News Roundup for March 21, 2022

March 21, 2022
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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

AIPAC Defends Decision to Endorse 35 Republicans Who Didn’t Certify the Elections, The Jerusalem Post
“The progressive group J Street sharply criticized the PAC for its endorsements, noting that most of the Republicans on AIPAC’s list voted not to certify the 2020 presidential elections. “Claims of ‘bipartisanship’ cannot excuse support for candidates who only respect election results when their party wins,” J Street said in a statement. In response, J Street Vice President for Policy and Strategy Dylan Williams released a statement saying that the letter “seems to suggest that there’s no line the American pro-Israel community shouldn’t cross, even if that means selling out America’s democratic future and supporting those who threaten minorities here at home. “The US-Israel relationship is built on the shared values of justice, equality and democracy. It’s short-sighted to say you’re supporting that relationship while simultaneously undermining the shared, founding values of both nations,” Williams wrote.”

At Tufts, a Student Campaign Urges Peers Not to Join Pro-Israel Groups — Even Liberal Ones, The Forward
“Violet Kopp, a sophomore and co-chair of the campus branch of J Street, first learned about the SJP boycott in an email last week from SJP. “My immediate reaction was disappointment and a bit of frustration,” she told JTA in a phone conversation. “A lot of the work we do relies on having open channels of dialogue and respecting disagreement,” she said. “The boycott fundamentally misunderstands the work we do. The goals of both groups is justice for all people. The boycott feels very contradictory to that.””

Top News and Analysis

Zelensky Tells Israel: “You Can Mediate — But Not Between Good and Evil”, Axios
President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday criticized the Israeli government for not standing unequivocally on the side of Ukraine and against the Russia invasion during a virtual address to Israeli lawmakers. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is one of the few leaders who is in contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has been passing messages between Putin and Zelensky in an attempt to reach a ceasefire.


With Police Backing, Far-right Activist Sets Up Armed Group ‘To Save’ Israel’s Negev, Haaretz
A far-right activist has established an armed civilian unit of rangers to “save the Negev from problematic absence of personal security,” amid heightened Jewish-Arab tensions in Israel’s south. The initiative was initially supported by the police and the Be’er Sheva municipality, but on Tuesday, police walked back their endorsement.

Revered Jewish Sage Buried in One of the Largest Gatherings in Israel’s History, The New York Times
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis gathered on Sunday at the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a spiritual leader in ultra-Orthodox Judaism, in one of the largest public gatherings in Israeli history. Rabbi Kanievsky died on Friday, aged 94.

Women Ordered to Sit at the Back at Concert in Israel’s South – but Only Bedouin Women, Haaretz
In the first organized effort of its sort, around 20 women and men signed a petition to the Rahat Municipal Council demanding that it stops holding gender-segregated cultural events, two weeks after Bedouin women were ordered to sit at the back during a choir performance of famed Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum’s songs.

Israel Will Help Ukrainians ‘as Much as We Can,’ Foreign Minister Says, Reuters
Replying to Zelensky, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was non-committal, saying in a statement that Israel, which has sent a field hospital and other humanitarian aid to Ukraine, would continue to assist its people “as much as we can”.

Iranian Drones Downed Over Iraq Were en Route to Strike Israeli Targets, Officials Believe, Haaretz
Two drones launched from Iran last month and intercepted by American fighter jets over Iraq intended to hit targets in Israel, defense officials believe.

Opinion and Analysis

AIPAC’s Far-Right Endorsements Show How Out of Touch They Are With American Jews, The Forward
J Street Associate Digital Director Nathan Wolfson writes, “As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I’ll never forget seeing insurrectionists with Nazi regalia marching 20 feet from my home during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. I’ll never forget locking myself in my apartment with my wife and dog, unsure whether we’d have to flee the city. My wife did not leave the apartment for four days, and didn’t feel comfortable walking in our neighborhood after dark for three months. American Jews know all too well where this horrifying brand of antidemocratic, ethnonationalist politics can lead. Whether in our own country or elsewhere around the world, we know we can never ignore or excuse it. That’s why I cannot stand idly by when an organization that claims to speak for me — and claims to support American and Israeli democracy — endorses candidates such as Jim Jordan of Ohio who have excused and justified insurrection. When AIPAC recently released its first slate of endorsements for the 2022 elections, even some of the group’s own former leaders and supporters were stunned to see the inclusion of 37 representatives who had voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election immediately after insurrectionists attacked the Capitol on Jan 6.”

‘Stop the Steal’ and AIPAC, The Jewish News of Northern California
J Street leader Ivan Rothman argues, “What is perhaps most disturbing about AIPAC’s endorsements is the justification offered to its critics, namely, that AIPAC is a single-issue organization focused exclusively on Israel. However, even if we assume that having Jordan, Perry and others of their ilk in Congress is beneficial to Israel, it is impossible to ignore basic principles. After all, we teach our children that the ends cannot always justify the means. Surely there must be some red lines for a U.S. organization that purports to be the leading voice of American Jews. AIPAC’s last round of endorsements lies beyond the moral pale and crosses these lines.”