News Roundup for April 28, 2021

April 28, 2021

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J Street in the News

Jewish groups are mostly ignoring report accusing Israel of apartheid, The Forward
“Publicly, Jewish American and pro-Israel groups are paying little attention to a Human Rights Watch report released Tuesday that accuses the Israeli government of committing the crime of apartheid. […] Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, was quoted by Tharoor in his column: ‘This new HRW report raises critical concerns that should deeply trouble both supporters of Israel and those who care about Palestinian rights,’ Ben-Ami said. ‘The fact that the occupation inherently threatens Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people and involves the systematic deprivation of Palestinian rights simply cannot be ignored.’”

Top News and Analysis

Rights Group Hits Israel With Explosive Charge: Apartheid, NYT
When hundreds of rights groups gathering in South Africa in 2001 accused Israel of apartheid, some participants distanced themselves from the accusation. It was “wrong to equate Zionism with racism,” a senior Human Rights Watch representative, Reed Brody, said at the time. But two decades later, a small but growing number of Israeli and international watchdogs have come to a conclusion that many Palestinians reached long ago: that Israel is perpetrating a form of apartheid, the racist legal system that governed South Africa until the early 1990s. On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch released a 213-page report arguing that Israel pursues a policy of ethnic supremacy that favors Israeli Jews over Palestinians in both Israel and the occupied territories.

Egyptian officials: Palestinians plan to call off elections, AP
Egyptian officials say the Palestinian Authority plans to call off its first elections in 15 years, citing Israel’s refusal to allow voting in east Jerusalem. The decision would effectively grant Israel a veto over the holding of elections, though President Mahmoud Abbas could also benefit from the canceling a vote in which his fractured Fatah party is expected to lose power and influence to the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Netanyahu Caves After Rebuke From Supreme Court: Gantz to Serve as Justice Minister, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided on Wednesday to appoint Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz as justice minister for the tenure of the interim government, hours before the Supreme Court was set to convene on the matter. Netanyahu announced that the vote on the appointment will be brought before the cabinet for approval on Wednesday. Netanyahu asked to cancel the High Court debate, promising to hold votes for additional empty minister positions on Sunday.


Global rights group accuses Israel of apartheid, persecution, AP
One of the world’s best-known human rights groups said Tuesday that Israel is guilty of the international crimes of apartheid and persecution because of discriminatory policies toward Palestinians within its own borders and in the occupied territories. In a sweeping, 213-page report, the New York-based Human Rights Watch joins a growing number of commentators and rights groups who view the conflict not primarily as a land dispute but as a single regime in which Palestinians — who make up roughly half the population of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza — are systematically denied basic rights granted to Jews.

Biden’s Pentagon policy nominee confirmed along party lines, after heated partisan battle, Washington Post
The Senate confirmed Colin Kahl as the Pentagon’s policy chief on Tuesday on a party-line vote, after a long and contentious dispute over his history of support for the Iran nuclear deal and his pointed public comments about the GOP. […] Kahl played a role in negotiating the Iran nuclear deal of 2015 and has advocated that “a willingness to reenter the nuclear deal” should be “a starting point for new negotiations” with Tehran. That stance, however, is anathema to many congressional Republicans, who cheered when Donald Trump as president withdrew the United States from the accord in 2018.

Iran nuclear talks resume in Vienna amid new complications, AP
World powers resumed high-level talks in Vienna on Tuesday focused on bringing the United States back into the nuclear deal with Iran, in their first session since comments surfaced from the Iranian foreign minister alleging that Russia once tried to scupper the pact. The Russian Foreign Ministry has not responded to requests for comment on the remarks from Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, made in a seven-hour interview with a think tank associated with the Iranian presidency that leaked over the weekend.

Biden donors, friends and former aides expected on first slate of high-profile ambassadors, Washington Post
President Biden is expected to begin naming his choices for high-profile ambassador postings in May or possibly as soon as this week, several people familiar with White House plans said, revealing winners among a pecking order of Biden friends, donors and aides that spans decades. […] Former State Department official Thomas R. Nides has emerged as the likely candidate for ambassador to Israel, and veteran diplomat R. Nicholas Burns is expected to be named as Biden’s ambassador to China.

Israel Using Drones to Tear Gas Palestinian Demonstrators in West Bank, Haaretz
The police began using drones that drop tear gas grenades on demonstrators last week, three years after they were first used at the Gaza border.

“Brink of anarchy”: Netanyahu ignores law to appoint loyalist justice minister, Axios
An Israeli cabinet meeting exploded into a shouting match today after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to install a loyalist as justice minister despite the attorney general’s determination that such a move was illegal.

Bennett, Abbas Meet to Discuss Next Steps for Forming a Government, Haaretz
Yamina party chairman Naftali Bennett and United Arab List chairman Mansour Abbas met Wednesday morning to discuss the “current political climate” and explore options for establishing a government. Meeting at the Knesset, the two leaders said the meeting “went well.”

‘One system, one policy’: Why Human Rights Watch is charging Israel with apartheid, +972 Magazine
Israel has made it irrefutably clear it intends to make Jewish domination over Palestinians permanent between the river and the sea, says HRW’s Omar Shakir in interview following landmark report.

Opinion and Analysis

The John Kerry-Iran controversy, explained, Washington Post
Aaron Blake writes, “For years, Republicans have been arguing that John F. Kerry has loose lips unbefitting an American diplomat. Before, it was a strained argument that the former secretary of state had violated the Logan Act by talking to Iran. And now, some Republicans are calling for Kerry’s resignation as President Biden’s climate envoy over leaked audio of Iran’s foreign minister. On the tape, the Iranian official claims Kerry shared secrets with him about the military actions of Israel, a top U.S. ally.”

Netanyahu Is Incompetent to Serve as Prime Minister for Even One More Day, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “Benjamin Netanyahu had to push the situation nearly to the limit to cause Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit to determine that the cabinet “knowingly and deliberately acted in an illegal manner.” No Israeli attorney general has ever made such a statement. Tuesday’s scandalous maneuver by the Netanyahu camp in the transitional government, in which Ofir Akunis was ostensibly approved as justice minister, has brought Israel to the brink of a constitutional crisis.”

How Israeli hurdle in Palestinian elections may benefit Abbas, Al Monitor
Israel dragging its feet on allowing Palestinians in east Jerusalem to vote could be just the excuse President Mahmoud Abbas needs to postpone the elections and stop Hamas’ likely progress.

Death to Arabs’: Palestinians Need International Protection From Israel’s Racist Jewish Thugs, Haaretz
Sami Abou Shahadeh writes, “Israel’s right-wing extremists, Netanyahu’s allies, are taking to the streets, fueled by Jewish supremacy and anti-Palestinian hate, protected by the police and emboldened by their unprecedented power in the Knesset”

ADL’s antisemitism audit: A tsunami of hate in 2020, Times of Israel
Jonathan Greenblatt writes, “The dark conspiracy chatter of obscure internet communities that inspired the Poway shooter has infected the public conversation”

Why Biden’s attempt to return to the nuclear deal with Iran is not causing alarm … yet, The Forward
Six years ago, the Jewish American community was evenly divided over a key issue that would help define President Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy. A survey conducted by the Jewish Journal in July 2015 showed that 49% of American Jews supported the nuclear deal with Iran while 31% were opposed. The debate tore apart even liberal congregations. […] So what should we expect in the coming months and will we once again witness division among Jews if the administration reaches some sort of deal?