Newsletter of October 17th, 2020
External and Internal Current Events
Israeli settlements are perhaps the most controversial aspect of Israeli domestic and foreign policy, with a multitude of stances, both externally and internally, on the issue. Putting aside all discussions of legality, morality and authority on the issue, settlements are still a fact on the ground for many in Israel and the West Bank.
As such, it is important to know that recently, the Israeli national unity government, under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu and with the approval of Benny Gantz, has restarted the temporarily-delayed Israeli settlement program in the West Bank as of October 14th, 2020 (“Israel approves”, 2020). The deal, thus, has the approval of the leaders of the two largest parties in the Knesset, both of whom have been jockeying for Prime Minister since elections in September.
What is perhaps most surprising is how soon this decision came after the signing of the Abraham Peace Accords. Just a few weeks after the leaders of the UAE wished for a halt to the building of new settlements – although signals were crossed, even at the time – the government approved the construction of over 2000 new homes in what is considered, by the UN, Palestinian territory (Koduvayur & Daoud, 2020) (“Israel approves”, 2020).
Condemnation was swift, as the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and Spain, as well as the EU, all condemned the building of the new settlements in what is recognized, by them, as West Bank territory (Akram, 2020). The few responses from Arab nations have not been much better, as the Saudis reaffirmed their commitment to a deal first, recognition later; the Palestinian Authority continued to call the deal a betrayal by the gulf nations, and Jordan called for international action to continue a halt on settlements (“European powers”, 2020) (Akram, 2020).
With tensions rising between the settlers, the IDF and the Palestinians near settler territories, and trust continuously eroding in Netanyahu’s handling of the coronavirus situation, only one thing remains certain: Israel’s future, and especially its foreign policy future, is increasingly uncertain (Akram, 2020) (“Only”, 2020).
Akram, F. (2020, October 16). Israel settlement plans draw international condemnation. Yahoo News. https://news.yahoo.com/israel-settlement-plans-draw-international-165151938.html
European powers condemn Israel’s settlement approvals. (2020, October 16). Al-Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/16/european-powers-condemn-israel-settlement-approvals
Israel approves first West Bank settler homes since Gulf deals. (2020, October 14). Agence France-Presse. https://infoweb-newsbank-com.ezproxy.lib.usf.edu/apps/news/document-view?p=WORLDNEWS&docref=news/17E1C82EEED1B7C0
Recently, a poll published by Panels Research found that more than half of Israelis that are allowed to vote believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu should leave politics. The official numbers of the poll were that 54% believe Netanyahu should leave politics, 36% said that Netanyahu should stay in politics, and 10% said that they did not know what they thought about the issue. These poll numbers are very close to numbers found when citizens were asked if they trusted Netanyahu to handle Covid-19. 55% of people said that they did not trust Netanyahu’s ability to handle Covid-19 and the economy. However, when asked if they agreed with the lockdown for Covid-19, 51% said that they did, 34% said that they did not agree, and 15% said that they did not know how they felt about this issue. Regarding the election, the poll also found that Netanyahu’s Likud would win 28 seats and Bennett’s Yamina would win 21 seats.
Hoffman, G. (2020, October 16). Poll: Over half of voting public want Netanyahu to quit politics. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/poll-over-half-of-voting-public-want-netanyahu-to-quit-politics-645921
Arik Einstein Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Arieh Lieb “Arik” Einstein was musically inclined at a young age. He soon became a prominent Israeli singer-songwriter of rock and folk music after he finished his IDF service in 1959. He was a member of numerous bands and music groups including Batzal Yarok, Yarkon Bridge Trio, and The High Windows (Wiki, 2020). He also produced many solo albums including Shar Bishvileh, Eretz Yisrael Hayeshana veHatova, and Hamush Bemishkafaim. His career spans over 50 years and was the most played artist on Israeli radio stations in the year 2010. In 1995, when prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, Arik Einstein’s rendition of the song “Cry For You” became the song that represented the sad moment in history (Kirshner, 2013). At the age of 74, Einstein passed away from an aortic aneurysm in 2013. With his passing, an estimated ten thousand people gathered in Rabin Square, named after the late prime minister, in Tel Aviv to mourn the loss of the great musical artist. With nearly 50 albums, Arik Einstein is considered one of the most popular and influential Israeli music artists of all time because of his fresh sound, a seamless blend of folk and rock music, that allowed him to soar to fame and enter the hearts of many listeners (Discogs, 2020).
Wiki. (2020, October 14). Arik Einstein. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arik_Einstein
Kershner, I. (2013, November 28). Arik Einstein, 74, Beloved Israeli Singer, Dies. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/28/arts/music/arik-einstein-beloved-israeli-singer-dies-at-74.html
Discogs. (2020). Arik Einstein. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.discogs.com/artist/975608-Arik-Einstein
Daniel Gordis is a well-known columnist and highly successful author of over ten books, most of which have been commended for the positive impact that they’ve had (Gordis, 2019)
One such book is, “Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn”, which had won the National Jewish Book Award back in 2016 (JTA., et al, 2017).
Gordis creates a masterpiece of historical knowledge on world Jewry before the modern state of Israel, the making of modern political Zionism, the first Aliyah, how Israel triumphed against the odds, etc. It’s no wonder it received such a prestigious award, as this book is the perfect ‘one stop shop’ about Israel.
His most recent work is, “We Stand Divided: The Rift Between American Jews and Israel”, which delves into the differences between historical backgrounds and political ideologies.
Today, Daniel Gordis works as the Senior Vice President as well as a Koret Disgtinguished Fellow at Shalem College (Gordis, 2019).
Gordis, D. (2019, July 31). Bio. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://danielgordis.org/bio/
Jta, Staff, T., Ghert-Zand, R., Borschel-Dan, A., Reinherz, A., Ahren, R., . . . Staff, S. (2017, January 11). Michael Chabon, Daniel Gordis win National Jewish Book Awards. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.timesofisrael.com/michael-chabon-daniel-gordis-win-national-jewish-book-awards/