News Roundup for May 28, 2021

May 28, 2021

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J Street in the News

The incomplete education of American Jews, Vox
“This month’s bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians has prompted many, Jew and gentile alike, to reconsider the situation and give more credence to the Palestinian cause. Social media has been filled with American Jews denouncing some of the institutions that claim to represent them, often for the imbalanced Israel education they received as children. Vox spoke with Rabbi [Jill] Jacobs to discuss the past and present of such education, as well as how she’d like to see it change in the future. […] We need to not have a situation where some major funder is going to threaten to withdraw their money from an educational institution because, God forbid, they bring in an Israeli human rights leader or a Palestinian human rights leader or somebody from T’ruah or J Street.”

Top News and Analysis

U.N. Rights Council Orders Inquiry Into Israel After Gaza Strife, New York Times
Spurred by the latest fighting in Gaza, the United Nations’ top human rights body voted Thursday to appoint a commission of inquiry with unusually broad latitude to investigate possible war crimes and other abuses committed in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel denounced the decision as a one-sided sham.

Exclusive: Evictions of Palestinians could spark further conflict, Blinken warns, Axios
Secretary of State Tony Blinken warned Israeli leaders on his visit to Jerusalem this week that evictions of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem or further unrest on the Temple Mount could spark renewed “tension, conflict and war,” he told me in a phone interview. Speaking on his flight back from the Middle East, Blinken said the most important aspect of his trip was that he heard directly from Israel and indirectly from Hamas, through Egypt, that both want to maintain the ceasefire. “But it’s also important that we avoid various actions that could unintentionally, or not, spark another round of violence,” Blinken said.

There Is a Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, New York Times
Tzipi Livni writes, “Peace based on the vision of two states for two peoples gives an answer to the national aspirations of both the Jewish people and the Palestinians and requires compromises by both. […] National conflicts cannot be resolved by wars and violence, but only by a political resolution, leadership and compromise. A religious conflict is not a conflict over rights, but a fight against the right of others to live by their faith. For religious ideologists, there is no compromise.”


Irish parliament denounces Israeli policies in West Bank, AP
Ireland’s parliament has passed a motion describing Israeli settlements and other policies in the occupied West Bank as “de facto annexation” – some of the strongest language ever offered by a European Union nation on the issue. The motion passed Wednesday by the Dail, the lower house of Ireland’s parliament, condemned the “recent and ongoing forced displacement of Palestinian communities in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

Facebook’s AI treats Palestinian activists like it treats American Black activists. It blocks them., Washington Post
Just days after violent conflict erupted in Israel and the Palestinian territories, both Facebook and Twitter copped to major faux pas: The companies had wrongly blocked or restricted millions of mostly pro-Palestinian posts and accounts related to the crisis. Activists around the world charged the companies with failing a critical test: whether their services would enable the world to watch an important global event unfold unfettered through the eyes of those affected. The companies blamed the errors on glitches in artificial intelligence software.

Gaza crisis and Biden call make Mahmoud Abbas relevant again, Axios
The crises in Jerusalem and Gaza have made Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas relevant again, with foreign ministers stopping by his headquarters and the phones ringing with calls from world leaders. In the early days of the crisis, Abbas appeared isolated internationally and powerless domestically. The Palestinian Authority feared the tensions in Jerusalem and fighting in Gaza could morph into a new intifada in the West Bank that they would be unable to control.

Key Trends in U.S. Views on Israel and the Palestinians, Gallup
The broad contours of the American public’s views on Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been fairly constant this century, but aspects have changed, at least among certain age, party and ideological subgroups. The following 10 graphs summarize Gallup’s key Israeli-Palestinian trends over the past two decades. The latest results are based on a Feb. 3-18 poll that was conducted before violence erupted in the region in early May.

‘Terrorising a generation’: Israel arresting Palestinian children, Al Jazeera
The wave of mass detentions is aimed at punishing Palestinian citizens of Israel for their participation in protests against settler violence, the Israeli forces’ crackdown on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the military’s 11-day bombardment of Gaza, legal experts and rights groups told Al Jazeera. In a statement, the Israeli police said more than 1,550 Palestinians have been arrested since May 9. More than 300 have been detained this week alone across towns and cities in Israel including Haifa, Yafa, Lydd, al-Jalil (the Galilee), and al-Naqab (the Negev). To date, 140 indictments have been brought against 230 people, the majority of whom are Palestinians, including minors. They have been charged with assaulting police officers, demonstrating, and throwing stones.

