News Roundup for August 3, 2023

August 3, 2023
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J Street In the News

Israeli Diplomats Send Open Letter to US Congress [Video], i24 News
Watch J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir discuss the importance of placing democracy at the core of the US-Israel relationship. After Netanyahu’s coalition pushed through its first plank of their judicial overhaul last week, Nadav and other former Israeli ambassadors and diplomats penned an open letter to Congress aimed at counterbalancing Netanyahu’s misleading claims to the American public.

Top News and Analysis

Education Ministry Bars Israeli-Palestinian Bereavement Group from Schools, The Times of Israel
The Education Ministry on Tuesday reportedly barred a grassroots organization of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families from hosting activities at schools. According to the decision, reported by several Hebrew media outlets, the Parents Circle-Families Forum was in violation of new ministry rules handed down by Education Minister Yoav Kisch, which prohibits programs from disgracing the Israel Defense Forces and its soldiers.

Pittsburgh Synagogue Gunman Who Killed 11 People Gets Death Penalty, The Guardian
A jury imposed the death penalty on a man who spewed antisemitic hate before fatally shooting 11 worshippers at a synagogue in the heart of the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. Robert Bowers, a truck driver now 50 years old, perpetrated the deadliest attack on Jews in US history on October 27, 2018. Entering the Tree of Life synagogue, he opened fire with an AR-15 rifle, shooting everyone he could find in a mass murder clearly motivated by religious hatred.


Israel’s Supreme Court Hears Case Against Law Protecting Netanyahu from Being Removed from Office, AP
Israel’s Supreme Court heard a petition on Thursday against a law that protects Prime Minister Netanyahu from being removed from office over claims of a conflict of interest due to his ongoing corruption trial. Netanyahu’s governing coalition passed a law in March that limits removing a prime minister from office to cases of medical and mental incapacitation.

Israel’s Orthodox Haredim Seek to Avoid Being Pulled into National Crisis, Reuters
The fast-growing Orthodox Haredi community is taking an ever-bigger place in Israeli politics, helping Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a narrow parliamentary majority alongside far-right nationalist parties. But while the community tries to focus on a spiritual life of religious study and observance, its pivotal role in the coalition means it is increasingly being drawn into national political issues it has traditionally sought to avoid.

The Workers Circle, Progressive Jewish Group, Leaves Conference of Presidents Over Disagreements on US and Israel Advocacy, JTA
The Workers Circle — a Jewish progressive activist group that runs a robust program of Yiddish classes and more recently has emphasized advocating for democracy — said it is pulling out of the Conference of Presidents over disagreements about policies in the United States, discourse on Israel and how to define antisemitism.

Far-Right Minister Says Green Line ‘Fictitious,’ Urges Annexation of West Bank, The Times of Israel
Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party on Wednesday urged the government to annex the West Bank, calling the Green Line that separates the State of Israel from the territory “fictitious.” “The attitude of the State of Israel that there are two states here is a mistake. We should impose sovereignty on Judea and Samaria,” he told Army Radio.

Trump Campaign Likens Latest Indictment to Nazism, The Forward
Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign compared the federal prosecution of the former president to the tactics used by the German Nazi regime.“The lawlessness of these persecutions of President Trump and his supporters is reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the former Soviet Union, and other authoritarian, dictatorial regimes,” the Trump campaign said in a statement Tuesday in response to charges unsealed by the Department of Justice earlier in the day.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s Democracy Movement Is Built on a Contradiction. That’s an Achievement, The New York Times
Gershom Gorenberg argues, “For the most visible leadership of the seven-month-old movement, the key issues that have long defined left and right in Israel — the occupation, keeping or giving up land, West Bank settlement — have barely been on the agenda. That choice has allowed Israelis from the center right and right to join and even take leading roles. But for many other protesters, it makes no sense to talk about democracy while ignoring Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.”

I Fought For Israel As a Lone Soldier. Now I Fight For It As a Protestor, The Forward
Josh Drill writes, “I wish I could tell my 18-year-old self that Israel and I will go through some hard times, but we both will grow. I would remind him that people from every side will criticize his actions, but his core Zionist and humanist values will hold him in place. I would tell him to be proud of his aliyah, to stay aligned with the Israel with which he fell in love, and to continue to pour himself into keeping Israel safe, both at its borders, and in its very soul.”

Israeli Schools Say ‘Yes to Violence’ and ‘No to Peace’, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board argues, “How can a ministry with the word “education” in its title look bereaved families in the eye and tell a forum, whose members declare that “they wish to influence the public and the political decision makers to choose reconciliation and the path of peace over violence and war” – “Not in our schools!” The Education Ministry is headed by Yoav Kisch, who is not known as a Kahanist for whom the word “Arab” is synonymous with terrorist. His behavior here is hard to fathom; perhaps Kahanism is a contagious disease.”