News Roundup for March 22, 2023

March 22, 2023

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J Street News Roundup

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

Longtime Israel Backers in U.S. Turn Outraged Critics — But Biden Administration Remains Distant, LA Times
“The Biden administration’s reluctance to posit a sharper critique of the Israeli government’s controversial policies has bewildered many Israelis and American Jews, who say that, among world powers, only the U.S. can influence Israel. “What is the U.S. doing to exert leadership and push the parties together?” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, who heads the liberal Washington-based advocacy group J Street, which promotes Israel-related issues. “Pursuing a solution very quietly behind the scenes does not meet the moment.” ….Ben-Ami of J Street said that “for most American Jews, support of Israel is a critical part of their identity.” “But if the center of Israeli society is walking away,” he continued, “what are American Jews going to do?””

My Pro-Israel: The Judicial Crisis and Beyond, J Street
J Street’s National Director of Communal Relations Sam Berkman writes, “[T]he current debate ends–when the headlines fade and the protesters disperse–we as Jewish Americans, along with our Israeli brothers and sisters, must remain vigilant and acknowledge that the occupation of the Palestinian territories continues to weaken Israel’s Jewish and democratic foundation–even if not in a dramatic and fast-paced fashion as these proposed judicial “reforms.” The threats to Israel posed by the occupation are rising incrementally and are unlikely to have a clearly defined culmination, per design by the occupation’s proponents. This, however, does not absolve us as a community from speaking out and taking action–for when the undemocratic policies some day become inseparable from the fabric of Israeli society, we will look back and ask ourselves when it was that the tipping point was reached. And it will be too late.”

Top News and Analysis

U.S. Slams New West Bank Law, Says It’s a Violation of Israeli Commitments, Axios
The Biden administration harshly criticized an Israeli law passed on Monday in the Israeli Knesset that repeals the 2005 Israeli disengagement from the northern occupied West Bank, calling it a “provocation” and a violation of commitments Israel made to the U.S. The law allows Israeli citizens to enter the area between the cities of Jenin and Nablus, which Israeli settlers evacuated in 2005. The law could dramatically increase the potential for friction between settlers and Palestinians in the most sensitive and volatile area of the occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu Seeks To Soothe US Concerns Over Settlement Repeal, The Washington Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to back down on Wednesday, saying his government has ″no intention” of returning to four abandoned settlements in the occupied West Bank under a law that was repealed by parliament this week. His statement followed harsh U.S. criticism and an international uproar over Netanyahu’s far-right government, the country’s most hard-line ever, over the Knesset vote early Tuesday to revoke a 2005 law that dismantled the four settlements.


Israeli Far-right MK’s Spokesperson Shares Video on ‘Why We Need to Wipe Out Hawara’, Haaretz
Using the hashtag #WipeoutHawara”, a spokesperson for Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Son Har-Melech shared a tweet on Tuesday titled “Questions and answers: Why Hawara should be wiped out?” The video, shared by Elisha Yered, features Menachem Ben Shahar, a resident of the West Bank outpost of Givat Ronen and a well-known far-right activist as he says “Of course it’s allowed to wipe out Hawara. It’s a village full of terrorists who support terrorism and march with joy after attacks.”

Syria Says Israel Attacked Aleppo Airport, No Casualties, AP
An Israeli airstrike early Wednesday targeted the international airport in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, causing material damage and putting it out of service, Syria’s state news agency reported. It was the second attack on the facility this month.

Knesset Panel Plows Ahead With Judicial Appointments Bill Despite 5,400 Reservations, The Times of Israel
The Knesset was moving closer to approving one of the coalition’s core bills in its effort to overhaul the judiciary on Wednesday, which will give the government control of most judicial appointments if passed in its current form — despite thousands of reservations submitted against the measure by the opposition.

Netanyahu Cancels Attendance as Israeli Army Reserve Protesters Flock Tel Aviv Conference, Haaretz
Hundreds of demonstrators from the reservist protest movement blocked a main thoroughfare in Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning where Housing Minister Yitzchak Goldknopf and Transportation Minister Miri Regev were speaking at a conference at the Eretz Israel Museum. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also supposed to speak at the event, organized by the Israel Lands Authority, but canceled.

Opinion and Analysis

This Is the Disturbing Reality of Israeli Land Theft and Right-wing Rule, Haaretz
Amira Hass argues, “The current coup on Israel’s system of government is proceeding at lightning speed before our eyes, featuring the same methods that have enabled the settling process: planning in secret, lying without blinking, economic trickery, distorting facts, twisting laws, violating international law, tolerance by the police, military, prosecutors and courts towards settler violence and violation of the handful of rulings of the High Court of Justice concerning a tiny part of Palestinian lands that were stolen. And at the top of the list? A lack of consideration for the views and needs of the majority by excluding the Palestinians from every consideration. This is the pure racism we’ve grown used to, in the guise of fair statistical calculations.”