News Roundup for January 25, 2021

January 25, 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

Iran Hawks Begin Effort To Undermine Joe Biden’s Diplomacy, Huffington Post
“Iran hawks like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) are determined to quickly stymie Biden’s plans. And this week they picked their first target: Rob Malley, a former White House official who is being considered for a role as a special envoy to Tehran […] J Street, a prominent Jewish group supportive of both Israeli defense concerns and talks with Tehran, noted that the assault on Malley struck a familiar tone.   ‘We are… dismayed to already be witnessing the same kind of character assassinations and false accusations being leveled against people who have committed their careers to advancing diplomacy and peace in the Middle East (in this case Malley) and the unfounded accusations of hostility to Israel and/or Jewish interests,’ the organization tweeted. ‘Along with nearly 3/4 of American Jewish voters, we strongly support a return to the [deal] and a negotiated solution on the Iranian nuclear issue [and] broader regional conflicts.’”

Democratic Lawmakers Slam Israel for Not Vaccinating Palestinians in Occupied West Bank, Haaretz
“Concerns about inadequate Israeli distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations for Palestinians are beginning to emerge within the Democratic Party. These range from freshman progressive lawmakers on Twitter to some of the most respected lawmakers commenting during cabinet-level confirmation hearings […] The left-wing, pro-Israel political organization J Street urged Israel to live up to its ‘legal and moral obligation to work with Palestinian authorities to ensure that all residents of the territory it rules over – not only Israeli citizens – receive necessary medical services,’ citing two articles in the Geneva Convention.”

Now is the time for female leadership in Israel, Times of Israel
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “There appear to be biological reasons why men tend to publicly display hubris and self-confidence more than women. In primitive times, these traits may have served to give those men an advantage in deterring enemies, so that throughout the process of evolution there was a selection bias of men with these traits. However, in todays’ world, excessive self-confidence can be an obstacle to progress.”

Top News and Analysis

Several US Democrat lawmakers call out Israel for not vaccinating Palestinians, Times of Israel
A growing number of Democrats have been speaking out against Israel for not vaccinating Palestinians in the West Bank. On Sunday, newly elected New York Congressman Jamaal Bowman joined senior House Rep. Joaquin Castro, freshman Rep. Marie Newman, former vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib in voicing his concern over the matter.

Democrats, Here’s How to Lose in 2022. And Deserve It, New York Times
Ezra Klein writes, “To avoid the mistakes of the past, three principles should guide their efforts. First, they need to help people fast and visibly. Second, they need to take politics seriously, recognizing that defeat in 2022 will result in catastrophe. The Trumpist Republican Party needs to be politically discredited through repeated losses; it cannot simply be allowed to ride back to primacy on the coattails of Democratic failure. And, finally, they need to do more than talk about the importance of democracy. They need to deepen American democracy […] They have plenty of ideas that could improve people’s lives and strengthen democracy. But they have, repeatedly, proved themselves more committed to preserving the status quo of the political system than fulfilling their promises to voters. They have preferred the false peace of decorum to the true progress of democracy. If they choose that path again, they will lose their majority in 2022, and they will deserve it.”

I hate everything Sheldon Adelson loved about Israel, The Jerusalem Post
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert writes, “Adelson loved Israel and contributed much to a variety of Israeli organizations. And yet, which Israel did he love? Adelson loved an Israel that expels Palestinians from areas under our control. He stated this explicitly on a number of occasions. Adelson loved an Israel that ignores its Arab citizens and refuses to recognize their equal rights. Adelson believed in a right-wing, nationalistic and fundamentalist Israel, though he himself was not a religious person. He also thought that if Israel had nuclear capability, it should use this power against Iran. Adelson contributed to public discourse in Israel by fueling hatred toward elements that did not identify with the extreme Right, and that were unwilling to bear the dominance of settlers and their supporters.”


Trump Plan to Label pro-BDS Groups Antisemitic Is Off the Table, Haaretz
The initiative never materialized, well-placed sources told Haaretz, as the State Department failed to complete the list and get it approved by the time the new administration stepped in – among other reasons, because of internal opposition within the State Department to the initiative, largely stemming from concerns about its repercussions on free speech.

Israel targets flights, religious scofflaws, as virus rages, AP
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel will be closing its international airport to nearly all flights, while Israeli police clashed with ultra-Orthodox protesters in several major cities and the government raced to bring a raging coronavirus outbreak under control.

