News Roundup for October 18, 2021

October 18, 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.

Top News and Analysis

What I would’ve told the Knesset about settler violence — if they’d let me, +972 Magazine
Ali Awad writes, “I was supposed to speak to Knesset members about the widespread phenomenon of settler violence on Tuesday. A group of Israeli anti-occupation organizations — our partners in the struggle to achieve our rights and defend our dignity on our own land — invited me to address the Foreign and Defense Affairs Committee. But I couldn’t. Israeli politicians intentionally derailed the session in an instant, because they can. These right-wing forces want to hide and distort a truth that has long been made clear: settler violence is state violence.”

US rejoins UN Human Rights Council 3 years after Trump left over Israel concerns, JTA
The U.S. rejoined the United Nations’ Human Rights Council on Thursday, three years after former President Trump pulled out of it over what his administration deemed a “shameless” bias against Israel. President Biden’s envoy to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, argued in a statement that the move will not mean the U.S. does not stand with Israel. “We will oppose the Council’s disproportionate attention on Israel, which includes the Council’s only standing agenda item targeting a single country,” she said.

New Politico Owner Says Will Enforce pro-Israel Policy, Haaretz
Politico’s new owner, Germany’s Axel Springer, expects the U.S. website to adhere to the parent company’s principles including support for Israel’s right to exist, Springer’s CEO told The Wall Street Journal Friday. Axel Springer said in August it was buying Politico for more than $1 billion. […] He told The Journal on Friday that this sentiment – and others such as support for a united Europe and a free-market economy – “are like a constitution, they apply to every employee of our company.” Employees who disagreed “should not work for Axel Springer, very clearly.”


Israel Preparing Declaration of National Climate Emergency, Haaretz
Israel’s government is preparing a national climate emergency declaration that, if approved, would obligate all state bodies to beef up preparations for the impact of climate change. The declaration is being drafted by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Environmental Protection Ministry, the National Security Council and the Defense Ministry. The government is also working to pass a climate law, the draft of which is currently supported by all ministries except two – finance and energy.

Syria Accuses Israel of Assassinating Official Near Golan Heights, New York Times
The Syrian government on Saturday accused Israel of assassinating a high-ranking Syrian official who spent 12 years in an Israeli prison on terrorism charges before serving decades in the Syrian government. The official, Midhat Saleh, who was responsible for overseeing the strategic Golan Heights boundary, was shot and killed by an apparent sniper while inside Syria near the shared border between the two countries.

Israeli officer punished for violence against protesters, AP
The Israeli military on Sunday said it has reprimanded an officer who was found to have used excessive force against protesters in the occupied West Bank, including pushing a 65-year-old Israeli peace activist to the ground. The army said the officer, a major, had deviated from “the professional norms and standards” expected of him. It said he could not be promoted or attend a commander’s course for the next three years.

Settler attacks wreak havoc on Palestinians during olive harvest, Al Jazeera
Israeli settlers have committed violent, daily attacks against Palestinian villages and residents harvesting their olive trees over the past week. The attacks, which include beatings of farmers and destruction of trees, preceded the formal start of the olive harvest season on October 12 in the occupied West Bank, but intensified in number over the past week.

1 in 3 Haredim caught coronavirus, double the national average – study, Times of Israel
Almost one in three ultra-Orthodox Israelis has been infected with the coronavirus, more than double the national average, according to a new study. The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, a nonpartisan think tank, crunched Health Ministry statistics, and found that from the start of the pandemic until September 2021, 13.7 percent of the Israeli population has been confirmed COVID positive.

How Israel’s New Government Created Peace on the Gaza Border, Haaretz
Judy Maltz writes, “Two communities located next to Gaza, Kibbutz Alumim and neighboring Nahal Oz, represent polar opposites when it comes to politics. But now, Naftali Bennett’s ‘government of change’ has finally brought them together.”

The Bomb Will Backfire on Iran, Foreign Affairs
Ray Takeyh writes, “It is time to start envisioning a world with a nuclear-armed Iran. Critics of the theocracy in Tehran tend to cast that outcome as a nightmare scenario. In fact, going nuclear could lead to the undoing of the Islamic Republic. Getting the bomb would likely backfire on the regime, in part by sparking a much-needed reset of U.S. policy that would allow Washington to finally focus on the Islamist state itself and not just its nuclear apparatus.”

How Arab autocrats benefit from newfound friendship with Israel, Responsible Statecraft
Jonathan Hoffman writes, “Though their interests are not identical in all matters, several Arab autocrats in the Middle East have increasingly sought to tap various elements of Israel’s influential network in Washington. These endeavors appear to be paying off: over the past several years, various individuals and organizations supporting Israel’s interests have used their influence to shield these governments from human rights criticisms, maintain the flood of arms sales flowing from Washington, and demonize domestic and regional adversaries.”