News Roundup for June 29, 2021

June 29, 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

A ‘Justice Democrat’ picks a new fight with a longtime Chicago liberal, Jewish Insider
“Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), the veteran Chicago congressman, has long been regarded as one of the most progressive lawmakers in the House. […] Davis, who says he has visited Israel three times, emphasized that he is philosophically aligned with J Street, the left-leaning Israel advocacy group now on a mission to advance a new policy objective: restricting aid to Israel. J Street is endorsing Davis for reelection in the 2022 cycle, as it has in each election since it first backed him in 2010, a spokesperson for the organization confirmed to JI.”

Top News and Analysis

Biden hosts Israel’s president for Oval Office visit as two countries reset relationship, Washington Post
President Biden welcomed outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to the White House on Monday as the two countries seek to reset their relationship under new governments. The two leaders met in the Oval Office in the afternoon.

EXPLAINER: Why are Palestinians protesting against Abbas?, AP
Thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets in recent days to protest against President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, whose security forces and supporters have violently dispersed them. The demonstrations were sparked by the death of an outspoken critic of the PA in security forces’ custody last week, but the grievances run much deeper. Abbas’ popularity plunged after he called off the first elections in 15 years in April and was sidelined by the Gaza war in May. The PA has long been seen as rife with corruption and intolerant of dissent.

Biden declares Iran will never get a nuclear weapon ‘on my watch’, Politico
President Joe Biden on Monday declared that Iran would “never get a nuclear weapon on my watch,” after affirming an “iron-clad” relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Biden’s comments, in an Oval Office meeting with Israel’s outgoing president, Reuven Rivlin, came after the U.S. launched airstrikes against Iranian-linked facilities on the Iraq-Syria border on Sunday evening.


New Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to Antony Blinken: Let’s keep disagreements private, JTA
New Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, meeting with his American counterpart Antony Blinken for the first time, said his government wants to mend relations between Israel and the Democratic Party. “In the past few years, mistakes were made,” Lapid said, referring to the long tenure of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose divisive political tactics and close relationship with former President Donald Trump angered Democrats. “Israel’s bipartisan standing was hurt. We will fix those mistakes together.”

Israel, counting on herd immunity, declines to reimpose most restrictions as delta variant spreads, Washington Post
As the surging delta coronavirus variant forces countries to reinstate restrictions, Israel’s new government is standing pat, expressing faith that the nation’s high vaccination rate is shielding people from the variant’s worst effects. The number of positive cases is rising, but few people are becoming seriously ill. Officials decided Sunday night that a spike in positive cases did not warrant a return to lockdown or significant restrictions, other than reinstating an indoor mask mandate dropped just two weeks ago.

Hamas wins Palestinian hearts as Gaza conflict threatens broader shift, NBC News
Hamas may be an international pariah, branded as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Israel, but the militant group has succeeded in winning the admiration and respect of Palestinians in the wake of the recent 11-day war with Israel. Hamas framed its role in the fighting, which caused widespread destruction in the Gaza Strip, as a defense of both Jerusalem and the Palestinian cause after weeks of growing tension and years of unresolved grievances.

Israel and U.S. in talks on first Biden-Bennett White House meeting, Axios
The U.S. and Israel are working to coordinate a White House visit for new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in July, three Israeli officials and two U.S. sources told me. Why it matters: It’s another sign that the Biden administration wants to help stabilize the new and fragile Israeli government.

Biden’s airstrikes send a clear message amid Iran deal talks — but are unlikely to derail them, analysts say, CNBC
The U.S. launched airstrikes into parts of Iraq and Syria overnight, targeting Iranian-backed militias there in response to what the Biden administration says were drone attacks against American personnel in Iraq. The strikes targeted operational and weapons storage facilities in two locations in Syria and one in Iraq, though it is not immediately clear if anyone was killed or injured. The strikes are the second round ordered by President Joe Biden against Iranian-backed militias since he began his term in office.

Demolitions begin in occupied East Jerusalem’s Silwan, Al Jazeera
Violence erupted after the demolition of a Palestinian business by Israeli forces began in the al-Bustan area of the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan on Tuesday. Israeli forces accompanied by bulldozers entered the Palestinian neighbourhood and destroyed a butcher’s shop in Silwan. Soldiers used tear gas and batons to push back residents and Palestinian activists as they carried out the demolition.

Israel Searches for Its Next U.S. Ambassador – Here Are the Top Candidates, Haaretz
The announcement by Israel’s U.S. and UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, that he will be leaving his job in the capital was seen as inevitable due to his ties with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and to his own past role as a Likud lawmaker. Now the question is who will represent the Bennett-Lapid government in D.C. – Erdan will stay on at the United Nations in New York – and will that person establish a stronger foothold there than the outgoing envoy did.

Opinion and Analysis

West Bank Settlers Just Showed Bennett Who Really Runs the Country, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “The Israeli government’s emerging agreement with the residents of the illegal outpost of Evyatar isn’t a compromise, but a harbinger of victory for the latter. The early days of the Bennett-Lapid government are thereby proving once again what has long been known – settler leaders are the country’s most powerful pressure group.”

The Guilty Conscience of Jewish Empire, Jewish Currents
Daniel May writes, “How can the ostensibly anti-occupation center reconcile itself to the right’s policies of perpetual occupation? The philosopher Micah Goodman has in the last half-decade become perhaps Israel’s most prominent public intellectual by arguing that it’s possible to find a compromise between these seemingly incompatible views.”

Coping with anti-Israel rhetoric and activism on college campuses, Times of Israel
Rabbi John L. Rosove writes, “How ought Diaspora day schools, synagogue religious schools, Jewish summer camps, and families teach young American Jews about Israel in a way that affirms Israel’s historic importance to the Jewish people and extols the State’s many accomplishments and contributions to the world, but does not ignore or deny its imperfections specifically regarding its unequal treatment of Israeli-Palestinian citizens and its violation of Palestinian human rights living under occupation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank?”

Israeli Leaders Should Reject Netanyahu’s Preference for Military Solutions, Haaretz
Nimrod Hurwitz writes, “Netanyahu’s reliance on military intervention and arm-twisting have proven to be self-destructive. Israel’s military and political leaders would do well to reject his bellicose approach to international crises and shift toward a policy of cooperating, quietly, with the forces that oppose Iran’s nuclear program by devising realistic, yet creative, ways to stop it.”