News Roundup for April 12, 2021

April 12, 2021

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

J Street works to promote an open, honest and rigorous conversation about Israel. The opinions reflected in articles posted in the News Roundup do not necessarily reflect J Street’s positions, and their posting does not constitute an endorsement from J Street.

J Street in the News

How J Street Could Become More Influential Than Ever in the Biden Era, Haaretz
“Next week marks J Street’s 12th annual conference, though the left-wing, pro-Israel organization finds itself in unchartered waters. After establishing itself as a player during the Obama administration and becoming the voice of the opposition during the Trump administration, J Street now arguably represents the majority voice for the majority party in the United States. J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami tells Haaretz that his organization is now afforded the ability to influence U.S. foreign policy – particularly around how the United States can draw limits around what Israel does in the occupied territories. ‘We’re going to be pushing the envelope and asking Congress and the administration to think about how to restrict the use of American dollars and equipment in those areas, and ensure that it isn’t working counter to American interests and values – and we would argue also Israel’s interests,’ Ben-Ami says.”

Victims of violence in Israeli society, Times of Israel
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “Two groups in Israeli society are disproportionately affected and threatened by violence – women and Arabs. In both cases, we as a society are indifferent and therefore our government does not dedicate the necessary resources towards preventing violence and saving lives. Both women and Arabs are vulnerable populations due to the discrimination against them rooted in our society.”

Jewish National Fund Pushes Forward Plan to Legalize West Bank Land Purchases, Haaretz
“The group, a coalition of seven organizations that includes J Street and the New Israel Fund, said in the statement that ‘buying land to expand West Bank settlements is antithetical to Israel’s future as a democracy, and only serves to entrench occupation and to make the lives of Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line less safe.’”

Top News and Analysis

Blackout Hits Iran Nuclear Site in What Appears to Be Israeli Sabotage, New York Times
A power failure that appeared to have been caused by a deliberately planned explosion struck Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment site on Sunday, in what Iranian officials called an act of sabotage that they suggested had been carried out by Israel. The blackout injected new uncertainty into diplomatic efforts that began last week to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal repudiated by the Trump administration. Iran did not say precisely what had caused the blackout at the heavily fortified site, which has been a target of previous sabotage, and Israel publicly declined to confirm or deny any responsibility. But American and Israeli intelligence officials said there had been an Israeli role. Two intelligence officials briefed on the damage said it had been caused by a large explosion that completely destroyed the independent — and heavily protected — internal power system that supplies the underground centrifuges that enrich uranium.

Amid tensions with Iran, Pentagon chief says alliance with Israel is ‘ironclad’, Washington Post
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, making the first visit to Israel by a senior Biden administration official, said Sunday that the U.S.-Israeli relationship was “enduring and ironclad,” amid growing Israeli concern over American efforts to revive the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.

Iran Vows Revenge for Alleged Israeli Attack on Nuclear Site, New York Times
The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, vowed revenge against Israel on Monday morning, a day after a blackout at an Iranian nuclear enrichment site was attributed to an Israeli attack. Mr. Zarif’s comments highlight the risk of escalation in a yearslong shadow war between Iran and Israel. They also threaten to overshadow efforts in Vienna to encourage Iran to reimpose limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of American sanctions.


Israeli police beat up and kneel on the face of left-wing Jewish lawmaker, JTA
Ofer Cassif, the only Jewish member of the Arab-Israeli Joint List party in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, was at a protest against evictions in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah Friday when he became involved in an altercation with police. The police shoved him to the ground and video from the protest shared on social media shows an officer placing his knee on Cassif’s face.

Netanyahu Trial: ‘PM’s Wife Thanked Tycoon for Helping Husband During 2015 Election’, Haaretz
Yeshua said that on Election Day in 2015, he received a text from Netanyahu’s aide Nir Hefetz that included a video of the premier warning that “Arab voters are coming in droves to the polls.” Shortly thereafter, the video went up on Walla’s homepage, and Hefetz sent a text to Yeshua that said: “I showed Bibi the main page. He’s pleased.”

Netanyahu gives up hope of Smotrich joining Abbas-backed coalition, Times of Israel
According to the report, Netanyahu is now convinced that party chairman Bezalel Smotrich has no intention of changing his mind and agreeing to join a government that would have even the outside backing of Ra’am, and the prime minister will instead turn his attentions to persuading New Hope’s Gideon Sa’ar to join his government.

Palestinian bystander, 14, loses eye from rubber bullet allegedly fired by IDF, Times of Israel
A 14-year-old Palestinian bystander lost his eye on Friday afternoon in the West Bank city of Hebron after apparently being hit by a rubber-tipped steel bullet fired by an Israeli soldier, although the Israeli army said it could neither confirm nor deny the matter.

Family of Palestinian Teen Who Lost an Eye Blame Israeli Sponge-tipped Bullet, Haaretz
A 14-year-old Palestinian boy in Hebron lost his eye after being hit by a sponge-tipped bullet shot by an Israeli soldier Friday, Palestinian reports say. The teenager had been standing in a vegetable shop while soldiers and Palestinian youths clashed nearby.

U.S. Jewish Organizations Decry ‘Despicable’ anti-Arab Remarks From Netanyahu Ally, Haaretz
Several unabashedly pro-Israel U.S. Jewish organizations decried far-right lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich’s remarks stating that he would ensure Arabs who do not recognize the Jewish people’s legitimate rule over the Land of Israel “will not remain here.”

He was selected to receive Israel’s highest honor. Then his political views drew criticism., JTA
Israel’s Supreme Court has upheld a decision by Israel’s education minister to block an Israeli academic from receiving the Israel Prize, a major honor awarded annually at Israel’s Independence Day celebrations.

In acceptance speech, Israel Prize winner protests blocking professor’s award, Times of Israel
A recipient of the prestigious Israel Prize, during an awards ceremony on Sunday, protested Education Minister Yoav Gallant’s move to withhold the prize from another nominee due to his political views. Israel’s top court on Thursday upheld Gallant’s move to temporarily block Oded Goldreich from receiving this year’s Israel Prize in mathematics and computer science over claims he supports the Palestinian-led international boycott movement targeting Israel, allegations the professor denies.

Opinion and Analysis

Intimidation. Extortion. Eviction: This Is the Brutal Reality for Palestinians in Silwan, Jerusalem, Haaretz
Jawad Siyam writes, “I’m a Palestinian community organizer in East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood. Let me show you what it’s like to be besieged by settlers and under constant attack by the Israeli authorities”

“The settlers brought caravans and put them on a hill next to us”, +972 Mag
Basil al-Adraa writes, “Israel makes it easy for settlers to take over our land. Meanwhile, Palestinians who’ve lived here for generations are attacked and evicted.”

Antony Blinken’s Yom HaShoah speech was remarkable — it acknowledged U.S. complicity, The Forward
Halie Soifer writes, “This speech was personal for Secretary Blinken, who recalled the harrowing story of his stepfather, Samuel Pisar, who survived the concentration camps and saw the words ‘never again’ etched into the walls of gas chambers. But what was most remarkable about his words was his scathing reflection of the actions and inactions of the department he now leads, which contributed to the magnitude of tragedy in the Holocaust.”

White House faces tough task of tearing down Iran sanctions wall to save nuclear deal, Al-Monitor
Mark Fitzpatrick writes, “In the fall of 2020, as Trump administration foreign policy officials anticipated their time in office would soon be over, they sought to perpetuate one of their most unsuccessful polices — the maximum pressure campaign against Iran — by erecting what they called a ‘sanctions wall.’ The purpose, which they made no attempt to hide, was to undermine the next administration’s ability to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).”