News Roundup for August 10, 2020

August 10, 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

Jewish advocacy groups slam Trump’s pick for German ambassador for bigoted comments, CNN
“Several Jewish advocacy groups are opposing President Donald Trump’s nominee to become the US ambassador to Germany in light of his incendiary comments, including some unearthed by CNN’s KFile, about Germany, the Holocaust and Jewish groups. The American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, J Street, the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism and B’nai B’rith have decried Trump’s choice of retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor to oversee US-German relations […] J Street tweeted Tuesday that it was ‘not surprising that someone who downplays the Holocaust would have a history of bigoted & dehumanizing comments about Muslims & immigrants.’”

POLITICO Brussels Playbook: Bitte Nicht Donald, Politico
“Jewish groups including the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, J Street, the StandWithUs Center for Combating Anti-Semitism and B’nai B’rith have come out against U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Germany, retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, over his past comments.”

Advocacy groups come out against Trump pick for ambassador to Germany, The Hill
“J Street added that it was ‘not surprising that someone who downplays the Holocaust would have a history of bigoted & dehumanizing comments about Muslims & immigrants.’”

Trump’s Germany ambassador pick under fire from Jewish groups for statements on immigrants and Nazi history, JTA
“J Street Vice President Dylan Williams on the same platform decried Macgregor’s ‘shameful record of expressing profoundly bigoted views.’”

Trump’s Berlin ambassador appointee criticised ‘sick mentality’ of Germans atoning for Nazis, The Jewish Chronicle
“Dylan Williams, the Vice President of J Street, also criticised Mr Macgregor’s ‘shameful record of expressing profoundly bigoted views.’”

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu, Gantz Back Bill to Delay Budget Deadline, Potentially Staving Off Election, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz have both agreed to a proposal to push forward the August 25 deadline to pass Israel’s budget, in a move that could potentially stave off a fourth election in under two years.

Thousands throng central Jerusalem in anti-Netanyahu protest, AP
Thousands of demonstrators thronged the streets near the official residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in central Jerusalem on Saturday night, in a renewed show of strength as weeks of protests against the Israeli leader showed no signs of slowing. Throughout the summer, thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets to call on Netanyahu to resign, protesting his handling of the country’s coronavirus crisis and saying he should not remain in office while on trial for corruption charges. Self-employed workers whose businesses have been hurt by the economic crisis also joined Saturday’s march. Though Netanyahu has tried to downplay the protests, the gatherings only appear to be getting stronger.

Oslo Is Dead, the Two-State Solution Isn’t, Foreign Policy
Jerome M. Segal writes, “The two-state concept wasn’t embraced because it is the most noble solution, but because it is the only viable option for ending the conflict […] While a two-state solution is still possible if there is another Oslo-like attempt to achieve it, with a Biden-Gantz-Abbas line-up, the effort is most likely to fail. All parties need a different process—in particular, one that can rekindle a belief among Israelis that maybe it really is possible to end the conflict […] Getting to this Palestinian ‘Yes’ is more likely to emerge from a U.N. or Quartet-led process than from one led by the United States—and it is certainly more likely via the U.N. than through more ‘from the ground up’ Israel-PLO direct negotiations.”


Knesset speaker warns government still far from solving coalition crisis, Times of Israel
Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin on Monday warned that although a last-minute proposal to push off a deadline for approving the budget could prevent a coalition crisis from triggering elections, the government was still facing significant difficulties.

More Than 10,000 Join Peaceful anti-Netanyahu Protest in Jerusalem, for Fourth Week in a Row, Haaretz
More than 10,000 protesters gathered on Saturday outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence, and thousands more across the country in demonstrations against the government for the fourth week in a row.

Opposition to file bill to disqualify Netanyahu from forming government, Times of Israel
Opposition parties have pledged to submit a bill this week that would bar a Knesset member under indictment from forming a government, which would prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from cobbling together a new coalition, if another election were held.

Protesters raid gov’t buildings as fury grows over Beirut blast, Al Jazeera
Angry protesters have stormed government buildings in Beirut as tens of thousands of people rallied against Lebanon’s ruling class amid growing anger about a deadly explosion at the capital’s port. Clashes erupted with Internal Security Forces (ISF) almost immediately after protesters, on Saturday, attempted to reach Lebanon’s parliament building, a site they have repeatedly targeted throughout an anti-establishment protest movement that began in October last year.

