News Roundup for November 9, 2021

November 9, 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

J Street-Organized CODEL to Israel and the Palestinian Territories , Politico
“The J Street Education Fund has sponsored a five-day trip for members of Congress to Israel and the Palestinian Territories that began on Sunday, NatSec Daily has learned….the delegation includes Reps. ROSA DELAURO (D-Conn.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee; BARBARA LEE (D-Calif.), who heads the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee; MARK POCAN (D-Wisc.), emeritus chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; and multiple first-term members like JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-N.Y.)…LOGAN BAYROFF, J Street’s vice president of communications, told us the lawmakers will spend equal time listening to Israeli and Palestinian voices. On the Israeli side, they’ll hear from Foreign Minister Lapid and Transport Minister MERAV MICHAELI, along with Knesset members and representatives of the Israeli Defense Forces. On the Palestinian side, they’ll chat with Prime Minister MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH. The lawmakers will also chat with civil society leaders and issues experts and activists from both sides. “Nearly six months after the most recent escalation in violence, this trip will provide an important opportunity to speak with those on the front lines in civil society and government,” DeLauro told NatSec Daily. “I look forward to returning home with a better understanding of the impact that American policy is having in the region and of the steps that the Congress can and should be taking to better promote peace, justice and equality.”

Democratic Members of Congress, Brought to Israel by J Street, Meet With Lapid, Haaretz
“Senior Democratic members of Congress currently visiting Israel on a delegation put together by the pro-Israel, left wing J Street organization met with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday. This is likely the first meeting between a J Street delegation and an Israeli cabinet official in at least four years. Among the members of the delegation include senior Democratic lawmakers such as Reps. Rosa DeLauro (the House Appropriations Committee chair who was a key figure in passing a standalone bill granting Israel $1 billion in emergency funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system) and Barbara Lee (the chair of the House subcommittee on foreign operations)….The delegation will meet with President Isaac Herzog, ministers such as Merav Michaeli and Essawi Frej, lawmakers and military representatives, as well as with Palestinian Authority officials such as Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh and other Israeli and Palestinian civil society leaders, issue experts and activists…They will also tour the West Bank, meeting with both a settler movement representative as well as visiting Hebron and an Area C Palestinian community in the South Hebron Hills. They will also tour the Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance center, Jerusalem’s Old City and East Jerusalem.”

The Surprising Greatness of Jimmy Carter, Washington Monthly
President Jimmy Carter biographer Kai Bird notes, “J Street now exists, and J Street recently gave an award to Jimmy Carter, which was an extraordinary thing in the Jewish American community”.

Instead of Vilifying, Let’s Get Constructive About the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Times of San Diego
Janice Steinberg and Philip Gourevitch write, “As members of the San Diego Chapter of J Street, a national organization that advocates for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we believe one can love and support Israel AND advocate for the rights of the Palestinian people. It is possible both to support Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people and to call for a Palestinian state. The Two-State Solution Act makes major strides toward advancing that prospect….We urge those who, like us, care deeply about the future of Israel and the Palestinians to avoid simplistic arguments and consider the complex, challenging steps that might lead to a genuine two-state solution: democratic national homelands for the Jewish and Palestinian peoples, living side-by-side in peace, freedom, and security.”

Jewish group finds anti-Muslim tweets ‘deeply troubling’, New Jersey Star-Ledger
Mark Lurinsky writes, “On behalf of the New Jersey Chapter of J Street, and writing as a Jewish American, I support the Islamic community, which was slandered by the past anti-Muslim, racially insensitive and xenophobic tweets of Edward Durr. Durr was elected as a Republican state state senator from the 3rd District last week. This type of malicious smear — vilifying the creed of almost one-quarter of the world’s religious adherents as a ‘false faith’ and its founder as a ‘pedophile — is, unfortunately, all too familiar to Jewish people, who have suffered just this kind of religious and ethnic defamation. We know the dangerous outcomes of unchecked hatred.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel escalates surveillance of Palestinians with facial recognition program in West Bank, Washington Post
“The Israeli military has been conducting a broad surveillance effort in the occupied West Bank to monitor Palestinians by integrating facial recognition with a growing network of cameras and smartphones, according to descriptions of the program by recent Israeli soldiers. The surveillance initiative, rolled out over the past two years, involves in part a smartphone technology called Blue Wolf that captures photos of Palestinians’ faces and matches them to a database of images so extensive that one former soldier described it as the army’s secret ‘Facebook for Palestinians.’ The phone app flashes in different colors to alert soldiers if a person is to be detained, arrested or left alone.”

