News Roundup for December 17, 2021

December 17, 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

J Street Calls on Fellow Pro-Israel PACS to Join Them in Pledge Not to Support Candidates Who Threaten American Democracy, J Street
As part of the “Pro-Democracy Pledge”, J Street calls on AIPAC and all pro-Israel PACs not to endorse any lawmaker who voted against Congressional certification of 2020 election results on January 6 or otherwise supported the “Big Lie” which falsely claims that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election.

AIPAC Launches PACs, Entering Political Campaign Space for First Time, Haaretz
AIPAC has historically attempted to remain apolitical and limit its work to lobbying efforts in Washington, though a growing number of Jewish organizations on both sides of the aisle have challenged its prominence and its policies. J Street, for example, formed in 2008 the first-ever PAC explicitly dedicated to promoting American leadership in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not only has it endorsed Democratic candidates, it has also helped move candidates and lawmakers in a leftward direction. Following AIPAC’s announcement, J Street called on all fellow organizations with affiliated PACs to commit to not supporting Republican candidates who have endorsed conspiracy theories about the 2020 election results. “With the future of American democracy in real peril and the vast majority of American Jews deeply concerned about the mounting threat from former President Trump and his extremist political movement, it’s critical that groups representing the pro-Israel and Jewish communities do absolutely all that we can to help defend free and fair elections and democratic institutions,” said J Street’s President Jeremy Ben-Ami. “As AIPAC announces that it will create a new federal PAC and super PAC, and other pro-Israel PACs begin to make their endorsements for the 2022 cycle, we challenge them to join us in taking a ‘Pro-Democracy Pledge,’” he added.

AIPAC to fund campaigns for the first time in its 70-year history (through a PAC), Forward
AIPAC’s rival, the liberal pro-Israel group J Street, became the first to launch an Israel-related federal political action committee in 2008. The group endorsed 198 House and Senate candidates in 2020, including 131 incumbents who won reelection. In a statement on Thursday, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami challenged AIPAC and other pro-Israel PACs to pledge not to support politicians who voted against the certification of the 2020 presidential election results or supported Donald Trump’s questioning of the election outcome.

AIPAC Launching super PAC Ahead of Midterms, The Hill
J Street, the progressive pro-Israel, pro-“two-state solution” group, issued a statement Thursday calling on all pro-Israel PACs to not support candidates that question the 2020 election

Alan Lowenthal, California Jewish Democrat aligned with J Street, is retiring from Congress, JTA
In recent years, he has aligned closely with J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, and has become a leader in efforts to preserve the two-state outcome, backing bills and letters. In 2019, Lowenthal led passage of a resolution that committed Democrats to the two-state outcome at a time when then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-President Donald Trump appeared to be backing away from it. The message, with almost all Democrats signing on, was clear: if Netanyahu proceeded with annexation he would risk cutting off the entire Democratic Party.

Top News and Analysis

Iran Agrees to Replace Cameras at Nuclear Site but Blocks Images, The New York Times
Iran’s failure to allow the U.N. nuclear agency to fully monitor its nuclear program is hindering talks in Vienna on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal.


Many Female Candidates’ Faces Hidden as West Bank Votes, Al-Monitor
During the campaigning for the West Bank’s local elections, many of the faces of female candidates were replaced with a rose or silhouette on electoral lists and campaign posters.

Israeli, Palestinian Indicted for Spying in Israeli Territor, Haaretz
Israel pressed charges Thursday against an Israeli and a Gaza resident for “grave security offenses,” a police statement said.

Israel to Donate 1 Million Vaccine Doses to African Countries via COVAX, Al-Monitor
Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced the country will donate to Africa states, through the global vaccine distribution partnership COVAX, 1 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines.

Defense chief says Israeli killed in West Bank shooting, AP News
Palestinian militants on Thursday opened fire near a Jewish settlement in the northern West Bank, killing at least one Israeli, according to Israeli leaders.

Opinion and Analysis

NJ Should Be Part of the Solution, Not the Problem, Jewish Standard
J Street Leader Martin Levine writes, “Many of these [anti-BDS] laws, including New Jersey’s, have an even more troubling aspect. They treat the illegal settlements built in the occupied territories as if they were part of Israel. Let us be clear: Under international law, they are not. Occupying powers are not permitted to settle their own citizens in the territory they occupy. Furthermore, the settlements are part of a program of de facto annexation, which also includes the demolition of Palestinian homes and businesses, and the construction of infrastructure designed to cut Palestinians off from the settlements, from each other, and even from their own places of employment. The aim of this program is not only to prevent a two-state solution from taking effect now, but to make it difficult or impossible for it to come about at any time in the future.The state of New Jersey has put itself on the wrong side of this issue. It is time for New Jersey to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

The Mizrahi Left at a Crossroads, 972 Mag
““It’s like a death in the family,” read one Facebook comment. “There is a sense that all the lights are going off in this place,” someone else replied. “The end of an era,” a third mused. These were just a small sample of the responses to the announcement in late October by Haokets (“The Sting”), an independent online publication, that it “will close its doors and retire” at the end of the year. Such reactions to the closure of a small media outlet may appear dramatic, but they are testament to a very particular lacuna that Haokets has filled since it launched in 2003. For almost two decades, Haokets has effectively served as the ideological home of Israel’s Mizrahi left. For a community of academics, activists, writers, and poets who had once felt politically adrift, the site has provided a vital platform for understanding the experiences of various oppressed communities between the river and the sea as interconnected struggles. The announcement that such a rare and meaningful space would be closing was thus, naturally, a source of great distress.”

Israel Can’t Bury Its Head in the Sand and Ignore the Palestinians, The Jersualem Post
Yaakov Katz writes, “After four years left out in the cold, the Palestinians are moving closer to the Americans and are starting to once again see eye-to-eye on issues like settlements and more.”