News Roundup for May 26, 2021

May 26, 2021

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J Street in the News

Federal court strikes down Georgia’s anti-BDS law, JTA
“A federal court struck down a Georgia state law that required contractors with the state to swear not to boycott Israel, the latest in a series of legal defeats for an anti-boycott campaign that pressed hard for laws targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. […] Civil liberty groups have mounted legal challenges to the laws. Martin was joined in her lawsuit by a number of organizations opposed to anti-BDS legislation, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, J Street, the rabbinical human rights group T’ruah and the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law School.”

‘The New Jew’: If it Wasn’t Sad, it Would Be Funny, Times of Israel
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “We need to start considering the opinions of American Jews and not just mining them for their cash. We need to move to human relationships and not bank transfers. We need to establish a national “Reverse Birthright” project in which every high school student in Israel will stay for a few weeks in a Jewish community in North America to connect and understand their perspective, and to experience the beauty of Jewish community life and religious pluralism that exists in North America. Many high school students in Israel participate in the very important educational project of the visits to the Nazi concentration camps in Poland, but it is important to understand the story of living Jews not less than the story of dead Jews.”

Top News and Analysis

Blinken seeks to fix Palestinian ties on maiden Mideast trip, AP
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday announced plans to reopen a key diplomatic outreach office to the Palestinians and pledged nearly $40 million in new aid — reversing key policies of the Trump administration as he moved to bolster the embattled Palestinian government in the West Bank. On his first official visit to the region, Blinken met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders with the immediate aim of shoring up last week’s cease-fire that ended 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. He vowed to “rally international support” for the effort while also promising to ensure that none of the aid would reach Hamas.

They Were Only Children, New York Times
During 11 days of fighting this month between Israel and Hamas, at least 66 children under age 18 were killed in Gaza and 2 in Israel, according to initial reports. These are the children who died.

AP Source: Biden to name Tom Nides ambassador to Israel, AP
President Joe Biden is expected to name former senior State Department official Tom Nides to serve as ambassador to Israel, according to a person familiar with the matter. Nides is currently the managing director and vice chairman of Morgan Stanley. He previously served as deputy secretary of state for management and resources under Hillary Clinton from 2011 to 2013. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the yet-to-be announced pick, said Nides has already been formally offered the position.


Iran Talks Loom as a New Test of Biden’s Israel Ties, New York Times
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel took a moment on Tuesday to thank the Biden administration for its support during his country’s 11-day conflict with Hamas in Gaza — and then abruptly changed the subject, and his tone. “We discussed many regional issues, but none is greater than Iran,” Mr. Netanyahu said, standing with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken after their meeting in Jerusalem. He pointedly added that he hoped the United States would not rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, “because we believe that that deal paves the way for Iran to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons with international legitimacy.”

Iran, world powers resume talks on US return to nuclear deal, AP
World powers opened a fifth round of talks with Iran aimed at bringing the United States back into the landmark 2015 nuclear deal meant to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining an atomic bomb, with both sides expressing hope Tuesday that it might be the final series of negotiations.

U.S. to reopen Jerusalem consulate to engage with Palestinians, Axios
Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced on Tuesday that the U.S. would be reopening the Consulate General in Jerusalem that handled relations with the Palestinians but was shut down by the Trump administration. Blinken made the announcement after a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and hours after he had raised the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Days Before Approving Humanitarian Aid to Gaza, State Department Agreed to Contentious Bomb Sale to Israel, Jewish Currents
Today, the Biden administration committed more than $5 million to rebuilding Gaza after Israeli bombing left swathes of the territory in ruins, with medical facilities, homes, and roads destroyed or damaged by the aerial attack that killed at least 248 people this month. But even as the administration takes steps to aid Gaza, its State Department has approved a $735-million sale of bombs to Israel, bypassing congressional opposition. On May 21st, according to a congressional staffer, the department granted Boeing an export license for the sale of Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Small Diameter Bombs—two kinds of laser-guided munitions that were reportedly used by Israel in the 11-day attack on the Gaza Strip that ended on Friday with a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

After Arab-Jewish violence erupts inside Israeli towns, a divided country may never be the same, Washington Post
Long-simmering grievances among Arabs — including over government surveillance, heavy-handed policing and widespread pressure not to display their Palestinian identity — erupted just as thousands of Hamas rockets fired from Gaza were starting to stir Israeli cries for retaliation. While fighting between Hamas and Israel captured the world’s attention for 11 days before a cease-fire was reached, the rupture within Israel could prove more fateful. It has revealed an angry sense of alienation and a potential peril that many Israelis had wished away.

