News Roundup for August 13, 2021

August 13, 2021

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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

Putting Her Life at Risk’: Ilhan Omar Staff Slams AIPAC Over Aggressive Campaign Ads, Haaretz
The left-wing, pro-Israel J Street organization slammed AIPAC for the ads. “After 4 years backing Trump’s far-right policies, AIPAC seems to be declaring war on progressive Democrats with incendiary ads falsely accusing Congresswomen of color of supporting terror & hate,” it tweeted. “This isn’t ‘bipartisan.’ It doesn’t help Israel. It doesn’t speak for American Jews.” […] At least 45 Jewish-American figures active in leadership in policy, politics, and advocacy spaces wrote a letter urging AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr and board President Betsy Berns Korn to immediately discontinue the ads and apologize to the congresswomen. Among the signatures were figures from organizations such as J Street, Americans for Peace Now, New Israel Fund, MoveOn, IfNotNow, Indivisible and the ACLU.

Ben & Jerry’s Recent Decision, Times of Israel
J Street U Comms Co-Chair Moriah Richman writes, “Three weeks ago, Ben & Jerry’s, a major ice cream company originally founded by two Jewish entrepreneurs, announced that it will stop selling ice cream in the occupied West Bank. In a statement, the ice cream company, which has long been a champion for a number of progressive causes, wrote that the decision developed after an analysis that operation in illegal Israeli settlements is “inconsistent with our values.” Not only is the decision by Ben & Jerry’s principled and commendable, but it is also the result of an external pressure campaign by activists.”

Top News and Analysis

Largest study ever of Jews of color reports widespread discrimination, Forward
American Jews of color say their racial and ethnic identities shape their Jewishness in important, positive ways, but that they also face bigotry in settings where white Jews predominate, according to a study released Thursday, the largest-ever of this group. Respondents to the study describe other Jews presuming they are converts, asking intrusive questions about their backgrounds, and mistaking them for nannies and synagogue security guards. Called “Beyond the Count,” the study captures the experiences of more than a thousand of Jews of color active in Jewish life and provides a trove of data that its sponsors hope will help Jewish leaders create more welcoming synagogues, schools and other Jewish spaces.

Israel seeks to coordinate “Plan B” with U.S. on Iran if nuclear talks fail, Axios
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told CIA Director Bill Burns in a meeting on Wednesday that the U.S. and Israel should start working on a joint strategy for a scenario in which Iran elects not to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, Israeli officials told me. The Israeli intelligence community, foreign ministry and other national security agencies think the likelihood of Iran deciding to return to the deal has waned in recent weeks after the election of new hardline President Ebrahim Raisi.

Biden’s highest-ranking Muslim nominee mired in GOP blockade, Politico
The White House tapped Dilawar Syed for the No. 2 post at the Small Business Administration in March, but the Senate Small Business Committee has been unable to advance Syed’s nomination as Republicans criticize what they say is the veteran businessman’s association with an “anti-Israel” Muslim American group. Religious advocacy groups, including several Jewish organizations, are crying foul.


The Latest: Israel expands eligibility for booster vaccines, AP
Israel is expanding its coronavirus booster shot program to people over the age of 50. Israel was one of the world’s leaders in vaccinating its population early this year. But in recent weeks, it has seen a surge in cases involving the more transmissible delta variant, even among individuals who were thought to be fully vaccinated.

Palestinian-Israeli initiative sends 60 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza, +972 Magazine
As an act of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza who are still recovering from the latest war in May, Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish Israelis launched a donation campaign that gathered 3,300 boxes of aid to the residents of the strip. […] The campaign began two and a half months ago at the end of the 11-day war, and at the initiative of Palestinian citizens who wanted to help the residents of Gaza.

Dozens march to Ben & Jerry’s Times Square shop demanding it ‘end Jew hatred’, Times of Israel
Several dozen pro-Israel demonstrators marched to a Ben & Jerry’s shop in midtown Manhattan Thursday evening, protesting the ice cream firm’s decision to cease its sales in West Bank settlements. The demonstrators gathered in front of New York Public Library where several parked ice cream trucks awaited them, offering a free soft-serve. Plastered on the vehicles were signs that read “End Jew hatred. Say no to Ben & Jerry’s,” alongside a photoshopped picture of a “DivestMint” flavored pint with a red X over it.

Israeli Ambassador to U.S. Seemingly Acknowledges That Israel Has Nuclear Weapons, The Intercept
On Wednesday, a quiet but notable event occurred on Twitter. First, Robert Satloff, head of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, posted the below tweet approvingly referring to “Israel’s nuclear deterrent.” Then the tweet was liked by Gilad Erdan, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and the United Nations. It’s difficult to interpret this in any other way than Erdan confirming that Israel possesses nuclear weapons.

Opinion and Analysis

The Israeli right tried to manage the conflict. Bennett wants to ‘shrink’ it, +972 Magazine
Meron Rapoport writes, “Israel’s governing coalition is today home to two solidly right-wing parties, Yamina and New Hope, headed by two men who believe in the concept of a Greater Israel stretching from the river to the sea. […] Yet in the lead-up to the new government, or perhaps immediately after its formation, both Bennett and Sa’ar seemed to have given up on the idea of West Bank annexation, whether full or partial. Instead, they have adopted a different strategy: ‘shrinking the conflict.’”

How Iran’s research reactors prove the nuclear deal is still working, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Samuel Hickey writes, “An underexamined success story from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiations is the effective blocking of Tehran’s ability to collect plutonium for a nuclear bomb. Not only has the nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), been effective in constraining Iran’s program, but it could, suitably adapted, provide a standard of guidance for research reactor construction that would lower proliferation risks worldwide.”

Is Washington sabotaging the JCPOA talks?, Responsible Statecraft
Daniel Larison writes, “The report that the administration is apparently taking Graham and Menendez’s proposal seriously is a very bad sign for the talks. It suggests that Biden and Blinken believe they can force Iran to agree to much larger concessions than ever before, and it indicates just how much influence the very hawkish Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee wields with the White House.”

It’s time for Jews to join Palestinians in civil resistance to the occupation, Forward
Issa Amro and Zak Witus write, “It’s time for Jews to join with Palestinians and engage in intercommunal civil resistance to the Israeli occupation. Though ending this vicious regime depends on a multitude of factors, joint nonviolent resistance by Palestinians and Jews constitutes an essential element.”