News Roundup for September 20, 2021

September 20, 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

Netanyahu mocks Biden about debunked falling asleep video, Axios
Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu mocked President Biden’s physical appearance during a Facebook live session with supporters on Sunday and imitated him falling asleep. This is an unprecedented move by Netanyahu who just a few months ago was still the prime minister and is trying to make a political comeback.

Israel Captures Last 2 Palestinian Inmates Still Free After Prison Break, New York Times
Israel on Sunday captured the last of the six Palestinian inmates who escaped a maximum-security prison nearly two weeks ago, ending an episode that Israelis saw as a humiliation of their security establishment and Palestinians celebrated as a rare black eye for the Israeli occupation. The Israeli Army said in a statement that it had captured Munadil Nafayat and Eham Kamamji in Jenin, their hometown in the occupied West Bank, in an early-morning operation conducted jointly with a police special forces unit and the Israeli domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet.

New sense of stability in Israel, as Bennett reaches the 100-day mark, Los Angeles Times
To the surprise of friend and foe alike, 100 days later it appears that former Netanyahu aide Bennett, 49, has managed to keep together his unlikely rainbow coalition. Heading an improbable alliance that stretches from the socialist-leaning Meretz party, a champion of gay rights, to the United Arab List, an Islamist party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, Bennett appears to be sailing smoothly toward the next important milestone, passage of a national budget in the first half of November.


The Scientist and the A.I.-Assisted, Remote-Control Killing Machine, New York Times
Israeli agents had wanted to kill Iran’s top nuclear scientist for years. Then they came up with a way to do it with no operatives present.

Academic experts believe that Middle East politics are actually getting worse, Washington Post
A year after the Abraham Accords came into effect, what do scholars of the Middle East think about the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE and several other Arab nations? Is a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians still possible? And what’s the latest on Tunisia’s constitutional crisis — do scholars consider it a coup against democracy? Last month, we fielded the second round of the Middle East Scholar Barometer, a unique survey of scholars with expertise in the Middle East. As far as we know, this is the only survey of its kind.

State Funds Drop Unilever After Ben & Jerry’s Israel Clash, Wall Street Journal
Two months after Ben & Jerry’s said it would stop retailing its products in Jewish settlements located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, several state funds are selling or threatening to sell their investments in Unilever PLC, the ice cream brand’s parent company.

As the World Turns Away From Oil, Israel Still Insists on Searching for It, Haaretz
Israel’s energy minister backtracks on her environmental commitments ‘to honor existing licenses’, although her party vowed to fight climate change in the past election

‘I’d rather die in the West Bank’: LGBTQ Palestinians find no safety in Israel, +972 Magazine
Israel markets itself to the world as an LGBTQ paradise, but testimonies from asylum-seeking queer Palestinians show it sentences them to a life of hell.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel Isn’t Strong Enough to Attack Iran, Foreign Policy
Sajjad Safaei writes, “To what extent should we believe Tel Aviv is truly ready and willing to launch a strike on Iran because of advances in the Iranian nuclear program, knowing full well that this is likely to push the two countries and their allies into war? The political and military constraints on Israeli decision-makers suggests such a military showdown is highly unlikely.”

Terrorists Didn’t Change the World, We Did, Bloomberg
Pankaj Mishra writes, “The most vicious assaults on Western freedoms were launched by their supposed defenders — politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers and journalists — in the months and years after 9/11. […] Describing Yasser Arafat, leader of Palestinian Authority, as Israel’s Bin Laden, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon launched in March 2002, with the support of the Bush administration, Israel’s biggest military operation in Gaza and the West Bank since its original occupation of these territories in 1967 — an assault that irreparably damaged fledgling Palestinian institutions.

Something Is Rotten in the Israeli Left, Haaretz
Itay Rom writes, “The right labels any Palestinian resistance to the occupation “terror,” but this inflexibility doesn’t mean the left must identify with every Palestinian, no matter how abhorrent, who fights the occupation. Identifying with Islamic Jihad and its activists is not leftist, and the demonstrators who cheered the terrorists outside the court during their arraignments are not activists for peace and justice.”