News Roundup for October 27, 2021

October 27, 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

Retiring Democratic Lawmaker: When AIPAC Told Us to Jump, the Party Used to Ask ‘How High?’, Haaretz
Rep. David Price shook Capitol Hill recently when he announced he is wrapping up his four-decade political career and not seeking reelection in 2022. […] Perhaps more than any other U.S. lawmaker over the past 15 years, Price has found an ideological ally in the pro-Israel, pro-peace organization J Street. He notes that since the group’s founding, it has made a “huge difference in the political environment – for me and a lot of members.” […] “The political contribution of J Street was not so much to change people’s minds but more to legitimate and embolden members who already had these views and [to] sometimes provide political cover for a more nuanced approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues. J Street essentially said that that was not only appropriate but actually quite important to do.”

J Street Cleveland celebrates first year with Kurtzer, Ben-Ami discussion, Cleveland Jewish News
J Street’s Cleveland chapter held its first major fundraiser Oct. 13, which doubled as a celebration of its first year. The virtual event was highlighted by a conversation between former Ambassador to Israel and Egypt Daniel C. Kurtzer and J Street’s founder and CEO Jeremy Ben-Ami, which focused on bringing the 60 attendees from J Street Cleveland’s chapter up to date on the Biden administration’s impact on Israeli/Palestinian relations. Titled Lessons “Learned from a Life of Diplomacy,” the conversation featured Ben-Ami asking Kurtzer what the diplomat’s experience suggests as the best path forward toward improving Israeli/Palestinian relations.

Top News and Analysis

Israeli body to OK settlement homes after US condemnation, AP
An Israeli committee convened Wednesday to approve 2,800 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, a day after the Biden administration issued its strongest condemnation yet of Israeli settlement construction. The Defense Ministry’s higher planning council, which authorizes West Bank construction, met to authorize the housing units, with more than half of them getting final approval before building starts.

Scoop: Biden administration objects to Israeli settlements plan, Axios
The Biden administration has privately protested to the Israeli government over its plan to approve the planning and construction of more than 3,000 new housing units in the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, sources briefed on the issue tell me. The approvals for new homes in the settlements will be the first since President Biden assumed office, and come after Biden and his top aides personally pressed Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to restrain settlement activity and decrease the number of new housing units.

Israel again rattles its sabre at Iran, The Economist
The Economist writes, ‘The “Blue Flag’ exercises at the Ovda air base in the Negev desert are a form of military diplomacy, and a signal that Israel has friends. Israel is becoming the hinge of two emerging military groupings: an eastern Mediterranean one to fend off Turkey; and a Middle Eastern one to deter Iran. The number of Blue Flag participants has grown—seven countries, including India, exercised with Israel this year. The United Arab Emirates’ air-force chief came to watch as an honoured guest.”


Cyberattack blamed as Iran gas stations hit with major disruptions, NBC News
An apparent cyberattack caused major disruptions at gas stations across Iran on Tuesday, just weeks before the second anniversary of deadly protests over fuel price hikes. Motorists were forced to wait in long lines as those looking to use government-issued cards, which many in Iran rely on to buy subsidized fuel, were blocked from doing so. Instead, they were met with cryptic messages on gas machines that read: “Cyberattack 64411,” the semiofficial news agency ISNA reported. […] Speaking with state broadcaster IRIB, Abolhassan Firoozabadi, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace, said he believed the incident was caused by a cyberattack from a foreign country.

Israel declines to sign UN statement on China’s treatment of Uighurs, JTA
Israel chose not to sign a United Nations statement expressing concern about welfare of the Uighurs, a Muslim minority group in China that has been forced into “re-education camps,” which some have likened to concentration camps. While the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia were among the group of 43 countries that signed the statement last week, an Israeli diplomatic official told The Times of Israel that the Israeli government had “other interests that it has to balance” in its relationship with China.

Palestinians fear for loved ones’ remains as Israel plans Jerusalem park, Reuters
Sobbing and trying to cling to her son’s gravestone, Palestinian Jerusalemite Ola Nababteh was dragged away from Al Yusufiyah cemetery by Israeli police as a digger levelled land for a new park behind her. Palestinians say the project encroaches on a centuries-old Muslim graveyard beneath the eastern wall of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem. The Israeli municipality says authorised burial sites in the cemetery will not be harmed. But the unearthing of human bones when construction for the park began this month stirred panic among families like Ms Nababteh’s with loved ones interred at Al Yusufiyah cemetery.

Tree of Life Massacre, Three Years On: How Pittsburgh’s Jews Overcame the Tragedy, Haaretz
It was the worst antisemitic attack in American history, but the 2018 massacre also showed the strength and resilience of a city, a neighborhood, and a diverse Jewish community.

Opinion and Analysis

How to Deal With People Who Deny Palestinians Their Right to a State, Haaretz
Arkadi Mazin writes, “Long before the rise of the term ‘cancel culture,’ critics of Israel have been judged by the strictest standards of political correctness, including by people who decry PC when it is applied to racists and sexists. The most heinous crime one can commit in this regard is denying ‘Israel’s right to exist’ or ‘Jews’ right to self-determination.’ Of course, this almost never means the expulsion of Jews, but rather letting Palestinians into the body politic, and giving them full equality, which may or may not eventually and naturally result in Israel’s losing some aspects of its Jewish character. […] On the other hand, denying Palestinians their statehood is still somehow OK. But why, exactly?”

Sudan coup puts Israel ties on backburner, but unlikely to derail normalization, Times of Israel
For the last year, Sudan was the shoe that didn’t drop. While Israel’s ties with the UAE, Bahrain, and in many respects Morocco, were progressing apace, normalization with Khartoum remained stuck. Then came this week’s move by Sudan’s military, seizing power and arresting the civilian leadership it had previously shared control with under a transitional government. […] But with the military in control, the unrest is not expected to significantly disrupt the long-term trend toward improved ties.

Israel’s New Aim: Making Iranians’ Daily Hardships Even Worse, Haaretz
Jonathan Lis writes, “Even if Israel didn’t instigate the cyberattack that made tens of thousands of Iranian drivers miserable all throughout Tuesday, the attack dovetails with the security establishment’s latest strategy to exploit the lifestyles of middle-class Iranians in the struggle against Iran’s nuclear program. Israeli security officials have recently aimed their sights at the Iranian public, or at least the educated urban middle class, which they see as the country’s soft underbelly. They believe this group finds it hard to tolerate damage to their quality of life and hope that these Iranians will put substantial pressure on the regime if the situation endures.”