News Roundup for June 19, 2020

June 19, 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

Search for Meaning with Jeremy Ben-Ami and Rabbi Yoshi [Podcast], Search for Meaning with Rabbi Yoshi
Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of J Street, recently spoke with Rabbi Yoshi for a fascinating discussion about finding common ground among American Jewry when it comes to Israel. Together they cover the current, evolving landscape of Israeli politics and how Jews can come together no matter where they stand.

NGO Action News: Civil Society and the Question of Palestine, UN
“On 15 June, J Street issued the press release ’28 Senators and 9 Leading Senate Candidates Now Publicly Oppose Unilateral West Bank Annexation: Battleground Senate Candidates Part of Overwhelming Opposition to the Move’. J Street shared the 28 senators’ public statements opposing annexation and underlined how these were strong messages adding to the ‘increasingly overwhelming chorus of American and Israeli political and communal leaders, security officials and foreign policy experts – including over 220 Israeli former generals – who are publicly opposing annexation and sounding the alarm about the potential for disaster.’”

Over 600 Jewish Clergy Join Major Jewish Orgs and Campus Leaders in Opposing Potential Israeli Annexation, J Street
“More than 600 rabbis, cantors and seminary students from across the country have signed on to a public letter warning that the Israeli government’s threatened unilateral annexation in the West Bank ‘would be a catastrophic mistake…violate human rights, weaken democracy, and make Israelis and Palestinians less secure.’”

Top News and Analysis

Facebook removes Trump ads with symbol once used by Nazis to designate political prisoners, Washington Post
Facebook on Thursday deactivated dozens of ads placed by President Trump’s reelection campaign that included a symbol once used by the Nazis to designate political prisoners in concentration camps. The marking appeared as part of the campaign’s online salvo against antifa and ’far-left groups.’ A red inverted triangle was used in the 1930s to identify Communists, and was applied as well to Social Democrats, liberals, Freemasons and other members of opposition parties incarcerated by the Nazis. The badge forced on Jewish political prisoners, by contrast, featured a yellow triangle overlaid by a red triangle so as to resemble a Star of David.

EU’s elder statesman: Annexation flouts biblical tenet ‘Thou shalt not steal’, Times of Israel
“An annexation would be contrary to the security interests of the whole region, including Israel,” Asselborn said Monday at a virtual meeting of EU foreign ministers with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Now is the time for urgent concerted action to preserve the prospect of peace.”

Palestinians fear displacement from an annexed Jordan Valley, AP
The grazing lands to the west and east, leading down to the banks of the biblical Jordan River, have been swallowed up by the settlements or fenced off by the Israeli military. So instead of leading sheep out to pasture, the men rise before dawn to work in the settlements for around $3 an hour — or they move away. “Everyone here works in the settlements, there’s nothing else,” said Iyad Taamra, a member of the village council who runs a small grocery store. “If you have some money you go somewhere else where there is a future.” Palestinians fear communities across the Jordan Valley will meet a similar fate if Israel proceeds with its plans to annex the territory, which accounts for around a quarter of the occupied West Bank and was once seen as the breadbasket of a future Palestinian state.


Israeli soldier gets community service after killing Gazan, AP
An Israeli soldier who shot and killed a Palestinian fisherman near the Gaza frontier in 2018 has been given 45 days of community service after an army investigation concluded he fired without authorization, the military said Thursday.

Meeting Abbas, Jordan foreign minister warns against annexation, Al Jazeera
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi has warned Israel’s plan to annex large parts of the occupied Palestinian territories would pose an “unprecedented danger” and have wider consequences for peace in the region.

Benny Gantz won’t support annexation of West Bank territory with large Palestinian population, Israeli TV reports, JTA
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he will not support the annexation of West Bank territory that is home to “many Palestinian residents,” an Israeli TV station reported.

Netanyahu Doubted Kushner’s Ability to Lead Mideast Peace Plan, Bolton Says in Book, Haaretz
In excerpts released on Thursday, Bolton said Netanyahu spoke with him before he joined the Trump administration and expressed bewilderment at Kushner’s appointment as White House senior advisor.

In chilling procedure, soldiers ambush Palestinian laborers, shoot them and break arm of 15-year-old, B’Tselem
Since the beginning of May 2020, B’Tselem has documented five incidents in which soldiers lay in wait for Palestinians trying to enter Israel for work through gaps in the Security Barrier near Far’on, a village south of Tulkarm. In four cases, the soldiers shot the workers and injured five of them. In the other case, the soldiers beat a 15-year-old until his arm broke and he suffered abdominal hemorrhaging.

Amid a national reckoning over race, Jews are embracing Juneteenth, JTA
First observed in 1866, Juneteenth has experienced a surge of interest this year amid nationwide protests against racial injustice. That surge extends to the Jewish world, where a range of events are planned for this Juneteenth, which this year coincides with the beginning of Shabbat.

Opinion and Analysis

Incumbents vs. insurgents: The many challenges in New York House primaries, Washington Post
David Weigel writes, “Bowman’s campaign has become the focus of a multiyear, multidistrict effort to move the Democratic Party to the left, targeting districts so hostile to Republicans that a primary win is a ticket to Washington […] Bowman and his allies have leaned in to the Engel-as-Crowley story line. Like the former congressman from Queens, Engel has voted with the left on most of its priorities but utterly rejected its criticism of Israel. Unlike Crowley, Engel opposed the Iran nuclear deal, which Bowman hammered as an issue that aligned the incumbent against President Barack Obama and with President Trump.”

Bolton Revelations Cast Unintentional Harsh Light on Trump-Netanyahu Alliance – and Annexation, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Bolton’s book indirectly illuminates the problematic Trump-Netanyahu alliance and raises troubling questions about its essence. Bolton claims that most of Trump’s foreign policy moves are driven by their perceived contribution to his re-election in November. Perhaps he hasn’t decided yet whether the all-out, in-your-face occupation advocated by U.S. Ambassador David Friedman will garner more votes and contributions than Kushner’s more restrained approach.”

Caught between annexation and his public’s apathy, Abbas hopes for symbolic wins, Times of Israel
Avi Issacharoff writes, “The PA leader understands his people have no appetite for another intifada, and so is focusing his efforts on the global arena, hoping for statehood recognition.”

Inspired by US protests, Ethiopian-born Israeli ministers battle against police brutality, Al-Monitor
Danny Zaken writes, “Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata and Deputy Public Security Minister Gadi Yevarkan, both of Ethiopian origin, are reinforcing their battle against police brutality.”

No Monuments Will Be Toppled Here, but Jewish Israelis Need to Start Talking About Systemic Racism, Haaretz
Edan Ring writes, “In Israel, statues and monuments probably won’t be toppled anytime soon, but here too there is need for a public discussion about the values and the heritage that shape the public space and about the message and the sense of belonging that they convey to Israeli citizens.”

It’s not Black Lives Matter’s job to make you feel comfortable about Israel, The Forward
Abe Silberstein writes, “While one can be supportive of both, there is no right to be comfortable in supporting both. Black Lives Matter doesn’t owe you its support of Israel, especially at this moment of encroaching annexation.”

Israel’s ‘strangling’ of Bethlehem tightens as world debates annexation, +972 Mag
Judith Sudilovsky writes, “West Bank settlements are expanding around Bethlehem despite annexation pushback, cutting off Palestinians from their land and from each other.”