News Roundup for May 10, 2021

May 10, 2021

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J Street in the News

Bowman’s support of Israeli bill focused on security, Riverdale Press
Gary Trachten writes, “The nuances of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. policy in the Middle East can be complex and difficult. That is why I have been impressed so far by our new congressman, Jamaal Bowman. During his brief tenure, he has strongly supported Israel’s security and its future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people while also standing up unapologetically for the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people. As a member of the vibrant Jewish community in our district — the volunteer chair of J Street’s Westchester chapter, and one who has deep affection for Israel — I have felt well-represented by Congressman Bowman, and proud of his stances.”

‘Not $1’: US lawmaker urges end to complicity in Israeli abuses, Al Jazeera
“Over the past several years, US Congresswoman Betty McCollum has tried to spur a debate in the United States about the billions of dollars that Washington sends to Israel each year. The Democrat from Minnesota wants to know more about just where the money is going, while ensuring that Israel is not using US military assistance to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians. […] The proposed legislation has the support of more than a dozen members of Congress, and dozens of Palestinian, human rights and Jewish organisations, including J Street – and it has drawn the ire of Israel’s supporters, who argue the massive assistance package ($3.8bn annually) is necessary to protect the US’s top ally in the Middle East.”

Is Jerusalem Day a Reason to Celebrate?, Times of Israel
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “Jerusalem Day, which falls this year on May 9-10, is meant to remind Jewish Israelis of our historic connection to our capital and commemorate the city’s liberation and unification. In light of the human rights violations taking place in Jerusalem and the efforts to prevent any possibility of a political solution with the Palestinians, it is worth considering whether we have a reason to celebrate and whether this is indeed the realization of the dream of the Jewish people who prayed to return to Jerusalem during two thousand years of exile.”

Top News and Analysis

How a Jerusalem neighborhood reignited the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Washington Post
Israelis and Palestinians are bracing for an escalation in violence not seen here in years, as an incendiary land dispute is waged both in the Israeli Supreme Court and on the streets of an East Jerusalem neighborhood. The feud unfurling in the mostly Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where Israelis claim to own the property on which mostly refugee Palestinian families have lived for decades, is resurfacing old scenes: mounted Israeli police firing rubber bullets at stone-hurling Palestinian protesters. Israeli settlers, who call the area Nahalat Shimon, are moving to displace some 70 Palestinians in what they are calling an effort to reclaim their ancestral land.

Israeli police storm al-Aqsa mosque ahead of Jerusalem Day march, The Guardian
Israeli police have stormed the sacred Jerusalem site that holds the Dome of the Rock after all-night clashes with Palestinian protesters, before a planned parade by hardline Israeli nationalists through the Old City in a provocative annual flag-waving march. The Palestine Red Crescent reported 278 people injured after officers in riot gear clashed with Palestinian demonstrators in East Jerusalem, extending Jerusalem’s worst unrest in years as tensions have have soared in recent days in advance of the now-delayed Israeli court ruling on whether authorities were able to evict dozens of Palestinians from the Old City’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and give their homes to Jewish settlers.

U.S. and Iran Want to Restore the Nuclear Deal. They Disagree Deeply on What That Means., New York Times
President Biden and Iran’s leaders say they share a common goal: They both want to re-enter the nuclear deal that President Donald J. Trump scrapped three years ago, restoring the bargain that Iran would keep sharp limits on its production of nuclear fuel in return for a lifting of sanctions that have choked its economy. But after five weeks of shadow boxing in Vienna hotel rooms — where the two sides pass notes through European intermediaries — it has become clear that the old deal, strictly defined, does not work for either of them anymore, at least in the long run.


Israeli Supreme Court delays hearing on Palestinian evictions from East Jerusalem neighborhood, CNN
Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday postponed a hearing on the possible eviction of several Palestinian families from their homes in Jerusalem and will set a new date within 30 days. The Supreme Court said the hearing, which was supposed to take place Monday, was canceled at the request of the State Attorney General. Last week, the court said it would hear an appeal by the Palestinian families against their eviction from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, in the latest development in a decades-long legal case.

Israel calls on Biden administration to stay out of Jerusalem crisis, Axios
The Biden administration and Israel clashed over the recent escalation in violence between security forces and Palestinians at a holy site in Jerusalem, with the Israelis asking the White House not to intervene, according to Israeli officials. Why it matters: This is the first major crisis between Israel and the Palestinians that the Biden administration has had to deal with.

Critics say it’s apartheid. Do Israelis and Palestinians think it is?, Washington Post
Two recent reports accusing Israel of apartheid against Palestinians have unleashed feverish debate. Critics claim that by using the charged term “apartheid,” B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch merely provoked partisans, while the two human rights advocacy groups argue that Israel meets substantive criteria. B’Tselem wrote in January, “A regime that uses laws, practices and organized violence to cement the supremacy of one group over another is an apartheid regime. The Human Rights Watch study, released last week, used the definition of apartheid under international law: a policy intended to maintain domination of one group over another; systematic oppression of one group by another; and inhumane acts. What do Israelis and Palestinians themselves think?

