J Street’s Commitment to Israel’s Future, J Street
Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “For millennia, Jews have vehemently debated politics, religion and more. Argument has featured centrally in communal life and Jewish education. Today, much of the debate in global Jewry centers on Israel and its role in modern Jewish identity. Some seek to equate Jewish identity with support for Israel, and support for the state with acquiescence to its government’s actions. They demand allegiance to Israeli policy as the price of entry to communal life and deflect criticism of government policy as anti-Zionist or anti-Semitic. On the other extreme, a small but vociferous minority is stepping forward as openly anti-Zionist, arguing that for Jews to stand for liberation and against oppression demands opposing Israel’s very existence. In this polarized environment, it is important to define and defend a space where Jews can care deeply about Israel and be proud of its accomplishments while remaining free to recognize its shortcomings and criticize some of its government’s policies.”
Masha Gessen writes, “The stories of Hebron are the stories of the absent and the unseen. They are the stories of the occupation and of Palestinian life that has been caged in or displaced. No one who lives in Hebron, and very few of those who visit the city, can see the entirety of the displacement or appreciate the scale of the absence. Hebron is divided in such a way that some will only ever see the empty streets, while others see a crowded and bustling town—one bound by fences, walls, and barbed wire, beyond which the emptiness begins. To see the emptiness is to understand some of the effects of the occupation; to see it from the point of view of Palestinians, who have been rendered almost entirely invisible, is to understand much more. For several years, two activist groups, one Israeli and one Palestinian, have been leading tours of the occupation of Hebron. I recently went on both, crossing from the living city of Hebron to its hollow shadow and back several times.”
“Hamas informed Qatar it will not accept a $15-million cash infusion into the Gaza Strip, the group’s deputy chief said Thursday soon after Israel confirmed that it had approved the transfer of the Qatari funds. Khalil al-Haya said that Israel has failed to abide by its agreement to permit the funds to enter the enclave every month. According to Palestinian news agency Ma’an, he added that Gaza will not become a pawn in the upcoming Israeli election. The transfer that was to be delivered next was delayed for more than two weeks following an escalation in violence along Israel’s border with Gaza.”
Israel has sent strongly-worded messages to Lebanon, delivered through France, warning of the consequences of continued efforts by Hezbollah to acquire precision-guided missiles. The issue was discussed at length during a meeting on Wednesday between President Reuven Rivlin and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
In an unusual step, the Shin Bet security service said on Thursday that an Israeli Jewish teen indicted for manslaughter earlier in the day for the October killing of a Palestinian mother of eight had committed a “terror attack in every sense.” The agency lashed out at extremists who it said were working hard to “obstruct the investigation,” and rejected right-wing criticism of its interrogation methods.
Gantz said looking to enlist labor union chief for Knesset slate, Times of Israel
Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, now head of the Israel Resilience party and running in the April 9 elections, is looking to add Histadrut labor federation chief Avi Nissenkorn to his Knesset slate and preparing for at least one merger with another political party, Channel 13 news reported Thursday. Gantz’s search for candidates for his new party has drawn widespread attention, even when reports are based on little more than rumor, because Israel Resilience has consistently polled in second or third place behind front-runner Likud and close competitor Yesh Atid in recent weeks, with numbers suggesting that Gantz’s top 15 or so candidates are almost certain to enter parliament.
Palestinian prisoners and Israel’s Prison Services (IPS) have reached an agreement to bring a halt to the confrontation that left a number of inmates and guards injured following a riot at the Ofer prison in the West Bank, the Palestinian ministry of prisoner affairs informed in a statement Thursday night. Heightened tensions culminated in a riot that overtook the Ofer Prison and left at least six inmates and three guards injured, according to IPS.
The lower house of Ireland’s Parliament approved a bill on Thursday that would ban the import or sale of goods originating in all “occupied territories,” with lawmakers’ discussions centered on eastern Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank.
Israel wins this round against Iran in Syria, Al-Monitor
Ben Caspit writes, “When the dust settled, it became clear that this round was another undisputed Israeli victory. Soleimani again found himself in a region in which the IDF has a clear advantage over him. Israel leads in intelligence, rules the air, displays remarkable accuracy and operates almost undisturbed. There’s also one more thing: Prime Minister Netanyahu, in the midst of a rather messy election campaign, took Israel’s famous ambiguity policy — and cut it into shreds. Now he happily takes responsibility for every attack or missile fired by Israeli air force planes. In this context, Netanyahu has come under criticism.”
Yossi Verter writes, “There’s no point in scrutinizing him according to the norms and rules of earlier prime ministers, nor even those that characterized his own two terms in office between 2009 and 2015. Netanyahu produces a new model every day, rules of engagement the likes of which the country has never experienced before. Fear of a trial and prison are also evident in posts by his son. The effluent from Yair Netanyahu’s poison pen is getting sicker and more violent by the day.”
Time to dump Netanyahu, Salon
Alon Ben Meir writes, “Israel will face a growing danger because the status quo is unsustainable and potentially explosive, and the continuing conflict only encourages Iran to continue to instigate extremist Palestinians, including some elements of Hamas, to harass Israel and deprive it from living in peace and stability. Although it is unlikely that the old and new parties from the left and left-of-center will coalesce around one leader who can seriously challenge Netanyahu and his party, at a minimum they should agree on a joint platform that offers a road map for peace with the Palestinians. Indeed, Israel is in desperate need of a new, visionary, courageous, articulate and honest leader who would commit to and remain relentless in the search for Israeli-Palestinian peace.”