News Roundup for May 3, 2022

May 3, 2022
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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

AIPAC-PAC, J Street, Going Head-to-Head in Five Democratic Primary Races, The Jerusalem Post
“Ever since J Street was established in 2007, a clear distinction has existed between political candidates supported by the progressive Jewish group and the bipartisan pro-Israel lobby of AIPAC. Last December, AIPAC announced it would launch a political action committee – a PAC, moving to directly fund political campaigns… The J Street Action Fund, announced in February that it made a $100,000 targeted digital ad buy to support the candidacy of human rights attorney Jessica Cisneros and oppose Rep. Henry Cuellar “in the critical primary election for Texas’ 28th Congressional District.” “With this campaign, we aim to make clear that Jessica Cisneros is a fresh, principled voice who will fight for the true needs and values of her district, while her opponent Rep. Cuellar has a repeated history of putting his own personal interests and out-of-touch, conservative views ahead of the people he was elected to represent,” said Logan Bayroff, J Street’s Vice President of Communications…Laura Birnbaum, J Street’s National Political Director said that AIPAC is “currently fundraising for 109 Republican endorsees who voted to overturn the 2020 election and at the same time they’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars attacking progressives and bolstering their endorsees as the ‘real Democrat’ in primary races.” “It’s outrageous that an organization that’s going all in on pro-insurrectionist Republicans thinks it has any business telling Democrats who the best candidate in these primaries is,” she said. “Democratic values are the foundation of the US-Israel relationship and AIPAC is threatening those foundations. That it’s doing so under the banner of a SuperPAC called the ‘United Democracy Project’ is truly absurd.” She went on to say that “while they’re fundraising for these 109 Republicans and attacking any Democrat who criticizes the settlement movement or voices support for Palestinian freedoms, we’re backing pro-Israel, pro-peace candidates who know that our shared values of justice, equality and democracy are vital to securing a better future for all Israelis and Palestinians.””

Senators Push To Free Up Ukraine-related Food-aid Shipments, Politico
“Hannah Morris has been named director of government affairs and Debra Shushan has been named director of policy at J Street. Morris most recently was J Street’s assistant director of government affairs, and Shushan most recently was J Street’s director of government affairs.”

Top News and Analysis

Biden Team in Israel to Prepare President’s Visit This Summer, Haaretz
A U.S. administration team arrived in Israel on Sunday to prepare for President Joe Biden’s visit this summer, which may also include meetings in the West Bank. While plans for the visit are not yet final, sources familiar with Biden’s international travel plans say that he is likely to come to Israel for the first time as president near the end of June. U.S. officials in Israel met with their Israeli counterparts to discuss the potential agenda and schedule.


Israel to Come to Standstill as Country Marks Memorial Day, Haaretz
Tuesday night will mark the start of Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror. An annual one-minute siren sounds throughout the country at 8 P.M., Tuesday, with a two-minute siren set for 11 A.M. Wednesday. Jewish Israelis traditionally stop what they are doing, stand and are silent during the siren, pulling over on highways and halting university lectures in order to do so.

Gantz Says Israel Still Coordinates With Russia on Syria, Al-Monitor
Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz told Al-Monitor that his government continues to engage with Russia in a tacit agreement that allows Israeli airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria, even after Israel sent limited military aid to Ukraine.

Some Bereaved Families Tell ‘Terror Supporting’ Cabinet To Stay Away on Memorial Day, The Times of Israel
Dozens of bereaved families issued a call this week demanding that cabinet ministers not attend Memorial Day ceremonies for their loved ones. In a full-page advertisement published in the Makor Rishon newspaper, a group of people who lost relatives to war or terror accused the government of being sustained by terror supporters and called on cabinet members to therefore stay away from commemorative ceremonies held across Israel on Tuesday evening and Wednesday, when Israel marks its annual Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

Israel To Increase Military, Civilian Aid to Ukraine, The Jerusalem Post
Israel is leaning towards expanding its aid to Ukraine, including military assistance to the embattled country. According to a report, Israeli officials have said that the country can send “plenty of items” to Kyiv that are more defensive, but that air defense systems, advanced weaponry and attack systems would not be sent.

Opinion and Analysis

​The Israeli Army Is Making Millions by Seizing Palestinian Tractors, +972 Mag
Basil al-Adraa and Oren Ziv uncover, “Previously unpublished data from the Civil Administration — the arm of the Israeli military that governs the occupied territories — which was collated by the NGO Kerem Navot, suggests that confiscations of Palestinian agricultural and construction equipment (including tractors, cranes, construction materials, and water cisterns) have leapt nearly threefold over the past seven years. Confiscations of similar equipment from Israeli settlers in the West Bank, meanwhile, dropped by 42 percent over the same period.”

AIPAC and Support of Members of Congress Who Voted To Overturn the Election, Texas Jewish Post
J Street Texas Leader Marcy C. Helfand writes, “I would call upon AIPAC to show that democracy is fundamental to their mission of maintaining US-Israel relations, to withdraw their endorsements of these candidates and to join fellow pro-Israel PACs in signing J Street’s public pledge not to endorse any electoral candidates who voted against Congressional certification of 2020 election results or otherwise supported the debunked “Big Lie”.

The Fading of a Binary World: Two-Way Street for Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut, J Street
Rabbi Stanley Davids reflects, “As a citizen of Israel, I remember standing silently in my Jerusalem café as the sirens went off on Yom HaZikaron – Israel’s Day of Remembrance, honoring the memory of those who have fallen while on active duty as well as the civilian victims of terrorism. 24 hours later I was in my seat on Mount Herzl, celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day. Weeping had given way to celebration (and long speeches, fireworks – followed by smoke from picnic grills filling the air). Of course, I felt the divisions in my soul. Celebrating independence purchased through the heroism of Israel’s citizen soldiers. Mourning losses while enjoying a noisy and happy family gathering. Which one is Israel? Both – and much, much more.”