News Roundup for March 7, 2023

March 7, 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

Israelis Are Asking the US Jewish Community To Raise Our Voices (Hebrew Language), KAN
On Israeli nightly news program KAN J Street Chief of Staff Adina Vogel-Ayalon notes, “Israelis are asking us in the US Jewish community to raise our voices, speak out, speak to our elected officials to be vocal. It is legitimate for us to speak out. There are those that don’t want us to — they just want us to support Israel and sit silently; that is unacceptable, it is more than in our right and legitimate to speak out about our values and vision for the future of the State of Israel. The United States, too, has the right to tell Israel to stop doing things that are not advancing security in the region and that are undermining Israel’s liberal democracy.”

Biden Administration Urged To Block Extremist Israeli Minister’s Visit, The Guardian
“The pro-Israel lobby group, J Street, called on the Biden administration to consider the unprecedented step of refusing a US visa to a senior Israeli government minister, and to refuse to meet him if he is allowed into the country. “We agree with Israeli opposition leader and former prime minister Yair Lapid that Smotrich’s comments constitute ‘incitement to a war crime’,” it said.”

Top News and Analysis

Protests Over Netanyahu’s Judiciary Overhaul Spread to Israel’s Military, The New York Times
Hundreds of soldiers in the military reserves either have signed letters expressing a reluctance to participate in nonessential duty or have already pulled out of training missions, officials said. The affected units include the 8200 division that deals with signal and cyberintelligence and whose graduates have helped drive the country’s tech industry, as well as elite combat units. The military leadership fears that growing anger within the ranks over the government’s plans will affect the operational readiness of Israel’s armed forces, according to senior military officials.

Settlers Attack Palestinian Town Again Amid Israeli Purim Celebrations, The Washington Post
Israeli settlers attacked the Palestinian town of Huwara for the second time in just over a week late on Monday, in a flash of violence during the Jewish Purim holiday festivities that followed calls by far-right politicians for it to be destroyed. A family of five had just finished shopping at a grocery store in the city at around 9.30 p.m. and had got into their car outside when hooded settlers arrived and began to attack with rocks and an ax, according to the account of the family members and security footage from the store. Store workers rushed to close the shutters. The violence after sundown, marking the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Purim, followed a settler rampage through the village and surrounding area the previous Sunday, which some Israeli commentators had likened to a “pogrom.” One 37-year-old Palestinian was shot dead, and homes and businesses were set on fire.


Syrian State Media: Israeli Strike Damaged Aleppo Airport, AP
An Israeli airstrike hit the Aleppo airport early Tuesday and put it out of service, Syrian state media reported. Citing a military source, the state news agency SANA said Israel “carried out an air attack from the direction of the Mediterranean Sea, west of Latakia, targeting Aleppo International Airport.” SANA said the strike “caused material damage” to the airport.

IDF Chief To Meet Pilots, Officers As Judicial Overhaul Protests Roil Military, The Times of Israel
Military chief Herzi Halevi is slated to meet with pilots, officers, and other troops this week over concerns that reserve soldiers protesting the government’s judicial overhaul will refuse to show up for service or training, the Israel Defense Forces said Monday. In a statement, the IDF said Halevi would meet Tuesday with reserves pilots and air force commanders, and on Wednesday with officers from an array of reserve units.

Court Shortens Detention Without Trial for Israeli Settler Involved in Hawara Rampage, Haaretz
An Israeli court shortened the administrative detention on Monday of a minor who is being held without trial after being arrested on suspicion of involvement in the rampage on the Palestinian town of Hawara last Sunday. Judge Ruth Lorch ruled that the order issued against the minor, a 17-year-old settler, will expire in two months instead of four.

Herzog Says Leaked Judicial Compromise Plan Isn’t Final; MKs on Both Sides Slam It, The Times of Israel
A draft of a compromise deal produced under President Isaac Herzog’s aegis on the government’s judicial overhaul was published Tuesday morning, whereupon the president’s office swiftly clarified that he had not endorsed it, denied it was a finalized version, and called it one of several possible proposals, while politicians on both sides of the aisle attacked it.

Opinion and Analysis

‘They Ransack Our Village for Sport’: One Palestinian Farmer’s Story of Israeli Settler Violence, The Guardian
“Doha Asous is an olive farmer from a village near Nablus in the occupied West Bank. She is in Britain for Fairtrade Fortnight to talk about agriculture in Palestine and to promote local produce – olives and their oil, as well as other typical foods, such as dates. Here she describes life in her village during the recent violence between Palestinian locals and Jewish settlers.”

Netanyahu Overrates Israel’s Supreme Court — In Order To Destroy It, The Washington Post
Gershom Gorenberg argues, “The current crisis shows that Israel indeed needs reforms — but in the opposite direction from what Levin, Rothman and Netanyahu seek. We need a constitution that safeguards judicial review; we need a detailed bill of rights. We won’t get such changes with Netanyahu in power. On the other hand, to negotiate with Netanyahu’s plan as the starting point means dickering on how much of an already weak democracy to destroy. The opposition’s only choice is to continue its protest campaign until Netanyahu and his consiglieri abandon their program. That’s the minimal acceptable compromise.”

I Risked My Life in an Elite Israeli Special Operations Unit. I Refuse to Serve a Dictatorship, Haaretz
Major R., who only can be identified by his rank and first initial, served in the special operations force of Israel’s military intelligence branch of the army, writes, “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. IDF reservists have to ask themselves: Do they support Israel’s democracy and rule of law, or Netanyahu’s gang, which is perpetrating a coup?”