News Roundup for June 14 2021

June 14, 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.

J Street in the News

U.S. Jewish Groups Welcome New Israeli Government Helmed by Bennett and Lapid, Haaretz
“Jewish and pro-Israel organizations in America welcomed the new Israeli government helmed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, highlighting the hope they see in the diverse coalition. […] J Street said Netanyahu’s departure is cause for great relief, but the new coalition does not end the dangers posed by his right-wing movement and vision. J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami added that it has no reason to expect the new government will end the occupation, and that U.S. leaders need to make clear that Netanyahu’s policies cannot continue and must challenge leaders who push peace further from reach.”

Jewish groups praise new government, hope for reset with Diaspora, Times of Israel
“J Street, a dovish pro-Israel lobby in Washington that has been harshly critical of Netanyahu, called his ouster ’cause for great relief.’ But it also expressed reservations about the new government’s right-wing elements — Bennett is a former settlement movement leader and opposes Palestinian statehood — and urged the US to push the new Israeli leadership toward ‘diplomacy and compromise.’ ‘While we have reason to hope that the new government will be far more moderate and reasonable than its predecessor in many areas, we have no reason to expect that it will end the intolerable, unjust and deteriorating status quo of endless occupation and recurring violence. Naftali Bennett has consistently presented himself as an even more hardline, pro-settlement, anti-Palestinian, right-wing alternative,’ J Street head Jeremy Ben Ami said.”

A new era in the US-Israel relations, Times of Israel
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “The vast majority of the Jewish community in the United States will breathe a sigh of relief after a period in which American Jews saw Israel develop a symbiosis with the Trump administration contrary to all their deeply held progressive values. The new government in Israel should open a new page of respect in its relations with the non-Orthodox denomination in Judaism and end the discrimination against them by the Rabbinate.”

Top News and Analysis

In Tel Aviv, a dance party celebrates the exit of the ‘crime minister.’, New York Times
Ecstatic Israelis descended onto Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Sunday for a celebration marking the ouster of Benjamin Netanyahu and the swearing-in of a new — if precarious — government. The euphoric atmosphere reflected the relief of many Israelis that a new day had sprung and that a public figure that many in the liberal enclave disdain had at last been dispatched.

The fall of “King Bibi”, Vox
Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, having held the job continuously since 2009. Now, finally, the reign of “King Bibi” — a moniker earned by his lengthy stay in office and authoritarian inclinations — has come to an end. […] Netanyahu’s downfall is, more than anything else, the result of his own hubris.

As Israel’s longest-serving leader, Netanyahu transformed his country — and left it more divided than ever, Washington Post
As Benjamin Netanyahu ends his tenure, following the parliament’s approval Sunday of a new governing coalition that excludes him, he is not only Israel’s longest-serving leader but also one of its most influential. He reoriented the country’s decades-old approach to peace and security, reshaped its economy and place in the world, and upended longtime legal norms and notions of civil discourse.


Yair Lapid Won’t Be Israel’s Next Leader. But He’s the Power Behind the Throne., New York Times
The new coalition is a fragile alliance formed from eight ideologically diffuse parties that are united only by their shared dislike of Mr. Netanyahu. If it holds, it will be largely because Mr. Lapid coaxed the unlikely alliance into existence over months of phone calls and meetings with faction leaders.

Ousted From Power, Israel’s Netanyahu Plots Comeback, Wall Street Journal
Mr. Netanyahu, who now is expected to lead the opposition, plans to press the new governing coalition, which includes eight parties ranging from an Arab group to conservative forces, on sensitive policy issues such as settlement construction and empowering the country’s Arabs. He is hoping the coalition will buckle under pressure, according to people familiar with his plans, which would send the country into a fifth election since 2019 and give Israel’s longest-serving leader another shot at power.

World reacts to new government in Israel, end of Netanyahu era, Al Jazeera
More than half of American Jews said they encountered antisemitism following the start of May’s violence in Israel and Gaza, according to a survey released Monday by the Anti-Defamation League. Its findings suggest a dramatic uptick in the number of Jews who have witnessed antisemitic behavior, or heard or read an antisemitic comment.

As Israel gears up for Jerusalem march, Hamas signals it may fire rockets again, Times of Israel
Israeli security officials are gearing up for a possible outbreak of violence tied to a contentious march by Jewish right-wing nationalists scheduled to be held through parts of Jerusalem’s Old City Tuesday, amid threats that the parade could send the region spiraling back toward war for the second time in as many months.

