News Roundup for July 23, 2020

July 23, 2020

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

It’s Time for the Democratic Party to Mention the Occupation, The Nation
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami and Arab American Institute President James Zogby write, “Including or omitting reference to occupation is not a mere word choice. It’s an indication of whether the Democratic party is truly willing to confront and oppose the systemic injustice that has been at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for over 53 years. Without admitting the existence of occupation, one cannot understand how Palestinians are daily deprived of their fundamental rights—or why they demand freedom and independent statehood. Without admitting occupation, one cannot understand why so many veteran Israeli political and security leaders warn that the country’s unending rule over another people is eroding its democratic institutions and leading it down (in the words of former prime minister Ehud Barak) ‘a slippery slope toward apartheid.’”

Anti-Semitism is rising worldwide — so why is Trump’s special envoy targeting the president’s American Jewish critics?, JTA
“From 2009 to 2012 under the Obama administration, I served as the U.S. Special Envoy to Combat and Monitor Anti-Semitism. Today I watch this growing tide of hatred and intolerance with mounting dread. And I feel tremendous frustration as I watch the current occupant of my former role, Elan Carr, use his position to score political points for President Trump and shamefully malign the president’s Jewish critics […] Labeling J Street’s post as anti-Semitic was both absurd and malicious. Even leaving aside the utterly dubious merits of Carr’s claim, it is entirely inappropriate that he would use his official, taxpayer-funded position to meddle in domestic politics and attack Jewish critics of the president’s foreign policy. Such bad-faith, transparently partisan behavior can only serve to undermine the special envoy’s own credibility and ability to fight actual anti-Semitism around the world.”

J Street Condemns Trump’s Destruction of the US Refugee Program, J Street
“As representatives of the pro-Israel, pro-peace American Jewish community, our history and our values compel us to oppose the proposed rule changes in the strongest possible terms. It is clear that after years of ideologically-driven cuts and restrictions designed to shrink and sabotage the operation of America’s refugee resettlement program, this latest change will only inject a new layer of unfairness, cruelty and arbitrary discrimination into an already gut-wrenching process […] J Street is proud to stand with HIAS and American Jews across the country in condemning these latest proposals. We note with anger the particular cruelty these changes inflict on women, children and LGBT+ individuals, the rights of whom our nation purports to champion abroad. We note with distress that this latest proposal would further undermine procedural fairness, disproportionately impair applications from non-English speakers and reduce the chances of resettlement being granted to those who need it most.”

Top News and Analysis

New DNC platform opposes ‘unilateral actions,’ supports Palestinian rights, Times of Israel
The Democratic Party publicly released its draft 2020 platform Wednesday, breaking new ground from 2016 by including language that opposes annexation and supports Palestinian rights, but that also disappointed progressives by not mentioning occupation. The policy document, which serves as a blueprint for the party’s priorities over the next four years, targeted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposal to annex parts of the West Bank. The final document will be released next month.

Democrats propose new draft to party platform, revealing shifts in focus since 2016, Washington Post
It also embraces Biden’s promise to end what have been called “forever wars” in places like Afghanistan, while ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It calls for rejoining the Paris climate accord and reentering the Iran nuclear agreement. “Democrats believe the United States should not impose regime change on other countries and reject that as the goal of U.S. policy toward Iran,” the document states.

Netanyahu Decides on November Election, Leveraging Political Chaos, Sources Say, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to not pass the budget for 2020 and to call a general election to take place on November 18, political sources who spoke to the prime minister and people close to him said on Wednesday.


Israel Is Not a Rag Doll’: President Rivlin Urges Ministers to Cease Talk of Early Election Amid Coronavirus, Haaretz
President Reuven Rivlin urged cabinet ministers on Thursday to “stop the talk about holding an early election” after it was reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had decided to promote the move as the country faces a severe economic crisis in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats Unveil Draft Foreign Policy Platform With Promises to End “Forever Wars” and “Regime Change”, The Intercept
“I think the platform shows that they’ve taken a number of important progressive foreign policy priorities on board,” said Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser for Sen. Bernie Sanders. “There’s a lot to celebrate here, both in terms of where the party is moving on these issues, and of a broader unifying vision for the country.”

Democrats’ Presidential Platform Commits to Return to Iran Nuclear Deal, Haaretz
The Democratic Party’s platform for the 2020 election will call for a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump withdrew from two years ago. An almost final draft of the platform also expresses clear opposition to “regime change” in Tehran, while emphasizing the importance of constraining Iran’s “regional aggression, ballistic missile program, and domestic repression.”

Meet Ellen Rosenblum, Oregon’s attorney general who is taking on Trump’s federal forces in Portland, JTA
On Friday, Rosenblum sued the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and other federal agencies, accusing them of civil rights violations. She’s also seeking a restraining order that would halt the detaining of demonstrators.

B’Tselem investigation: Settlers assault Palestinians and file false reports against them; military arrests the victims, B’Tselem
In two cases B’Tselem documented in March and April 2020, settlers not only injured Palestinians and damaged their property, but also alleged that the victims had been the ones to attack them. Backed by the military, settlers live in a world of nearly automatic impunity. Palestinians, in contrast, are guilty until proven innocent.

Opinion and Analysis

AIPAC-Connected Lobby Whiffs in Eliot Engel Debacle, Tablet
Armin Rosen writes, “Framing an accomplished Black man as a deadbeat over a fairly insignificant debt would have been an odd line of attack in a socioeconomically diverse congressional district even if the country wasn’t in the midst of a terrifying, pandemic-triggered economic crisis and nationwide anti-racism protests. Engel soon asked for the spot to be taken off the air, but the damage was done. DMFI’s disastrous intervention showed that pro-Israel Dems couldn’t swing an election, not even for a pro-Israel icon representing a district in metropolitan New York. Donors spent close to $2 million with nothing to show for it but a fresh narrative of defeat and party disunity, along with a new potential opponent in Bowman.”

For Palestinian Police, Much to Lose if Israel Annexes West Bank Land, New York Times
David M. Halbfinger, Adam Rasgon and Mohammed Najib write, “Palestinian security officers, scorned for working with Israel, say they are on the front lines of building a state. But what if the state-building project fizzles?”

Netanyahu’s government has lost the public’s trust, just when it’s most needed, Times of Israel
David Horovitz writes, “It’s a dangerous shift in any democracy when the electorate loses confidence in its leadership, and most especially in an embattled country such as Israel, where that confidence is a crucial component in national resilience, in the willingness to act at potentially personal cost for the greater good of the nation. But that is precisely what we are now witnessing.”

We Jews, of all people, must not be silent over the Uighurs, The Jewish Chronicle
Karen Pollock writes, “We of all people know the value of hearing from a witness – that famous quote from Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel tells us when you hear from a witness, you become a witness. Well, today we hear from those who have escaped or survived. Exiled members of China’s Uighur minority have given evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court. We need to listen and we need to share their stories.”

Mysterious’ Incidents in Iran Could Provoke Regime to Confront Israel, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “In recent weeks Iran has apparently attempted a number of cyberattacks against Israel after it targeted its water infrastructure facilities in April.”