Police use stun grenades to clear Haredi mob that torched bus at closure protest, Times of Israel
Police used stun grenades to clear ultra-Orthodox rioters from the streets of Bnei Brak early Monday after a group attacked two buses, setting one on fire and completely destroying it.

Palestinians ask Europe to send monitors for elections, AP
The elections are seen as an important step toward ending a rift that has left the Palestinians divided between rival governments since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip from the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority in 2007. The PA has governed only autonomous areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank since then.

Merav Michaeli Elected Leader of Labor Party Ahead of Israel’s March Election, Times of Israel
“At the last moment, we saved this movement from being erased. I understand the enormity of the hour. The Labor party is still stuck in the mud and I have the mission of rescuing and rebuilding it,” Michaeli said.

In Israel, teenagers can now get the COVID-19 vaccine, JTA
This weekend the country’s health ministry announced that teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 are now eligible for the vaccine. In all, Israel has vaccinated about 2.5 million out of its approximately 9 million citizens since beginning its drive in late December, the ministry said Friday.

Palestinian worker reportedly killed by from heart attack after being tear gassed by IDF, Times of Israel
According to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry, Fouad Sibti Joudeh, a 48-year-old resident of Araq al-Tayeh — a West Bank Palestinian town close to Nablus — died on Monday morning after choking on tear gas. The Health Ministry stated that his exposure to the asphyxiant led to a sudden heart attack.

Opinion and Analysis

New Year, New Netanyahu: PM Aims for the Political Center in Latest Rebranding, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “In his current campaign he’s silencing and sidelining the embarrassing members of his coterie, the ones who incite and curse, Likudniks Osnat Mark, Miki Zohar and David Amsalem. Instead of sending people to the television studios to heap filth on the attorney general, he’s waxing lyrical about mending the rifts in the nation. This, of course, is an illusion. The man hasn’t changed. With the same wand he’s using to stir the pot of Arab-Israeli politics, he’s continuing to engineer the politics of the ultranationalist-religious right; for example, by pushing far-rightists Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir under the wedding canopy with extraordinary promises.”

Revisiting the top 10 antisemitic moments of Trump’s presidency, The Forward
Former President Donald Trump has left the White House, but a sticky legacy of emboldening white nationalists and antisemites could follow him during his civilian life. From the man who once described himself as the “least antisemitic person that you’ve ever seen,” below are some of the Trump administration’s antisemitic greatest hits…

How the Israeli flag became a symbol for white nationalists, +972 Mag
Ben Lorber writes, “This is hardly the first time the Israeli flag has appeared at a right-wing rally in the United States that has seemingly little to do with Middle East politics. The flag has flown alongside the Confederate flag at an Arkansas neo-Confederate rally, and outside apartment units from Manhattan to Jerusalem; it has been spotted at a ‘Straight Pride’ parade in Boston, and a pro-Trump car caravan.”

Biden faces an uphill battle for Palestine, and it starts in East Jerusalem, The National
Hussein Ibish writes, “The fact that such a simple, basic and, in a rational world, plainly unobjectionable phrase as “Israel, the West Bank and Gaza” could cause an uproar, and have to be withdrawn for reintroduction at some propitious future date, indicates how challenging it will be for the Biden administration to restore something as previously straightforward as the US commitment to a two-state solution.”

The future of US democracy promotion, Responsible Statecraft
John Feffer writes, “The way out of the apparent contradiction between what the United States says for export and what it does domestically is relatively simple. Don’t do as we say; do as the world says. Focus, in other words, on international standards. All countries, including the United States, should adhere to these standards on labor, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, environmental regulations, and the like.”

For UN Mideast envoy, ‘peace’ meant placating apartheid, +972 Mag
Inès Abdel Razek writes, “To his credit, Mladenov certainly maximized what little margin he had to maneuver to assert as much influence as possible. And as the Times rightly pointed out, Mladenov was indeed one of the rare diplomats who was able to shake hands with Hamas officials and Israeli government leaders alike. That trait, however, was also his biggest flaw. In his eager attempts to have Israel’s ear, the envoy ultimately gave in to Israel’s bullying of the international community when it came to the Palestinians. By playing in Israel’s court, Mladenov helped to blank-check a racist, supremacist regime’s oppression of an entire people.”