News Roundup for December 11, 2020

December 11, 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

“Incredible Generosity” for 2020, But Some Are Fretting– What Will 2021 Look Like?, Jewish Journal
“J Street, the liberal Israel-focused lobbying group, cut its $8 million budget by $1 million, Jeremy Ben-Ami, its president, told JI, having saved a significant amount of money by moving the organization’s conferences online. J Street received a forgivable PPP loan of $660,000 and some tax credits, he said, and has not needed to lay off or furlough any staffers. J Street’s 2020 budget of $8 million is balanced, Ben-Ami said, and he expects it to grow slightly for 2021. But, he cautioned, ‘I am not ready to declare victory, because we have not seen the full impact’ the pandemic will have on philanthropy. ‘The stock market [strength] has in a way cushioned the blow, and we haven’t quite seen the end of this story yet,’ he added.”

Top News and Analysis

Morocco to normalize ties with Israel in deal with Trump over Western Sahara, Axios
Morocco has agreed to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel, President Trump announced on Thursday. The Moroccan decision comes as part of a deal that includes U.S. recognition of the disputed territory of Western Sahara as part of Morocco.

Peace for Peace? Israel-Morocco Deal Is Occupation in Exchange for Occupation, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “Previous U.S. administrations wanted to expand the covert peace between Morocco and Israel and bring it out of the closet. They simply didn’t want to pay the high price Trump shelled out for it without the blink of an eye.”

Why using Trump’s sanctions as ‘leverage’ to get more from Iran won’t work, Responsible Statecraft
Paul R. Pillar writes, “When Iranian leaders see their country being punished no matter what it does, the incentive for them to comply with agreements and behave the way we would like to see them behave vanishes. They start looking instead for ways to exert pressure back, which is exactly what Iran has been doing over the past year and a half in response to the Trump policies […] Imagine if the roles were reversed — if Iran wanted to renegotiate the JCPOA to give itself economic benefits or give its nuclear program more leeway. The response of everyone on the U.S. side, not to mention the other JCPOA participants, would, of course, be immediate rejection of the idea and emphatic expression of the principle that a deal’s a deal.”


Moroccan king tells Palestinians Rabat stands by two-state solution, Reuters
Moroccan King Mohammmed told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a phone call on Thursday that Rabat stands by a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a royal court statement said.

Abbas: Palestinians ready to resume peace talks with Israel, The Jerusalem Post
The Palestinians are ready to return to the negotiating table with Israel under the auspices of the Quartet, which consists of the US, United Nations, Russia and European Union, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday.

US Jews plan smaller Hanukkah celebrations amid virus, AP
Jewish Americans from a variety of branches of the faith are celebrating Hanukkah with smaller-than-usual gatherings this year, in hopes of keeping the year-end holiday safe but still joyful as coronavirus cases spike across the country.

Amid virus, 2020 on track for fewest security-related deaths in Israel’s history, Times of Israel
The year 2020 has seen the lowest number of Israelis killed in terrorism or combat in the country’s history — quite likely, in part, as a result of the chaos created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Opinion and Analysis

The Kafkaesque World of Sudanese Refugees in Israel, Foreign Policy
Isma’il Kushkush writes, “Aid organizations fear that Israel is about to deport thousands of asylum-seekers to Sudan now that the two countries have made peace.”

Israeli Top Brass Worried Over a Parting Gift From Trump: Advanced Weapons to Saudi Arabia, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “The extraordinary term of office of Donald Trump as president of the United States opened with the declaration of a gigantic deal to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, only a small part of which was ultimately fulfilled. Its final stretch, against the background of the president’s late semi-admission this week of having lost the election, is being accompanied by an attempt to cobble together another major deal.”

“We were armed, we destroyed her kitchen, and we moved on”, +972 Mag
Nadav Weiman writes, “Israelis like to think that military home invasions are only for security reasons. Former soldiers — and Palestinian families — know that’s not the truth.”

In Germany, a Witch Hunt Is Raging Against Critics of Israel. Cultural Leaders Have Had Enough, Haaretz
Itay Mashiach writes, “Scholars are boycotted for signing a petition, artists are subjected to background checks and critical texts are censored. Now, in an unprecedented move, leaders of top German cultural institutions have joined forces to declare: enough.”

Bennett is Israel’s next PM. Or Sa’ar. Or maybe Netanyahu. For sure., Times of Israel
Haviv Rettig Gur writes, “The prime minister’s opponents now draw a majority of right-wing voters in polls. But can they stick together long enough to replace him?”

The Two Way Street | What’s Hanukkah All About, and Since When?, J Street
Rabbi George Stern writes, “Hanukkah gets very little attention in the Talmud. Undoubtedly, the Jews celebrated the Maccabees’ victory. But during the brief period of Jewish rule following the rebellion, Judah’s descendants, the Hasmoneans, gradually lost their luster. They became increasingly self-absorbed and ultimately betrayed the revolution that brought them to power. They fused the temporal and priestly powers, so that high priest and king were one and the same — a politically dangerous and corrupt decision.”