News Roundup for October 25, 2021

October 25, 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

Israeli ‘terror’ designation of Palestinian NGOs sparks furious int’l backlash, Times of Israel
An Israeli decision to label six Palestinian rights groups and civil society movements as “terror organizations” elicited a swift and fierce backlash Friday, with Palestinians, international organizations and left-wing American politicians slamming the move. […] J Street, an American organization that lobbies the United States to act for a two-state solution, called for US President Joe Biden’s administration to censure Israel over the decision. “This is a deeply repressive measure that seems designed to outlaw and persecute important Palestinian human rights groups,” it said in a statement. “The Biden Admin[istration] should make clear to the Israeli government that this is totally unacceptable and anti-democratic, and call on them to reverse the decision.”

Florida prepares to pull Ben & Jerry’s investments over Israeli settlement boycott, The National
The legal deadline for Florida to divest from Ben & Jerry’s parent company over the progressive ice cream brand’s decision to cease selling its products in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is fast approaching. Under Florida law, the state’s pension fund must divest its roughly $139 million in investments from the UK-based food behemoth Unilever and its subsidiaries unless Ben & Jerry’s reverses its decision. […] Jeremy Ben-Ami — the president of AIPAC’s left-leaning rival, J Street — has called the Ben & Jerry’s decision “to sell ice cream in Israel but not in the settlements” a “rational and principled, even pro-Israel, position”.

Illinois redistricting sets up primary faceoff between Newman and Casten, Jewish Insider
Illinois Democrats unveiled the second draft of a redistricting proposal on Saturday, setting up a possible primary showdown in the Chicago suburbs between two Democratic incumbents, Reps. Marie Newman (D-IL) and Sean Casten (D-IL). […] Newman’s positions on Israel set her apart from much of the Democratic Party — she was one of eight Democrats to vote against supplemental funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system in a 420-9 vote — but Casten, who voted for the funding, falls more within the mainstream. […] J Street, which endorsed Newman and held a fundraiser for her weeks after her vote against Iron Dome funding, also endorsed Casten and held a fundraiser for him last year.

Top News and Analysis

Palestinian rights groups see muzzle in Israel’s terror tag, AP
Activists called on the international community Saturday to help reverse Israel’s unprecedented designation of six Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organizations, a label that effectively outlaws them. They said the decision amounts to an attempt to silence groups that have documented Israel’s harsh treatment of Palestinians over the years. Some of the groups have close ties with rights organizations in Israel and abroad.

Settlements, Palestinian NGOs Rock Israeli Government Ahead of Key Date, Haaretz
During a meeting of coalition leaders on Sunday, Labor head Merav Michaeli and Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz demanded that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett put the brakes on several controversial issues: Re-establishing the illegal outpost of Evyatar, advancing 1,300 housing units in the settlements as well as Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s labeling of six Palestinian NGOs as terror groups. Bennett said he would hold a discussion on Gantz’s announcement when the defense minister returns from a visit abroad.

Whose Promised Land? A Journey Into a Divided Israel, New York Times
Two Times journalists drive the length of Israel to discover what it means to be Israeli today. They meet a kaleidoscope of people, searching for belonging but far apart on how to find it. […] “We found a country still wrestling with contradictions left unresolved at its birth, and with the consequences of its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. We found a people facing complex questions about what it means to be Israeli, or a Palestinian citizen of Israel. And we found a battle of narratives — waged not only between Jews and Arabs, but also among Jews themselves.”


U.N. nuke watchdog chief says monitoring of Iran is no longer ‘intact.’, NBC News
The head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog says his monitoring program in Iran is no longer “intact” after Tehran refused requests to repair cameras at a key facility, creating the possibility the world will never be “able to reconstruct the picture” of what the Iranians have been doing.

Israel’s Top Court Holds Decisive Hearing on Eviction of Palestinian Family in East Jerusalem, Haaretz
The Supreme Court is holding a decisive hearing on Monday concerning the eviction of a Palestinian family from their home in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem – which could also affect the possible eviction of dozens of other families in the area.

Israel set to OK 3,000 West Bank settler homes this week, AP
Israel is expected to move forward with thousands of new homes for Jewish settlers in the West Bank this week, a settlement watchdog group said Sunday. The plan for some 3,000 new settler units in the West Bank has already drawn calls for restraint from the U.S., which on Friday voiced “concern” over the expected approvals.

Sunrise DC apologizes ‘unequivocally’ for singling out Jewish groups but still denounces Zionism, JTA
Days after calling for a rally organizer to remove three Jewish advocacy groups from participating in a rally due to their Zionist beliefs, Sunrise DC, the Washington, D.C. affiliate of the national youth-led organization focusing on fighting climate change, issued an apology. […] We apologize unequivocally for this. We now understand the way our action has fueled antisemitism, which benefits white nationalism and political movements that built power by dividing us, and endangers Jewish people drastically.”

Opinion and Analysis

Why Israel is trying to criminalise Palestinian civil society, Al Jazeera
Yara Hawari writes, “While this designation is an escalation, it is not the first time the Israeli regime has falsely applied the terrorism label to Palestinian organisations or individuals. The label is frequently bandied about by Israeli officials and Israel’s supporters to discredit and defame those who document Palestinian rights violations and those who resist such violations. The tactic is simple and can be quite effective.”

EDITORIAL: +972 stands with Palestinian rights groups under attack, +972 Magazine
+972 Magazine’s editorial board writes, “+972 Magazine stands firmly in solidarity with the six Palestinian NGOs recently declared “terrorist organizations” by the Israeli government. The targeted groups — Al-Haq, Addameer, Bisan Center, Defense For Children International-Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees — are civil society leaders who are deeply committed to protecting the human rights of Palestinian communities suffering the brunt of Israel’s apartheid policies, including children, women, prisoners, farmers, and other vulnerable groups.”

Israel breaks out of its global isolation, Financial Times
Gideon Rachman writes, “It would be nice to report that the surge in international acceptance of Israel also reflects significantly improved treatment of the Palestinians. But, on the contrary, Human Rights Watch […] states that the ‘Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians’. […] The pessimistic view is that an increasingly confident Israel will now feel free to press ahead with further colonisation of the West Bank. But there is an alternative path. Support for the peace process in Israel collapsed after the terror attacks of the second intifada from 2000-2005. A more secure and optimistic Israel could also be a more generous country.”

A Plan B for Iran, Foreign Affairs
Michael Singh writes, “Iranian officials may believe that returning to compliance with the JCPOA is inferior to the alternatives. By developing a credible Plan B that sharpens the consequences for Iran should it continue to rebuff diplomatic overtures and expand its nuclear activities while simultaneously offering Iran a diplomatic proposal that has a better chance of outlasting his tenure in office, President Biden may be able to change Iranian leaders’ calculus.”