News Roundup for May 25, 2021

May 25, 2021

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J Street in the News

US sees startling rise in antisemitic attacks, The Hill
“The U.S. is experiencing a rise in violent and disturbing attacks targeting the U.S. Jewish community amid the latest conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. […] J Street, an advocacy organization that is critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, issued a statement Monday condemning as antisemitic attacks on the American Jewish community that are based on criticisms of Israel. ‘It must be absolutely clear that verbal or violent attacks targeting Jewish people based on the actions or alleged actions of the Israeli government are antisemitic and outrageous,’ the group said in its statement. ‘It should be obvious that such acts of hate do nothing to advance Palestinian rights, and in fact only undermine important, legitimate advocacy and activism on behalf of the Palestinian people and in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace and equality,’ the group added.”

After ceasefire, tensions over Mideast still boil on California campus, Reuters
“The latest flare up in the conflict between Israel and Hamas has reopened fault lines for some young, liberal American Jews whose progressive ideals clash with their religious or community identities. […] Zachary Federman, a student at Brown University, said many Jewish students believed they were taught a ‘sugar coated’ version of Israel in their youth. ‘I think younger Jews continuously are more likely to question narratives of unequivocal support that we’ve been fed,’ said Federman, who is the co-president of Brown’s chapter of J Street U, a self-described pro-Israel, pro-peace group committed to a two-state solution.”

How one congressional candidate evolved her position on Israel in recent weeks, Jewish Insider
“If Melanie Stansbury’s carefully worded statement on restricting aid seems familiar, it is likely because the policy proposal is now being pushed by J Street, the left-leaning Israel lobbying group. The organization, which has endorsed Stansbury, recently began advocating for this approach, having backed a new bill from Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) that seeks to regulate aid to Israel. It is a new path for J Street, which has long opposed conditioning aid to Israel — as the call to do so has been endorsed by a growing number of progressive congressional candidates around the country. But a spokesperson for the organization argues that this new policy objective is different, maintaining that J Street supports ‘end-use restrictions’ that would ensure Israel uses U.S. aid only for ‘legitimate security purposes.’ […] J Street, for its part, seems optimistic that Stansbury will take up its cause in Congress. ‘It’s clear from our conversations with the candidate that she shares our commitment to diplomacy-first, pro-Israel, pro-peace policies,’ said Braverman, ‘including a commitment to addressing the occupation and other root causes of the conflict.’”

There’s no military nor public diplomacy solution, Times of Israel
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “Now that a ceasefire has been reached, we should try to understand why we return to the same futile pattern every time. As in every previous exchange of blows between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli media and most of the public are busy expecting an Israeli victory in the military campaign and in the battle for international public opinion. In both cases there are temporary tactical successes and long-term strategic losses. The public and the media are unaware of the strategic failure of the political echelon. The public demonstrates excessive admiration for the army and on the other hand make allegations against the Foreign Ministry for international criticism.”

A Trip To Israel Under Fire, J Street
J Street’s Amos Gil writes, “We landed in Israel on what seemed to be a peaceful Saturday afternoon despite the interference by Israeli police with Ramadan prayers on the Temple Mount. It didn’t stay that way.”

Top News and Analysis

Blinken Will Seek to Bolster Cease-Fire Between Israel and Hamas, New York Times
Wading into the intractable conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will travel to the Middle East this week to try to bolster a tenuous cease-fire — but he intends to steer well clear of longer-term peace talks that currently have almost zero chance of success. When he lands in Israel on Tuesday, Mr. Blinken will also be faced with a humanitarian crisis in Gaza that will require international support for a massive reconstruction effort, as well as simmering violence among Arab and Jewish residents of Israel.

The truce quieted Israeli-Palestinian hostilities — but not the Jerusalem disputes that triggered them, Washington Post
The outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas had been preceded by weeks of growing friction in Jerusalem, which built over the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In the final days, Israeli security forces confronted Muslim worshipers in what Palestinians called a raid on al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. That Israeli action was condemned by Jordan, which runs the Waqf that controls the site, as a breach of the delicate status quo agreement in place since Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 war.

Over 500 ex-staffers urge Biden to “hold Israel accountable for its actions”, Axios
More than 500 former Biden campaign and Democratic Party staffers signed an open letter released Monday urging President Biden to do more to protect Palestinians and “hold Israel accountable for its actions.” Progressives have ramped up pressure on Biden in recent weeks to confront Israel on what they’ve described as human rights abuses in Gaza, where Israel’s government carried out a military offensive in response to rocket attacks by Hamas.


Blinken says US will aid Gaza without helping Hamas, AP
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed Tuesday to “rally international support” to aid Gaza following a devastating war there while keeping any assistance out of the hands of its militant Hamas rulers, as he began a regional tour to shore up last week’s cease-fire.

Cancer patients, other ill Gazans await Israel’s permission to leave for treatments, Washington Post
As the Gaza Strip slowly reconnected with the outside world after an 11-day battle between Israel and Hamas, patients with urgent medical needs were still waiting Monday for Israel’s permission to leave the enclave for surgeries, transplants or cancer treatments that were interrupted by the fighting and are unavailable in Gaza. Physicians, families and advocates urged that border crossings be reopened for medical cases before the most vulnerable patients become critically ill or die. Late Monday, the Israeli military said patients with permits for medical treatments would be allowed to cross into Israel beginning Tuesday morning as part of the resumption of normal border operations, including the passage of humanitarian teams, medical equipment, food and fuel.

