News Roundup for December 3, 2020

December 3, 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

Joaquin Castro shows the path forward for Democrats, Washington Post
“Castro pledges to bring diverse voices to the witness table in the committee — not just in terms of race, gender and sexual orientation, but also a diversity of viewpoints, something sorely missing under the conservative tenure of outgoing chair Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.). Castro has excited progressive Jewish groups such as J Street — and unnerved conservative pro-Israel groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — with his novel suggestion that the committee hear from Palestinian voices for the first time. After all, Castro argues, if the United States hopes to be ‘an arbiter of peace, it has to be willing to hear from the different sides.’”

Trump’s disruption and Israel’s future, NY Daily News
“This summer, Carr accused the liberal advocacy group J Street of anti-Semitism after it published an image of Trump surrounded by his three Middle East advisers and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the caption, ‘Stop Annexation.’ There was nothing anti-Semitic about the image — the three advisors and Netanyahu are all Jewish — but the linkage Carr tried to create between anti-Semitism and criticizing Trump’s policies was clear […] Wooing the evangelical right goes hand in hand with ignoring right-wing anti-Semitism. Witness the elevation of Retired Col. Douglas Macgregor to a high-level Pentagon position. Macgregor is a right-wing military strategist who would seem to have impeccable ‘pro-Israel’ credentials. But, as CNN has reported, Macgregor has also accused the pro-Israel advocacy group AIPAC of trying to draw America into war.”

Top News and Analysis

Gregory Meeks, who said West Bank annexation spending was off-limits with US defense aid, likely to chair House Foreign Affairs panel, JTA
All three lawmakers auditioned for the job in meetings with the centrist Democratic Majority for Israel and the liberal J Street Middle East policy group. They all said that U.S. money should not be used to annex West Bank territory, a move that Israel’s government considered earlier this year. Meeks and Sherman later clarified that they meant that money allocated for defense assistance was, according to U.S. law, off-limits for spending in the West Bank. Castro did not stand down from his claim that using the money for annexation would invite reconsideration of some assistance to Israel.

Israeli parliament moves to dissolve government, triggering possible new elections, Washington Post
Israel faced the prospect of political chaos once again Wednesday when lawmakers approved a preliminary measure that would dissolve the turbulent coalition government, putting the country on a path to its fourth election in two years. The vote of 61 to 54 to advance the proposal marked another escalation of a political crisis that has left the country with only a caretaker government for more than a year and a largely dysfunctional unity coalition during the mounting coronavirus pandemic and accompanying economic collapse. Wednesday’s bill does not take immediate effect. Negotiations among the feuding factions could still head off final action on the proposal as it moves to a parliamentary committee before coming back for three more votes by the full Knesset, Israel’s parliament. Among the issues to be negotiated will be the timing of elections.

Giuliani doubles down on Jewish Soros comments, saying the philanthropist uses Judaism as ‘a shield and a sword’, JTA
US President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has a history of publicly attacking the Jewish billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros, having previously called him the “Antichrist,” saying he was “hardly a Jew” and asserting that he wanted to destroy the government because of his “sick background.” Now the former New York mayor is doubling down on his statements on Soros’ Jewish identity, saying that he is “the last person in the world who can claim victimization as being Jewish.”


Biden says he will reenter Iran deal without new conditions, then negotiate for a new agreement, JTA
President-elect Joe Biden established a sequence for how he plans to deal with Iran, and it starts with reentering the 2015 nuclear deal without conditions.

Gantz Breaks With Netanyahu, Votes With Opposition to Dissolve Parliament, Haaretz
The Knesset voted to dissolve in a preliminary vote Wednesday, bringing the country closer to a fourth election in less than two years.

New Iranian law ramps up uranium enrichment and bans inspectors — if Biden doesn’t reenter nuclear deal, JTA
The bill gives the United States until early February to lift sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump after abandoning the 2015 agreement more than two years ago. Otherwise, Iran will ban entry to international nuclear inspectors and increase uranium enrichment to a level closer to weapons-ready. Biden has said he is ready to reenter the deal as soon as possible, and then negotiate improvements, but early February comes barely two weeks into his term.

