News Roundup for November 12, 2020

November 12, 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

Election: Jewish Atlanta Reviews Through Blue or Red Lens, Atlanta Jewish Times
“Scott Rafshoon, co-chair of the J Street chapter in Atlanta, said, ‘The election of Joe Biden and the defeat of Donald Trump is a vindication of American democracy and of the ideals that Americans, including American Jews, hold dear.’”

Top News and Analysis

Pompeo expected to announce process for U.S. to label groups anti-Semitic, Politico
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has decided to establish a new process by which the United States can declare groups, including NGOs, to be anti-Semitic […] In recent weeks, as first reported by POLITICO, Pompeo had been weighing whether to label Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam as anti-Semitic because of their alleged actions toward the Israeli government. Had Pompeo named the groups, the plan was to say the U.S. would not support the organizations and to urge other governments also not to support such groups, financially or otherwise. That proposal, however, drew fierce internal pushback from some State Department staffers, as well as external condemnation from lawmakers and other critics. Opponents of the idea disputed claims that the groups are anti-Semitic, and they argued that designating them as such would raise freedom of speech issues and the possibility of litigation, among other concerns.

As Raphael Warnock’s Israel record becomes a flashpoint, Atlanta Jews call the Senate candidate a friend, JTA
“He has been a friend to Atlanta’s Jewish community throughout his tenure at the Ebenezer Baptist Church and a regular speaker and visitor to Atlanta’s synagogues,” Valerie Habif and Joanie Shubin, who founded Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon, Atlanta, an activist group that helps elect Democrats in Georgia, said in a statement. “His support for Israel is unequivocal.”

Mourning Saeb Erekat: The Indefatigable, Media Savvy Palestinian Peace Negotiator Who Rejected Violence, Haaretz
Daniel Kurtzer, Aaron David Miller, Martin Indyk, Robert Malley, Dennis Ross, Jonathan Schwartz and Toni Verstandig write, “Saeb was a unique figure among the Palestinian officials with whom we dealt: Confidante of both Arafat and Abbas, analytical, sometimes inflexible – and one of the few remaining true believers in a peaceful two state solution.”


Abbas aide: Palestinian leadership ready to resume Israel talks, YNetNews
A senior Palestinian Authority official said Wednesday that the PA was ready to resume negotiations with Israel at the point at which they stopped in 2014 or when Israel guarantees to abide by the agreements already signed.

Incoming Israeli ambassador will have to win over Democrats, Axios
The former minister from Netanyahu’s Likud party will have to navigate Biden’s Washington, which the Israeli government fears will be far less cozy than Trump’s.

PLO’s Saeb Erekat laid to rest after military honours, Reuters
“To all the Palestinian people, my father is also your father and the father of the Palestinian cause,” his daughter, Dr. Salam Erekat – her first name means ‘Peace’ in Arabic – said by his graveside in the Jordan Valley, her voice breaking into tears.

A Proud Boys leader is trying to rebrand the group as explicitly white supremacist and anti-Semitic, JTA
Kyle Chapman, the founder of a “tactical defense arm” of the Proud Boys known for engaging in street violence, claimed in a message on the encrypted chat app Telegram that he has staged a “coup” against the current leader of the Proud Boys — a Black man named Enrique Tarrio.

Biden names Ron Klain chief of staff; more Jewish picks expected, The Forward
President-elect Joe Biden named Ron Klain, a Jewish attorney and longtime Democratic operative, to be chief of staff in his new administration Wednesday night. Klain served in the same role during Biden’s vice presidency, and also managed the Obama White House’s response to the Ebola outbreak.

As Mike Pompeo notifies Congress that US will sell over $23 billion of arms to the UAE, Senate warns about Israel’s ‘military edge’, JTA
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally notified Congress on Tuesday that that the U.S. plans to sell $23.4 billion of arms to the United Arab Emirates, spurring the Senate to call on the State Department to ensure that the sale will not “diminish Israel’s qualitative military edge” in the region.

Israel Stops Enforcing Contentious Law Targeting Arabs for Construction Violations, Haaretz
Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced Thursday a freeze on enforcement of the controversial law that made punishment of building violations much more severe, known as the “Kaminitz Law.” The law, passed three years ago, does not state it is aimed at Arab communities, but in practice it has its greatest effect on illegal construction there.

Settlers attack farmers, damage chicken coops and kill over 300 chickens in the village of Qusrah, B’Tselem
Settlers threw stones at five members of the Ziad family who were working their land southeast of Qusrah, a village in Nablus District. About 30 minutes later, the settlers cut off the branches of 12 three-year-old olive trees belonging to another family, located about 150 meters away.

Fearing a Biden Settlement Freeze, Jerusalem Expedites Construction Beyond Green Line, Haaretz
Jerusalem City Hall and the Israel Lands Authority have been identifying and expediting approval of building plans of construction beyond the Green Line over the next two months, to prevent them from being stopped once Joe Biden enters the White House in January. Once the administration in Washington changes, the municipality and the Lands Authority expect a construction freeze.

Opinion and Analysis

Joe Biden’s relationship with Israel to be tested over Iran, Financial Times
Katrina Manson and Ben Zion write, “As Mr Biden prepares to take the helm, experts say nothing will strain the president-elect’s 38-year relationship with Mr Netanyahu more than his plan to re-enter the Iran deal that Mr Trump abandoned two years ago. “

What Saeb Erekat’s Death Means for Palestinians of My Generation, Foreign Policy
Raja Shehadeh writes, “Saeb Erekat, the untiring Palestinian peace negotiator, believed until his dying day in an Israeli hospital this week that only diplomacy would solve the Middle East conflict and lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. It was not an easy path to take, both because of Israel’s intransigence and because after years of fruitless negotiations, many Palestinians turned against the peace process—and its negotiators. Still, Saeb, who had a sharp tongue and a quick wit, and who was my friend, remained unflinching.”

Netanyahu Said Trump Was Israel’s ‘Greatest Friend.’ How Will He Cope with Biden in the White House?, Time
Joseph Hinks writes, “A Democratic victory strips Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of support from a U.S. president he described as Israel’s ‘greatest friend,’ at a moment when he is facing weekly protests over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and a felony corruption trial. It could also leave him exposed to challenges from hardliners, whose views Netanyahu helped bring into the political mainstream.”

Frustrating but indispensable, Saeb Erekat was like the peace process: heroic., The Forward
Muhammad Shehada writes, “On Tuesday we learned of the passing of Saeb Erekat, a chief Palestinian negotiator, who succumbed to complications due to Covid in a Jerusalem hospital. For 30 years, since the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991, Erekat was a cornerstone of the peace process, a main pillar of any efforts to end the conflict. To most Palestinians, his name is synonymous with the two-state solution, negotiations, and peace, and his death represents a calamity not just for the Palestinians, to whom he had dedicated his life, but to all advocates of a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Ancient Wisdom for this Post-Election Era, T’ruah
Rabbi John Rosove writes, “As I recall standing upon those millennia-old steps holding that aged stone in my hand, I take heart in the ancient truth that functional families, close friendships, and coalitions of decency with other religions and peoples have the capacity to sustain us, that historical perspective is a balm to mind, heart, and soul, and that pragmatic, sure, and visionary leadership is a hedge against societal chaos and an opportunity to seek the fulfillment of our people’s and nation’s highest aspirations.”

Should Israel’s Settlers Fear Joe Biden?, Haaretz
Sivan Hirsch-Hoefler and Cas Mudde write, “A Biden administration will end the unprecedented Trump White House access given to the settler movement and their ambitions. But history teaches us that whoever is in power, the settlers keep marching on.”