News Roundup for February 5, 2021

February 5, 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

Biden urged to hold Israel accountable over home demolitions, Middle East Eye
“J Street, in a statement on Thursday, asked US President Joe Biden to investigate Israeli demolitions to determine whether US-sourced defence materiel was used to demolish Palestinian homes, and whether such a use violates the Arms Export Control Act (AECA). Earlier this week, Israeli forces demolished homes and other structures in the Palestinian village of Khirbet Humsa, in the northern West Bank’s Jordan Valley. Forces confiscated the Bedouin community’s tents and livestock pens, bulldozed several structures, and attempted to forcibly transfer its residents to a new location […] ‘This demolition is just the latest example of the Israeli government’s systematic policy of de facto annexation of sensitive areas of occupied territory – a policy that includes demolitions, evictions and destructive military training operations on Palestinian lands, all of which have taken place in just the two weeks since the new president’s inauguration,’ J Street said. The organisation said that if the Biden administration were serious about its support for the two-state solution, it should investigate such incidents and ‘make clear to the Israeli government that US-sourced defense articles, as well as any material purchased with US Foreign Military Financing funds, may not be used in such operations.’”

How should US anti-Semitism be defined in the Biden era?, New Statesman
“If the IHRA definition is implemented as policy, a key question for Susskind and others is who gets to say what criticism of Israel does and doesn’t count as anti-Semitic. ‘It’s not good legislating or good law-making to trust in good faith,’ echoed Logan Bayroff, the communications director of J Street, a self-described ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ group that also signed onto the Progressive Israel Network statement against turning the IHRA working definition into law or policy. J Street, unlike Americans for Peace Now, did not see a problem with the State Department’s support of the IHRA definition. ‘We believe that utilisation of the definition as one tool and point of reference for identifying anti-Semitism, without codifying it into or otherwise giving it the force of law, is appropriate,’ said Bayroff.”

Anti-Semitism coverage lauded, Cleveland Jewish News
Loree B. Resnik, Chair of J Street CLE writes, “J Street Cleveland, the new chapter of the pro-peace, pro-Israel national organization, has made the ‌fight‌ ‌against‌ ‌structural‌ ‌racism,‌ ‌anti-immigrant‌ ‌policies‌ ‌and‌ ‌anti-Semitism‌ ‌a strong pillar of its strategic plan. We align with J Street National, which has made working to eradicate this scourge a 2021 goal.”

Top News and Analysis

House Exiles Marjorie Taylor Greene From Panels, as Republicans Rally Around Her, New York Times
The House on Thursday exiled Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from congressional committees, blacklisting the first-term Georgian for endorsing the executions of Democrats and spreading dangerous and bigoted misinformation even as fellow Republicans rallied around her. The House voted 230 to 199 to remove Ms. Greene from the Education and Budget Committees, with only 11 Republicans joining Democrats to support the move. The action came after Ms. Greene’s past statements and espousing of QAnon and other conspiracy theories had pushed her party to a political crossroads.

‘America is back’ – Biden touts muscular foreign policy in first diplomatic speech, Reuters
U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday promised a new era after the scattershot foreign policy of his predecessor, Donald Trump, declaring “America is back” on the global stage in his first diplomatic address as president. In his speech, Biden signaled aggressive approaches to China and Russia, urged Myanmar’s military leaders to halt their coup, and declared an end to U.S. support for a Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen. “American leadership must meet this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy. We must meet the new moment … accelerating global challenges from the pandemic to the climate crisis to nuclear proliferation,” said Biden. Trump angered European and Asian leaders with tariffs, fracturing of global alliances, and threats to withdraw U.S. troops. He did little to push back against a wave of authoritarianism in some countries.

Fiercely divided House kicks Greene off both her committees, AP
A fiercely divided House has tossed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene off both her committees, an unprecedented punishment that Democrats said she’d earned by spreading hateful and violent conspiracy theories.Underscoring the political vise her inflammatory commentary has clamped her party into, nearly all Republicans voted against the Democratic move Thursday but none defended her lengthy history of outrageous social media posts. Yet in a riveting moment, the freshman Republican from a deep-red corner of Georgia took to the House floor on her own behalf. She offered a mixture of backpedaling and finger-pointing as she wore a dark mask emblazoned with the words “FREE SPEECH.”


