News Roundup for September 30, 2021

September 30, 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

Iron Dome: How Israel’s stunning success turned into a colossal failure, Jerusalem Post
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “The new government is trying to rehabilitate the bipartisan approach and ties with liberal American Jewry, and this is a commendable effort, necessary but insufficient. Barring a sincere Israeli effort to end the occupation, and as long as the governments of Israel continue to regard progressive criticism as illegitimate, the phenomena we are witnessing today by a small number of lawmakers will only spread and become the bon ton of the future generation of liberal leaders.”

How Ayanna Pressley shifted her position on Israel, Jewish Insider
[Pressley’s] vote against the supplemental Iron Dome funding last week seemed to place Pressley to the left of J Street, which supported the measure. But J Street’s Vice President of Communications Logan Bayroff told JI that the organization respects Pressley’s vote, and pointed out that she voted to advance $3.3 billion in funding to Israel earlier this year. “While we have a different view than Rep. Pressley on this, we respect that she and a number of her colleagues have legitimate concerns about the process and rationale behind the request to appropriate this large amount of additional money for Iron Dome at this time,” Bayroff said. “We are appalled by hyperbolic attacks that seek to present Rep. Pressley and her colleagues who did not vote for this supplementary appropriation as anti-Israel or somehow sympathetic to terror.”

Is Israel in trouble with American progressives?, Jerusalem Post
Douglas Bloomfield writes, “There is a new movement in the House among pro-Israel progressives to revive the moribund peace process. Stepping out front is Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), the son and nephew of two of the Congress’s most respected and leading liberal supporters of Israel. The second-termer introduced The Two-State Solution Act, a left-wing wish list with no chance of passage but intended to spark debate. […] Americans for Peace Now and J Street have endorsed the measure, which says the status quo is unacceptable, unsustainable and bad for all sides.”

Top News and Analysis

For Progressives, Iron Dome Isn’t the Issue. It’s Israel Itself., New York Times
Robert Wexler writes, “The debate within the Democratic Party is about America’s once unflinching support for Israel and about what that relationship looks like at a time when support for a two-state outcome is waning among Israelis and Palestinians, and there is increasingly vocal criticism of expanding settlements in the West Bank, housing demolitions and civilian deaths. For this debate to lead to a successful outcome for both Israelis and Palestinians, the Biden administration must take robust action to create a two-state reality on the ground, one that gives all wings of the Democratic Party a stake in stability and security for all within Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.”

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian village, wound toddler, AP
Dozens of Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank, hurling stones at cars and homes and leaving several people wounded, including a Palestinian toddler, activists said Wednesday. Video of Tuesday’s attack released by an Israeli rights group showed several shirtless settlers with scarves wrapped around their faces hurling stones at a cluster of homes and vehicles. Israeli troops stood among the settlers but did not appear to be taking any action to stop them.

Scoop: Biden rejected meeting with Palestinian president at UN, Axios
The White House rejected a request from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last week, U.S. and Palestinian sources say. It’s unusual for a U.S. president to reject a meeting request from the Palestinians, and it could be seen as further indication of how low the Israeli-Palestinian issue is on Biden’s foreign policy priority list.


Iran’s advances spur debate in Israel on “nuclear ambiguity” policy, Axios
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett doesn’t think Israel needs to change its “nuclear ambiguity” policy for now as a response to Iran’s latest nuclear advances, two senior Israeli officials tell me. Israel has never acknowledged that it has a military nuclear program, and claims it “won’t be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East.” But a new report is sparking an unprecedented public debate among politicians and experts about whether Israel’s nuclear posture needs to change to deter Iran.

Scenes from a Jewish pogrom, +972 Magazine
Dozens of masked Israeli settlers lead an organized assault on the Palestinian village of Mufagara, beating and stoning residents while wreaking havoc home by home.

The vast majority of progressives overwhelmingly backed Iron Dome funding — but with a caveat, JTA
After the controversy last week surrounding a progressive push to block extra Iron Dome anti-missile funding for Israel, the final vote to pass it was lopsided: 420-9. […] Still, while Iron Dome may have been an easy “yes,” progressives otherwise made clear that the days of unquestioning approval of Israel’s defense requests were over. Just hours before the vote Thursday, Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., convened a press conference outside the Capitol to announce a bill that would enshrine the two-state outcome as U.S. policy. But it includes restrictions on how Israel could spend U.S. funding, with explicit bans on spending on West Bank settlements.

Netanyahu Often Got It Badly Wrong’: Senior Democrat Says Party Not Divided Over Israel, Haaretz
Perhaps more than any other current Democratic senator, Sen. Chris Murphy has made Israel a central tenet of his policy. Yet while he is a “rock-solid believer in the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” the Connecticut lawmaker has not hesitated to be publicly and candidly critical of Israeli behavior, particularly concerning the Palestinians.

Opinion and Analysis

I call on the world to help my son, an aid worker wrongfully imprisoned by Israel, The Guardian
Khalil el Halabi writes, “Children around the world have been returning to school classrooms in recent weeks, including here in the Gaza Strip. For my 10-year-old grandson, Faris, the new school year began without his father to take him to school or help him with homework. His father – my son, Mohammad El Halabi – has not been home with his family for more than five years. Instead, he sits in an Israeli jail on the basis of trumped-up charges.”

What Naftali Bennett Didn’t Say at the United Nations, Bloomberg
Zev Chafets writes, “For the first time in memory, an Israeli prime minister did not so much as mention the Palestinian issue. This was a calculated omission, made possible by President Biden’s remark earlier this month that, as far as he’s concerned, the solution to the Palestinian issue is a long way off. This is true. Biden has made clear that he doesn’t want to get embroiled in the issue. As a result, the Israeli prime minister saw an opportunity to try to decouple Israel from the issue of what the UN calls the State of Palestine.”

Finally, muscular two-state U.S. legislation has been introduced. Biden must back it, Forward
Hadar Susskind writes, “The good news is that there are also members of Congress who are willing not only to speak up in support of two states, but also back that up with policies that carry clear, actionable incentives and deterrents. Rep. Andy Levin, a Michigan Democrat, introduced on Sept. 23 a bold initiative of this sort, properly titled the Two-State Solution Act. The bill includes a list of practical measures, sticks as well as carrots, aimed at turning stated American support of a two-state solution into concrete action.”

The other big topic Bennett ignored at the UN: Climate change, Jerusalem Post
Lahav Harkov writes, “Much attention has been paid to the fact that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett did not mention the Palestinians in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly this week, but there is another topic that loomed large on the UN agenda that Bennett skipped: climate change. […] Bennett may have been thinking more about domestic consumption of his speech, which means that climate is less of a topic of interest.”