News Roundup for August 27, 2021

August 27, 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

Biden’s Meeting With Israeli Leader Delayed After Kabul Attack, New York Times
When Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel was scheduled to meet President Biden at the White House on Thursday, the two new leaders had aimed to reset relations between their countries and reinforce a bond that has showed signs of strain. But their first meeting was postponed Thursday after two deadly blasts outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, where officials said there were dozens injured or dead, including at least 12 U.S. service members who were killed. […] “These are two very central issues in the U.S.-Israel relationship on which there are radically different points of view,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel advocacy group. “The tone and the atmosphere cannot substitute for the fact that there is a fundamental difference in view on the core issues at stake in the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Israeli PM and Biden postpone meeting because of Afghanistan, AP
President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett have postponed their White House meeting as Biden focused his attention on dealing with the aftermath of deadly explosions near the Kabul airport that targeted U.S. troops and Afghans seeking to flee their country after the Taliban takeover. […] Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the liberal Jewish advocacy group J Street, said Bennett is intent on building a positive working relationship with the Biden administration. But Ben-Ami, whose group supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, noted that the two leaders are out of sync on several issues in addition to Iran. Bennett opposes the creation of a Palestinian state and supports expansion of settlements in the West Bank, which Biden opposes.

As we watch the rise of the Taliban, US-Israel alliance is more critical than ever’, Jerusalem Post
US Jewish organizations were following closely as the drama was unfolding. Even before Thursday’s terror attack, it was already clear that the Afghanistan withdrawal will overshadow the meeting between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. […] Jeremy Ben Ami, President of the progressive group, J Street, said in a statement on Thursday that “while the US builds common ground with the new Israeli government in a number of areas, we also must make clear that the “status quo” is too dangerous to accept.”

Who are Israel’s other lobbies?, Jerusalem Post
Most Jewish organizations are supporting players in pro-Israel lobbying, notwithstanding the image they project to contributors, sometimes backing AIPAC and sometimes resenting its dominance. Only one seems to have any serious impact: J Street, the leftist pro-peace lobby that has been consistent in its promotion of peace with the Palestinians, opposition to settlement expansion and its advocacy for Palestinian human rights. It is solidly aligned with the Democrats, particularly the progressive wing.

Top News and Analysis

Kabul crisis complicates Israeli prime minister’s White House visit, Axios
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will visit the White House Friday, a day later than originally planned, and he’ll find a president in distress. This is not how the new prime minister imagined his first meeting with President Biden. An hour before he was supposed to walk into the Oval Office, disaster struck in Kabul.

Iran Nuclear Quarrel Is Biden’s Next Challenge, Bloomberg
Even the crisis in Afghanistan hasn’t been able to diminish world concern over Iran’s nuclear program. When Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, and U.S. President Joe Biden hold their first meeting at the White House today, they’re likely to reveal how much they disagree on the best way to halt the Islamic Republic’s atomic ambitions.

Bennett-Biden Meeting Is Historic, but That Doesn’t Make It Important, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “The best that can be hoped for from this meeting is that Bennett might listen and learn something of value from a man who is 29 years his senior and entered the Senate in 1972, the year Bennett was born. Other than that, all they have to do is smile for the cameras and utter some bland remarks about the unshakeable alliance. Once the doors to the Oval Office close, leaving them alone, they can congratulate each other on ruining Netanyahu’s vacation, as the opposition leader watches the proceedings on television, far away in his hotel room on a small island in Hawaii.”


Republican Lawmaker Compares U.S. Vaccine Mandates to the Holocaust, Haaretz
A Kentucky Republican congressman tweeted a meme on Wednesday comparing COVID restrictions to the treatment of prisoners in concentration camps during the Holocaust, drawing ire from fellow lawmakers and the public. The lawmaker, Rep. Thomas Massie, posted an image of a hand raised in a fist with a tattooed number visible on the wrist. The photograph was captioned, in bold capital letters, with “IF YOU HAVE TO CARRY A CARD ON YOU TO GAIN ACCESS TO A RESTAURANT, VENUE, OR EVENT IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY… THAT’S NO LONGER A FREE COUNTRY.”

‘I thought I would die’: Settlers abduct, brutally attack Palestinian teen in West Bank, +972 Magazine
15-year-old Tareq Zbeideh describes how he was kidnapped, tied, and beaten by settlers while picnicking with his friends near a settlement outpost.

Merkel Cancels Planned Israel Visit, Citing Afghanistan Emergency, Evacuations, Haaretz
The German chancellor was set to meet with Bennett for the first time since he was sworn in as prime minister, and just weeks before she steps down from the premiership.

Opinion and Analysis

With these 3 moves, Bennett can begin repairing the U.S.-Israel relationship, Forward
Scott Lasensky writes, “When President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meet today at the White House, they will have an opportunity to start undoing twelve years of damage and setbacks to the U.S.-Israel alliance. Although major policy disagreements will not evaporate overnight, the gnawing crisis of confidence that has beset the relationship can be quickly overcome. Much of the onus is on Bennett. These are the steps he should pursue.”

Israel’s prime minister is not seeking a reset. He just wants more cover for apartheid and colonization., Washington Post
Noura Erakat writes, “In his first eight months in office, Biden has rubber-stamped most of Trump’s most problematic moves, including moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, opposing the International Criminal Court investigation into Israeli actions, and adopting a highly problematic definition of antisemitism that conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish bigotry. Biden categorically opposes any conditioning of military aid to Israel on its human rights record and has ordered his officials to fight the grassroots boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights, which is inspired by the Civil Rights and South African anti-apartheid movements. During Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in May, which killed more than 250 Palestinians, including 12 families erased from the population registry, Biden resisted repeated calls from within his own party to publicly urge Israel to stop the violence.”

Bennett’s swap of Palestinian statehood for stability is a mirage, Jerusalem Post
Tovah Lazaroff writes, “It’s a fallacy to imagine that the conflict is frozen because heads of state are distracted by other issues. Millions of Palestinians live in the West Bank and Gaza, and their lives are not static. […] It has always been believed that a two-state resolution to the conflict is the best way to neutralize the Gaza threat. The removal of such a possibility along with no ceasefire, means that Israel remains on the verge of another war with Gaza.”