News Roundup for August 31, 2021

August 31, 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

Dan Shapiro, Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Joins Biden’s Iran Team, Haaretz
Dan Shapiro, who served as U.S. ambassador to Israel under the Obama administration, has joined the Biden administration’s team on Iran as a special government employee and part-time senior adviser, a State Department spokesperson confirmed Monday. […] Left-wing organizations such as J Street and Americans for Peace Now also praised the move, offering congratulations and saying “our nation is lucky to have Shapiro on the team.”

Top News and Analysis

While Israelis and Palestinians fight, climate change threatens the land, Washington Post
Gershom Gorenberg writes, “I don’t make light of that conflict, or of the complicated history of 1948. But attention is a limited resource, and both Israelis and Palestinians should be devoting much of our attention to whether any of us will be able to live here in 2048. […] That cannot last. Let me combine cynicism and optimism: Israelis and Palestinians now face a shared, existential threat. Perhaps that will finally force us to make peace and work together.

Israel OKs gestures to Palestinians after high-level meet, AP
Israel’s defense minister on Monday announced a series of gestures aimed at strengthening the Palestinian Authority, including plans to loan $150 million to the cash-strapped autonomy government in the occupied West Bank. The announcement came a day after Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the first high-level meeting between the two sides in years.

Three Palestinians Wounded by Israeli Fire as Gaza Border Protests Resume, Haaretz
Three Palestinians were wounded with one in serious condition as hundreds of young Palestinians gathered along the Gaza border fence Monday night after Hamas said nighttime protests would resume following Israeli airstrikes over the weekend.


Israel urges Netanyahu return gifts; he denies keeping them, AP
Israel’s prime minister’s office has urged former premier Benjamin Netanyahu to return dozens of expensive gifts he received while serving in the nation’s top job. The request, confirmed Monday by the office of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, came as Netanyahu reportedly vacationed on a private island in Hawaii almost wholly owned by billionaire Larry Ellison. The Oracle founder is a friend of Netanyahu’s and also a witness for the prosecution in the former leader’s corruption trial.

How Palestinian resistance inspired a new generation of labor activism, +972 Magazine
The recent surge in support for Palestinian rights in the labor movement is one of the most tangible signs of how the debate on Israel has fundamentally changed in the United States. What was once seen as a fringe issue focused on a far-away conflict has turned into a central component of progressive politics, prompting labor unions to weigh in at unprecedented levels.

Israel’s ‘Climate Children’ Are Furious: ‘How Can I Sit Quietly in School When My Life’s in Danger?’, Haaretz
A young generation of activists have had enough of older generations’ failure to address the climate crisis. Hundreds of them meet on Fridays, skipping school if necessary, to demand action.

Gantz announces plans to legalize thousands of undocumented Palestinian spouses, Times of Israel
Defense Ministry Benny Gantz announced on Monday that Israel plans to legalize thousands of undocumented foreign nationals married to Palestinians as part of an overall Israeli strategy to strengthen the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian spouses have resided illegally in the West Bank for years with little legal recourse to obtain permits to live with their families. Israeli courts have ruled that family unification in the West Bank is not a right guaranteed by international law.

Opinion and Analysis

Biden and Bennett tone down US-Israel relations, Responsible Statecraft
Mitchell Plitnick writes, “The Palestinians are the big losers in this meeting. While Biden made perfunctory comments about an increasingly ephemeral ‘two-state solution,’ it’s clear that he has little interest in advancing any sort of peace process. Despite the threat of a new round of devastation in the Gaza Strip and rockets being fired at Israel, the question of Palestinian freedom was largely an afterthought at this meeting.”

President Biden: Don’t Fall for the Israeli-Palestinian ‘Economic Peace’ Fallacy, Newsweek
Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “Promoting economic development is convenient for Bennett, who wishes to appear forthcoming globally while maintaining the kosher stamp of the Israeli right wing. But economic investment alone will never lead the region out of conflict, for two main reasons. For starters, one of the main causes of Palestinian economic deprivation is politics itself.”

Netanyahu’s Enduring Legacy Is Stifling Talk of the Palestinian Problem, Haaretz
Amira Hass writes, “The man had a plan and he fulfilled it, by burying the Palestinian issue. Every right-wing person should bless him and every left-wing woman should warn everybody else about his dangerous legacy.”