News Roundup for March 17, 2021

March 17, 2021

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.

Top News and Analysis

8 People Killed in Atlanta-Area Massage Parlor Shootings, New York Times
Eight people were shot to death at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area on Tuesday evening, the authorities said, raising fears that the crimes may have targeted people of Asian descent. Six of the people killed were Asian, and two were white, according to law enforcement officials. All but one were women.

U.S. far-right leaflets and posters surged last year, Anti-Defamation League says, Reuters
U.S. far-right and white supremacist groups sharply stepped up their distribution of racist or anti-Semitic fliers, posters banners and other forms of physical propaganda last year, according to a study released on Wednesday. The Anti-Defamation League said it logged a total of 5,125 cases last year, compared with 2,724 in 2019. Its study focused on paper propaganda and signs, not online messages.

Jerusalem Seeks to Reactivate Demolition Orders in Palestinian Area, Backing Out of Agreement, Haaretz
The Jerusalem municipality has asked the courts to reactivate demolition orders relating to dozens of buildings housing 1,500 Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, after years of conducting unusual back-door negotiations with these residents in an attempt to find a plan that would offer them alternative housing.


What It Would Take For Biden To Revive The Iran Deal, NPR
One of President Biden’s campaign promises — reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — is at a standstill. Iran has been ramping up its nuclear program and demanding that Biden lift economic sanctions imposed to deprive the regime of cash.

Netanyahu ups focus on settlements, as housing starts hit 10-year low, The Jerusalem Post
“I will not uproot 100,000 Jews for a fictitious peace,” Netanyahu said Tuesday at a campaign stop. In the last week he has increasingly focused on his position on West Bank settlements, a topic that is important for right-wing voters. On Sunday he made his first campaign trip during this fourth election cycle to the settlements, visiting the Gush Etzion, Binyamin and South Hebron Hills regions.

Labor Leader Merav Michaeli Promises Israelis a Feminist Paradise, but First She Must Revive a Dying Party, Haaretz
Much as she worked to convince traditional Labor voters to “come home,” Michaeli resisted any impulse to woo back the Labor base with false promises of regaining former glories. She leaves it to others to talk about her becoming prime minister someday. And with her party currently polling at seven seats – a far cry from the 44 it had in 1992 – she knows it’s hardly a realistic short-term vision.

Palestinian factions pledge ‘transparent’ election without violent intimidation, Times of Israel
Fourteen different Palestinian factions on Tuesday signed an agreement to abide by an electoral “honor code” in the upcoming Palestinian elections, following negotiations in Cairo.

UAE calls off Netanyahu trip, says won’t get involved in ‘Israeli electioneering’, The Jerusalem Post
The United Arab Emirates rejected attempts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to squeeze in his first trip to the Gulf state before next week’s election.

Anyone but Ben Gvir: One man’s mission to keep a Kahanist out of the Knesset, Times of Israel
Spooked by the thought of the right-wing extremist becoming an MK, Yaniv Carmel is going door-to-door in right-wing strongholds to convince people to vote for anybody else

Why Israeli Parties Are Investing More Than Ever in Targeting the ‘Anglo’ Vote, Haaretz
Due to the online nature of most campaigning in this particular election, it has become easier – and cheaper – to reach out to the Anglo community through Zoom, Facebook Live and other virtual platforms. As a result, Israel’s political parties have ramped up voter outreach efforts, holding a variety of English-language meetings online and sharing English campaign materials on social media.

Opinion and Analysis

What’s Missing in Israel’s Election? Biden., New York Times
Shmuel Rosner writes, “Consider two election cycles of the last decade. In 2015, just days before Israelis voted, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Washington and spoke before Congress about the threat of Iran. Mr. Netanyahu made his fierce opposition to President Barack Obama and his Iran deal central to his campaign. Four years later, when Israel entered its current long cycle of repeated elections, Mr. Netanyahu posted his image alongside that of President Donald Trump on a high-rise overlooking Tel Aviv’s main highway. This time his goal was making America a central feature of his campaign, by highlighting his closeness to the president. In both cases, the political messaging was spot-on.”

Democracy watchdog chief Yohanan Plesner: Don’t take Israel’s democracy for granted, Al-Monitor
Ben Caspit talks this week with Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute. Plesner warns that the undermining of Israel’s democracy may seem unconceivable, but is indeed possible. For Plesner, some eastern European countries — where democracy is being eroded — are models that Israel should not learn from. “Under certain circumstances we could find ourselves in a similar situation. It’s a situation where populist leaders frame their rule as the rule of a strong man representing the people against the elite, undermining free media, professional bureaucracy, civil society and independent judiciary,” he says.

Blue and White and in the red, Gantz may be hanging in race to pay off debt, Times of Israel
Omer Sharvit and Haviv Rettig Gur write, “There may be another reason Gantz is refusing to bow out. His Israel Resilience Party — the official name of the Blue and White faction — is deeply in debt, and Israel’s campaign finance laws guarantee him many millions of shekels in retroactive campaign funding if he manages to squeak past the electoral threshold on election day next week.”