News Roundup for April 27, 2023

April 27, 2023

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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

DeSantis to Speak in Israel Amid Political Turmoil, The Washington Post
“Protesters opposed to Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul are expected to greet attendees of Thursday’s ‘Faces of Israel’ event. The plan is deeply divisive in Israel and has drawn a mixed response from Jewish leaders in the United States, with some highly critical and others suggesting it’s not their place to weigh in. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street — which calls itself a home for liberal American Jews — said he sees parallels between the message of judicial overhaul proponents and that of U.S. Republicans, who have similar complaints about the media, judges and ‘elites.’…’As long as that part of the Republican Party is still in firm control, I don’t see a lot of daylight emerging between the Republican Party and what’s happening on the right in Israel,’ Ben-Ami said.”

US House Passes Pro-Israel Measure 401-19, But Growing Number of Dems Vote Against, The Times of Israel
“H.Res.311 passed 401-19, with 18 progressive Democrats opposing the measure amid growing comfort within the party to take such public stances against the Jewish state, along with protests raised by the dovish J Street lobby group over the initiative’s lack of inclusion of support for a two-state solution…J Street did not specifically urge lawmakers to vote against the bill but did share its concerns with members. ‘We regret that the House resolution introduced to mark Israel’s landmark 75th anniversary omits key commitments and aspirations that have been central to the US-Israel relationship for decades,’ the group’s spokesperson Logan Bayroff told Jewish Insider.”

Republicans Nix Two-State Solution Language in Resolution Marking Israel’s 75th Birthday, JTA
“’We worked diligently with Foreign Affairs Committee Republican staff to find a way to maintain precedent and maintain two- state language when honoring Israel’s birthday which has been done for decades,’ said a Democratic senior staffer who remained anonymous to speak candidly. ‘Unfortunately Republican leadership could not accept two-state language and we were forced to move ahead with a ‘happy birthday.’…J Street said it would lobby the Senate, where Democrats are in the majority, ‘to introduce a resolution that takes a different approach, consistent with the bipartisan commitment to a two-state solution that ensures a peaceful future for both Israelis and Palestinians.’”

Ron DeSantis Returns to Israel, Florida Phoenix
“Logan Bayroff, the vice president of communications with J Street, a liberal Israel advocacy organization based in Washington, says the governor’s definition of being pro-Israel ‘is marching in step with Israel’s increasingly very right-wing government. It means basically rejecting or at least never speaking about any interest in an actual two-state solution to resolve these Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. It tends to mean increasingly supporting settlement expansion in the West Bank and Israeli policies to maintain and deepen occupation there, refusing to call those policies occupation but using terms like disputed, and that runs counter to longstanding U.S policy not only under Democrats but also under former Republican administrations,’ he says.”

H. Res. 311 Omits US Commitment to Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Deviates from Longstanding Bipartisan Policy, J Street
J Street’s statement on H.Res. 311.

J Street Endorses President Joe Biden for President in 2024, J Street
“At a pivotal time for the future of the United States and of Israel, we need to return President Biden to the White House so he can continue his tireless commitment to democracy, to diplomacy, and to the pursuit of peace and justice.”

Top News and Analysis

A Divided Israel Stands at a Perilous crossroads on its 75th Birthday, CNN
“For months now, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets week after week to protest the government’s plan to give politicians in the Knesset, or parliament, new powers over the courts and the appointment of judges. Israel’s lack of a constitution is cited as one of the reasons for the current political crisis.”

Palestinian Authority: Israel ‘Playing with Fire’ at Temple Mount, The Jerusalem Post
Palestinian Authority officials on Wednesday stepped up their attacks against Israel and warned that its policies, especially on the Temple Mount, would lead to violence and instability in the region.

After Pressing Jerusalem for Ramadan Calm, US Lauds Israeli Handling of Holiday Rows, Times of Israel
The Biden administration has expressed its satisfaction to Israel over the latter’s handling of security tensions during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, an Israeli and a US official told The Times of Israel on Tuesday.

Religious, settler groups lead charge on Thursday’s pro-overhaul ‘Million March’, Times of Israel
“Supporters of the coalition and proponents of the government’s far-reaching judicial overhaul program are gearing up for a mass demonstration in favor of the reforms on Thursday night in Jerusalem, which they hope will exceed in size the numerous and massive anti-reform protests staged over the last four months. Notably, religious and settler activist groups and individuals are in the vanguard of the campaign, with two founders of West Bank settlements — one of them a Likud MK — having taken the lead in organizing the rally.”


Police Take Down Palestinian Flag Flying Over Israeli Political Party Branch in Nazareth, Haaretz
Israeli police raided the Nazareth branch of the communist Hadash party on Wednesday, confiscating the Palestinian flag that was flown alongside the red communist flag during Independence Day.

For 2nd Time in a Month, Barcelona Synagogue Vandalized with Anti-Israel Graffiti, Times of Israel
For the second time this month, unidentified individuals sprayed pro-Palestinian graffiti at a synagogue in Barcelona. The latest incident Wednesday, Israel’s Independence Day, was at the Chabad synagogue of the coastal city in eastern Spain. The graffiti on the sidewalk at the entrance to the synagogue read: “Why are they killing Palestinians.”

Far-right minister pushes bill to make Zionism a ‘guiding value’ in gov’t decisions, Times of Israel
A far-right minister announced Wednesday that he will advance legislation to make Zionism a “guiding and crucial value” in government decision-making, in an effort to put the tenets of the contentious Jewish Nation-State Law into practice.

Opinion and Analysis

On Israel’s 75th Independence Day, Its Flag Has Taken on New Meaning as a Protest Symbol, JTA
Ben Sales discusses how the Israeli flag has turned into a protest symbol for the hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy citizens who rally in the streets in of Israel.

Israel at 75 — Still Unsettled, Divided and at War with Itself, The Los Angeles Times
Nicholas Goldberg writes, “But once again, Israel is at a transitional moment. Will it continue its descent into reactionary politics? A poll conducted in early April found that just 20% of Israelis believe Netanyahu is doing a good job.The streets today are full of newly energized Israelis protesting the government’s hard-right agenda. Tens of thousands of people — sometimes more than 100,000 — have turned out around the country each week to repudiate the government’s plan for so-called judicial reform and other policies that threaten democracy…Here’s hoping the right has finally overplayed its hand.”