News Roundup for March 25, 2021

March 25, 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

Israel should help all Palestinians get vaccinated — whether legally obligated to or not, JTA
Former J Street U President Matan Arad-Neeman writes, “I grew up believing that Israel is a nation that seeks to do right, that has a generosity of means and a generosity of spirit that is rooted in Jewish values like tikkun olam. I grew up believing that to save a life is to save the entire world. If Israel is that nation, I can’t think of a better way of showing it than by vaccinating all Palestinians — and doing so in a spirit not of obligation, but of shared humanity.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel’s Election Ended in Another Mess. Could an Arab Party Break the Deadlock?, New York Times
After a fourth Israeli election in two years appears to have ended in another stalemate, leaving many Israelis feeling trapped in an endless loop, there was at least one surprising result on Wednesday: An Arab political party has emerged as a potential kingmaker. Even more surprising, the party was Raam, an Islamist group with roots in the same religious movement as Hamas, the militant group that runs the Gaza Strip. For years, Raam was rarely interested in working with the Israeli leadership and, like most Arab parties, was ostracized by its Jewish counterparts. But according to the latest vote count, Raam’s five seats hold the balance of power between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc and the motley alliance of parties that seeks to end his 12 years in power. The vote tally is not yet final, and Raam has previously suggested it would only support a government from the outside.

Ra’am officials, far-right Ben Gvir rule out joining forces in a coalition, Times of Israel
The Islamist Ra’am party and far-right Itamar Ben Gvir ruled out joining forces in a coalition on Wednesday, denting the already slim prospects that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could form a razor-thin government after Israel’s fourth election in two years.

Netanyahu fights for survival as Israel headed for yet another election deadlock, NBC
“This proves yet again that Israelis are split right down to the middle when it comes to the main question that defines Israeli politics,” one expert said.


Netanyahu not ruling out ‘parliamentary cooperation’ with Ra’am, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not ruled out “parliamentary cooperation” with the Islamist Ra’am party, associates of the premier told the Kan public broadcaster on Wednesday.

Netanyahu’s savior: Meet the Arab Islamist who can sway the election, The Jerusalem Post
Sources close to the prime minister said he would be open to parliamentary cooperation with Abbas but asked Likud MKs to stop talking about it.

It’s official: Gilad Kariv will be the first Reform rabbi in Israel’s parliament, JTA
When he is sworn in, Kariv will be the first Reform rabbi to ever serve in Knesset. The leader of the Israeli Reform movement and a longtime religious pluralism activist, Kariv has been running in Israeli elections over the span of almost nine years, but has never won until now.

Arab vote for Likud barely budges despite Netanyahu’s overtures, Times of Israel
In the months leading up to the March 2021 election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched an unprecedented charm offensive on the Arab Israeli public, seeking to woo a community he has in the past largely ignored and sometimes demonized.

No clear winner: Israel could be in for fifth election, Al-Monitor
The day after voting, the political deadlock in Israel persists, with neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor the bloc opposing him empowered to compose a government.

Israel military hits ‘Hamas positions’ in Gaza, Al Jazeera
The Israeli military says it carried out night-time raids against Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire from the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Opinion and Analysis

The Right Wing Stands on Two Pillars, Bibism and Kahanism, Haaretz
Ravit Hecht writes, “Likud has emptied itself out of anything that is not Benjamin Netanyahu. The Likud ballot slip should have been replaced a long time ago, because the voters for this party are no longer placing a ballot for Likud. They are voting – in their own words – Bibi.”

What does another election deadlock mean for Israel?, Brookings
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political and legal fate remains in question after a fourth round of elections in two years has yielded no clear winner. As the country remains stuck in limbo, Natan Sachs weighs in on how this election has shaken up traditional right vs. left alliances, the Islamic Ra’am party’s potential kingmaker role, and what the election of extreme far-right Knesset members means for Israel’s democracy.

To remain prime minister, Netanyahu might have to work with Israeli Arabs, Washington Post
Henry Olsen writes, “The UAL, known as Ra’am in Israel, broke away from its previous alliance with three other Arab parties to run on its own in this election. Its leader, Mansour Abbas, has argued that Israeli Arabs need to be able to leverage their votes to gain tangible benefits for their communities, such as greater protection against soaring crime. He pledged that his party was neither for nor against Netanyahu and that it would support any coalition that supports its aspirations. The party did well enough in its base among Bedouins to surmount the 3.25 percent threshold and gain at least four seats.”

Israel’s election: Five scenarios for what comes next, Axios
Barak Ravid writes, “With 90% of the vote in from Tuesday’s election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc is just short of a 61-seat majority in the Israeli Knesset. A broad anti-Netanyahu bloc is on course for a slender majority, but will find it nearly impossible to form a coalition. The results suggest that most Israeli voters want to see Netanyahu removed from office, but can’t agree on an alternative.”

‘We simply feel forgotten about:’ 9 Asian American Jews speak, The Forward
In partnership with Rabbi Mira Rivera of Romemu in New York, N.Y., we’ve asked nine Asian American Jewish leaders to share their experiences in this painful time, as well as thoughts on how American Jews can and should offer support to the Asian American community….

Two-Way Street for Passover: Journeying With Fellow Travelers, J Street
Rabbis Elyse Wechterman writes, “The Passover story, as told in the Haggadah and the Book of Exodus, is the great unifying narrative of the Jewish people. The bonds of unity and peoplehood are forged in the harrowing escape from slavery, the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea and years of desert wandering. We tell the story as it culminates at Mt. Sinai as a climb to holy unity — oneness of spirit and intention and identity, complete solidarity of the people, one with each other and their God. But, is that unity really so complete, and is it really the ideal we are looking for?”