News Roundup for May 28, 2020

May 28, 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

Can Israel Stay Democratic After Annexation?, National Interest
“Annexation is the issue of the moment,’ Ben-Ami said in an interview on the national security podcast Press The Button this week’It’s a very real policy and political debate [over] the next six weeks. The new coalition agreement is a specific green light for the Israeli government to annex after July 1 with U.S. approval. And it has that from the Trump administration.’”

A New National Security Strategy, Press The Button [Podcast]
Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, joins Press the Button for an in-depth look at the failure of the Trump administration’s Iran policy, and how progressives can organize to implement a new national security strategy.

Top News and Analysis

Trump administration to end Iran deal waivers in a blow to Obama-era pact, Washington Post
The Trump administration is ending sanctions waivers that allow Russian, Chinese and European companies to work on sensitive Iranian nuclear sites, dealing another major blow to the Iran nuclear deal and raising the prospect of covert advances in Tehran’s nuclear program, according to U.S. officials and documents obtained by The Washington Post. Nonproliferation experts say the waivers, which are supported by U.S. allies in Europe, reduce Iran’s incentive to enrich uranium at higher levels and provide a window into the country’s atomic program. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a group of lawmakers led by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) pushed to exert more pressure on Tehran and eliminate the vestiges of the Obama administration’s signature foreign policy objective.

A stunning tirade highlights Israeli divide over Netanyahu, AP
Aaron Heller writes, “He named names of police investigators and prosecutors. He accused them of using “Soviet style” extortion to turn witnesses against him. He even claimed that elderly Holocaust survivors were on his side, sympathizing with his plight. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long faced accusations of using his formidable oratory skills and flair for the dramatic to sow divisions between friends and foes. But his fulminating tirade against Israel’s legal system — launched in the lobby of the very courthouse where he went on trial for corruption charges — seemed to enter new territory.”

Oklahoma’s governor signs anti-Israel boycott legislation, JTA
On Tuesday, Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, signed a bill that would apply to state contracts over $100,000, unless the company is officially exempted by the Oklahoma secretary of state. The measure says that Oklahoma may not enter into contracts with companies that advocate boycotts, divestment or sanctions against Israel, a reference to the BDS movement against Israel.


High Court justice: Government run by indicted prime minister a ‘moral failure’, Times of Israel
“The reality in which a criminal suspect forms a government and leads it reflects a social crisis and moral failure of society and of Israel’s political system,” Judge Menahem (Meni) Mazuz wrote in the full response to petitions that sought to prevent Netanyahu from forming a government due to the criminal charges against him.

Gantz Leaves Netanyahu Meeting After Minister Says He’s ‘Not Ready to Be Prime Minister’, Haaretz
Defense Minister Benny Gantz left a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, after Transportation Minister Miri Regev of Netanyahu’s Likud party said in an interview he “wasn’t ready to become prime minister.”

Ex-chief West Bank land inspector planted groves on Palestinian ground, Times of Israel
The former head of the Defense Ministry body responsible for enforcing the rules relating to illegal land use in the West Bank planted an olive grove on Palestinian land while serving in the position, and has maintained the illegal trees to this day, The Times of Israel has established.

Bench near Minneapolis synagogue vandalized with swastikas, JTA
The graffiti was discovered Tuesday on a bench outside Shir Tikvah Congregation. Across the street, “Seig Heil, Heil Hitler, Trump 2020” was written on a traffic utility case, the synagogue said in a message to congregants.

Palestinian Leadership Argues Severing Ties With Israel Shouldn’t Influence International Court, Haaretz
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has confirmed it would respond to the International Criminal Court’s questions regarding the decision to sever all ties with Israel and the status of the Oslo Accords by a June 10 deadline.

Pools, brews and menus: Israel relaxes more COVID-19 restrictions, JTA
Restaurants and bars, hotels and wedding halls, and swimming pools reopened as Israel continues to relax restrictions that had been put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Opinion and Analysis

Death of a dogma? After annexation, world likely to abandon two-state paradigm, Times of Israel
Raphael Ahren writes, “Israeli annexation as envisioned by the deal of the century is likely to erode the international consensus behind the two-state paradigm, and may cause the world to start backing the idea of a unitary state in which Israelis and Palestinians enjoy equal rights.”

No, the People Are Not With Netanyahu, Haaretz
Zehava Galon writes, “Results of a poll conducted by Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin for the organization Zulat – Equality and Human Rights reveal that two-thirds of Israelis think the judicial system needs to be strengthened.”

Q&A: Israeli Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, Tablet Mag
The former journalist talks about his political ideology, Netanyahu’s trial, the prospect of annexation, the future of Arab-Jewish partnership in Israeli politics, and how he discovered non-Orthodox Judaism

COVID-19 to Hong Kong to Caravans: Is ‘Soros’ Now the World’s Most Versatile, Dangerous Conspiracy Theory?, Haaretz
Emily Tamkin writes, “George Soros, financier, Jew and donor to liberal causes, is the initial target of conspiracy theories bearing his name. But as both the hard left and right push the Soros slur, the repercussions are far wider and more damaging.”

The Two Way Street for Shavuot | “Collective Responsibility”, J Street
Rabbi Michael Rose Knopf writes, “Jewish tradition’s insistence on our collective responsibility haunts me as we approach Shavuot this year. That’s because approximately one month after the holiday, Israel could begin the process of annexing some or all territories in the West Bank. If Israel were to annex these territories, a two-state solution would become nearly impossible.”