News Roundup for August 9, 2021

August 9, 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

An Israeli-Palestinian Ice Cream Sandwich, Foreign Policy
Last month, Ben & Jerry’s announced it would no longer sell its products in Jewish settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The decision—which was made by Ben & Jerry’s independent board of directors—appears to be, at least in part, the result of pressure from pro-Palestinian groups and was applauded by U.S. progressives. The progressive Jewish American political organization J Street came to Ben & Jerry’s defense. In a July 21 statement, the group’s leader, Jeremy Ben-Ami, said: “Ben & Jerry’s decision is a legitimate, peaceful protest against the systemic injustice of occupation and a reminder that settlers are, in fact, illegal under international law.”

Pro-Israel, Jewish Groups Welcome Michael Herzog’s Appointment as Israel’s U.S. Ambassador, Haaretz
U.S. pro-Israel and Jewish organizations from across the political spectrum roundly welcomed news of Michael Herzog’s appointment as Israel’s next ambassador to the United States, citing his diplomatic and military experience as well as his personal aptitude. […] J Street, a left-wing pro-Israel organization, congratulated Herzog, saying it looked forward “to working with him to help promote a strong, productive and responsible U.S.-Israel relationship, rooted in democratic values and the pursuit of peace and security.”

Who’s in the majority now?, Jewish Insider
DMFI, the formidable pro-Israel PAC founded in 2019, has quickly gained a reputation for its combative presence in a number of congressional races where far-left insurgents have sought to unseat longstanding House Democrats. […] Logan Bayroff, a spokesperson for the left-leaning Israel advocacy group J Street, which did not make an endorsement in the Cleveland race, argued that DMFI was “injecting Israel as a sort of a partisan football in a way that misrepresents the views of a lot of people in our community,” as he put it in a recent interview with JI. “It doesn’t seem to be healing any kind of divide inside the Democratic Party.”

Top News and Analysis

Can Bennett and Lapid Really Rebrand Israel as a Liberal Democracy?, Haaretz
Anders Persson writes, “The biggest challenge, however, for rebranding Israel as a liberal democracy is the continued occupation of the Palestinian territories, which is rapidly being redefined by leading human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem from a conflict between two parties to a permanent situation of occupation, oppression, human rights abuses and even apartheid.”

Environment minister: UN report shows Israel must declare climate emergency, Times of Israel
Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg said Monday that the new UN report on global warming, which included dire warnings over the state of the planet, demonstrated that Israel must declare climate change as a “strategic threat” in order to properly prepare for the challenges it poses to the country.

After Ohio Primary, Democrats Prepare for More Israel-related Battles, Haaretz
Following pro-Israel Shontel Brown’s surprise victory over progressive Nina Turner in Ohio’s 11th congressional district primary last week, Democrats are trying to determine what the results portend for the 2022 midterms and what role Israel plays in the future of the party. […] “Races are never defined by Israel-Palestine, but increasingly because of super PACs like DMFI, that is how the independent expenditures are being defined,” Waleed Shahid says. “It should galvanize people who care about human rights, at home and abroad, to think about these primaries in a different way.”


Hundreds of Palestinian Families Have Applied for Unification Since Israeli Ban Expired, Haaretz
Hundreds of mixed Israeli and Palestinian families have filed for unification in the past 30 days, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said Monday, a month after the Knesset refused to extend a long-standing regulation denying permanent residency status to Palestinians married to Israelis.

Beirut Port Explosion Fuels Lebanon’s Collapse: ‘May God Save the Country’, Wall Street Journal
In recent decades Lebanon has been a place of relative calm in a turbulent region. Now it is living through a once-in-a-century economic meltdown. The collapse, rippling through all levels of society, has been accelerated by the lasting effects of the explosion in the Port of Beirut one year ago today.

Israel to Require Arrivals From All but 10 Countries to Go Into Quarantine, Haaretz
Tightening travel restrictions in the face of climbing COVID-19 cases, Israel will require arrivals from all but ten world countries to go into extended isolation – regardless of their coronavirus vaccination status.

Likud MK David Bitan formally indicted on corruption charges, Times of Israel
State prosecutors file an indictment formally charging Likud MK David Bitan after he opted against requesting parliamentary immunity against corruption charges. Bitan is indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, as well as money laundering and tax offenses, over allegations he received some NIS 715,000 ($220,000) in bribes while in public office.

Not Just Herzog’s Brother: Israel’s New D.C. Ambassador Was Netanyahu’s Man for Secret Negotiations, Haaretz
Israel’s next ambassador to the United States, Michael (Mike) Herzog, was unknown to most Israelis until last week’s announcement that he will represent Naftali Bennett’s government in Washington. After his appointment was revealed, most of the media reports about him emphasized the fact that he is the older brother of Israel’s recently elected president, Isaac Herzog. In diplomatic and national security circles, however, Herzog is known and respected for a completely different reason: His involvement over the past decade in secret negotiations between Israel and the Arab world as an unofficial representative of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Opinion and Analysis

The Fight for Palestine’s Sheikh Jarrah Isn’t Over, Jacobin
Hamza Ali Shah writes, “On Monday, a final verdict on the expulsion of Palestinian families was deferred. However, Israel’s highest court proposed an offer whereby the Palestinian residents would be granted a form of protected tenancy and avoid being evicted on the condition that they relinquish any claims of ownership over the homes and land in the district. Simply put, Palestinian people living in Palestinian houses are being told by the Israeli court that to avoid being evicted they must effectively become paying tenants to Israeli settlers.”

The Burning Issue of Climate Change, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “One of the government’s main objectives must be to set up a planning process that accounts for the environmental changes caused by construction, including extreme climate events. Israel must assume that such disasters will reach its doorstep, and plan now for how to cope with them.”