News Roundup for September 15, 2023

September 15, 2023
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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.

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J Street In the News

Israel’s Government is Joining the “Axis of Evil”, The Times of Israel
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir argues, “While at home the coalition is working to destroy the checks and balances that protect Israel’s democracy, Israel’s international diplomacy is siding with the belligerent, undemocratic world, who perceive Israel as an example of an ethnocracy, devoid of minority rights, and which is joining the populistic regimes that values a single leader above human rights, even of its citizens.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel’s Finance Minister Now Governs the West Bank. Critics See Steps Toward Permanent Control, AP
With attention focused on its contentious judicial overhaul, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has quietly taken unprecedented steps toward cementing Israel’s control over the occupied West Bank — perhaps permanently. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a leader of the settlement movement, assumed new powers over the occupied territory in his coalition agreement with Netanyahu.

Israeli Army Begins Routine Border Closure of Gaza and West Bank Ahead of Rosh Hashanah, Haaretz
Israel will close its border crossings into Gaza and the West Bank from Thursday night until Sunday night, finishing at the end of Rosh Hashanah. Every year, the Israel Defense Forces imposes a general closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the Jewish High Holidays, Purim, Passover – as well as Election Day.


Netanyahu to Meet Musk, Erdogan, Zelenskyy, Biden — But No White House Visit, Al-Monitor
Netanyahu is set to depart for the US Sunday at midnight, arriving in San Francisco early Monday morning. After spending the day discussing high technology and AI, Netanyahu is scheduled to fly to New York, where he will address the General Assembly, apparently on the morning of Friday, September 23, and meet with world leaders.

Joe Biden to Rabbis Facing Security Threats, on Rosh Hashanah Call: ‘I Have Your Back’, JTA
Speaking after dozens of synagogues were targeted by false bombs threats, President Joe Biden offered rabbis assurances ahead of the High Holidays that he is committed to Jewish security.

Saudis Co-hosting UN Event Aimed at Revamping Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, The Times of Israel
The event, titled “Peace Day Effort for Middle East Peace,” will take place on Monday and is being put on by Saudi Arabia along with the Arab League and the European Union in cooperation with Egypt and Jordan, one of the diplomats said. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will be the keynote speaker.

Israel Says it Found 16 Tons of Rocket-making Substance Headed from Turkey to Gaza, Reuters
Two months ago, the customs authority stopped two containers for inspection carrying 54 tons of what were supposed to be bags of plaster. A lab test confirmed some of the bags contained ammonium chloride, which is used by groups in Gaza “to produce rockets that are eventually launched towards Israel.”

Jerusalem Court Sentences Two Israelis for Assaulting a Palestinian in 2021, Haaretz
The Jerusalem District Court sentenced two Jewish citizens on Thursday to prison for assaulting and critically injuring a Palestinian two and a half years ago. The incident occurred after the four convicts participated in a 150-person right-wing march on May 2021 through the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem.

Opinion and Analysis

A Historic Court Hearing in Israel Might Cause a Constitutional Crisis, The Washington Post
Jennifer Rubin writes, “Americans and Israeli defenders of democracy, therefore, should be encouraged by the Israeli High Court’s refusal simply to roll over in the face of a rogue executive bent on changing the balance between the government and the courts. Democracy defenders around the world hope the High Court demonstrates more fidelity to the rule of law than its US counterpart has.”

Netanyahu and the Israeli Public at Odds on Foreign Policy, Jerusalem Post
Gil Murciano, CEO of the Israeli Institute of Regional Foreign Policies, notes, “The leaders of Israel’s current government often mention the “mandate” that they received from the Israeli public in the last elections as justification, not only for judicial reform, but also for a fully-fledged right-wing approach to foreign policy. This policy’s trademarks include openly opposing the two-state solution with the Palestinians and working to undermine its feasibility by laying the groundwork for de facto annexation of the West Bank.”

Rabbi Marc Israel on Being Pro-Israel, The Washington Jewish Week
Rabbi Marc Israel sat down with the Washington Jewish Week to discuss his recent shift away from AIPAC and his way forward as a supporter of Israel. He says, “Part of my hope is that through speaking out, I will in some small way encourage others of my colleagues who feel similarly to give them space to be public about their support for J Street. At some congregations, people simply cannot do that and maintain their job, and I understand that, but I think there are others who are afraid to do it but have a powerful voice that could be used.”