Hacking of activists is latest in long line of cyber-attacks on Palestinians, Guardian
“The disclosure that Palestinian human rights defenders were reportedly hacked using NSO’s Pegasus spyware will come as little surprise to two groups of people: Palestinians themselves and the Israeli military and intelligence cyber operatives who have long spied on Palestinians. While it is not known who was responsible for the hacking in this instance, what is very well documented is the role of the Israeli military’s 8200 cyberwarfare unit – known in Hebrew as the Yehida Shmoneh-Matayim – in the widespread spying on Palestinian society.”

No One Thought About How We Would Stop Iran After Withdrawing From the Deal’, Haaretz
Raviv Drucker writes, “I spoke with the two officials separately, they come from different security realms, yet it was amazing to hear to what degree, in their view, Netanyahu’s Israel behaved contrary to the national interest, and how the entire security leadership watched agape at the way Netanyahu managed everything all on his own. It got to the point, the second official said, that Netanyahu paid no heed to any of us, and he didn’t take anyone in the cabinet seriously either. You could see his disdain for them.”


Syria says Israel struck near Homs, Tartus in 3rd alleged attack in 2 weeks, Times of Israel
The Israeli military struck a number of sites in western Syria in a rare early evening attack on Monday, Syrian state media reported. According to the Syrian military, the strikes hit targets in the area of Homs in Western Syria and around Tartus, along the Mediterranean coast. One of the targets was located at the Shayrat Airport near Homs.

Palestinians Targeted With Israeli Spyware Decry ‘State Terrorism’, Haaretz
“It’s difficult to describe the feeling of invasion and intrusion into privacy,” Ubai Al-Aboudi, one of six Palestinian activists whose cellphones was found to be infected by Pegasus spyware said on Monday.

Arab-Israeli party celebrates budget passage, Al-Monitor
“This is the first time an Arab party has taken a central role in passing the budget and forming a coalition,” Mansour Abbas tweeted shortly after the budget was passed. “It’s an important step in the process of political integration, realizing our right to civic partnership and taking collective responsibility to benefit all citizens, Arabs and Jews.”

Israeli Coalition Leaders Push for Mixed-gender Prayer at Western Wall, Haaretz
Multiple party leaders traded barbs on Monday over proposed reforms to Israel’s religious status quo, including a return to a controversial deal shelved in 2017 allowing men and women to pray together at the Western Wall. Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that his party would push for an egalitarian division of the Western Wall complex, adding that he would advance plans to devolve conversions from the Chief Rabbinate to local clergy.

Opinion and Analysis

How the War in Ethiopia Created an Immigration Battle in Israel, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer reviews the debate inside Israel’s governing coalition over whether to evacuate thousands of Ethiopians currently seeking refuge in Israel as the country’s civil war worsens.

Nearly 20 years on, Israeli barrier shapes Palestinian lives, AP
“Nearly two decades after Israel sparked controversy worldwide by building the barrier during a Palestinian uprising, it has become a seemingly permanent feature of the landscape — even as Israel encourages its citizens to settle on both sides. Tens of thousands of Palestinians navigate its checkpoints every morning as they line up in cramped terminals to enter Israel for jobs in construction and agriculture. Farmers in Qaffin and dozens of other villages need permits to access their own private property.

They should have been lawyers. Instead they’re at Israeli construction sites, 972 Magazine
Basil al-Adraa writes that “A generation of Palestinian graduates find that despite their degrees, their only way to earn a living under occupation is to work construction in Israel.”

Bennett coalition set for post-budget clashes, Jerusalem Post
“The first post-budget disputes have emerged over settlements. After Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev (Labor) criticized Bennett on the issue of the Evyatar outpost, Meretz MKs Mossi Raz and Gabi Laski wrote Bennett, warning him that Construction Minister Ze’ev Elkin’s plans to build in the Jordan Valley crossed their red line. Labor intends to push for a change in the Finance Ministry’s preferred communities list, taking out wealthy communities in Judea and Samaria and adding more communities in the Galilee and Negev that would receive special benefits. Meretz MKs were also disturbed by Bennett and Lapid dismissing the possibility of America reopening its consulate in Jerusalem that served the Palestinian Authority before it was closed by US President Donald Trump.”