News Roundup for May 6, 2020

May 6, 2020

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J Street in the News

Former national security officials call on DNC to amend party’s 2020 platform on Israel, Jewish Insider
“A group of 32 former diplomats and national security officials are calling on Democratic Party leaders to ensure the party’s 2020 platform includes language that balances Palestinian rights with a commitment to Israel’s security and explicitly opposes Israeli settlement expansion and unilateral annexation of West Bank settlements […] Signatories include former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, former Deputy National Security Advisors Avril Haines and Ben Rhodes, former U.S. Ambassadors to Israel Martin Indyk and Daniel Kurtzer, and other key foreign policy advisors to several former 2020 presidential candidates. The letter was also welcomed by J Street.”

Top News and Analysis

US ambassador says Washington ‘ready to recognize annexation’ within weeks, Times of Israel
In the latest show of American support for Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank, US Ambassador David Friedman said in an interview that Washington is ready to recognize Israeli sovereignty in the disputed areas should it be declared in the coming weeks. In an interview with the pro-ruling party Israel Hayom daily published Wednesday, Friedman said that it is up to Israel to decide whether it wants to move forward with annexing settlements but that if it does, Washington will recognize the move.

U.S. Jewish Groups Alarmed by anti-Semitism, Nazi Symbols in Lockdown Protests, Haaretz
Several protests against the measures taken by state governors to slow the spread of the coronavirus have featured swastikas, while right-wing activists and elected officials have compared the measures taken to the Holocaust. Jewish Center for Public Affairs CEO David Bernstein wrote in response to the incidents that he was “really concerned” about this trend and “what it means to a potential growth in anti-Semitism.” He warned that “when economic times get bad, people everywhere tend to seek scapegoats, and Jews have always been a target of choice. Americans are no exception. We need to be on the lookout for rising anti-Semitism.”


Rocket fired from Gaza into Israel; IDF tanks respond, hitting 3 Hamas positions, Times of Israel
Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired early Wednesday a rocket into Israel that landed in an open area, causing no injuries or damage, the IDF said.

Israel’s Coronavirus Outbreak Under Control, Head of Expert Panel Says, Haaretz
The head of the expert panel advising Israel’s National Security Council on the coronavirus crisis said Tuesday that Israel has succeeded in arresting the virus’ spread in the country – and that careful management of the ongoing pandemic would help in preventing another outbreak.

Palestinians fear outbreak in Jerusalem’s ‘no man’s land’, AP
As the coronavirus pandemic gathered strength last month, community leaders in a Palestinian neighborhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem tried to impose lockdown and quarantine measures to protect residents.

Israelis Protest Femicide After Uptick in Violence Against Women During Coronavirus Lockdown, Haaretz
Protesters gathered in cities around Israel to rally against femicide and domestic violence after the Social Services Ministry announced that five women had been killed in domestic violence related incidents during the coronavirus lockdown.

From New York to Milan, how coronavirus is hitting Jewish communities worldwide, JTA
In many large Jewish communities worldwide, the coronavirus is still wreaking a terrible toll. Among the 8 million Jews living in the Diaspora — more than Israel’s 6.7 million but less than its overall population of 9.2 million — the death toll is in the thousands and climbing.

Ex-official in charge of prisoner swaps sees ‘real possibility’ of Hamas deal, Times of Israel
A former Mossad official who was involved in the 2011 deal to free Gilad Shalit expressed optimism about the possibility of a prisoner swap between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group in an interview published Wednesday.

Western Wall reopens to worshippers after coronavirus restrictions relaxed, JTA
The reopening comes after the Israeli government relaxed some of its coronavirus restrictions, including canceling the restriction on joining outdoor prayer services only within 500 meters from a person’s home.

Opinion and Analysis

The Dark Side of Annexing the Jordan Valley: Whitewashing Land Theft, Haaretz
Akiva Eldar writes, “Behind the ideological fervor and the alleged security motive, lies a plot to launder stolen land. Imposing Israeli law on Area C (the 60 percent of the West Bank that is under Israeli control), including the Jordan Valley, will effectively transfer vast areas legally registered in the names of a great many Palestinians to the State of Israel.”

The pandemic is forcing synagogues to reinvent themselves, The Forward
Ilene Prusher writes, “Not being able to tend the flock in person – and not knowing when it’ll be safe to do so — is a loss over which many rabbis are grieving.”

Israel After Coronavirus: One Crisis, One State – and That Includes the Palestinians, Haaretz
Gideon Levy writes, “All of a sudden Palestinians can sleep in Israel, Arab health workers are garnering praise and Israelis are experiencing an ‘occupation.’ Maybe this crisis will show that we are all human beings?”