News Roundup for May 25, 2023

May 25, 2023

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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

J Street Welcomes House Letter Supporting Israel’s Pro-Democracy Protesters, J Street
J Street welcomed an important new open letter from 48 Members of Congress, addressed to Israel’s pro-democracy protesters, expressing strong support and admiration for their ongoing efforts to safeguard democratic institutions and principles.

Will the Biden Administration’s Strategy for Combatting Antisemitism Get It Right?, The Forward
Dylan Williams – J Street’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Strategy – discusses the Biden Administration’s upcoming national strategy for combating antisemitism, writing, “For those who don’t follow this closely, the key weakness of the IHRA presentation is that seven of the 11 ‘contemporary examples’ of antisemitism it provides deal with Israel. Those – like me – who are hesitant about formally adopting the IHRA definition and its examples as a standard for enforcing domestic law are concerned that it can be used to shut down free and open debate over Israeli government policy.”

48 House Democrats Sign Open Letter Supporting Large-Scale Israeli Protests, The Hill
“House Democrats issued an open letter Wednesday voicing support for Israeli protesters demonstrating against a push by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to overhaul the country’s judiciary…The letter was led by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and signed by 46 other Democrats, most of whom are progressive members of Congress. The letter was endorsed by progressive American-Jewish groups including J Street and Americans for Peace Now.”

Top News and Analysis

Settlers Clash with Palestinians Near Homesh after EU Officials Tour West Bank Site, The Times of Israel
Several Palestinians and an Israeli settler were hurt Wednesday during clashes near the northern West Bank outpost of Homesh, in violence that erupted after European officials toured the area. According to the Yesh Din rights group, several extremist settlers attacked Palestinians in the village of Burqa and set fire to homes. Video from Burqa showed residents trying to extinguish the blazes.

Israeli Government Introduces Bills Advancing West Bank Annexation, Hampering Academic Freedom, Haaretz
Israeli lawmakers from Netanyahu’s coalition are pushing forward with a set of contentious bills which would advance the annexation of the West Bank and jeopardize academic freedom at Israeli universities. Another bill, targeting human rights organizations and NGOs has already drawn sharp criticism from the Biden administration.

Eighty Israeli Soldiers for 30 Settlers: Inside Homesh’s Revival, Haaretz
A milestone is this process occurred last Thursday when Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, the head of the IDF Central Command, acting on instructions from Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Defense Ministry Minister Bezalel Smotrich, signed two orders. The first lifted the ban on Israelis visiting Homesh that was part of the 2005 Disengagement Law. The second states that the Samaria Regional Council will have governmental authority over all areas of Homesh not deemed to be Palestinian property at the site. The orders reverse the abandonment of the site that occurred in 2005.

After AP report, Iran’s Nuclear Chief Says Tehran to Cooperate with Inspectors on ‘New Activities’, AP
The head of Iran’s nuclear program insisted Wednesday that his government would cooperate with international inspectors on any “new activities.” His statement followed an exclusive Associated Press report about Tehran’s new underground tunnel system near a nuclear enrichment facility.


West Bank Palestinian Village Residents Flee Amid Ongoing Israeli Settler Violence, Haaretz
A community of some 200 Palestinians living in tents and temporary structures in the West Bank village of Ein Samia have decided to leave their home, which they have been inhabiting since the 1980s, due to ongoing Israeli settler violence.

US Congress Members Demand That PayPal End Ban on Palestinian Business, The Guardian
Eleven members of the US Congress have demanded PayPal end a ban on doing business with Palestinians in the occupied territories while permitting Israeli settlers to use the digital payment platform.The letter, authored by Representative Mark Pocan, says PayPal is discriminating against Palestinians by denying “equal access to the digital economy”.

New Bill From Netanyahu’s Party Targets Foreign Donations to Israeli NGOs, Drawing Sharp U.S. Criticism, Haaretz
The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation is set to debate on Sunday a bill that aims to restrict the ability of Israeli human rights organizations to accept donations from foreign governments. The proposal has drawn sharp criticism from the Biden administration, which has conveyed its strong opposition to the bill through various channels.

Inside Hezbollah’s Wargames Near the Israeli Border, Axios
The Lebanese Hezbollah militant group held a rare demonstration of the group’s fighting power this week in an apparent attempt to remind the Lebanese people, Israel and Iran about its military capacity and role in the region.

Senators Urge Biden Admin: Ensure Equal Treatment for All U.S. Citizens When Mulling Israel Visa Waiver, Haaretz
Sixteen U.S. senators on Wednesday urged the Biden administration to ensure that equal treatment of all U.S. citizens – regardless of ethnicity, national origin and religion – is upheld within the Visa Waiver Program, as it considers Israel’s candidacy to join the coveted program.

Opinion and Analysis

Ending the Forever War in Gaza Means Looking at How It Really Began, The Washington Post
Gershom Gorenberg writes, “The lesson of this history isn’t that Israel can never give up occupied territory. It’s that Israel needs to withdraw in an agreement where the Palestinians are full partners. Getting there will require measuring time in more than weeks or months; it will likely require a new generation of leaders on both sides. But for Israeli advocates of a peaceful outcome, an essential first step is challenging the pernicious myth about what went wrong when Israel left Gaza.”