News Roundup for August 19, 2020

August 19, 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

How the Democrats are shifting on Israel, Washington Post
“There’s a far more balanced approach to Israel-related issues in the Democratic Party than there was before,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, founder and president of liberal pro-Israel group J Street, in a briefing with reporters conducted on the virtual sidelines of this week’s Democratic convention. ‘There’s a willingness to talk directly about and to stand up for Palestinian rights.’ A decade ago, J Street sat somewhat on the fringe of Jewish American politics. Now it’s firmly at the center, espousing positions on Israel, such as support for a two-state solution, that the overwhelming majority of Jewish Americans support, while the Republican Party has drifted further to the right […] But the window may be closing. ‘There’s a real sense in the Democratic caucus that there’s not much time left,’ said Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) in the J Street webinar, pointing to the steady expansion of settlements and the broader cynicism over the possibility of a viable Palestinian state. Levin added that if Biden were elected, he would have to immediately embark on three years of concerted diplomacy to restart a moribund peace process and cajole the two sides to a meaningful agreement.”

Liberal Jewish groups defend ADL after renewed attack from progressive coalition, JTA
“Liberal Jewish allies of the Anti-Defamation League are coming to its defense after more than 150 progressive groups signed an open letter calling for the ADL to be excluded from social justice coalitions […] Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the liberal Israel lobby J Street, also came out against the boycott campaign. ‘One can disagree with the ADL over Israel policy — and I often do — esp. labeling critics of Israeli policy antisemitic, yet appreciate their stand on travel ban and refugees + track record on civil rights,’ Ben-Ami tweeted Monday. ‘I favor engaging not boycotting those with whom we disagree.’”

Top News and Analysis

Joe Biden officially becomes the Democratic Party’s nominee on convention’s second night, Washington Post
Joe Biden officially secured the Democratic nomination for president Tuesday, winning votes cast by party delegates scattered across bridges, beaches and statehouses in 57 states and territories in an online spectacle that marked the first virtual national party roll-call vote. When his nomination became official, cameras flipped to the 77-year-old Biden, who was watching the virtual roll call with his wife, Jill, in a Delaware school. His grandchildren joined them, and shot off streamers and tussled with balloons as Biden beamed at a camera instead of a crowd.

Accusations that Trump stokes racism and anti-Semitism take center stage at Democratic convention launch, JTA
Democrats launched their virtual convention with appeals for a once-fractured party to come together and oust Donald Trump from the presidency, making a case that the racial divisions they say Trump stokes are ripping the country apart. One of the most pointed appeals for unity Monday night came from Bernie Sanders, the Jewish senator from Vermont who was the most serious rival to the eventual nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden. Sanders, given one of the longest speaking slots, appealed to his progressive followers to embrace Biden, a centrist. Sanders endorsed Biden in March after a divisive primary season, but party leaders fear that the Vermont senator’s followers remain skeptical of Biden. “Together we must build a nation that is more equitable, more compassionate, and more inclusive,” Sanders said. “I know that Joe Biden will begin that fight on day one.”


After UAE agreement, Abbas warns other countries not to normalize, Times of Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Thursday’s normalization agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel at a joint meeting of the Palestinian leadership on Tuesday night, and urged other countries to stick to a 2002 proposal that conditions ties with Israel on the creation of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu confidant gives sign elections are on the way, The Jerusalem Post
In what was seen as a sign that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants elections, coalition chairman Miki Zohar told the Knesset Finance Committee on Wednesday that he demands four conditions for passing the budget deadline extension bill.

Stabbed Israeli border guard shoots to death his Palestinian attacker in Jerusalem, JTA
The 19-year-old officer, who finished his training about a month ago, underwent surgery on Monday night, Israel’s Channel 12 reported. A female bystander, 60, was injured in the gunfire, the Israel Police said.

Israeli Minister Delays Police Commissioner Pick Over Threat of New Election, Haaretz
Public Security Minister Amir Ohana said Tuesday that he would hold off choosing the next police commissioner until it becomes clear whether Israel’s budget crisis will be resolved or the country will go to a new election. Ohana denied that the appointment is part of negotiations between Likud and Kahol Lavan in an interview with Army Radio. He asserted that he alone would decide on the matter.

Opinion and Analysis

Gaza Tensions: Hamas Doesn’t Seek Escalation, but Won’t Make Do With Restoring Calm, Haaretz
Jack Khoury writes, “Hamas is not looking for a full-scale clash, but its leaders won’t stop the explosive balloons unless Israel diverts its gaze from the UAE to its yet-to-be implemented agreements with Gaza.”

Why U.A.E. Struck a Deal With Israel and Why It Matters, Bloomberg
David Wainer writes, “Since its creation as a Jewish state in 1948, Israel has been isolated from nearly every other country in the predominantly Muslim Middle East. While Egypt and Jordan made peace with it, other Arab countries have said they would withhold recognition pending formation of a separate Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territories Israel conquered in the 1967 war. Prospects for a Palestinian state have faded in recent years. Still, the United Arab Emirates, a Persian Gulf monarchy, has agreed to establish normal ties.”

Why a U.S.-led Coup Seven Decades Ago Still Matters to Young Iranians, Haaretz
Jonathan Harounoff, Stephanie Posner and Arman Amini write, “Calls for regime change in Tehran are nothing new from the United States – but on August 19, 1953, the CIA went a step further and overthrew Iran’s democratically elected prime minister. The trauma of that event still persists”