News Roundup for May 14, 2020

May 14, 2020

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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

Hadar Susskind, veteran Jewish professional, to lead Americans for Peace Now, JTA
“Susskind, 47, over the past two decades has worked in senior positions in such groups as the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish public policy umbrella; J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group; and Bend the Arc, a social justice activist group. This year he led the bid to increase the representation of a progressive list, Hatikvah, in elections for the World Zionist Congress.”

Top News and Analysis

On Annexation, a Green Light Turns Yellow, Pompeo’s Visit to Israel Signals, New York Times
It came on the eve of Israel’s seating its new government, one that appears divided over the immediacy of annexing about 30 percent of the occupied West Bank, which the Palestinians have counted on for a future state. And it came as the Trump administration is facing growing pressure from Arab leaders across the Middle East to pump the brakes on Israel’s annexation plans. Although Mr. Pompeo took pains to avoid publicly addressing annexation, analysts suggested that a goal of the trip was to caution Israel’s leadership against moving too quickly.

AIPAC: Annexation Should Not Change U.S.-Israel Relationship, Haaretz
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee told its supporters this week that Israeli annexation of settlements in the West Bank should not lead to a change in relations with the United States, despite expressing a rhetorical commitment to the two-state solution.

Gabi Ashkenazi: Former Israeli army chief turns top diplomat, Times of Israel
Israel’s incoming foreign minister, Gabi Ashkenazi, is the son of a Holocaust survivor and served as a special forces commando, spending nearly four decades in the military before entering politics. A member of the centrist Blue and White Alliance, he has had his differences with right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but is now poised to be his top envoy.


Clashes kill two in separate West Bank incidents, Washington Post
A sudden surge in violence has left two dead over two days in the West Bank, a 21-year-old Israeli soldier struck by a rock Tuesday in the village of Yabad and a 15-year-old Palestinian who was shot during unrest early Wednesday in the Fawwar refugee camp, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Reform movement cuts staff by 20%, citing existential threat, The Forward
The Reform movement — the largest Jewish denomination in the country — announced layoffs today in its main umbrella organization, the Union for Reform Judaism, citing an existential threat brought on by the coronavirus economic crash.

IDF believes it may have caught soldier’s killer, but case remains open, Times of Israel
The Israeli military on Thursday said it may have caught the person who killed an IDF soldier earlier this week by throwing a brick at him, though the Shin Bet security service said the case remains open.

Look What Happened to the Jews’: How the Holocaust Became Key to the NRA’s Argument, Haaretz
“Their entire ideological foundation is based on the assumption that weapons are important not just as protection against criminals or cases of social anarchy, but mostly as protection against an effort at social control on the part of a totalitarian regime like the Nazi party,” explains the investigative journalist Frank Smyth, who wrote the new book “The NRA: The Unauthorized History”.

Yamina’s Peretz splits party to join government, will become Jerusalem minister, Times of Israel
Yamina MK Rafi Peretz on Thursday walked away from the right-wing alliance to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, accepting the premier’s offer to be appointed Jerusalem affairs and national projects minister.

The entire system got confused’: Israeli schools reopen, but many parents aren’t sending their kids back, JTA
Israel’s experience underscores the logistical challenges that countries around the world face as they work to get their school systems operational once again.

Opinion and Analysis

How West Bank annexation hurts U.S. interests, NY Daily News
Abe Silberstein writes, “Not enough has been said of the potential ramifications for American foreign policy and national security interests, which are considerable and should factor into Washington’s approach. If President Trump is serious about his putative commitment to putting America first, he will reconsider the current path onto which Pompeo, Friedman and other administration officials have placed the U.S. in the Middle East.”

Ten Days Until Netanyahu’s Trial Begins: Everything You Need to Know, Haaretz
Allison Kaplan Sommer writes, “The State of Israel v. Benjamin Netanyahu’ commences in Jerusalem District Court on May 24 (probably) – this is how we got there…”

Aspirational Zionism: A Model for Our Future, Reform Judaism
Rabbi John Rosove writes, “Liberal American Jews can be fully Zionist even as we ask the hard questions that go to the core of Jewish tradition itself. We can do the hard work of bridging the tribal and the universal, addressing our need as Jews for sovereignty and rights as a nation, as well as the needs and rights of all.”

What will the rabbinate look like after COVID?, The Forward
Hara Person writes, “I am deeply proud of the way that rabbis across the country have responded in this moment of trial. We have thrown ourselves, heart and soul, into meeting the needs of the moment in endless ways. We’ve quickly set up classes, services, learning opportunities, one-on-one pastoral counseling, social programming, and programming for kids — including bedtime stories with the rabbi and Tot Shabbat broadcasting from the rabbi’s couch, with stuffed animals in attendance.”