News Roundup for November 19, 2021

November 19, 2021

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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

Israel’s Relations With Diaspora Jewry: Can the Rift Be Healed? A Practical Start at Healing, Jerusalem Strategic Tribune
Nadav Tamir, Executive Director of J Street Israel, writes, “The public and the political establishment in Israel has consistently taken a demanding and often unilateral approach towards diaspora Jewry, expecting it to serve as a vital resource to generate pro-Israel support, a cash machine for unconditional funding, and a potential pool of future immigrants. By failing to seriously consider the views, values, and aspirations of diaspora Jews, the political representatives of the Jews of Israel have taken this important community’s support for granted.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel Revised Intel File It Gave U.S. on Bombing Gaza High-rise That Housed AP, Al Jazeera, Haaretz
“The intelligence file Israel gave the United States concerning the airstrike on a Gaza high-rise building that housed foreign news agencies was retroactively edited, according to Israeli sources. This was done in order to justify Israel’s claim that the bombing of the Al-Jalaa tower during the last Gaza conflict was necessary, after it became clear that the intelligence in the hands of the Israel Defense Forces was less than solid, say the sources. The report was given to senior U.S. officials after President Joe Biden demanded an explanation for the May 15 attack from then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli officials expressed concern that submitting the altered report could adversely affect the trust between the two countries, especially on defense issues of strategic importance to Israel.”

We don’t just live through one home demolition — we live through them all, 972 Magazine
Awdah Hathaleen writes, “[A]s we gathered at the entrance to our village, waiting for our transportation for the day, we heard that terrifying noise we had heard so many times before. Within seconds, rows of Israeli military jeeps and bulldozers rolled toward our village, accompanied by officials from the Israeli Civil Administration, the arm of the military government that rules over Palestinians in the occupied territories. We were all overcome with fear, knowing what the day now had in store for us. In those moments before a demolition raid, we Palestinians don’t just experience the fear of what might happen: we are consumed by the fear of all the events that happened before. On these days, we don’t just live through one home demolition — we live through them all.”


Strike on U.S. Base Was Iranian Response to Israeli Attack, Officials Say, The New York Times
An armed drone strike last month on an American military base in southern Syria was Iranian retaliation for Israeli airstrikes in Syria, according to eight American and Israeli officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters. The drone attack, which caused no casualties, would be the first time Iran has directed a military strike against the United States in response to an attack by Israel, an escalation of Iran’s shadow war with Israel that poses new dangers to U.S. forces in the Middle East.

In Washington, Israel’s Interior Minister Sees Hope for Visa Waiver, Haaretz
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said Thursday that the U.S. is “very committed” to adding Israel to its visa waiver program, following a meeting in Washington with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. One of the main barriers to Israel joining the visa waiver program is Washington’s requirement that a country’s non-immigrant visa refusal rate not exceed 3 percent, which refers to the number of times foreigners applying for U.S. visitor visas are rejected

Bennett thanks Erdogan for releasing Israeli couple, in first-ever call between them, Times of Israel
In his first-ever phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked the Turkish leader on Thursday for his “personal involvement” in bringing about the release of an Israeli couple arrested and held for over a week in Istanbul.

Aaron Keyak, former Biden Jewish engagement director, appointed as deputy antisemitism envoy, Forward
Aaron Keyak, who served as Jewish outreach director during President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, has been appointed as the State Department’s deputy envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism.The appointment comes amid a political fight over the Biden Administration’s pick for the top global antisemitism role. Deborah E. Lipstadt, the renowned Holocaust historian, was nominated as antisemitism envoy in July, but Republicans have delayed her confirmation over critical tweets she wrote about Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a member of the foreign relations committee.

Opinion and Analysis

He was the top U.N. official in Gaza. An Israeli TV interview cost him his post, NPR
Daniel Estrin reports, “Matthias Schmale was the highest-ranking international representative based in the Gaza Strip before his tenure ended with a jolt…after the war, Schmale angered Gazans with an interview with Israeli TV in which he was perceived to be praising the ‘huge sophistication’ and ‘precision’ in Israel’s strikes. His Palestinian employees protested outside the headquarters, and Hamas, the hard-line Islamist group that governs the territory, said its officers would no longer guarantee his safety. He left for Jerusalem at the beginning of June, never to return to Gaza.”

Israel’s Contradictions, Drawn With a Palette of Primary Colors, The New York Times
“The story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is rarely told with much economy. Just the question of where to begin can stop things before they start. 1917? 1948? 1967? But the Israeli graphic novelist Rutu Modan managed to grasp what often gets left out entirely — the emotional truth — and did so in a simple 11-page comic.”