News Roundup for April 29, 2020

April 29, 2020

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J Street in the News

Israel nears a point of no return, Washington Post
“‘For Democrats, the positions they are staking out’ — particularly in opposition to annexation — ‘are the traditional bipartisan positions, the positions that Republican administrations used to take,’ J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said. But now, he added, Israel is no longer ‘outside the partisan maelstrom,’ and has become for Republicans an object of America’s polarized culture wars. ‘Between Netanyahu and Trump, they have made Israel a partisan wedge issue and are destroying decades of bipartisan support,’ he said.”

How Donald Trump has transformed US political debate over Israel, New Statesman
“It’s also in part because Donald Trump has tied himself so tightly to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and cutting aid and diplomatic ties to Palestinians – that it’s become easier for Democrats to say that they support Israel, but not this government or these policies […] There has been a shift, too, at the grassroots level. At its conference last autumn, J Street, a liberal group which was founded in 2007 as a a ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ alternative to AIPAC, shared with journalists the results of a May 2019 survey by GBAO Strategies, which found that 84 per cent of Jewish Americans believed that ‘someone can be critical of Israeli government politics and still be pro-Israel.’ Sanders and Buttigieg were among the presidential candidates who attended J Street’s annual conference.”

Top News and Analysis

Biden opposes West Bank annexation, will keep US embassy in Jerusalem, says aide, Times of Israel
Speaking on a webinar hosted by the Jewish Democratic Council of America, Tony Blinken said Biden had been “on the record several times [that] unilateral steps taken by either side that make the prospect of a negotiated two-state outcome less likely is something he opposes, and that includes annexation,” according to Jewish Insider.

Israel marks its Independence Day under coronavirus lockdown, AP
Israelis celebrated their Independence Day at home Wednesday amid a nationwide lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The national holiday, which honors the creation of Israel after the end of the British Mandate in 1948, is usually a festive occasion, with people heading to the beach, hosting barbecues and watching fireworks. This year, however, the government has banned public gatherings and ordered people to remain within 100 meters (yards) of their homes unless they require medicine or have other vital needs. Public transportation has been shut down and police are manning roadblocks to prevent travel.

For first time, Israelis recovered from coronavirus outnumber those still sick, Times of Israel
For the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country earlier this year, the number of people in Israel who have recovered from the virus surpassed the number of those who are still sick, according to Health Ministry figures published Wednesday.


De Blasio Breaks Up Rabbi’s Funeral and Lashes Out Over Virus Distancing, New York Times
Mayor Bill de Blasio lashed out at Hasidic residents of the Williamsburg section in Brooklyn late Tuesday night after personally overseeing the dispersal of a crowd of hundreds of mourners who had gathered for the funeral of a rabbi who died of the coronavirus.

High Court to Hear Petitions Against Netanyahu-Gantz Unity Government Next Week, Haaretz
The High Court of Justice is set to hear on Sunday and Monday eight petitions filed to it against the coalition agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan, and against allowing a person who is under criminal indictment – as Netanyahu currently is – to form a new government.

Muted Independence Day celebrations salute medical staff fighting virus, Times of Israel
Israel was gearing up to mark its 72nd Independence Day with a salute to medical staff Wednesday as most of the population remains at home under a curfew imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Netanyahu’s son calls for return of a ‘free, democratic and Christian’ Europe, JTA
“Shame on you for financing a disgrace in the holiest day of the Israeli calendar!” Yair Netanyahu said in a tweet. “We have one day in a year to remember our fallen soldiers! And you destroy it with a ‘memorial’ to Palestinian terrorists! EU is an enemy of Israel, and an enemy to all European Christian countries! Schengen zone is dead and soon your evil globalist organization will be too, and Europe will return to be free, democratic and Christian!”

Police: Palestinian stabs Israeli woman, is shot by witness, AP
A Palestinian teenager stabbed an Israeli woman on Tuesday before being shot and wounded by a bystander, Israeli police said.

Opinion and Analysis

How Covid-19 and Benny Gantz saved Netanyahu, CNN
Aaron David Miller writes, “Perhaps there’s no country in the world where the novel coronavirus has had more of an immediate political impact than Israel. What three elections in barely a year could not accomplish — the formation of a government — a virus could.”

We Israelis couldn’t visit our loved ones’ graves this Memorial Day. Still, we remember, JTA
Aviad Friedman writes, “But there is no other country in which Memorial Day is attached to the nation’s day of independence, which begins as soon as Memorial Day ends. And there is no other country where 20% of its residents personally visit the cemeteries on Memorial Day, or where most residents participate in commemoration events, either by attending a ceremony, going to a cemetery or wearing specific clothing to mark the somber day.”

How Coronavirus Sparked an Open Season of Hate for Haredi Jews, Haaretz
Avi Shafran writes, “Yes, some Haredi communities did not recognize the virus’s virality as quickly as they now wish they had. But shuls and yeshivot occupy a singular place in such communities, and their shuttering was traumatic. And hindsight, famously, is flawless. Many other parts of society – including partygoers, sunbathers on the beach and political leaders – at first discounted the degree of threat the virus posed, some well beyond the point when Bnei Brak and Brooklyn had embraced all the necessary precautions.”

The olive trees that tell the story of Palestinian dispossession, +972 Mag
Meron Rapoport writes, “The Palestinians of Saffuriya were expelled by force and barred from returning during 1948, leaving behind them ancient olive trees that today are tended to by Israeli Jews.”