News Roundup for April 20, 2020

April 20, 2020

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J Street in the News

As Joe Biden welcomes J Street endorsement, a sign of the liberal pro-Israel lobby’s increasing influence, JTA
“‘I’m honored to have earned J Street’s first-ever presidential endorsement,’ the former vice president said Friday. ‘J Street has been a powerful voice to advance social justice here at home, and to advocate for a two-state solution that advances Middle East Peace. ‘I share with J Street’s membership an unyielding dedication to the survival and security of Israel, and an equal commitment to creating a future of peace and opportunity for Israeli and Palestinian children alike,’ he added. ‘That’s what we have to keep working toward — and what I’ll do as President with J Street’s support.’”

Biden Embraces J Street Endorsement, but Doesn’t Give Up on AIPAC, Haaretz
“Jeremy Ben Ami, J Street’s president, explained on Friday why the group decided to endorse Biden, who has recently become the prospective Democratic presidential nominee, after all other candidates ended their campaigns. ‘At a time when the threats to our core values both at home and abroad have never been more serious, all of us in the pro-Israel, pro-peace community know that the path to a better future begins with defeating Donald Trump at the polls,’ Ben Ami stated.”

Will Biden shift his Mideast policy to appeal to Sanders supporters?, Jewish Insider
“J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami described Biden as ‘a long-time friend of J Street who truly understands the need for a bold new era of American foreign policy rooted in principled, proactive diplomacy.’ Ben Shnider, vice president of political affairs at J Street, told JI on Sunday that the decision to endorse the eventual nominee was taken months ago by the board once they ‘had a feel [for] where the field was’ and the views the top candidates held on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Once Sanders quit the race, Shnider said, ‘we knew that we wanted to get to work as quickly as possible’ to support Biden. ‘We have full confidence in Biden to lead on our issues once in office, and were that not the case we wouldn’t be endorsing and committing to bring all of our resources to get him elected.’”

Top News and Analysis

Coalition talks appear to crumble as Gantz pushes anti-Netanyahu bills, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz met briefly Monday morning but failed to bridge their gaps as talks on the formation of a unity government appeared to blow up. Gantz had reportedly insisted in recent days that a deal was imminent, but looked set Monday to advance legislation that would disqualify his rival from continuing to serve as prime minister, essentially threatening to sink prospects of an agreement for good. Despite reports indicating that talks had fallen apart, the Likud party put out a statement late Monday morning saying that negotiations were continuing. The main bone of contention remains the makeup and mechanics of the Judicial Appointments Committee, which appoints judges, with Likud demanding greater control over the process.

Two Thousand Israelis Brave Coronavirus Fears to Protest Assault on Democracy, Haaretz
Some two thousand people gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square Sunday to protest anti-democratic measures passed during the coronavirus crisis and the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while maintaining social distancing.

Experts: Coronvirus brings spike in anti-Semitic sentiments, AP
Israeli researchers reported Monday that the global coronavirus outbreak has sparked a rise in anti-Semitic expression blaming Jews for the spread of the disease and the economic recession it has caused. The findings, which came in an annual report by Tel Aviv University researchers on anti-Semitism, show an 18% spike in attacks against Jews last year. The report warns that the pandemic has threatened to amp up incitement even more.


Coronavirus death toll hits 173; 13,654 Israelis infected, The Jerusalem Post
Some 13,654 Israelis have been confirmed as infected with the coronavirus as of Monday morning, with 150 people in serious condition, according to the Health Ministry. A total of 3,872 patients have recovered to date.

Israel begins to relax coronavirus restrictions, JTA
The Israeli government started to ease its strict coronavirus quarantine restrictions on Sunday, permitting some regulated outdoor prayer and allowing some retail stores to reopen. Stores that sell electronics, home appliances and office equipment are back in business, but they must follow specific rules: take the temperature of employees and customers; limit the number of customers in a store at one time; implement spacing and a physical barrier between customers and cashiers at the cash register; and frequently disinfect their spaces.

Israelis accuse Netanyahu of endangering democracy, AP
More than 2,000 Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Sunday, demonstrating against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempts to form an “emergency” government with his chief rival and accusing him of using the coronavirus crisis to escape prosecution on corruption charges.

Russia rejects Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Middle East Monitor
Russia has confirmed its rejection of Israel’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, stressing that this would undermine the settlement of the conflict on the basis of a two-state solution, and especially the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Israel accuses Hezbollah of ‘provocative’ activity, AP
Israel on Saturday accused the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah of “provocative” activity along the Lebanese-Israeli frontier and said it would complain to the U.N. Security Council. In a statement, Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Hezbollah of multiple attempts to breach the border Friday night.

Opinion and Analysis

For Women, Lockdown Can Be More Dangerous Than the Coronavirus, Haaretz
Shalva Weil writes, “Ever since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, women are dying in even higher numbers than before – not only by the virus itself, but at the hands of abusive partners with whom they are locked down at home.”

The occupation has left Israel’s health system unequipped to handle a pandemic, +972 Mag
Shlomo Swirski and Barbara Swirski write, “Endless occupation and neoliberal policies have made it impossible for Israel to maintain a functioning public health system that is able to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19.”

Coronavirus Exit Strategy May Be a Death Sentence for These Israelis, Haaretz
Hagar Shezaf writes, “Gantz did not get trapped in Netanyahu’s hands, he placed himself there in full view of the entire country, stating honestly what he believed: “Netanyahu, this is the moment of truth.” Now, the ball is in Netanyahu’s hands. He must decide if he’s going to be loyal to the country and its citizens and establish a national emergency cabinet to deal with the coronavirus, leaving his legal fate solely in the hands of the courts, or whether he’s going to crush Gantz and prove that Netanyahu is above all else.”

Jewish nonprofit best practices are no match for coronavirus, The Forward
Molly Boigon writes, “The vast Jewish nonprofit universe — which includes Jewish Community Centers, camps, advocacy organizations, schools, synagogues and more — has been built on time-tested industry advice meant to prevent crippling losses in a financial crisis. But the industry’s best practices are no match for the unprecedented disaster caused by coronavirus, an event so unusual that some organizations are worse off after following formerly bullet-proof guidance.”