Jewish Democrats Reject GOP Attempt to Compare Marjorie Taylor Greene to Ilhan Omar on Antisemitism, Haaretz
With the full House set to vote Thursday on whether to strip Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee spots, Jewish Democratic lawmakers fiercely rejected GOP attempts to equate the congresswoman’s amplification of antisemitic conspiracy theories with previous comments by Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Israel begins razing Palestinian Bedouin village for second time, NBC
Israel has begun demolishing a Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank for the second time in three months, in what a rights group called an attempt to displace an entire Palestinian community from the area.

IDF: Palestinian tries to break into settlement home, is shot dead during tussle, Times of Israel
An unarmed Palestinian man was shot and killed after entering into a West Bank settlement outpost in the predawn hours of Friday morning and attempting to break into a home, the Israel Defense Forces said, calling the infiltrator a terrorist. A military spokesperson said the decision to label the incident an attempted terror attack was based solely on the testimonies of the settlers involved in the incident, including details that they likely could not have known.

Netanyahu reportedly again allying with extreme right-wing parties, JTA
The Times of Israel, citing multiple Israeli media outlets, said Netanyahu was behind the merger Wednesday of three parties: Jewish Power, or Otzma Yehudit, which follows the teachings of the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane; Noam, an anti-LGBTQ party; and Religious Zionism, one of several heirs to the national religious movement.

Palestinians to receive 10,000 doses of Russian vaccine Thursday, Times of Israel
Around 10,000 Russian-made coronavirus vaccines have arrived in Ben Gurion airport, and are scheduled to be sent to the Palestinian Authority later Thursday.

Netanyahu chooses Steve Bannon protege to run his election campaign, JTA
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s newest campaign manager is Aaron Klein, a former reporter for the right-wing Breitbart News site who worked with Steve Bannon on Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign.

Elections vital to building democratic Palestinian State: UN chief, UN News
Addressing the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the UN chief said the vote will give renewed legitimacy to national institutions in Palestine, including a democratically elected Parliament and Government. “Elections are a vital part of building a democratic Palestinian State founded on the rule of law with equal rights for all.  The Committee’s support to these efforts will be crucial”, he added. 

39 parties register for elections; Jewish Home spurns Smotrich, will back Yamina, Times of Israel
Thirty-nine parties registered their candidate lists for the March 23 elections by the Thursday night deadline, with the Jewish Home party causing a last-minute surprise by announcing that it would neither join the hardline joint slate of national religious parties nor run independently but would instead throw its support behind Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party.

Opinion and Analysis

How re-entering the Iran nuclear deal can help restore US alliances, Responsible Statecraft
Jon Wolfsthal writes, “Restoring the JCPOA not only helps prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, but it’s also now an essential part of one of President Biden’s top priorities — repairing U.S. alliances and American credibility.  The United States’ closest allies — including the United Kingdom, France, and Germany — as well as the European Union are also parties to the JCPOA and want to see America fully rejoin the agreement it helped create. They have watched with frustration and confusion as the United States under President Trump denigrated and eventually violated the agreement. These countries understandably expect the United States to live up to its commitments to Europe, and more broadly. Their very security is premised on America being able to do so, as is ours.”

Biden’s baffling Iran posture, The Week
Bonnie Kristian writes, “It is because of the United States — specifically, the Trump administration — that we are in this mess. The Iranian government deserves considerable censure for domestic and foreign policy alike, but it is not the cause of the nuclear deal’s breakdown. Tehran complied with the agreement. Trump left it. Tehran accepted the French-negotiated terms. Trump privately assented, then publicly reversed himself.”

With an Arbitrary Order, Israel Tore This Palestinian Family Apart, Haaretz
Gideon Levy and Alex Levac write, “Mohammed Nazal lived with his wife for only one month and has never met their son. For years, Israel prevented him from leaving the West Bank to be united with them, until a petition changed everything”

The Israeli right wants Arabs at the polls — with one big condition, +972 Mag
Meron Rapoport and Ameer Fakhoury write, “Israeli politicians are scrambling for the votes of Arab citizens. But this love affair is driven by a colonial goal: erasing the community’s Palestinian identity.”