News Roundup for August 20, 2020

August 20, 2020

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!


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

One of the Israeli Right’s Think Tanks Commissioned a Study Into American Jews. They Didn’t Like the Results, J Street
“‘Research points to a trend among Jewish Americans that may signal changes in the traditional ‘conventional wisdom’ regarding the attitudes and behavior of the community, including vis-à-vis Israel,’ the authors wrote. ‘Israel-related issues are not a deciding or ‘make or break’ factor in the voting behavior of a significant portion of our Jewish-American sample.’ The report found that Jewish voters were willing to back candidates who disagreed vocally with Israeli government policies, and that voters themselves didn’t support many Israeli government policies. ‘Our Jewish-American sample focused on distinguishing between being ‘pro-Israel’ and ‘pro-Israeli government’’ the report noted, adding that ‘many seem to have a particular distaste for Benjamin Netanyahu.’”

Top News and Analysis

U.S. Heads to United Nations to Demand ‘Snapback’ of Sanctions Against Iran, New York Times
The Trump administration will formally demand on Thursday that the United Nations punish Iran with bruising sanctions for violating an agreement to limit its nuclear program — a deal from which the United States withdrew two years ago. The push sets up a new confrontation at the Security Council, where European allies are resisting the so-called snapback sanctions in a last-ditch attempt to hold together the fraying 2015 accord. Diplomats in Europe, China and Russia — the other powers that brokered the deal during the Obama administration — have questioned the legality of the demand because the United States is no longer part of the nuclear agreement.

Snapback: The last gasp of Trump’s failed Iran strategy, Responsible Statecraft
Ryan Costello writes, “Fresh off a stunning, if predictable, defeat in seeking to extend the United Nations arms embargo on Iran in violation of the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. is expected to try to trigger snapback of all U.N. sanctions on Iran in a bid to tear down the nuclear accord struck under President Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. However, this is not a strong or credible diplomatic play. While it can do substantial damage to American credibility and potentially provoke Iran to lash out, it looks increasingly like the last gasp of a failed ‘maximum pressure’ Iran approach that is likely to be reversed after the U.S. presidential election on November 3.”

Four Days Before Deadline, Israeli Election Appears Imminent as Netanyahu, Gantz Lock Horns, Haaretz
With no compromise in sight between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan parties over the state budget, parliament could dissolve on Monday and Israel will head to its fourth election in less than two years.


Palestinian Teen Shot Dead by Israeli Army in the West Bank, Haaretz
A Palestinian teen, Mohammed Matar, 16, was killed Wednesday by Israeli fire in the West Bank village of Deir Abu Mashal near Ramallah, Palestinian reports said. Two other Palestinians were injured by live fire, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Gantz says ‘critical days’ for gov’t, won’t accommodate PM’s ‘personal problems’, Times of Israel
Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz told his faction Wednesday that the coalition was in “critical days,” less than a week before the government will be dissolved automatically if Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot agree on a path forward for the state budget.

‘Proud Islamophobe’ Laura Loomer wins Florida GOP primary, The Forward
Laura Loomer, a far-right provocateur who calls herself a “proud Islamophobe” and stated that Islam is a “cancer on society,” has won the Republican primary in south Florida’s 21st congressional district.

Trump praises QAnon conspiracists, says he appreciates their support, AP
Speaking during a press conference at the White House, Trump courted the support of those who put stock in the conspiracy theory, saying, “I heard that these are people that love our country.” It was Trump’s first public comment on the subject and continued a pattern of president appearing unwilling to resoundingly condemn extremists who support his candidacy.

Iran announces locally made ballistic and cruise missiles amid U.S. tensions, Reuters
Iran unveiled a surface-to-surface ballistic missile that Defence Minister Amir Hatami said had a range of 1,400 kilometres and a new cruise missile on Thursday, ignoring U.S. demands that Tehran halt its missile programme.

Trump Administration Pushes Arms Sale to U.A.E. Despite Israeli Worries, New York Times
The Trump White House is quietly planning sales of F-35 stealth fighters and advanced drones to the Emiratis as part of a wider plan to realign the Middle East, but Israel and Congress may object.

FBI apologizes for Protocols of Learned Elders of Zion tweet, The Forward
The FBI has apologized for a tweet Wednesday that published a copy of the Protocols of Learned Elders of Zion.

Kushner extends US peace offer to Iran, says Trump ready to talk, meet leaders, Times of Israel
The United States is willing to enter peace negotiations with Iran if US President Donald Trump is reelected in November, top White House official Jared Kushner said, as Washington tries to snap back UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Palestinians in Gaza rally against Israel-UAE deal, Al Jazeera
Hundreds of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip rallied against a United States-brokered between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalise ties.

Trump says he expects not only Saudis, but also Iran, to make Middle East peace, Times of Israel
US President Donald Trump said Wednesday night he expected Saudi Arabia to join Arab normalization with Israel, hours after the country’s foreign minister ruled out any formalized ties before an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. He then said he believed Iran would ultimately “come in too.”

Opinion and Analysis

What are Biden’s Mideast positions?, Al-Monitor
Adam Lucente writes, “As vice president, Biden is associated with the policies of former President Barack Obama’s administration, including the 2015 Iran deal, the US withdrawal of forces from Iraq in 2011 and the formation of a global coalition against the Islamic State (IS) in 2014. He might have cooler relations than Trump does with Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but perhaps better dialogue with Iran.”

Raising awareness on Iran or enjoying losing dismally?, The Jerusalem Post
Yonah Jeremy Bob writes, “The Trump administration’s announcement that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will go back to the United Nations to demand snap-back UN sanctions on Thursday and Friday, fresh after coming away with pie on its face from an embarrassing and overwhelming defeat at the UN Security Council last week, raises some alarming questions. Has the Trump administration decided that it now likes to lose publicly and dismally when it comes to Iran?”