News Roundup for February 11, 2021

February 11, 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

In silent signal, Biden in no rush to court Netanyahu, AFP
“The Biden administration has already said it will resume relations with the Palestinians and restart aid for Palestinian refugees. Jeremy Ben Ami, the president of J Street, a progressive pro-Israel US advocacy group, said that the Biden administration should reverse more Trump policies including former secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s finding that settlements on Palestinian land are legal. ‘Under the Trump administration, they got a green light to do whatever they wanted in the West Bank and pursue creeping annexation with abandon. We hope that a red light is flashed on that ASAP,’ Ben Ami said. He called on the Biden administration to be more aggressive in imposing consequences if Israel goes ahead with settlements, including leveraging the $3 billion in annual US aid. But Ben Ami doubted the utility of Biden quickly rolling out his own plan for peace, saying that there likely needed to be political changes first in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. ‘What the United States does right now should be focused on keeping that possibility alive rather than pursuing some grand new initiative,’ Ben Ami said.”

Bay Area Rep. Ro Khanna faces questions over statement about ‘burning down Palestinian villages’, The Jewish News of Northern California
Commenting on President Joe Biden’s foreign policy, Khanna told host Mehdi Hasan that Israel ‘can’t be burning down Palestinian villages. Human rights are going to matter. We’re going to have a human rights foreign policy.’ On Feb. 6, Times of Israel reporter Jacob Magid called out Khanna’s statements on Twitter. The congressman responded with his own tweet, saying ‘I should have clarified that I was referring to Israeli settlers who have burned Palestinian orchards and the military which has demolished or bulldozed villages. As someone who supports the US Israel relationship, surely we can agree both are wrong.’ […] J Street Spokesperson Logan Bayroff called Khanna ‘one of the most knowledgeable and principled congressional advocates for diplomacy’ on Israel-related issues. ’The Congressman quickly clarified his recent comments, and the two practices he said he intended to reference — Israeli settlers burning Palestinian orchards and olive groves and the Israeli government’s demolition of Palestinian homes, schools and medical facilities — are grave violations of international law,’ said Bayroff. ‘We’re grateful to Rep. Khanna for speaking out about actions like this that undermine American interests, Palestinian rights and Israel’s long term future.’

Top News and Analysis

Chilling video footage becomes key exhibit in Trump trial, AP
The footage shown at trial, much of it never before seen, has included video of the mob smashing into the building, distraught members of Congress receiving comfort, rioters engaging in hand-to-hand combat with police and audio of Capitol police officers pleading for back-up. It underscored how dangerously close the rioters came to the nation’s leaders, shifting the focus of the trial from an academic debate about the Constitution to a raw retelling of the Jan. 6 assault.

Netanyahu Would Rather Team Up With Ultra-racists Rather Than Risk One Seat, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “A party head with even a shred of shame, principles and self-respect would have announced that he’d rather risk losing a Knesset seat than cooperate with a gang of dangerous extremists.”


Netanyahu tries to delay corruption hearings until after Israel’s election, Axios
“Everybody knows the cases against me are rigged,” Netanyahu claimed on Monday. “This is why I don’t think the hearing of witnesses in my trial should begin before the elections because even if it is not the intention, it would look like a flagrant interference in the elections.”

EU calls on Israel to halt demolition of Palestinian herding village, The Jerusalem Post
“Confiscation, demolition of structures in Hamsa al-Foqa & dislocation of around 60 people confirm regrettable trend despite #COVID19 & obligations of [Israel] as occupying power under [international] humanitarian law,” EU spokesperson Peter Steno tweeted on Tuesday.

Call me maybe? Disquiet in Israel that Biden has yet to phone Netanyahu, The Guardian
It has been three weeks since Joe Biden’s inauguration and Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to receive a call from the White House. The Israeli prime minister has let it be known he is not happy but he is waiting by the phone.

‘Scary,’ ‘spunky,’ ‘wackadoodle’: How Jewish constituents of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert describe their new congresswomen, JTA
Jews in the districts said that they did not feel like they live in anti-Semitic areas and doubted that anti-Semitism drove their neighbors to vote for Greene or Boebert. Rather some feared that Boebert and Greene signify a broader threat that exists across the country.

Palestinian Elections Closer to Reality as Factions Reach Understandings, Haaretz
The prospect of the first Palestinian elections in 15 years came closer to becoming reality on Tuesday with a joint statement by Palestinian factions, chief among them Fatah and Hamas, in Cairo that greenlit moving forward according to a plan approved last month by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli Jewish Antifa hacks KKK website, doxxes members, The Jerusalem Post
A website belonging to the Patriotic Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, an organization affiliated with the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan (KKK), was hacked by an anti-fascist Israeli organization, exposing pictures, names and personal information of many of the organizations members.

Some Israeli kids head back to school amid confusion and uncertainty, Times of Israel
Several hundred thousand Israeli children went back to school Thursday for the first time in over a month. But just hours before classes were to resume, many were unsure if their schools would open amid confusion blamed on a last-minute, overly complicated plan adopted by the government.

Despite COVID lockdowns, only slight drop in anti-Semitic incidents in Britain, JTA
British Jewry’s main security unit recorded 1,668 anti-Semitic incidents last year – an 8% drop from 2019 but still among the three highest tallies ever.

Opinion and Analysis

Diplomats condemn Netanyahu’s settlement drive after Israeli troops destroy Bedouin camp three times in a month, CNN
Sam Kiley writes, “Small groups of women and children huddled in tents as storm clouds brewed in the west and delegations of diplomats, clerics, top politicians and media swooped down upon their misery. The commiserations flowed fast. The outrage of outsiders swelled with indignation. And in the end a top European diplomat admitted that foreign money spent on the West Bank and in Gaza was essentially a way of buying peace amid dwindling hope and a “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians in a deep coma.”

Meet Biden’s Point Person on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Haaretz
Ben Samuels writes, “Hady Amr, the Biden administration’s deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli-Palestinian affairs, is coming in with a fresh perspective, regional relationships and years of experience – and he has a lot of work to do.”

Trying to woo US with election, Palestinians drop a hot potato in Biden’s lap, Times of Israel
Jacob Magid writes, “While the US supports elections in principal, putting Hamas in the picture could foil the administration’s work to reset relations with the PA, controlled by the more moderate Fatah.”

The International Criminal Court can save Israel from itself, The Jerusalem Post
Gershon Baskin writes, “The ultimate irony of this situation is that the only body in the world that can ‘legalize’ Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are those territories. Only though agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, either through territorial swaps or other means of agreement between them can some or all of the settlements become legal. This is one additional aspect of how the International Criminal Court may have saved the two-states solution and in doing so, saved the State of Israel from itself. “