News Roundup for March 29, 2023

March 29, 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

Biden Raises Tone, if Only a Notch, After Israel Protests Flare, AFP
“Logan Bayroff of J Street, the left-leaning pro-Israel US advocacy group, said the United States should do more to “stand unequivocally” with the protesters. “This is a historic crisis moment in Israeli democracy,” he said. “There needs to be a clear, public tough red line on the actions that this government is taking to make clear that they’re destructive ultimately to Israel’s own interests, to US interests, and to shared democratic values.””

Biden’s Favorite Middle East Ally Is Spoiling His Democracy Party, Politico
“Those moves by the president — who has also received the backing of the more progressive pro-Israel advocacy group J Street — has run counter to the budding sentiment within the Democratic Party…“At the end of the day, this issue is not a voting issue for 99.999 percent of people, right?” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street. “But I don’t think the majority of the Democratic Party is going to be okay if Israel takes steps that provoke tremendous outbreaks of violence and lots of people are getting hurt. I don’t think they’ll be okay as Israel undoes its judicial independence and the underpinnings of its democracy.””

Top News and Analysis

U.S.-Israel Tensions Over Judicial Overhaul Burst Into Open, The New York Times
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel responded defiantly on Wednesday to sharp criticism from President Biden over his government’s contentious judicial overhaul plan, declaring that Israel was “a sovereign country” that would make its own decisions. As weeks of quiet diplomatic pressure burst into a rare open dispute between the allies, Mr. Netanyahu’s opponents in Israel accused him of endangering the longstanding and critical relationship with the United States that could harm the country’s ability to face daunting security challenges, including Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Biden Says Netanyahu Won’t Get White House Invitation in “Near Term”, Axios
President Biden told reporters on Tuesday that the Israeli government can’t “continue down this road” with its judicial overhaul plan and stressed he is not going to invite Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House “in the near term.” It’s the first time Biden has spoken about the judicial overhaul, which has rattled Israeli society, on camera. Netanyahu suspended the legislation on Monday after months of mass protests, a strike that affected much of the country, and calls from some of Israel’s closest allies, including the U.S., to build a broad consensus around the plan.


DeSantis To Visit Israel To Speak at Jerusalem Museum, AP
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will travel to Jerusalem next month and speak at a museum event as Israel faces a spiraling domestic crisis, giving the potential 2024 presidential candidate a stage to tout his foreign policy credentials. The Jerusalem Post and Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem say DeSantis will deliver a keynote speech at an event that will address the tensions in Israel, a key U.S. ally.

After Netanyahu’s Judicial Retreat, Israelis Regroup for Next Round, The Washington Post
As the government and the opposition prepare to enter negotiations over the most controversial elements of the changes, such as giving Knesset members more power to pick Supreme Court judges, both sides are already bracing for failure — and preparing for round two of the fight.

Likud MKs Back Down From Bill Allowing Netanyahu to Receive Donations for Legal Defense, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party announced on Wednesday that it will not seek to further advance a bill that would allow elected officials to receive private donations for legal expenses. Likud had planned for the first of three votes to happen on Sunday, but later announced that the hearing on the bill planned for Thursday would not take place, following pressure from lawmakers in both the coalition and opposition.

A Chaotic Response to Israel’s Turmoil Reveals a Fraught New Dilemma for Jewish Legacy Organizations, JTA
For decades, large American Jewish groups have publicly supported Israel’s foreign policy, and mostly stayed quiet on its domestic conflicts. Now, a domestic policy issue threatening to tear Israel apart has compelled at least some of them to do two unusual things: opine on Israel’s internal affairs, and publicly chide the government that, in their view, is responsible for the crisis.

Opinion and Analysis

A Kahanist Militia for Netanyahu, Haaretz
Haaretz’s Editorial Board writes, “The Netanyahu/Ben-Gvir shock troops present at Monday’s demonstration in support of the legal overhaul were nothing but a promo for what awaits demonstrators after the Knesset’s spring recess, once the private police force is set up and all its preparations are complete.”