News Roundup for September 30, 2020

September 30, 2020

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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

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s Decision and the Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin: Yom Kippur Reflections, J Street
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “The violence surrounding the fight for Israel’s independence in 1948 and the fighting over the decades since has been horrific. Generations have experienced decades of conflict, terror and occupation. Much blood has been spilled; many wrongs committed. As I reflect, I see no clean hands. Yet I also know that the road to peace and reconciliation originates precisely where there has been war, violence and conflict.”

It’s time for J Street Cleveland – a new voice in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
Loree B. Resnik writes, “J Street Cleveland will be a home for those who believe that Israel must always hold firm to its founding principles of democracy and equality. A home for those who know that we can love Israel deeply, while passionately disagreeing with the actions of its government. A home for those who are concerned about the political embrace between President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and who want to see future generations retain both their commitment to social justice and their connection with Israel.”

Top News and Analysis

Refusing to categorically denounce white supremacists, Trump falsely says extremist violence is ‘not a right-wing problem.’, New York Times
President Trump refused to categorically denounce white supremacists on Tuesday night, diverting a question about right-wing extremist violence in Charlottesville, Va., and Portland, Ore., into an attack on “left-wing” protesters […] “Proud Boys — stand back and stand by,” he said, apparently addressing the far-right group. “But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Somebody has to do something about antifa and the left. This is not a right-wing problem. This is left wing.”

A Body Blow to Democracy, Haaretz
The Editorial Board writes, “The Knesset debated Tuesday an amendment to the law defining the government’s authorities in handling the coronavirus pandemic, a change that would render impotent the two main factors determining the force of a protest in a democracy: the number of people taking part and the location. This is a measure that is unprecedented in the history of Israel, made even more egregious in the face of the restrictions that were imposed earlier on Israelis as part of the battle against the coronavirus. Until now, demonstrations were excluded from the restriction confining Israelis to within 1 kilometer from their homes, and the only restrictions placed on participants was to wear a face mask and to observe social-distancing guidelines.”

Proud Boys celebrate Trump’s ‘stand by’ remark about them at the debate., New York Times
Within minutes, members of the group were posting in private social media channels, calling the president’s comments “historic.” In one channel dedicated to the Proud Boys on Telegram, a private messaging app, group members called the president’s comment a tacit endorsement of their violent tactics. In another message, a member commented that the group was already seeing a spike in “new recruits.” Mr. Trump’s rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., noted that the group was celebrating Mr. Trump’s remark, pointing in a retweet to some of the comments being made.When asked what Mr. Trump meant by “stand by,” Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the president’s campaign, said it was “very clear he wants them to knock it off.”


Israel Passes Law Limiting Protests Under Lockdown, Haaretz
The Knesset passed an amendment to the government’s coronavirus law early Wednesday morning that would bar protesters from traveling more than a kilometer (0.6 miles) from their homes to attend a demonstration.

Activists go to High Court after Knesset restricts protests during lockdown, Times of Israel
A petition was filed at the High Court of Justice Wednesday and several critics reacted with outrage after the Knesset passed legislation curtailing public protests during lockdown.

Basking in New Ties to Arab States, Netanyahu Says More Are Coming, New York Times
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel predicted on Tuesday that more Arab and Muslim nations would “soon, very soon” establish diplomatic relations with his country, following the agreements signed this month with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Hezbollah is keeping secret arms depot in Beirut neighborhood, Netanyahu tells United Nations, JTA
Hezbollah is keeping a secret arms depot in a residential neighborhood in Beirut, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

Top health official: 1/3 of Israel’s virus infections are among ultra-Orthodox, Times of Israel
Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy told reporters on Wednesday that 34 percent of those diagnosed with the virus in Israel were ultra-Orthodox, though the community constitutes only approximately 12% of the population.

Meron Benvenisti Dies at 86; Urged One State for Jews and Palestinians, New York Times
As a political scientist, columnist and ‘the last Zionist,’ he argued against a separate Palestinian state, saying the growth of West Bank settlements had precluded it.

Gazans left stranded abroad by Israeli-Palestinian standoff, AP
The Palestinians had hoped to pressure Israel by forcing it to assume more of the burden of its half-century occupation of the territory. Instead, the decision has mainly hurt ordinary Palestinians, underscoring the control Israel exerts over nearly every facet of their lives.

After years of bashing Israel at UN, UAE and Bahrain dramatically soften tone, Times of Israel
Old habits die hard. But sometimes they do die, and this year’s session of the United Nations General Assembly showed that, with strong political will and the right set of circumstances, it’s possible to kick even a deeply entrenched diplomatic convention.

‘No one cares’: Palestinian citizens decry Israeli inaction on gun violence, +972 Mag
With casualties rising, Palestinian citizens of Israel say the police are refusing to address the root causes of crime and violence in their communities.

Opinion and Analysis

Are the Proud Boys anti-Semitic? Your primer on the far-right group Trump told to ‘stand back and stand by’, JTA
Who are the Proud Boys, the far-right group that Donald Trump name-checked at the first presidential debate? And do they hate Jews?

Opponents of All Peace Deals, Unite!, Haaretz
Aluf Benn writes, “I don’t know if the new agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain will intensify the occupation and oppression in the territories. In the case of Sadat, the result is clear: Menachem Begin leveraged the peace with Egypt to build ‘a hundred Elon Morehs’ in the West Bank, as he promised. Ariel Sharon, Ze’ev Hever of Amana, the settlement arm of Gush Emunim, and settler leader Benny Katzover filled the hills with settlers, and the West was silent – and granted Nobel peace prizes to Sadat and Begin.”

Netanyahu won’t crack down on ultra-Orthodox despite virus surge, Al-Monitor
Ben Caspit writes, “Though the ultra-Orthodox community’s disregard for pandemic measures has emerged as central to Israel’s virus problem, Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu can’t afford to endanger his political alliance with them.”

Israel Didn’t Just Limit Demos. It Neutered the Right to Protest, Haaretz
Mordechai Kremnitzer writes, “The right to protest, the beating heart of freedom of political expression, is the cornerstone of democracy. It’s even more so during a health crisis.”

How the US should respond to China’s oppression of its Uyghur population, Responsible Statecraft
Doug Bandow writes, “Whoever is elected November 3 should continue to draw attention to the Uyghurs’ plight. However, this will be most effective if done as part of a broad international effort rather than as part of a partisan political campaign. The U.S. should make a diplomatic push for Muslim majority states to speak out.”