From TikTok to Temple Mount Clashes: 28 Days of Violence in Jerusalem, Haaretz
Hundreds of Palestinians were injured over the weekend as long-simmering tensions between Jews and Arabs boiled over in Jerusalem, leading to repeated clashes between Ramadan worshipers and police at one of the city’s holiest sites. […] Recent weeks have seen increasingly violent clashes between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem and the West Bank, driven in part by Palestinian anger over police restrictions on Ramadan gatherings near the Temple Mount and the pending eviction of several Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in favor of Jewish settlers. What follows is a detailed breakdown of the events which have led to the most recent round of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians.

Despite Jerusalem Day unrest, police won’t change Flag March route, Times of Israel
Police have decided not to alter the route of the Jerusalem Day Flag March through Jerusalem’s Old City, despite spiraling tensions and major clashes on the Temple Mount, according to Hebrew media reports. The route will go through Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter, as planned. The event — set to begin at 4 p.m. — usually draws tens of thousands of young, mostly religious nationalist Israeli Jews.

Canada, Quartet slam Jerusalem violence, int’l pressure grows on Israel, Jerusalem Post
Canada and the Middle East Quartet (the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia) condemned on Sunday the violence that took place on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and called on Israel to halt eviction plans for Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood as violence rises in the country’s capital. The EU and the US also issued a statement against the violence and the pending Sheikh Jarrah evictions, as did Jordan, Turkey, Qatar, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Individual European countries, as well as South African, have spoken out as well.

Far-right Israeli Lawmakers Visit Jerusalem Flash Points Ahead of Contentious Jewish Flag Parade, Haaretz
As tensions in Jerusalem continued to rise, Israeli far-right lawmakers made visits on Monday to several flash points in the Old City and East Jerusalem. Also on Monday, the Israel Police said it will permit the Flag March, in which religious Zionist youth march through East Jerusalem with Israeli flags to mark the city’s 1967 reunification, and to pass through the Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter on the way to Western Wall. The decision was made despite security officials warning Israel’s political leaders that holding the march as is could risk worsening hostilities in the city.

Senate Dems urge Biden to reopen PLO Mission in D.C., East Jerusalem consulate, Jewish Insider
A group of Democratic senators is urging President Joe Biden to follow through on commitments to reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem and the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington, D.C. — both of which were closed under the Trump administration. The senators lay out their request in a letter to Biden obtained by Jewish Insider, which has been circulating since mid-April and will close for signatures on Friday.

Opinion and Analysis

Jerusalem violence puts Biden on back foot regarding human rights in foreign policy, Responsible Statecraft
The Jerusalem Post editorial board writes, “The time has come for a national unity government. Unlike what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement earlier this week – that use of the term ‘unity’ is ‘laundering words’ and an attempt to mislead the public – such a government, from Yamina on the Right to Meretz on the Left, is exactly what the torn and split country needs right now.”

Israeli police are determined to escalate the violence in Jerusalem, +972 Magazine
Oren Ziv writes, “For four straight days last week, Israeli police dispersed young Palestinians who had come to Sheikh Jarrah to show support for families facing forcible expulsion by settlers in the East Jerusalem neighborhood. The police labeled the nightly vigils ‘clashes’ and ‘riots.’ In reality, however, it was the police that had resorted to violence.”

How Israel Invented Its Exclusive Claim Over Jerusalem, Haaretz
Seraj Assi writes, “As a Palestinian who was born in Israel, I’ve come to understand that while violence is all too real, its roots, or the ‘historical’ motives offered, are often invented. The brutal reality of Israel’s violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem should not obscure the fact that the centrality of Jerusalem in the Israeli national imagination, let alone the Palestinian imagination, is a relatively recent invention.”

Naftali Bennett could be Israel’s next prime minister, Al Monitor
Ben Caspit writes, “Imagine Ross Perot, who ran as an independent in the 1992 US presidential elections and pulled in fewer than 19% of the vote, winning Electoral College support and moving into the White House instead of the winner, Bill Clinton, or Republican challenger George Bush. That is precisely how things stand in Israel, with one significant difference: Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party garnered 6% of the vote in the March 2021 elections, not 19%, but his prospects of becoming Israel’s next prime minister are looking pretty good.”

Netanyahu and Trump Still Pose an Enduring Threat to Israel and America, Haaretz
David Rothkopf writes, “Israel’s Netanyahu and America’s Trump, narcissistic, ethno-nationalist, would-be kings, continue to fail upward despite their toxic legacies. And that sends an important message about our times”

Israel’s new government won’t be perfect. But as a former Knesset leader, I know they can make progress on six key issues., The Forward
Yossi Beilin writes, “The unity government taking shape in Israel is complicated, but it is not doomed. New leadership means new opportunities to create real change.”