News Roundup for August 19, 2021

August 19, 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

53 House Democrats Push Biden Administration to Ensure Israel Lets Aid Enter Gaza, Haaretz
Fifty-three House Democrats urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday to work with Israel and Egypt to ensure humanitarian aid is able to enter Gaza, three months after a military confrontation between Hamas and Israel worsened the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave. […] The left-wing, pro-Israel organization J Street thanked Pocan and Dingell for their leadership on the letter, adding that “the suffering of Palestinian families does nothing to make Israel safer, it only puts more people at risk.”

Who’s Behind the Israel Activism on College Campuses?, Moment Magazine
Arguments over Israel on college campuses are not new. Every few months, stories of antisemitism and anti-Zionism at American colleges appear in Jewish and non-Jewish publications alike. […] Moment spoke with three student activists across the political spectrum to highlight how a new generation of Jewish Americans feel about the current state of Israel. […] Cora Galpern is part of J Street at the University of Michigan.

Top News and Analysis

Tensions high, Biden invites Israel’s new PM to Washington, AP
President Joe Biden has invited Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to Washington next week to discuss Iran as well as Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians, the White House said Wednesday. The long-expected visit with Israel’s new prime minister will take place Aug. 26 amid tensions with the Islamic Republic and Israel’s fragile truce with militant Hamas rulers in Gaza following an 11-day war in May.

Florida senator seeks probe of Ben & Jerry’s halting sales in Israeli settlements, The Hill
Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R) is calling for a federal investigation into Ben & Jerry’s over its decision to stop selling ice cream in occupied Palestinian territory. Scott, in a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, called for her department to open an investigation into whether the company’s move violates the Export Administration Act. The statute mandates that the president “prohibit compliance with or support of any foreign boycott against a country which is friendly to the United States, with specified exceptions.”

Daring Israel and US to act, Hezbollah says Iran fuel tanker to sail to Lebanon, Times of Israel
Hezbollah terror group chief Hassan Nasrallah said Thursday a tanker would set off from Iran “within hours” to bring desperately needed fuel supplies to Lebanon, in defiance of US sanctions. Many questions remain about how the shipment would reach its stated destination, where acute and growing fuel shortages have forced hospitals, businesses and government offices shut amid a crippling economic crisis.


Israel, Once the Model for Beating Covid, Faces New Surge of Infections, New York Times
Last spring, Israel’s remarkably swift vaccination campaign was seen as a global model. Coronavirus infections plummeted, an electronic pass allowed the vaccinated to attend indoor concerts and sporting events, and distancing rules and mask mandates were eventually scrapped. Israel offered the world a hopeful glimpse of the way out of the pandemic. No longer.

Last month, three drones attacked an Israeli tanker. Here’s why that’s something new., Washington Post
A suspected piracy incident off the coast of Oman last month quickly turned into an international crisis. On July 29, three armed “suicide drones” attacked the Mercer Street, an Israeli-managed commercial oil tanker. Two drones missed the tanker during an attempted first strike, but one successfully flew into the Mercer Street’s bridge during a second strike. The attack killed a British security guard and the vessel’s Romanian captain. Here’s what you need to know.

Israel eases restrictions on blood donations by gay men, AP
Israel has lifted restrictions on blood donations by gay men, saying the longstanding limitation was discriminatory and denigrating, Israel’s health minister said Thursday. Earlier this year the U.K. eased restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, following a similar decision by the U.S. last year because of a drop in the nation’s blood supply.

Dispute with Poland on Holocaust shows Israel’s shift on EU relations, Axios
The diplomatic crisis over a Polish law limiting the ability to introduce claims to property confiscated during World War II is a manifestation of the shift in Israeli policy toward Europe under the new government. The bill will mostly impact Holocaust survivors and their descendants, and it’s seen by the Israeli government and the Biden administration as another step by Poland’s government to rewrite the country’s history around the Holocaust.

Hamas leads gradual escalation against Israel in protest against economic restrictions, Al Monitor
Hamas and other Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza have informed Egypt that they are considering resuming marches and demonstrations along the border with Israel.

Israel Ignored Call for System to Predict Fires After Deadly 2010 Blaze, Haaretz
Israel has no system capable of predicting wildfires or determining which direction they will move in, even though the Fire and Rescue Authority defined this as an “urgent and critical” need shortly after the Carmel Forest fire in 2010. Moreover, while regulations to allow the creation of buffer zones, which experts agree are critical to save lives and prevent fires from spreading, were drafted by the Public Security Ministry back in 2014, neither the regulations nor the necessary funding have yet been approved.

Opinion and Analysis

Biden Pulls the Rug Out From Under Israel’s Justifications for Its Occupation, Haaretz
Zvi Bar’el writes, “Suddenly, in one fell swoop, Biden is stating that an occupation can only have concrete, security-related aims and when they’re achieved, it needs to end. Nation building or democratization, the fulfillment of the vision of the prophets or economic exploitation – none of these are included in his user’s manual for occupiers. In the process, he has also pulled the rug out from under the justifications that Israel has created over many years for continuing to maintain the occupation.”

Has a lone Palestinian aid worker been falsely accused of the biggest aid money heist in history?, The Guardian
Joe Dyke writes, “Mohammed El Halabi is accused of stealing relief money and giving it to Hamas for their war effort against Israel. But five years on, the evidence against him looks seriously flawed.”

With These Crazy Israeli Ice Cream Flavors, Who Needs Ben & Jerry’s, Haaretz
Judy Maltz writes, “Combining local products and a radical approach, Israeli ice cream makers are revolutionizing everyone’s favorite summer treat. And once you accept that ice cream doesn’t always have to be super-sweet, it’s really quite delicious.”