News Roundup for January 15, 2021

January 15, 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

Jewish groups laud Trump impeachment, denounce incitement to insurrection, The Jerusalem Post
“The left-wing J Street organization, which called for Trump’s removal from office immediately after the storming of the Capitol, also welcomed the passage of the article of impeachment. ‘The House just voted (for the second time) to make clear what a majority of Americans know to be true: Trump is a danger to our democracy and is not fit to be our president. He never has been and should never have the opportunity to hold elected office again,’ the organization said on Twitter.”

Reform movement voices support for impeachment, says Trump needs ‘teshuva’, The Forward
“With the statement, the Reform movement becomes the first major Jewish denomination to issue an opinion on impeachment. The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism has not made any statement, and while no equivalent body exists for Orthodox Judaism, major umbrella groups like the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel have so far stayed quiet. However, other Jewish organizations like the ADL, The American Jewish Congress, National Council of Jewish Women, Bend the Arc, J Street, T’ruah and IfNotNow have all voiced their support for impeachment.”

Daily Kickoff, Jewish Insider
“In a letter obtained by Jewish Insider, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations wrote to President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday calling on ‘all federal departments and agencies’ to consider adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism […] Several progressive Jewish groups including J Street, the New Israel Fund and Americans for Peace Now issued their own statement yesterday opposing enshrining the IHRA working definition into law. The statement, issued by the Progressive Israel Network, claims that the working definition ‘risks wrongly equating what may be legitimate activities with antisemitism,’ and urges Biden ‘to reject facile, oversimplified doctrines.’”

Progressive Israel Network Groups Oppose Codification of IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, Citing Strong Potential for Misuse, PIN
“As organizations that care deeply about the State of Israel and about the wellbeing of the Jewish people, we are deeply committed to the struggle against antisemitism. We are thus obligated to share our concerns about ways in which the effort to combat antisemitism is being misused and exploited to instead suppress legitimate free speech, criticism of Israeli government actions, and advocacy for Palestinian rights. “

Top News and Analysis

Inaugural Security Is Fortified in D.C. as Military and Police Links Are Eyed in Riot, New York Times
Thousands of armed National Guard troops were on their way to Washington to bolster security for next week’s inaugural celebration as federal investigators turned their attention to the difficult question of how many military and police personnel took part in the violent attack on the Capitol, a law enforcement official said on Thursday. Adding to the tensions, dozens of people on a terrorist watch list were found to have been in Washington on Jan. 6 for pro-Trump events that ultimately devolved into the assault on the Capitol, according to two government officials briefed on the Justice Department investigation into the riot. Most were suspected white supremacists, according to The Washington Post, which earlier reported on their status on the list. It was not clear how many people on the watch list were part of the mob that stormed the Capitol, but their presence in the capital adds to the urgent questions about security preparations for the events of Jan. 6.

Far-right groups make plans for protests and assaults before and after Inauguration Day, Washington Post
U.S. officials have warned authorities nationwide to be on alert for potential acts of violence at state capitols, as well as a possible second attack on the Capitol or on the White House. Law enforcement authorities have said extremists might use firearms and explosives and are monitoring online calls to rally in cities nationwide beginning Sunday. Security at the inaugural ceremony in Washington on Wednesday probably will be the most intense ever.

Secretary of State Pompeo Leaves No Bridges Unburned, New York Times
The Editorial Board writes, “Some of the actions Mr. Pompeo took over the past week might be defensible, were they taken in the context of a coherent foreign policy. But coming days before a change in administration, their sole identifiable purpose is to maliciously plant obstacles — some commentators have called them time bombs or booby traps — before the incoming administration and President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for Mr. Pompeo’s successor at State, Antony Blinken, are in place.”


Senate Democrats signal hope for bipartisan Trump impeachment trial, Washington Post
As President Trump’s historic second impeachment trial looms, the Senate Democratic leader’s office is emphasizing cooperation with Republicans rather than conflict — suggesting that Democrats want their latest effort to convict Trump to be more bipartisan than the last one, which saw a lone GOP senator break ranks with his party.

Israel To Start Vaccinating Palestinian Prisoners Next Week, NPR
Israel’s health minister announced Thursday the country would vaccinate Palestinian prisoners against COVID-19, after Israel’s president said withholding vaccines was against Israel’s Jewish and democratic values. The decision comes amid a larger debate about whether Israel, which is leading the world in vaccinations per capita, should ensure vaccines for the Palestinian public in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which is blockaded by Israel and Egypt.

Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Prefer a Jewish State to a Democratic One, Survey Finds, Haaretz
The ultra-Orthodox may be happy to live in a Jewish state, but they are less happy living in a democratic one. When asked whether there is a good balance between the Jewish and democratic components, 72 percent of the Haredim said the democratic component was too strong, 15 percent said the balance was right, while 5 percent said the Jewish component was too strong.

Labor board members call on former PM Ehud Barak to run in party’s primaries, Times of Israel
Leading board members of the floundering Labor party on Thursday called on Ehud Barak, its former leader and a former prime minister, to return to the party and run in its primaries.

AP Interview: Netanyahu challenger pledges change with Biden, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top challenger in upcoming elections is promising a tough line toward Iran and the Palestinians, yet expressed confidence he has the tools to avoid what appears to be a collision course with the incoming Biden administration.

Israel hits 2 million vaccinated with 1st dose; police to up closure enforcement, Times of Israel
Israel on Thursday marked the milestone of having inoculated 2 million people with the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, as the country pushed forward with the national vaccination drive amid record daily infections.

In New Low, Twice as Many Israeli Women as Men Lost Their Job During Lockdown, Haaretz
More than two-thirds – 68.5 percent – of those unemployed as of the third lockdown are women, a new record in gender inequality. Some 84,493 women lost their jobs from the start of the lockdown on December 27 through Thursday.

Report: IDF drawing up plans to strike Iran’s nuclear program, Times of Israel
The Israel Defense Forces is drawing up plans for an attack on Iran’s nuclear program, the Israel Hayom daily reported Thursday in a front-page article. The newspaper said that IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi has asked for three alternate proposals to derail Tehran’s program, without elaborating on them. It only indicated one of the proposals is a military strike, noting that such a plan would require a significant budgetary boost for the Israeli military.

Deadliest Israeli airstrikes on Syria in years kill 57, say observers, The Guardian
Israeli airstrikes on east Syria killed 57 regime forces and allied Iran-backed fighters in the deadliest such strikes since the start of the conflict, a war monitoring group said on Wednesday.

In leaked video, Netanyahu predicts election win thanks to his handling of COVID, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he believes his Likud party will rise to Knesset 40 seats or more in the coming election, up from 36 in the March 2020 vote, helping him secure a majority in the 120-seat Knesset, form a coalition and remain prime minister as head of a government that does exactly as he says.

Opinion and Analysis

The Six Lowest Points of Trump’s Corrupt, Racist, Impeached, Ignorant, Incompetent Clusterfuck of a Presidency, Haaretz
David Rothkopf writes, “Donald Trump is undoubtedly America’s worst president, the only president to be impeached twice, the only person to lead a coup against the United States government, the president who presided over and was personally responsible for the greatest one year loss of life in American history, the only president since Herbert Hoover to actually leave office with fewer people employed than when he was sworn in, the only world leader to have been summarily banned from virtually all major social media sites because his words were so inflammatory, the most prolific liar if not conspiracy theorist in U.S. political history (which is saying something), a man who managed to be at once the most corrupt, the most odious, the most ignorant, the most ineffective and the most evil political leader in U.S. history. “

Israel: Ensure equal COVID-19 vaccine access to Palestinians, OHCHR
UN independent experts write, “4.5 million Palestinians will remain unprotected and exposed to Covid-19, while Israeli citizens living near and among them – including the Israeli settler population – will be vaccinated. Morally and legally, this differential access to necessary health care in the midst of the worst global health crisis in a century is unacceptable.”

Why did Israel’s Hebrew media ignore B’Tselem’s apartheid statement?, +972 Mag
Oren Persico writes, “Although one can agree or disagree with B’Tselem’s position, one cannot help but wonder why Israel’s top news outlets refrained from reporting on it. By ignoring the report, those outlets prevented the very people living under what B’Tselem calls an apartheid regime to be exposed to its opinion. After all, it is far more crucial that Israelis learn about the reality they live in than readers of El País, Le Monde, or The Washington Post.”

Palestinian factory workers strike in West Bank industrial zone, Al-Monitor
Danny Zaken writes, “The story of Israeli factories in the legally ambiguous West Bank industrial zones is one of economics and politics, and the coronavirus crisis has thrown its dynamics into stark relief as Palestinian laborers fight for the same salaries as their Israeli counterparts.”