New FM Lapid Says Israel Needs to Rethink Relations With ‘Angry’ Democrats, Haaretz
Newly sworn-in Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Monday that Israel must change the way it deals with U.S. Democrats, who he said had been abandoned by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The Republicans are important to us, but not just them. We find ourselves, as you well know, facing a Democratic White House, a Democratic Senate and a Democratic Congress,” Lapid told Israeli diplomats. “And these Democrats are angry.”

On top of Bennett’s to-do list is coordinating with the U.S., New York Times
Among the most important issues that the new Bennett government will confront is how to manage political, military and intelligence coordination with the Biden administration, which will affect how it addresses almost all other foreign, national security and economic policy challenges. At the center of current dialogue is the soon-to-be-concluded, revived nuclear deal with Iran.

After Jewish groups are left out of Blinken’s Israel briefing, the White House promises to hire a Jewish liaison, JTA
When the veteran Jewish leaders logged onto a call to hear from the secretary of state about his trip to Israel, many were surprised by the guest list. While many of the groups typically present on such calls were represented, so was an official from the Holocaust museum here. What, they thought, did he have to do with Middle East peace? They were more taken aback when they realized who was absent: representatives of the major Jewish denominations, public policy groups and an influential Jewish women’s organization.

Survey: More than half of American Jews encountered antisemitism after Middle East violence, Forward
More than half of American Jews said they encountered antisemitism following the start of May’s violence in Israel and Gaza, according to a survey released Monday by the Anti-Defamation League. Its findings suggest a dramatic uptick in the number of Jews who have witnessed antisemitic behavior, or heard or read an antisemitic comment.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s new government agrees on only one thing: Booting Netanyahu, Washington Post
Natan Sachs writes, “The Bennett-Lapid agenda on the Palestinian issue is clear: It has none. The new coalition is built to tackle completely different issues, outlining a far-reaching domestic agenda that starts with two simple goals: replacing Netanyahu and ending Israel’s governance crisis.”

Did Israel Just Have a Constitutional Revolution?, New York Times
Shmuel Rosner writes, “At a time when polarization is such a grave social and political threat, Israel might have awkwardly stumbled into a remedy: an enforced regime of compromise. If this government is a success — as any Israeli would hope — the result may be the civility and consensus we have been waiting for.”

Bibi Raised, and Betrayed, a Generation of Politicians. Last Night They Dethroned Him, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Benjamin Netanyahu could have been leading a stable government in Israel right now. Instead, former allies like incoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett brought him down after he betrayed and lied to them for too long”

I’ve marched in the Jerusalem day parade — and this year, it’s a terrible idea, Forward
Josh Feldman writes, “The moment the march turns towards Damascus Gate, it’s no longer about celebrating Jerusalem’s liberation. That could be done through Jaffa Gate— the traditional Jewish entrance into the Old City— that many locals use on Jerusalem Day. But by parading through the Muslim Quarter, by forcing Palestinians to close their businesses, by restricting their movement so that our aggressive interference in their lives doesn’t provoke violence, the Religious Zionist participants, endorsed by the state, send a clear message: You Palestinians have no place here and us Jews will do as we wish regardless of the indignities done to you along the way.”

Assessing Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 Uninterrupted Years In Power, NPR
NPR’s Daniel Estrin has covered Netanyahu’s prime ministership, traveled with him and chronicled how Israel changed under his leadership. From Jerusalem, he spoke with All Things Considered co-host Ari Shapiro ahead of the vote that removed Netanyahu from office. Here are excerpts from that conversation.

The transformative legacy of Mr. Status Quo, +972 Magazine
Noam Sheizaf writes, “Benjamin Netanyahu made everybody believe there could never be an alternative to the so-called ‘status quo.’ His departure should serve as a reminder that one always exists.”

Bennett’s Government Is a Minefield for the Israeli Left. But There Are Also Some Opportunities, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “The right is already prepared for the new government. There are dozens of non-profit groups, institutes and activists waiting to pounce on ministers and lawmakers with plans for reform and legislation. They don’t care whether it’s Netanyahu, Bennett or Sa’ar sitting at the head of the table. They’ll exploit every window of opportunity. The left, in contrast, is unused to ruling and lacks such an organized and powerful infrastructure. The exploitation of political opportunities by the left will depend, among other factors, on the establishment of such an infrastructure.”