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, where it was relocated from Tel Aviv in May 2018.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and  Buttigieg are scheduled to address the J Street conference on Monday.

They, too, plan to sit with the hosts of the weekly podcast “Pod Save the World,” Vietor and former U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes to “discuss the future of the U.S.-Israel relationship, their visions for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, their plans to combat the growing threat of white supremacy and more,” according to an email from J Street ahead of the conference.

The conference concludes on Tuesday, when participants will lobby J Street’s agenda on Capitol Hill.


Trump campaign invokes Jared Kushner’s Holocaust survivor grandparents in defending his Middle East peace record

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign defended senior advisor Jared Kushner’s record on Middle East peace by citing his work to engineer the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and the fact that Kushner’s grandparents survived the Holocaust.

“Jared, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, was instrumental in moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem,” the campaign said in a statement Friday, Oct. 25.

The statement came in response to a video clip released by CBS in which former Vice President Joe Biden suggested that Kushner brought little expertise to his role as a Mideast peace broker. The clip was part of an interview due to air over the weekend on “60 Minutes.”

Democratic presidential candidate, former U.S Vice President Joe Biden speaking Oct. 2 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

In the interview, Biden was asked about Trump’s unsubstantiated charge that he assisted his son, Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian company beset by corruption allegations. Biden claimed his son had done nothing wrong before turning to a question about whether Trump’s children have acted properly.

Kushner and his wife, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, both serve as senior advisers in the White House. Trump is also alleged to have steered government business to Trump properties now run by his sons, Don Jr. and Eric.

“The idea that you’re gonna have — go to the extent that he has gone to have our, you know his children, his son-in-law, et cetera, engaged in the day-to-day operation of things they know nothing about,” Biden said.

“You don’t think that Jared Kushner should be negotiating a Middle East peace solution?” interviewer Norah O’Donnell asked.

Biden laughed. “No, I don’t. What credentials does he bring to that?”

Kushner has yet to unveil the “vision” for Middle East peace he he has been working on for over two years. Palestinians dropped out of the process in 2017 after Trump announced he would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.


George Soros calls Elizabeth Warren ‘most qualified to be president’

(JTA) – George Soros, an American-Jewish billionaire and major donor to the Democratic Party, said in an interview that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is “the most qualified to be president.” Warren, who is in the top tier of polls for the Democratic presidential nomination, has “emerged as the clear-cut person to beat,” Soros said in an interview with The New York Times published Oct. 25. “I don’t take a public stance, but I do believe that she is the most qualified to be president,” he said, adding that, “I’m not endorsing anybody because I want to work with whoever,” he added. 

Soros also expressed confidence that his own liberal worldview will win out over Trump’s brand of nationalism. He predicted that Trump will lose the 2020 election. “[Trump] is an aberration, and he is clearly putting his personal interests ahead of the national interests,” Soros said. “I think it will contribute to his demise next year. So I am slightly predicting that things will turn around.”

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