News Roundup for July 21, 2021

July 21, 2021

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!


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

Israel vows to ‘act aggressively’ against Ben & Jerry’s, AP
“Israel’s prime minister vowed Tuesday to ‘act aggressively’ against the decision by Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling its ice cream in Israeli-occupied territories, as the country’s ambassador to the U.S. urged dozens of state governors to punish the company under anti-boycott laws. […] Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the liberal pro-Israel group J-Street, said it was not antisemitism to differentiate between Israel and settlements built on occupied territory. ‘Instead of demonizing and attacking companies and individuals for making principled decisions,” he said, “these leaders would make a greater contribution to the fight against antisemitism by helping to bring the unjust and harmful occupation to a peaceful end.’”

Ben & Jerry’s may be first test of American anti-BDS laws, Forward
“Ben & Jerry’s announcement Monday that it will end sales in the occupied West Bank may cause a pint of trouble for its parent company as it tests Americans laws intended to bar companies that boycott Israel from state government contracts and pension funds. […] But Jeremy Ben Ami, president of the liberal pro-Israel group J Street, said critics are wrong to deem Ben & Jerry’s move as a boycott of Israel because the settlements are not a part of Israel, and that calling for economic equality without political equality is an untenable position for the Jewish establishment and pro-Israel organizations to hold. ‘Either this is all part of Israel, in which case everybody who lives in the occupied territory should have equal rights, or there’s a distinction,’ Ben-Ami said. ‘You can’t have your ice cream and eat it too.’”

Stores freeze out Ben & Jerry’s in Israel boycott backlash (newsletter), JTA
“The left-wing J Street said that Ben & Jerry’s was drawing ‘a principled and rational distinction between commercial transactions in the State of Israel & those in the territory it occupies.’”

Top News and Analysis

US states’ fully baked anti-BDS laws could put the freeze on Ben & Jerry’s, Times of Israel
The ice cream giant is slated to face similar legal challenges by pro-Israel activists and lawmakers in the US who do not accept efforts to differentiate between Israel and the West Bank when it comes to boycotts. They maintain that the refusal to sell a pint in Efrat is no different from refusing to sell one in Tel Aviv.

War’s trauma apparent in portraits of Gazan children (photo series), AP
With schools shuttered due to the war, the coronavirus and the summer hiatus, Gaza’s children have little to keep them occupied as they wade through the wreckage. Most are poor; more than half the population lived in poverty before the pandemic and war wiped out more jobs.

Yes, take away our ice cream, +972 Magazine
Sahar Vardi writes, “The reality is that we need someone to take away our ice cream for us to remember that we are occupying another people. So please, take our ice cream.”


Ben & Jerry’s Decision to Stop Sales in West Bank Puts Unilever in Tough Spot, Wall Street Journal
Unilever PLC was engulfed in controversy Tuesday after its ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s said it would no longer sell its products in Jewish settlements located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and contested East Jerusalem. Israel’s government called on the London-listed company to reverse its brand’s decision, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warning Unilever Chief Executive Alan Jope in a call of “severe consequences” and other politicians calling for a boycott.

Scoop: Israel forms damage control team after NSO Pegasus spyware reports, Axios
The Israeli government is forming a special team to manage the fallout from reports that software developed by Israeli firm NSO was used by governments around the world to spy on journalists, human rights activists and possibly world leaders, two Israeli officials tell me. So far, this is primarily a media crisis for Israel. But senior Israeli officials are concerned it could morph into a diplomatic crisis.

Israel Goes to War Again, This Time Against Ben & Jerry’s, Foreign Policy
Israel is vowing to wage a broad legal battle against Ben & Jerry’s after the U.S. ice cream company announced it would no longer sell its popular desserts in Jewish settlements built on occupied Palestinian land to protest Israel’s ongoing military rule over the Palestinians. Although the partial boycott by Ben & Jerry’s is not expected to harm Israel economically, the company’s decision and Israel’s countermoves are resurfacing thorny questions about the West Bank, which Israel has controlled for decades but never officially annexed.

Senators aim to reclaim war powers from executive branch, CNN
A bipartisan trio of senators unveiled new legislation Tuesday to try to claw back war powers from the executive branch, an effort to reassert Congress’ powers to authorize war and to provide a stronger check on foreign arms sales. The legislation faces long odds of becoming law, but it represents the latest and most sweeping effort to date from lawmakers seeking to give Congress a larger role in deciding how US military force is used around the globe.

Emmanuel Macron identified in leaked Pegasus project data, The Guardian
The leaked database at the heart of the Pegasus project includes the mobile phone numbers of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and 13 other heads of state and heads of government, the Guardian can reveal. The South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and the Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan, are also listed in the data, which includes diplomats, military chiefs and senior politicians from 34 countries.

Iran’s Security Council rejects draft nuclear deal with U.S., spokesman says, Axios
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council has rejected a draft agreement negotiated indirectly with the U.S. over the past three months in Vienna, a government spokesman said Thursday. However, another spokesman later denied that there was any “agreement” to reject in the first place. Either way, the statements seem to indicate that incoming president Ebrahim Raisi will seek to renegotiate the understandings reached in Vienna to seek a better deal for Iran. They also confirm that no deal on Iran’s nuclear program will be reached before Raisi, a hardliner, takes office next month.

Opinion and Analysis

Benjamin Netanyahu Is Fading Away, Foreign Policy
David Rosenberg writes, “Trump and Netanyahu have a lot in common. They both want to return to power not through the conventional tactics of calling out the government’s failures and trumpeting their successes but by questioning the right of their successors to hold office in the first place. But there is a critical difference: Trump is admired by many Americans for what he stands for.”

Israel’s NSO and Pegasus Are a Clear and Present Danger to Democracy Around the World, Haaretz
Eitay Mack writes, “NSO’s Pegasus spyware, a cyberweapon enabling state-sponsored terrorism against civil society, has outraged the world. In Israel, there’s complicity – or complete indifference.”

What Israeli soldiers don’t demolish by day, settlers burn by night, +972 Magazine
Ali Awad writes, “Settler violence is making it impossible to live off the land, as my family has been for generations. This is part of Israel’s strategy to force us out.”

Will Bennett Ditch Netanyahu’s Approach to the Iran Deal?, Foreign Policy
Or Rabinowitz writes, “The Israeli prime minister seems to be charting a new course aimed at reducing tensions with the Biden administration in advance of a White House visit.”

Living with uncertainty and doubt, Times of Israel
Rabbi John Rosove writes, “In our uncertain age in which so many feel unsafe, unsure, and afraid as a consequence of Covid, climate change, terrorism, war, economic distress, social unrest, immigration, multi-culturalism, disinformation, and conspiracy theories – it ought not to be a surprise that events such as what happened at the Kotel on Saturday evening, at the nation’s Capitol on January 6, in the increasing rate of gun violence, police brutality, racism, and antisemitism, that the gravitational pull towards authoritarianism should be growing in so many places in the world.”