With Thousands Left Homeless, Gaza Reconstruction Faces Familiar Obstacle: Israeli Siege, The Intercept
With Gazans taking stock of the destruction and death toll, human rights advocates and the international community are turning their eyes toward rebuilding in the Strip and accountability for the attacks. With three past rounds of escalated Israeli attacks on Gaza over a decade and a half, it’s a familiar cycle that will face familiar obstacles — not least the Israeli siege of Gaza and the geopolitics of control by the militant Palestinian political faction Hamas.

Opinion and Analysis

It’s Time to End the ‘Special Relationship’ With Israel, Foreign Policy
Stephen Walt writes, “The latest round of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians ended in the usual way: with a cease-fire that left Palestinians worse off and the core issues unaddressed. It also provided more evidence that the United States should no longer give Israel unconditional economic, military, and diplomatic support. The benefits of this policy are zero, and the costs are high and rising. Instead of a special relationship, the United States and Israel need a normal one.”

Saying Israel is guilty of apartheid isn’t antisemitic. Just ask these Israeli leaders., MSNBC
Mehdi Hasan writes, “Here are two statements that can be true at the same time: Most criticism of Israel isn’t antisemitic; Some criticism of Israel is extremely antisemitic. Neither one contradicts the other. But you might not know it from some of the recent coverage of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”

For Biden, it’s back to the future in the Middle East, Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “U.S. and Iranian officials are convening in Vienna for their latest round of indirect talks over Tehran’s nuclear program. As part of a separate burst of shuttle diplomacy, the U.S. secretary of state leaned on the assistance of Egypt’s president. Next door in the besieged and battered Gaza Strip, international organizations counted the cost for reconstruction after recent fighting between Israel and the militant group Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, uses the opportunity to grouse about Iran and warn against American efforts toward rapprochement. These are all developments of the past week, but they would seem equally familiar to observers of U.S. foreign policy during President Barack Obama’s two terms in office.”

For Gaza Residents, Trauma and Pain Persist After Bombing Subsides, Teen Vogue
Abraham Gutman writes, “Hours before the ceasefire was announced, Alaa couldn’t see much beyond life and death. She said that she cries when she looks at her daughters, not sure which one she might lose. “We are not asking for more life. We just don’t want to die.” But Alaa, Ahmed, and all Palestinians deserve more than not dying. They deserve a fulfilling life, free of occupation and blockades. They also deserve their pain, mental anguish, and despair to be recognized and addressed. That shouldn’t require a war.”

The Challenge for Progressive Jews, Slate
Emily Tamkin writes, “Perhaps, in other words, you were aware that there are progressive Jews who both condemn the Israeli military and government’s treatment of Palestinians while also speaking out against antisemitism. To many, it might seem obvious that one can be both opposed to Israel and concerned about rising antisemitism. But to others, it is not. That is true for opponents of Israel who have taken it upon themselves to vandalize synagogues and a Jewish preschool. But so, too, is it true that some—including some Jews and Jewish institutions—conflate criticizing Israel with criticizing Jews.”

The dueling histories in the debate over ‘historic Palestine’, Washington Post
Glenn Kessler writes for the Fact Checker, “The New York Times recently came under fire when it accompanied an essay by Palestinian human-rights lawyer Diana Buttu with an illustration that showed a shrinking map of Palestine, from the borders of the British mandate for Palestine in 1947 to areas that would be under Palestinian control after adoption of a recent peace plan. […] It’s actually not that simple. We often hesitate to delve into the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, as there are two competing narratives. History can be open to interpretation and not always easily fact-checked. But, as best we can, we’ll try to summarize the two versions of whether there was a historic Palestine for readers who want to hear both sides of the story.”

45 dead at Mount Meron, and still no one cares – opinion, Jerusalem Post
Yaakov Katz writes, “Forty-five people were killed in a disaster that could have been prevented – and nothing has changed. The country moved on. The people responsible moved on. The only people who did not move on are the children, spouses, parents and siblings of all those men and boys killed. They are still in mourning, for a loss that could have been avoided. The Meron tragedy in a normal country – if there even is such a thing – would have never dropped off the headlines.”