In Sacramento, Proud Boys take to the streets, and they’re angry, The Forward
Members and allies of the far-right group the Proud Boys, some wearing bulletproof vests and armed with knives, marched through the streets of Sacramento on Saturday in a show of force, blasting loud music and chanting while attempting to provoke counterprotesters.

Daily virus case count tops 1,500 for first time since lockdown eased, Times of Israel
The Health Ministry on Thursday recorded over 1,500 new coronavirus cases a day earlier, the highest daily rate since October 15, when Israel was still under full nationwide lockdown.

U.S. to withdraw some Baghdad embassy staff as tensions with Iran and its allies spike, Washington Post
The U.S. government has decided to withdraw some staff from its embassy in Baghdad through the final weeks of the Trump administration, officials say, as tensions rise throughout the region.

‘I can’t fall asleep’: The trauma of Israeli raids on Palestinian homes, +972 Mag
A new report by human rights groups highlights the arbitrary nature and psychological harm of the Israeli army’s home invasions on Palestinian families.

EU Vows to Fight Antisemitism ‘In All Its Forms,’ Calling It an Attack on European Values, Haaretz
“The fight against antisemitism is a cross-cutting issue involving various levels of government and policies at local, national and European level,” Wednesday’s statement said. “Awareness of antisemitism therefore needs to be increased across policies and responsibilities.”

Republicans on key panel ‘uneasy’ about F-35 sale to UAE — congressional aides, Times of Israel
Republican members of a key Senate panel are signaling apprehension with the Trump administration’s planned $23 billion arms deal to the United Arab Emirates, according to sources on Capitol Hill.

Israel Refuses to Fund School Transport for Visually Impaired Arab Girl, Haaretz
Israel has stopped providing transportation for a nine-year-old Beduin girl to her school in Be’er Sheva, which has caused her to only go to class two or three days a week for the past year or so.

Opinion and Analysis

Election Déjà Vu for Israelis, Foreign Policy
Joshua Mitnick writes, “If the bill, put forward by parliamentary opposition leader Yair Lapid, is passed into law, it would exacerbate Israel’s long-standing political instability, spurred largely by the fact that Netanyahu faces multiple corruption indictments and seems bent on evading trial. It would also compound the public health problems in Israel, which is on the cusp of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and still has some virus-related restrictions in place from a lockdown started in September.”

Donald Trump’s legacy leaves behind poisoned gifts for Israel, The Jerusalem Post
Nadav Tamir writes, “Most Democrats don’t support BDS, but they are against banning it. Pompeo’s claim that it is inherently antisemitic only serves to harm Israel’s interests.”

Almost Everything He Said Was a Lie: Netanyahu’s Speech Would Shatter a Lie Detector, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “Neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor Benny Gantz made any effort to hide their mutual loathing and their deep alienation from each other. They sat with their backs to each other, voted and played out the game that, with very great certainty (though given past experience, one always has to hedge one’s bets), will send Israel to the polls for the fourth time in two years, sometime between March and May.”

Facing up to Israel’s destabilizing behavior, Responsible Statecraft
Paul R. Pillar writes, “The Netanyahu government’s evident objective — probably pursued with the encouragement of the lame duck Trump administration, as part of its salting of the earth on its way out the door — is to subvert the Biden administration’s diplomacy with Iran and efforts to return to compliance with the JCPOA. The timing of the Fakhrizadeh assassination is too much of a coincidence to have merely reflected when an operational opportunity happened to arise.”

Netanyahu Lost the Vote to End His Government, but Scored a Major Victory, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “The dissolution measure he had just voted against may have passed, and is likely to launch an election campaign at a less than advantageous time for him. But he can worry about that in a few weeks, if the dissolution passes its final readings. For the time being, he had enough to celebrate. He has finally ensured the political demise of the man sitting beside him during the vote, Benny Gantz.”