Israeli Police Round Up Palestinian Protesters Out of Global Spotlight, The Intercept
Palestinian activists urged the world not to look away from their struggle for freedom and equality following the ceasefire in Gaza, as Israeli police began rounding up Palestinian citizens of Israel who took part in demonstrations described as riots by the authorities. At least 74 Palestinians were detained by Monday afternoon, in the first hours of what Israel’s police force is calling “Operation Law and Order.” Palestinian rights groups called the planned arrest of up to 500 protesters — on charges ranging from attacks on the police to vandalism to online incitement — a blatant crackdown on dissent, timed to coincide with the dimming of the global spotlight on the conflict.

Incoming Mossad Chief Revealed as David Barnea. Here’s Where He Came From, Haaretz
The next head of Israel’s Mossad espionage agency will be David Barnea, whose appointment was cleared for publication Monday following consultations among Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and the outgoing Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen. […] Senior Mossad officials have described Barnea as a reformer who has been open to structural, organizational and professional changes and someone who is not set in his ways and is not conservative.

Looking to rebuild again, war-weary Gazans see little hope for a swift recovery, Times of Israel
With the latest mini-war between Israel and Hamas apparently over, Gazans have been left to pick up the pieces. Residents of the coastal enclave have already learned from three previous rounds of violence not to expect a speedy reconstruction. Aside from Israeli restrictions on importing building material into the Strip, there are fears that the international community could be less willing to open up its wallet just to see the fruits of rebuilding efforts turn to rubble again.

Why These Diaspora Palestinians Protested for the First Time During Gaza War, Haaretz
The 11-day flare-up between Israel and Islamists militants in Gaza saw numerous pro-Palestinian demonstrations take place worldwide, the biggest such protests since the Israel-Hamas war in the summer of 2014. Many diaspora Palestinians were present, including some who do not regard themselves as politically active. Three Palestinians who live abroad and took part in the demonstrations tell Haaretz why they felt compelled to join in, some for the first time in their lives.

Opinion and Analysis

Attacks on Jews Over Israel Are a Gift to the Right, New York Times
Michelle Goldberg writes, “…this violence also threatens to undermine progress that’s been made in getting American politicians to take Palestinian rights more seriously. Right-wing Zionists and anti-Semitic anti-Zionists have something fundamental in common: Both conflate the Jewish people with the Israeli state. Israel’s government and its American allies benefit when they can shut down criticism of the country as anti-Semitic.”

Republicans are far more radical than Democrats on Israel, Washington Post
Max Boot writes, “Last week’s Gaza war highlighted the growing partisan split over Israel. But, contrary to the conventional wisdom, which claims that President Biden and his party have turned against the Jewish state, it’s Republicans who have shifted far more than Democrats.”

How Israel Lost the Culture War, Foreign Policy
Alia Brahimi writes, “Whatever the military outcome, it seems increasingly likely the final reckoning of this latest round of conflict will be decided far away from the battlefield. Netanyahu may have picked the wrong time to doggedly pursue airstrikes against one of the most densely populated areas on Earth, where 50 percent of the inhabitants are under the age of 15; more specifically, he may have chosen the wrong cultural moment.”

As Israel’s Dependence on U.S. Shrinks, So Does U.S. Leverage, New York Times
Max Fisher writes, “Israel, a small country surrounded by adversaries and locked in conflict with the Palestinians, depends absolutely on American diplomatic and military support. By giving it, the United States safeguards Israel and wields significant leverage over its actions. That’s the conventional wisdom, anyway. For decades, it was true: Israeli leaders and voters alike treated Washington as essential to their country’s survival. But that dependence may be ending.”

After latest round of violence, Biden faces a new Israel-Palestine conflict, Responsible Statecraft
Mitchell Plitnick writes, “With a ceasefire in place once again between Israel and Hamas, analysts are assessing the results of the recent violence. The destruction in Gaza — which was enormous, especially considering the relatively short duration of the fighting this time around — and the lingering effects of the rocket attacks on Israel, are the most obvious features. They lead many to conclude that nothing has changed. But things certainly did change for the United States in numerous ways. President Joe Biden will be forced to reckon with those changes, and depending on how he decides to address them, they could have some of the most profound implications for U.S. policy in Israel and Palestine in decades.”

Why I Have Hope for Israel’s Future, Time Magazine
Assaf Gavron writes, “Ultimately, this won’t help Netanyahu. He is falling. He comes out of this round of violence weaker, because his promise of a secure and prosperous living for Israelis through the violent repression of Palestianians and Israeli Arabs has been proven hollow yet again. Although the possibility of anti-Netanyahu parties—including Arab politicians—uniting for a change in government is momentarily off the table, it will eventually come to pass. It may take a few more years, but the Netanyahu era will come to an end. Like his friend Donald Trump, he will discover that he can’t lie to everyone all the time and get away with it. He is smarter than Trump, so he’s gotten away with it for longer. But his time will come.”

The Israeli Lie About Gaza, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “Israel may have evacuated its military facilities and settlements from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, but in no way is it possible to say that it “withdrew from Gaza completely.” It continues to control the access to and from the Gaza Strip ever since, in the air, by sea and on land, as well as aspects of the population registry that affect the Rafah crossing too. This is alongside the economic authority, control of construction and development, and much more.”