News Roundup for July 30, 2020

July 30, 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

Meet Serena Oberstein, Jewish World Watch’s New Executive Director, Jewish Journal
“Serena Oberstein, longtime community leader and former president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, is set to become the new executive director of Jewish World Watch (JWW), the L.A.-based nonprofit that fights genocide and mass atrocities worldwide through advocacy, education and programs […] With nearly two decades of experience creating solutions at the local, state and federal level in the nonprofit and public sectors, Oberstein’s resume includes work as Southern California regional director of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice and as the founding Southwest regional director of J Street.”

Top News and Analysis

Police brace for mass rallies outside PM’s residence after violent incidents, Times of Israel
Police were preparing Thursday for mass rallies planned for Thursday and Saturday evenings outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, the latest in a series of anti-government protests that have increasingly set the stage for violence. Police are preparing to deploy in large numbers, officials said. Among other measures, police are to place more undercover officers amid the protesters, use more technology to monitor certain activists, and mobilize more officers to oppose violence against the protesters. Protesters have for weeks been holding regular rallies outside the residence on Balfour Street, as well as in Tel Aviv, calling on the premier to resign due to his indictment on corruption charges. They have been joined in recent weeks by people protesting the government’s economic policies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Netanyahu Will Have Protesters’ Blood on His Hands, Haaretz
The Editorial Board writes, “Although many protesters found it relatively easy to spot the disrupters, the police didn’t lift a finger to stop the onslaught. Furthermore, photographs from the field show the assailants marching near undercover police detectives and throwing the sticks they were holding into the trash, while the police detectives didn’t do a thing in response. This material warrants serious review, for we must ensure beyond a reasonable doubt that there is no collaboration between the assailants and the police. It is doubtful whether Ohana, who incites against the protesters all day long, is capable of ordering such a review.”

Cramped Palestinian refugee camps fear virus surge, AFP
A second wave of coronavirus infections sweeping the Israeli-occupied West Bank is fuelling fears of a surge in overcrowded Palestinian refugee camps where social distancing is next to impossible […] In 2018, the United States, which had been UNRWA’s main donor, announced it was ending its annual financial aid of $300 million, arguing it was no longer relevant, 70 years after the creation of Israel. UNRWA has increased calls for donations and emergency aid from its other donors.


Hezbollah Got Dangerously Close to IDF Troops, and Israel Is Wary of Another Attempted Attack, Haaretz
The military again reinforced its deployment along the Lebanese border on Tuesday, based on intelligence assessments that Hezbollah would again attempt a reprisal attack as retaliation against the death of one of its combatants in an airstrike in Damascus last week. In a debriefing of the incident at Har Dov on Monday, it appeared that a Hezbollah cell had reached a distance of 50 meters from an Israel Defense Forces position but fled as soon as it was fired on. There were no casualties.

Elections loom as Gantz insists on 2-year budget, Likud to present 1-year plan, Times of Israel
The fight between Likud and Blue and White over the national budget heated up Wednesday, as both sides stuck to their guns, heading toward a face-off that could send the country careening to new elections.

Settlement sprawl forces Hebron’s Palestinian families to live in caves, Al-Monitor
The small cave of some 150 square meters (500 square feet) is located in Khirbet Janba in the occupied West Bank. “Life inside the cave is very difficult, but we got used to it after the Israeli occupation bulldozers demolished my home in 2018, which was built out of bricks, cement and tinplate, because it was built without a license. It was rebuilt and demolished again in 2019,” Abu Aram told Al-Monitor.

1st half of 2020 sees near-record anti-Semitism in UK despite lockdown, Times of Israel
Anti-Semitic incidents in the UK have dropped by 13 percent in 2020 compared to the year before, likely due to COVID-19 lockdown regulations, but the 789 events reported between January and June still represent the third-highest number on record for that period, according to a study by a British watchdog group.

Israeli Police ‘Won’t Allow Any Violence’ as anti-Netanyahu Protesters Prepare Defenses, Haaretz
The Israel Police “won’t allow any violence against protesters, civilians or officers,” acting commissioner Motti Cohen said on Thursday, ahead of planned anti-government demonstrations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Similar rallies have been met with increasingly harsh police response, as well as attacks on protesters by far-right activists.

Twitter tells MKs: Khamenei’s ‘eliminate Israel’ posts don’t violate our rules, Times of Israel
A Twitter official on Wednesday said that the tweets in which Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei calls for Israel’s destruction do not violate the company’s rules against hate speech, and indicated that they are considered mere “foreign policy saber-rattling.”

Opinion and Analysis

This Tisha B’Av, remember John Lewis, The Forward
Yoshi Zweiback writes, “On this Shabbat Nachamu – this Shabbat of Comfort and Consolation – I want to share a few strategies for holding on to hope in the wake of loss and destruction. And, given the moment we find ourselves in right now, I’ll share them in the name and through the example of a great American hero who died two weeks ago and who we mourn as a nation – Representative John Lewis.”

Who would sell Holocaust-themed face masks? This guy., JTA
Ben Sales writes, “The face masks aren’t subtle: One is emblazoned with the famous photo of a Jewish mother and child, their hands raised, at Nazi gunpoint. Another shows an unmistakable image of a concentration camp crematorium.”

What China’s New Deal with Iran Says About Its Ambitions in the Region, Time
Joseph Hincks writes, “Here’s what to know about the state of China-Iran relations, what they portend for the future of the Middle East, and why the new accord might not live up to the hype…”

Netanyahu Has Launched the Decisive Part of His Plan: To Set the Country on Fire, Times of Israel
Yossi Verter writes, “In recent years, Benjamin Netanyahu has been the main instigator of violence in Israel, and by virtue of his position and standing, also the most dangerous one. His apprenticeship came in the fall of 1995, during the period of the Oslo Accords. In recent days, as his political, legal and family distress has increased, he has been implementing the decisive phase of his plan: setting the country on fire.”

Coronavirus Exposes the Epic Moral Failure of Gulf States, Haaretz
Sebastian Castelier writes, “COVID-19 was a chance for wealthy Gulf states to show the compassion to already-exploited migrant workers they can afford, and the gratitude that they owe. Instead, millions have been left hungry, sick and abused.”

Is Israel’s Channel 13 being neutered for Netanyahu’s sake? It’s not that simple, Times of Israel
Haviv Rettig Gur writes, “Channel 13, Israel’s second-most watched television network, fired 42 employees earlier this month, including prominent journalists, technical staff and editors, in a step that set off a firestorm of criticism across Israel’s rowdy media landscape. Some blamed the firings on political intervention. Israel Twito, who is both the CEO and editor in chief of the news division and had the final word on who would be fired, has in the past served as a spokesman to Likud cabinet ministers Israel Katz and Gideon Sa’ar.”