News Roundup for November 10, 2020

November 10, 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

American Jewish Vote Clinched Biden’s Victory and Trump’s Ouster, Haaretz
“Without Jews, Biden would have lost Pennsylvania. The math is simple: There are anywhere between 300,000 and 500,000 Jews in Pennsylvania, depending how you count, so let’s split the difference and settle on 400,000. Over 80 percent are adults, according to most population surveys, and of these, over 80 percent of them vote on average. And they split for Biden by a three-to-one margin, according to a state poll conducted by J Street and a national Jewish poll carried out by the American Jewish Committee.”

Top News and Analysis

Saeb Erekat, veteran Palestinian peace negotiator, dies at 65, The Guardian
Saeb Erekat, the veteran Palestinian peace negotiator and one of the most high-profile figures in its leadership since the early 1990s, has died after contracting coronavirus. Erekat, a lawmaker from Jericho in the occupied West Bank, was a senior adviser to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and also worked for Abbas’s predecessor, Yasser Arafat. He served as the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Unrelenting in his indignation against Israeli control over Palestinian life, the US-educated former journalist and academic was well-known to three decades of diplomatic and media circles for his condemnation of what he eventually described as apartheid, delivering his criticism in his trademark staccato voice.

RJC and ZOA, two right-wing Jewish groups, won’t say ‘president-elect’ Biden for now, JTA
Two conservative Jewish organizations known for their support of President Donald Trump’s Israel policies will not call Joe Biden “president-elect” until legal challenges are settled, reflecting a consolidation of right-wing backing for Trump’s refusal to concede. “We will be referring to ‘President-elect’ Biden when the states certify the election and the courts have ruled on allegations of fraud and irregularities,” Matt Brooks, the Republican Jewish Coalition director, said in an email. “Remember it’s the states that call outcomes, not decision desks.” Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, said he too would not use the term. “I will not call him president-elect, I will say ‘likely president-elect,’” Klein said in an interview.


Palestinians declare three days of mourning for Saeb Erekat, Reuters
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared a three-day mourning period for Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator who died on Tuesday after contracting COVID-19. “The departure of the brother and the friend, the great fighter Saeb Erekat, represents a big loss for Palestine and for our people,” Abbas’ office in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank said in a statement. “We feel deep sorrow for losing him, especially at such difficult times the Palestinian cause is living through.”

UN chief warns of anti-Semitism rising amid Covid-19 pandemic, The National
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Monday warned of a “steady stream of prejudice” against Jews during the coronavirus outbreak, as he received an award from a global Jewish body.

Netanyahu warns lockdown exit will be halted as infection rate levels off, Times of Israel
Amid concerns of a potential rise in new cases, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Monday that the government would not ease additional lockdown measures until coronavirus infection rates further decline.

‘A time for healing’ — Arab Americans react to Biden victory, Arab News
“As far as the Middle East and Arab world, I hope to see a return to the Iran nuclear deal framework, because no one wants to see Iran armed with nuclear weapons and the US policy of not talking to our enemies is detrimental to our own foreign policy. I’m not optimistic that a new president will significantly change our policies toward Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians and America’s cozy relationship with Arab dictators,” said Michigan political consultant and Arab American activist Dennis Denno.

Messages undermining election integrity are circulating on Orthodox social media, JTA
The messages casting doubt on the election results started circulating among Orthodox Jewish social media accounts by Wednesday morning and continued throughout the weekend, pausing only for Shabbat.

What will a Biden presidency mean for Iran?, Al Jazeera
Henry Rome, senior Iran analyst at the US-based political risk consultancy firm Eurasia Group, expects both Iran and the US to proceed cautiously in the early months of a Biden presidency. “Biden will face a slew of more pressing priorities and Tehran will be cautious to appear over-eager to negotiate and give away leverage before the June presidential election,” he told Al Jazeera.

Opinion and Analysis

Iran Is Laughing at Trump and Placing Hope in Biden, Foreign Policy
Anchal Vohra writes, “Iranian President Hassan Rouhani indicated his government was ready for talks, although in a well-calculated manner that guarded Iranian pride. He said he hoped that the last three years of pressuring Iran without much avail taught the United States a lesson that will make ‘the next U.S. administration follow the law and return to all its commitments’ under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed when Biden was vice president. Seyed Mohammad Marandi, an Iranian American academic and political analyst, said in an interview that Iran expects the United States to fully comply with its obligations under the deal and ‘compensate for damages done due to U.S. violations of the deal.’ Only then would Iran return to the table, Marandi added.”

Biden’s Win Means a Demotion for Netanyahu and Less Focus on Israel, New York Times
David M. Halbfinger writes, “Benjamin Netanyahu has made his closeness to President Trump, who gave him much of what he wanted, central to his political appeal. Things will be different in a Biden administration.”

Netanyahu lost his ally in the White House. That’s inspiration for Israel’s opposition, Washington Post
Gershom Gorenberg writes, “The leader of Israel’s centrist opposition, Yair Lapid, won the race among the country’s senior politicians to salute Biden’s victory and to promise to work with both parties in Congress. Orna Barbivay, an ex-general and a member of parliament from Lapid’s party, was more pungent. She tweeted a traditional blessing that roughly means, ‘Thank God we’re done with him,’ adding, ‘Now to overcome the culture of fraud and lies, there and here.’”

Annexation, Iran sanctions, weapons? What Israel may ask of Trump as he leaves, Times of Israel
Raphael Ahren writes, “Obama allowed a UN Security Council resolution slamming settlements to pass when he was a lame duck; Jerusalem can now hope for a farewell present from the outgoing president”

To Trump-trained Israeli Ears, Biden’s Victory Rhetoric Sounds Alien and Potentially Hostile, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “For Netanyahu, his supporters, the Israeli right wing, settler leaders, most Orthodox Jews and a sizeable chunk of public opinion in general, who sincerely prayed for four more years, Trump’s unexpected defeat came as a shock. They had persuaded themselves that the Trump-inspired wave of tough-talking, anti-elitist, right-wing populism, which is their favorite kind, was unstoppable. They had assumed that, like Netanyahu, Trump is a magician who would pull a rabbit out of his hat and be saved at the last minute by a surge of American patriots. It was close, but no cigar.”

Trump’s biggest donors will continue to shape hawkish GOP foreign policy, Responsible Statecraft
Eli Clifton writes, “Bringing the United States to the precipice of war with Iran is exactly what three of Trump’s biggest campaign backers — Casino magnates Sheldon and Miriam Adelson and Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus — have funded for years.  Their role in bankrolling hawkish politicians and widely-quoted think tank scholars in Washington is unlikely to end with the defeat of their preferred presidential candidate.”

Biden’s big challenges, The Hill
Ahmed Charai writes, “President-elected Joe Biden will face unprecedented challenges that, by their nature, breach the divide between domestic and international affairs. COVID-19, the great destructor, is also a global unifier, as the spread of the virus around and around the world continually shows. President-elected Joe Biden will need to fight the pandemic multilaterally.”