After Gaza incendiary balloon attacks, Israel strikes Hamas observation post, Times of Israel
Israeli Air Force planes struck a Hamas observation post in the northern Gaza Strip late Sunday, the IDF said. “The strike was carried out in response to the launching of incendiary balloons from Gazan territory into Israel over the course of the day,” the army said.

Opinion and Analysis

It’s time to end senseless, endless sanctions, Responsible Statecraft
George A. Lopez writes, “Sanctions work best when they are one of a number of diverse tools employed to achieve a clearly defined and consistent set of policy goals. Sanctions must not only bite and enrage the targeted group or nation, but actually engage them in continued diplomacy focused on the behavior needed to lift the sanctions. At best, sanctions achieve compliance from their targets in about one-third of cases, with that compliance occurring within two and a half years. Short of full success, the greater the active diplomacy accompanying sanctions, the stronger the constraints stifling the target’s goals.”

Coronavirus Spares Gaza, but Travel Restrictions Do Not, New York Times
Adam Rasgon and Iyad Abuheweila write, “The blockaded Gaza Strip has not recorded any cases of community transmission of the coronavirus, but new restrictions on movement continue to make life difficult.”

Only Trump can revive Netanyahu’s annexation plan, Al-Monitor
Ben Caspit writes, “While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu produces excuses and scapegoats, the only way for his annexation plan to stay alive is if President Donald Trump decides it can help him get reelected.”

Israel Will Be Perfectly Happy With President Biden, New York Times
Shmuel Rosner writes, “As far as Israelis are concerned, Mr. Biden has two disadvantages. He is not Mr. Trump, and he is a Democrat. In other words, he is not the candidate they support and he comes from the party many of them distrust. In recent years, there’s been a steady drift of Democratic voters — and some Democratic politicians — away from Israel. They are more likely to say that the United States should be an impartial broker in the Middle East, rather than take Israel’s side — and they tended to oppose recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. So it’s not unjustified for Israelis to worry.”

Netanyahu Caught Between Rock of Risky Election and Hard Place of Criminal Trial, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “The very last thing the country needs right now is a new election. An election campaign would paralyze medical and financial relief efforts, wreak political havoc and inflame internal divisions. Given that Israelis went out to the polls less than six months ago to vote for the third time within a year and that the ballot produced a theoretically strong and stable broad-based government, it’s no surprise that the overwhelming majority of Israelis of all political stripes view a snap election as destructive and even deranged.”

If our shameless leaders force Election 4, maybe we should choose some new ones, Times of Israel
David Horovitz writes, “The prime minister is said to be maneuvering back to the polls with the hope of putting together a more convenient coalition, one which might even enable him to evade his ongoing trial. If so, it’s a high-risk strategy, given that the public is overwhelmingly unhappy with his handling of the pandemic and its economic fallout. Likud is slipping in the polls, and his right-wing nemesis Naftali Bennett is gaining ground.”

Five Lessons From the Gaza Disengagement That Israel Still Hasn’t Learned, 15 Years On, Haaretz
Eric H. Yoffie writes, “Some claim, of course, that withdrawing from Gaza led to Hamas aggression and rocket fire. But Hamas had started firing rockets as early as 2001, long before the disengagement. What would have been the outcome if the evacuations had not been carried out? The likely answer is that the Gaza settlements today would be far more vulnerable than they were in 2005, and the IDF efforts to protect them would be impossibly onerous.”

Netanyahu’s election threat is an elaborate, calculated game of ‘chicken’, Times of Israel
Haviv Rettig Gur writes, “With the economy faltering and his right-wing bloc fraying, the PM doesn’t want to risk a vote. But to get his way, the threat must be credible – so let the campaign begin.”

Israelis, Leave Lebanon Alone, Haaretz
Odeh Bisharat writes, “A few hours after the apocalyptic explosion in Beirut last week, a Lebanese man appeared on the screen and said that in 2006 he traveled to the south. He immediately he began to compare the scope of the destruction there after the 30 days of Israeli shelling to that wreaked by the explosions in the Beirut port. That’s how the Lebanese see Israel, that’s how the Arabs see Israel: as a measurement for destruction, killing, expulsion, arrogance and blind force.”