News Roundup for August 2, 2023

August 2, 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.

Top News and Analysis

Most Israelis Oppose the Court Overhaul. But a Minority is Backing Netanyahu to the Hilt, CNN
When thousands of people hit Israel’s streets to protest against the passage of the first law in the government’s controversial judicial overhaul plan last week, a smaller group of Israelis was celebrating. Right-leaning Israelis who mostly identify with the country’s more conservative, religious and Jewish nationalist bloc make up much of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s support base, experts say, and they are glad to see him push forward with the overhaul despite the lack of a broader consensus.

Palestinian Opens Fire in West Bank Settlement, Wounding 6 People Before Being Killed, AP
A Palestinian gunman opened fire in an Israeli settlement east of Jerusalem on Tuesday, wounding six people before being shot and killed, Israeli police said. The shooting at a mall in the sprawling Jewish settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, in the occupied West Bank, was the latest in the most violent stretch of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the territory in nearly two decades.


‘I Felt At Home’: Palestinian-Americans Note Improved Treatment at Ben Gurion Airport, The Times of Israel
Palestinian-Americans have noted a marked improvement in their treatment at Ben Gurion Airport since Israel eased some of its travel restrictions last month in order to enter the US Visa Waiver Program. “I was really scared because I didn’t know if I would have to wait eight hours like I did in the past. But I handed my passport to the customs guy, he asked me where I was coming from and going to before handing it back and saying ‘Welcome to Israel.’ The whole thing lasted ten seconds,” 52-year-old Kamal Nawash told The Times of Israel on Tuesday.

The Face of Israel’s Protests Is a Particle Physicist, The New York Times
For years, the physicist, Shikma Bressler, devoted herself to the lab she runs at a science institute near Tel Aviv, a job she describes as her passion, and to the raising of her five daughters in a small village in northern Israel, staying far away from politics. But she has also become the face of the protests that have rocked Israel for months, marching on the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday nights, exhorting crowds of protesters with speeches echoing with revolutionary ardor, and amplifying her message in a steady stream of social media posts.

At an Israeli-Palestinian Summer Camp, Right-wing Threats Only Strengthen the Bond, Haaretz
This year is the 10th for the summer camp. Some 50 teenagers from both sides of the Green Line come for a week of shared activities. Several of them belong to bereaved families who are part of the Parents Circle-Families Forum, and the rest found their way there through other paths. The Palestinian campers from the West Bank have always needed to get permits to enter Israel, but this year, for the first time, it was uncertain whether the camp would open at all.

Annexation in the Name of Archeology, +972
On July 17, the Israeli government approved a NIS 120 million plan to “salvage, preserve, develop, and prevent antiquity theft at heritage sites in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley.” This comes on the heels of an announcement in May that the government would be investing NIS 32 million in the development of the historic site of Sebastia in the northern West Bank. Together, these plans deliver on a coalition promise to the Otzma Yehudit party — led by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir — to allocate NIS 150 million for “safeguarding” Jewish heritage in the West Bank.

Israel’s Spy Veterans Take on Their Government Over Judiciary Overhaul, Reuters
Some serving Mossad officers have joined the protests, which they are permitted to do, two ex-officers told Reuters. Morale concerns are emerging within the Mossad with some inside the highly secretive agency considering early retirement, according to chat messages seen by Reuters. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment. The government denies the judicial reforms jeopardize democracy, saying the top court has been “over-interventionist.”

Opinion and Analysis

With the Judicial Overhaul, Netanyahu has Broken Something Deeper than Israel’s Democracy, The Forward
Dany Bahar argues, “More broadly, these events have accelerated the decline of tolerance among the different groups that constitute the population of Israel. The polarization of views that have emerged will continue to empower politicians to be more extremist, which will lead to politicians consistently putting party above country. This, alongside an overall erosion of trust in government and its institutions, mean that the people will also be less willing to compromise, less willing to sacrifice their livelihoods to help others.”

Seven Reasons Why Israel’s Broadcasting Reform Endangers Free Media, Haaretz
Jasmin Gueta notes, “Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi is entirely immersed in managing a public campaign. This time, it’s not a campaign against the attorney general or a call for pilots to go to hell. In an attempt to garner supporters, perhaps in advance of the next Likud party primaries, Karhi has been endeavoring to project an image of himself as a reformer working for the benefit of the public and upholding free competition. However, a look at the memorandum (a draft of a government bill) for the broadcasting law he released last week shows that Karhi is working in accordance with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s obsession with controlling the media.”

The Palestinian Leader Who Survived the Death of Palestine, Foreign Policy
Adam Rasgon and Aaron Boxerman write, “Over nine months, Foreign Policy interviewed 75 Palestinians, Israelis, Americans, and Europeans, including officials, diplomats, businesspeople, and rights advocates, who painted a picture of Sheikh’s rise to the highest echelons of Palestinian decision-making. In a rare, two-hour interview in his penthouse office in Ramallah, Sheikh acknowledged the chasm between the Palestinian leadership and public. “The Authority isn’t able to deliver a political horizon for the people. The Authority isn’t able to resolve the people’s financial and economic problems from the occupation,” he said.”