News Roundup for March 15, 2021

March 15, 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 Joint Problem-Solving Approach, Times of Israel
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “It was quite absurd that we met for the first time in Cambridge MA, considering we lived and worked in close proximity to each other in Jerusalem for many years without ever knowing it. Issa is a Palestinian patriot who had worked to promote the self-determination of the Palestinians as an advisor to the late Faysal Husseini and, later, to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. I am a diehard Zionist, an Israeli diplomat, and served as an advisor to the late Shimon Peres when he was Foreign Minister and later when he was President of Israel. Together Issa and I learned the power of the joint problem-solving approach.”

Ro Khanna keeps the dialogue going, Jewish Insider
“Similarly, Khanna suggested in the interview with JI that he is unconcerned by those who question his positions on the Jewish state — noting that in spite of some of his more critical views, his legislative history speaks to a pro-Israel record. He emphasized that he voted in favor of the 10-year memorandum of understanding guaranteeing military assistance to Israel. But the aid, Khanna added, ‘should not be used for anything that violates human rights.’ Khanna maintained that he has received ‘overwhelming support’ from leaders of many Israel groups across the country, including staffers at J Street. ‘I think they appreciate the view I have, which is a strong sense of the cultural and economic relationship between the United States.’–‘When I speak out on issues, it’s with the aspiration of strengthening the relationship, strengthening the security of the countries and also affirming the rich tradition of human rights,’ Khanna told JI, expressing his admiration for the former Israeli prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.”

Top News and Analysis

United States and Iran warily circle each other over reactivating nuclear deal, Washington Post
Karen DeYoung and Kareem Fahim write, “Nearly two months into Biden’s presidency, with Iran’s own contentious presidential election approaching in June, the two sides have been unable even to talk to each other about what both say they want […] The United States and Iran have issued sometimes contradictory, often intransigent statements that reflect mutual suspicion and agendas that are far broader than the simple reactivation of an agreement that many opponents of their efforts believe was flawed to begin with.”

Nine Days to Election: Likud Stalls, Four Parties on Brink of Elimination, Times of Israel
Ahead of the home stretch of the campaign, the feeling in Likud campaign headquarters is mixed. Officials think the goal – obtaining a majority in the Knesset, at least 61 seats for the right-wing and Haredi bloc – is in reach, but they’re worried about the party itself, which is stuck in the polls with fewer than 30 seats. In the previous campaign, last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to get his rivals where he wanted them. This time the attempt to drag Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid into the brawl is not working very well.


Health officials: Situation in Israel ‘most hopeful since pandemic began’, Times of Israel
Officials quoted by Channel 13 news said the situation was “the most hopeful it’s been since the beginning of the pandemic” last year. The officials said that if the positive trajectory continues, Israelis will be able to celebrate Passover without limitations at the end of March.

Coworkers: Man charged in Capitol riot had a Hitler mustache, AP
An Army reservist charged with taking part in the attack on the U.S. Capitol was known as a Nazi sympathizer who wore a Hitler mustache, coworkers told federal investigators.

Changing direction, Lapid targets Blue and White, Labor voters, Times of Israel
“Parties with five seats do not change government and parties with six do not save democracy,” read a text signed by Lapid and sent to hundreds of thousands of people, alluding to the Blue and White and Labor parties, which are currently projected within that range.

Netanyahu ‘lighting the field on fire’ to outpace polls in final stretch, The Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working on targeting potential Likud voters by “setting the field on fire.” After not doing in-person events for much of the campaign due to lockdowns, Netanyahu is now taking part in at least four rallies per day, the campaign official said.

Poll: Blocs split 58-58; Ra’am could be tie-breaker, Times of Israel
A Sunday TV poll predicted continued deadlock after the election, with the pro- and anti-Netanyahu blocs evenly split and the Islamist Ra’am party narrowly crossing the electoral threshold to become possible kingmaker.

Israel’s Security Service Warns B’Tselem Researcher Not to ‘Make Trouble’ for the Army, Haaretz
The security service coordinator, who identified himself as Captain Eid, told the researcher, Nasser Nawaj’ah, that he was “making trouble and threatening the army.” Captain Eid mentioned in this regard the incident involving Harun Abu Aram of the village al-Rakiz, who is lying paralyzed in hospital after a solider shot him in the neck because he tried to stop the army from seizing a neighbor’s generator.

Liberman under fire for saying he’ll dump Netanyahu, Haredim ‘in a landfill’, Times of Israel
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman is under fire for pledging to put Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ultra-Orthodox parties in a “landfill,” with Haredi politicians calling his comments anti-Semitic.

Opinion and Analysis

Israeli Labor Leader Launched ‘Pink-collar Revolution,’ and It Seems to Be Working in This Election, Haaretz
Jonathan Lis writes, “With solid feminist credentials, and policies to boot, Merav Michaeli attracts women from all sides of the political spectrum, taking away votes from left and right ahead of Israeli election.”

Friendly Fire review: Israeli warrior Ami Ayalon makes his plea for peace, The Guardian
Charles Kaiser said, “After devoting decades to wiping out as many enemies as possible, Ayalon had a series of epiphanies that are the real subject of this book. Like a very large number of Israelis often overlooked by enemies of their country, after Ayalon retired as head of Shin Bet he decided almost everything he had done as a soldier and a supervisor of secret agents had actually reduced the prospects for peace and security. “

Netanyahu’s Dream Government Is a Nightmare for Everyone Else, Haaretz
Alon Pinkas writes, “If Netanyahu succeeds in the upcoming Israeli election and forms the next government with an unholy alliance of far-right and religious extremists, democracy will suffer, and so will the country’s ties with the United States.”

For Gaza’s most vulnerable, home is no safe place for COVID-19 recovery, +972 Mag
Fidaa Shurrab writes, “Gaza’s fragile health system could not sustain the surge, and quarantine centers — built by the government last year with the appearance of the first cases of COVID-19 in the strip — were quickly reaching capacity. As a result, the government began referring people who contracted the virus and their families to home quarantine, while maintaining a night curfew and public health restrictions. But the attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus has had disastrous effects on vulnerable groups in Gaza — especially poor families, women, and children. Though Gaza’s government lifted movement restrictions in February due to a decrease in infections — there are currently less than 2,000 active cases — the social and financial conditions remain difficult for many.”