News Roundup for July 19, 2021

July 19, 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.

Top News and Analysis

Israeli PM: No change to ban on Jewish prayer at mosque, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is not changing the norms at a contested site in Jerusalem to allow Jewish prayer there, his office said Monday, walking back comments that sparked angry reactions a day earlier. Bennett, Israel’s new premier, had raised concerns on Sunday when he said Israel was committed to protecting “freedom of worship” for Jews at the hilltop compound. Under a long-standing practice, Jews are allowed to visit — but not pray — at the site, which they revere as the Temple Mount and which Muslims hold sacred as the home of the Al Aqsa Mosque.

Private Israeli spyware used to hack cellphones of journalists, activists worldwide, Washington Post
Military-grade spyware licensed by an Israeli firm to governments for tracking terrorists and criminals was used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, human rights activists, business executives and two women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and 16 media partners. […] Pegasus was engineered a decade ago by Israeli ex-cyberspies with government-honed skills. The Israeli Defense Ministry must approve any license to a government that wants to buy it, according to previous NSO statements.

US hits Iran for delay in nuclear and prisoner swap talks, AP
The Biden administration lashed out at Iran on Saturday for accusing it of delaying a proposed prisoner swap to force a quick resumption of indirect nuclear talks. The State Department slammed as “outrageous” comments made by Iran’s deputy foreign minister who alleged the U.S. and Britain were holding the swap “hostage” to the negotiations over salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA.


What’s Next for Christian Zionists?, Foreign Policy
The changing of the political guard in both countries comes at a time when evangelical Christians had reached the zenith of political power in Washington, shaping U.S. policy on human rights, abortion, reproductive health care, LGBT rights, and increasingly Israel, where they helped build political support for Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It also coincides with a growing generational split in the evangelical church, with an increasing proportion of younger evangelicals viewing Israel more critically than their elders.

Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid to visit Morocco as countries strengthen ties, Axios
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is planning to travel to Morocco in early August to inaugurate the new Israeli diplomatic mission in Rabat, Israeli sources told me. Lapid would be the first Israeli minister to visit Morocco since the nations re-established diplomatic relations last December as part of a three-way deal with the U.S., in which the Trump administration recognized Moroccan sovereignty in Western Sahara.

How British pro-Israel groups are rewriting Middle East history textbooks, +972 Magazine
For the second time in two years, a major international education company has withdrawn two British school textbooks on Middle East history, in response to accusations of bias regarding their Israel-Palestine content. Pearson, which also oversees national exams for 14- to 16-year-olds in the U.K., announced the decision on June 8 after an independent review by two British academics found “dangerously misleading” pro-Israel bias in the books.

Will Rivka Ravitz Break the Glass Ceiling of Ultra-Orthodox Politics in Israel?, Foreign Policy
One of the country’s most powerful women has remained rooted in a traditional community. But religious parties still won’t let her run for office.

Orthodox protesters disrupt Conservative Tisha B’Av prayer at Western Wall egalitarian section, JTA
A crowd of Orthodox men disrupted a Conservative prayer service on Tisha B’Av, a Jewish day of mourning, at the Western Wall — shouting down worshippers, attempting to block the entrance and setting up a makeshift divider meant to separate between men and women.

Opinion and Analysis

Israelis and Palestinians suffer from Trojan-Horse syndrome, Washington Post
Gershom Gorenberg writes, “The United States only has a chance to mediate if both sides believe it’s fair and independent, which means it can’t be Israel’s spokesperson, or an advocate for hardline Israeli positions, as happened under former president Trump. For President Biden to push even small steps toward peace, he must show that there’s bright daylight between Washington’s position and Jerusalem’s.”

The Great Palestinian Awakening: How We Refound Our Peoplehood, and Our Power, Haaretz
Miran Khwais and George Zeidan write, “Despite Israel’s decades-long effort to fragment, control and constrict us, the last few months have forged a newly unified Palestinian identity, from Jerusalem to Haifa to Gaza: Young Palestinians deciding enough is enough.”

Israel’s Psychological Torture of Palestinian Prisoners and Their Families, Haaretz
Amira Hass writes, “Israel does not miss any opportunity to show how heartless it is. It did that once again in refusing to allow the Palestinian political activist Khalida Jarrar to leave her cell in order to participate in the funeral of her daughter Suha, who died at a young age, a week ago.”