News Roundup for July 24, 2020

July 24, 2020

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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

Progressives push Democrats to acknowledge West Bank occupation in party platform, Al-Monitor
“‘J Street is very pleased to see that the apparent first draft of the party’s platform looks set to include significant improvements on the 2016 platform — including the first ever articulation, in the platform of a major American political party, of support for Palestinian rights alongside affirmation of support for Israel’s security and opposition to settlement expansion and unilateral annexation,’ the group’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, said in a statement. ‘At the same time, we’re very concerned that the draft apparently makes no refence to Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian territory.’”

New DNC platform opposes ‘unilateral actions,’ supports Palestinian rights, Times of Israel
“The left-wing Mideast advocacy group J Street called the document a ‘step forward’ but said it couldn’t neglect occupation. ‘This draft language is a step forward… but the Democratic platform *must* include mention of occupation,’ the organization tweeted. It also included a link for its members to sign a petition urging the drafting committee to amend the section.”

US Diplomat Accuses Iranian-American Group of Dual Loyalty in Pro-Trump Tweets, National Interest
“Special Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell accused an Iranian-American civil rights organization of serving as the ‘Iranian regime’s lobby’ in a Twitter post […] Dylan Williams, senior vice president at the left-leaning Jewish-American group J Street, called Grenell’s comment a ‘bigoted accusation of disloyalty against Iranian-Americans’ in his own post.”

Top News and Analysis

Israeli police use water cannons on protesters, arrest 55, AP
Israeli police used water cannons to disperse protesters in central Jerusalem and arrested at least 55 of them as clashes broke out overnight after thousands staged a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israelis have held a series of demonstrations in recent weeks calling on Netanyahu to resign, citing his trial on corruption charges and his fractious unity government’s poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tel Aviv Hospital Director Named Israel’s Coronavirus Czar, Says ‘Challenges Are Enormous’, Haaretz
The number of coronavirus cases rose by 1,368 Thursday, bringing the number of active cases to 33,097. Ten people died from the virus, for a total of 440 deaths. As of Thursday evening, 702 people were in hospital, including 302 in serious condition and 83 people on ventilators.

At Jerusalem protest, water cannons everywhere, but not a place to go, Times of Israel
Jerusalem police shot torrents of water at protesters following an anti-government demonstration early Friday, hitting activists who were trying to obey orders and disperse, and blocking those trying to leave from being able to exit, in what one witness described as an “absurdity.”


Israeli Police Raid Major East Jerusalem Palestinian Cultural Institutions in Justice Ministry ‘Experiment’, Haaretz
Israeli police raided two major Palestinian cultural institutions in East Jerusalem on Wednesday, confiscating computers and documents and a private car. The two institutions’ directors, a husband and wife, were arrested at home, and a third staffer was arrested at his.

Netanyahu losing ground, as Bennett and Lapid rise in the polls, The Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is losing ground, according to new polls published by Channels 12 and 13 on Thursday night, making another election any time soon a lot less likely.

Peter Beinart Proclaims He’s Still a Zionist, Though He No Longer Believes in a Jewish State, Haaretz
In a mostly friendly 40-minute interview with Haaretz, Beinart dismissed condemnation by some of his more prominent critics, including Daniel Gordis – who called him a “traitor” – and Alan Dershowitz, who claimed Beinart is advocating a “Final Solution.” “The jury on these debates takes a long time to play out. I am more worried by how I’ll be judged decades from now,” he said.

‘They’re Scared’: LGBTQ Rights Divides Israel’s Arab Lawmakers, Haaretz
On Wednesday, three members of the Joint List – all from the communist Hadash faction, one of them Jewish – supported a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapy, which aims to change the sexual orientation of LGBTQ people but is widely discredited by experts as ineffectual and harmful […] After the vote, Joint List Leader Ayman Odeh said in a television interview that his support for the bill “is based on a value system that respects every human being for who he or she is.”

Meet the new head of UK Jewry’s first-of-its-kind racial equality commission, Times of Israel
Britain’s Jewish community claims to be the first in the world to set up a Commission on Racial Inclusivity. The commission was established by the umbrella representative body of Anglo Jewry, the Board of Deputies, in early June, in the wake of racial justice protests inspired by the May 25 George Floyd murder by police in the United States.

Israel-Hezbollah tensions escalate, IDF sends more troops to the north, Al-Monitor
Israel’s army announced this morning it was sending reinforcements to the northern border. An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) statement said that “in light of a situational assessment that was held in the IDF, it was decided to send a pinpoint reinforcement of infantry troops to the Northern Command.”

To prevent elections, MKs said set to propose delay in budget deadline, Times of Israel
A coalition party will next week reportedly present a bill postponing the deadline for passing the state budget, in an effort to prevent early elections, amid fierce disagreements between the government’s Likud and Blue and White parties.

Opinion and Analysis

Uyghur Camps And The Meaning Of ‘Never Again’, The Detroit Jewish News
Jonah Kaye writes, “When young Jews feel the instinct to identify in the suffering of the Uyghurs the pain of their own great-grandparents, it is a testament to the quality of their education. Let us not handicap productive anger and pain with whining about holocaust comparisons, thereby embracing the inertia of apathy. Jewish memory is not written in dead letters on the history books of the past. It is lived in the present hearts and minds of a new generation of young men and women.”

Israel’s anti-Netanyahu protests, explained, Vox
Conor Murray writes, “Israelis have been taking to the streets for weeks, protesting Netanyahu and his government for some, or all, of the problems manifesting under his watch. Not everyone is necessarily protesting for the same reason, but many are demanding his resignation.”

Here Is What the Jerusalem Protests Really Look Like, Haaretz
Uri Misgav writes, “The demonstrations have no defined leadership, steady funding or a clear plan of action. Information is decentralized and spread by word of mouth or social media. All kinds of political groups stream to the Balfour Street protests, along with many who don’t belong to any group. The demonstrators make their own signs, accessories and sometimes costumes. They make a lot of noise, shouting, singing and whistling, and with bicycle horns, pots and pans. This is an authentic civil protest and the most exciting one I’ve ever been privileged to see.”

The Trailer: Inside the swing-state covid-19 wars, Washington Post
David Wiegel writes, “What didn’t Sanders supporters get? So far, a few things that are probably not going into the platform under any circumstances. First, while Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren wanted to condition aid to Israel on its human rights policies, Biden did not, and Biden won. The resulting Israel language in the platform supports the creation of a Palestinian state and opposes settlement expansion but also condemns the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement, with language that neutralizes anything controversial.”

China is perpetrating genocide. We’ve seen this before, The Forward
Chad Gibbs writes, “What China does to Uyghurs today, from the theft of hair to forced sterilization, the destruction of families and lives, is genocide. That it has taken on yet another trapping of Nazi torture is just one more reason the world must finally act. Shaving the heads of prisoners and selling their hair on the open market is not a small thing, but rather a sign. This action is a demonstration of how far China will go in its treatment of the Uyghur minority.”

Who Cares About Explosions in Iran?, Haaretz
Gideon Levy writes, “Just how dangerous is this continuous provocation? There are two possible answers: Either Iran is indeed the existential threat hovering over Israel, a strong and dangerous regional power about to arm itself with nuclear weapons – in which case provoking it is extremely perilous. Or Iran is not as powerful as described in the scare campaign in Israel, it’s another paper tiger, in which case provoking it is not so risky. But it’s impossible to argue both that Iran is dangerous and that provoking it is not dangerous.”