News Roundup for January 11, 2021

January 11, 2021

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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.

Top News and Analysis

Pelosi moves ahead with efforts for Trump’s removal as Democrats split on how hard to push for impeachment, Washington Post
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed Sunday to push ahead with impeaching President Trump if he is not removed from office first, adding a powerful voice to a debate that has begun to consume a Democratic Party both eager for impeachment and wary of it. Her statement virtually assures the House will move forward with impeachment, even as tensions break out among Democrats over how aggressively to push for it. House members have insisted Trump face consequences for inciting last week’s deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol, while President-elect Joe Biden has signaled he does not want the effort to interfere with his agenda. Both sides are treading carefully, aware that many voters hope Congress will prevent Trump from provoking further violence, but also want Biden to be free to take immediate action on the coronavirus pandemic and a faltering economy. Some Democrats said privately that they are wary of impeachment but unsure how to slow its momentum given intensifying passions against Trump.

Strong Views and ‘Close to the Boss’: How U.S. Envoy Reshaped a Conflict, New York Times
Mr. Friedman upended the established policy treating Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank as impediments to peace, illegal and off-limits to American officials. He declared them part of Israel, assuring their residents that they would never face evacuation and that the United States no longer saw them as thieves of stolen land. A donor to and strident advocate for the settlements in his prediplomatic life, Mr. Friedman made a point of visiting them and banished the term “occupied” from State Department documents. “He normalized a lot of behavior and a lot of statements where we’ve really shifted U.S. policy,” Mr. Kushner said. The White House cut Palestinians’ financial aid to zero, tried to scuttle their refugee agency, denounced their leaders and ran their emissaries out of Washington. The Trump peace plan, unveiled a year ago, adopted the Israeli government’s stance on nearly every major outstanding issue. The Israelis had to accept little more than the fact of a Palestinian state; the Palestinians had to swallow almost everything else. Looking back on his four years, Mr. Friedman exulted in how prolifically and, he argued, irrevocably the administration had altered the way the conflict is seen. “There’s no going back on what we’ve been able to do,” he said in an interview Monday in a building that had been home to the U.S. mission to the Palestinians until he disbanded it. “I’m frankly somewhere between addicted and intoxicated with what I’ve been able to do, and how much joy it gives me.”

A historic percentage of Americans want Trump removed from office, CNN
The potential removal of President Donald Trump from office starts out more popular than any other removal process of a president in recent American history. Removing Trump from office remains quite unpopular among Republicans, however. A look across polls conducted since riots at the Capitol on Wednesday shows that a clear plurality of Americans overall want Trump out of office, even as President-elect Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated on January 20. You can see that well in an ABC News/Ipsos poll released on Sunday. The majority (56%) say Trump should be removed from office, while just 43% believe he should not be removed.


Momentum for Trump impeachment soars as some in GOP say it’s warranted after Capitol riot, USA Today
Donald Trump begins one of the most perilous weeks of his presidency Monday as momentum for a second impeachment soared over the weekend and a growing number of Republicans broke ranks to openly call for his removal.

Biden: Capitol marauders are ‘thugs, insurrectionists and anti-Semites’ who should be prosecuted, JTA
“Yes,” he said Friday when a reporter asked if his Justice Department should prosecute the marauders whose looting of the Capitol this week in hopes of stopping Congress’s affirmation of Biden as president-elect resulted in five deaths. “They should be treated as a bunch of thugs, insurrectionists, anti-Semites,” Biden said.

Netanyahu’s rivals liken him to Trump as world reels from Capitol riots, Al-Monitor
On Jan. 8, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak posted a photo of a massive billboard from a previous Israeli election campaign showing a beaming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu standing alongside a broadly smiling US President Donald Trump. Next to the photo Barak tweeted, “The conmen’s league. Political Siamese twins. Both narcissists, both claiming to have been framed, both serial liars contemptuous of their followers, inciting against the legal system. Both fraudsters insanely self-centered and willing to assassinate democracy. The Americans have already disposed of theirs, at a heavy cost. It is now our turn.”