Ireland condemns ‘de facto annexation’ of Palestinian land by Israel, The Guardian
Ireland’s government has supported a parliamentary motion condemning Israel’s “de facto annexation” of Palestinian land in what it said was the first use of the phrase by an EU government in relation to Israel. The foreign minister, Simon Coveney, backed the motion on Tuesday and condemned what he described as Israel’s “manifestly unequal” treatment of the Palestinian people. The draft will be debated on Wednesday evening.

Pro-Palestinian activists are building a broad progressive coalition in the U.S., Los Angeles Times
The world witnessed agonizing scenes of death and destruction in 11 days of fighting between Israel and the militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory, before a cease-fire took effect last week. The fighting erupted amid fierce debate over plans for the forced displacement of several Palestinian families in Sheik Jarrah, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem. As pro-Palestinian posts have spread across social media in recent days, Black, Armenian, liberal Jewish and other social justice organizers have helped Palestinians push their message both online and in the streets. That merger of groups and causes has reached a critical mass, its supporters say, in a way that differs from past episodes in the long-running Mideast conflict.

Antisemitic acts in US soared 80% in a month, Jewish security group reports, JTA
The organization that advises U.S. Jewish communities on security matters said it recorded an 80% spike in antisemitic acts in the last month amid Israel’s 11-day war with Hamas. One of the causes, according to the Secure Community Network, was disinformation spread on social media during and since the exchange of rocket fire. “There may be foreign actors spreading information and disinformation, often tied to antisemitic tropes,” Michael Masters, its CEO, said Tuesday in an interview. “We’re seeing a clear rise in the calls for violence against the Jewish community and an uptick of attacks of violence.”

Israeli police target Palestinian journalists at Al-Aqsa Mosque, +972 Magazine
Over the past month, as Palestinians continued protesting the imminent expulsion of Palestinian families from Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, police assaults on journalists have increased, according to the Union of Journalists in Israel.

Opinion and Analysis

The progressives are right about foreign policy, too, Washington Post
Perry Bacon Jr. writes, “What’s happened between the Israelis and the Palestinians over the past two weeks has validated the Democratic left’s views of that conflict. The left has long argued that the United States’ tight alignment with the Israeli government is both a moral failure that renders Palestinians second-class citizens and a strategic one that hasn’t led to peace. Israel bombed Gaza in a way that seemed — at best — insufficiently concerned with the deaths of Palestinian civilians, including children, and the destruction of homes and offices. Congressional Democrats, even more moderate members such as Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.), criticized the Biden administration for not quickly pushing for a cease-fire. One was eventually reached, and it appears the administration’s diplomacy helped end the violence. But the underlying problems remain: The two-state solution seems dead, and the status quo isn’t working.”

Pro-Palestinian activists are building a broad progressive coalition in the U.S., Los Angeles Times
Diana Buttu writes, “The truth is that the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Jewish majority of the country have never coexisted. We Palestinians living in Israel “sub-exist,” living under a system of discrimination and racism with laws that enshrine our second-class status and with policies that ensure we are never equals. This is not by accident but by design. The violence against Palestinians in Israel, with the backing of the Israeli state, that we witnessed in the past few weeks was only to be expected.”

The Other War in Israel: Gentrification, New York Magazine
Yasmin Zaher writes, “A chief cause of the violence in Jaffa, as well as in other mixed cities, is gentrification. Unlike the gradual encroachment of Jewish settlers on Palestinian lands in the West Bank, this is happening inside Israel’s borders, echoing the country’s violent creation.”