News Roundup for September 19, 2023

September 19, 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.

J Street In the News

J Street Welcomes Return of Americans Held by Iran, J Street
“We are overjoyed that five Americans who had been wrongly held by Iran have been released and are being reunited with their families. We applaud the Biden Administration for its tireless, skillful diplomacy that used Iran’s own foreign-sequestered sovereign funds to secure the return of these US citizens.”

Top News and Analysis

What to Expect During Benjamin Netanyahu’s First US Trip Since His Return to Office, JTA
Throughout the five-day trip, during which he is also scheduled to meet with American Jewish leaders, Netanyahu is expected to meet a protest movement led by expatriate Israelis who oppose his efforts to weaken the Israeli judiciary.

Iran Frees 5 Americans in Prisoner Swap, Axios
Iran has freed five Americans in a prisoner swap with the United States, which is releasing five Iranians who had been convicted or charged in the US. The Qatar-mediated deal is a rare positive diplomatic development between the US and Iran.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Elon Musk Meet, as Both Seek to Deflect Criticism, The New York Times
The conversation also allowed Musk to defend against accusations of antisemitism, and Netanyahu to give a positive spin to his judicial overhaul, which critics say has undermined Israel’s democracy by reducing oversight over the government.


As Netanyahu Arrives in New York, Anti-overhaul Activists Launch Week of Protests, The Times of Israel
Protesters opposed to the judicial overhaul rallied outside Netanyahu’s New York hotel and were set to hold demonstrations around the city on Tuesday, as the prime minister arrived to meet with US President Joe Biden and other world leaders at the UN General Assembly.

Most Americans View Israel as a Partner, but Fewer See it as Sharing US Values, AP-NORC Poll Shows, AP
About 4 in 10 Americans described Israel as a partner with which the US should cooperate, but they also said the country does not share US interests and values, the poll found. Only about 3 in 10 said Israel is an ally that shares US interests.

Israeli Gov’t Pushes Bill for Facial Recognition Surveillance Cameras in Public Spaces, Haaretz
According to the proposal, submitted by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the police will also be able to place cameras at events such as protest demonstrations.

IDF Media Intrusions Drop, But Self-censorship Remains in Full Force, +972
While redactions fell to a 12-year low, +972 reports that Israel’s military censor is still violating press freedom and blocking vital information from reaching the public.

Opinion and Analysis

Who Should Craft an Israeli Constitution? A Bunch of Random People, The Washington Post
Liav Orgad and Ariel Procaccia argue, “However, if the assembly were to be appointed by the Knesset — the Israeli legislature — it would likely reflect the chamber’s current composition and thus inherit its divisions and lack of broad public legitimacy. To get the job done, we believe a constituent assembly must be populated by random people.”

Israeli Jews Are ‘Crying Out in Pain.’ How Will We Respond?, The Forward
In her Erev Rosh Hashanah sermon, Rabbi Angela Buchdahl said, “Listen to Israelis — in order to understand, not to offer solutions. Fund the protesters, NGOs and institutions that are building a more just, democratic, egalitarian and pluralistic Israel. This is not about trying to re-make Israel in our American image, but about helping Israel live up to its own foundational aspirations as stated in its Declaration of Independence.”

The Pogroms are Working — the Transfer is Already Happening , B’Tselem
B’Tselem reports, “For decades, Israel has employed a slew of measures designed to make life in dozens of Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank miserable. This is part of an attempt to force residents of these communities to uproot themselves, seemingly of their own accord. Once that is achieved, the state can realize its goal of taking over the land.”