Israelis protest Netanyahu amid 3rd virus lockdown, AP
Thousands of Israelis on Saturday renewed weekly demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling for the long-serving leader to resign over corruption charges against him and his alleged mishandling of the coronavirus crisis.

Schwarzenegger compares Capitol mob violence to Kristallnacht destruction by Nazis in viral video, Washington Post
Former California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger decried Wednesday’s pro-Trump mob attack on the U.S. Capitol as an act of hatred that recalled Kristallnacht, the nightlong destruction of Jewish-owned businesses and institutions by the Nazis in 1938.

TV poll shows Likud rising, but Netanyahu lacks clear majority, Times of Israel
A new television poll over the weekend suggested Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is regaining support ahead of the March 23 national election, but the premier remained without a clear path to forming a new government.

Confederate flag tied to door of Jewish museum in New York, JTA
“This is an atrocious attack on our community and on our institution and must be met with the swift and forceful response by law enforcement,” Jack Kliger, the museum’s president, said in a statement.

Human rights groups petition High Court to force Israel to vaccinate inmates, Times of Israel
Five human rights groups petitioned the High Court Sunday against Public Security Minister Amir Ohana’s decision not to vaccinate prisoners in Israeli jails until a greater number of Israelis have been inoculated.

Daily low flying Israeli jets over Lebanon spreading jitters, AP
Israeli military jets carried out several low flying flights over Beirut as reconnaissance drones also buzzed overhead Sunday in what has become a daily occurrence. Israel regularly violates Lebanon airspace, often to carry out strikes in neighboring Syria. On Christmas Eve, Israeli jets flew low late into the night, terrorizing Beirut residents who are no strangers to such flights. They were followed by reported Israeli strikes in Syria.

Virus czar says there’s room for optimism as morbidity rate slows, Times of Israel
National coronavirus czar Nachman Ash expressed optimism Sunday that the combination of lockdown measures and Israel’s fast-paced mass inoculation program was beginning to impact the virus’s spread, slowing down infection rates.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump’s Lackeys Must Also Be Punished, New York Times
Charles M. Blow writes, “The rule of law has to apply to everyone, including those in power […] Now we have to ask a very serious question: What do we do now as a society and as a body politic? Do we simply turn the page and hope for a better day, let bygones be bygones? Or do we seek some form of justice, to hold people accountable for taking this country to the brink? I say that we must prosecute all people who have committed crimes and punish all those who have broken rules. The rule of law can’t simply be for the common man; it must also be for the exalted man. Because only then will the ideas of fairness and justice have meaning.”

The Con-men League: How Netanyahu’s Bromance With Trump Could Come Back to Haunt Him, Haaretz
Alon Pinkas writes, “A year ago, Likud assured Israelis that Benjamin Netanyahu’s friendship with Trump put him in ‘a different league.’ Now his critics are using that quote against him.”

Impeach and Convict Trump. Congress Must Defend Itself., New York Times
Bryan Garsten writes, “The key issue is this: One of the three branches of the federal government has just incited an armed attack against another branch. Beyond the threat to a peaceful transition, the incident was a fundamental violation of the separation of powers. Prompted by the chief executive, supporters laid siege to, invaded, and occupied the Capitol building, deploying weapons and subjecting members of both chambers of Congress to intimidation and violence in an effort to produce a particular decision by force.”

COVID Vaccines: The Most Lethal Example of Israel’s Disregard for Palestinian Lives, Haaretz
Shannon Maree Torrens writes, “It is one thing to blockade the people of Gaza for supposedly security purposes. It is another level of deplorable to deny them a life-saving vaccine.”

We’re an Orthodox Jew and evangelical Christian, and we saw the attack on the Capitol coming, The Forward
Hannah Lebovits and Beth Piwkowski write, “We’re an Orthodox Jew and evangelical Christian. And while we were devastated and infuriated by Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters, we weren’t surprised.”