News Roundup for November 20, 2020

November 20, 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

Pompeo sets off debate on boycott of Israel, calling it an anti-Semitic ‘cancer’, Washington Post
“‘The Trump administration is clearly using the lame-duck period to help Israeli settlers erase the distinction between Israel proper and the territory it occupies while making it harder to create an independent Palestinian state and resolve the conflict,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a liberal group that describes itself as pro-Israel and pro-peace. ‘Yet nothing the secretary of state says or does will prevent the new administration from reinstating strong U.S. opposition to occupation, illegal settlement expansion and creeping annexation in the West Bank.’”

What a Biden win means for Israel’s vehemently pro-Trump prime minister, LA Times
“‘There are some physical manifestations of this [Trump] era that can’t be reversed,’ acknowledged Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the liberal U.S. Jewish advocacy group J Street. But as far as a U.S.-condoned free rein for Netanyahu’s agenda goes, he said, ‘the party’s over.’”

White House speechwriter fired for attending white supremacist conference appointed to committee protecting Holocaust sites, Independent
“Logan Boroff, communications director for progressive Jewish lobbying group J Street, said the appointment was ‘appalling.’ – ‘It’s appalling that someone who was considered too close to xenophobic white nationalists to continue working in the Trump White House would now be appointed to a US government body focused largely on the preservation of sites dedicated to the memory of Holocaust victims,’ he told Yahoo News.”

Eyeing simpatico White House, J Street readies to lobby for Iran deal reentry, Times of Israel
“While there may be slight differences between the liberal lobby’s positions and those taken by President-elect Joe Biden, the two largely speak the same language when it comes to Israel as well as broader Middle East issues. J Street endorsed Biden and the candidate met with the group during the campaign, as he did several times as vice president […] ‘It’s nice to be having conversations with a group of people to who are on their way to having positions of power,’ J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami told The Times of Israel in a Tuesday interview. ‘Instead of just schmoozing, these are conversations about how we can impact actual policy.’”

Top News and Analysis

Biden condemns Trump as one of the ‘most irresponsible presidents in American history’, The Guardian
President-elect Joe Biden has denounced Donald Trump as one of the “most irresponsible presidents in American history,” calling the incumbent president’s challenges against the results of the November election “incredibly damaging”. Speaking after a call with state governors on Thursday, Biden said he was not concerned that Trump’s refusal to concede the election would prevent a transfer of power, but said it “sends a horrible message about who we are as a country”.

To reestablish trust in America, Biden must start with Israel, The Forward
Abe Silberstein writes, “In demonstrating to the world the value of America’s global role, Washington can do nothing worse than establish a naked double standard for its allies. This does not mean the U.S.-Israel relationship itself undermines America’s image; it absolutely does not. But Israel’s settlement project does run counter to the values we wish to project, and serves no discernible American national security interest that would justify the Trump administration’s unprecedented actions.”

Republicans Supporting Trump, Remember: Lies Have a Long Half-Life, New York Times
The Editorial Board writes, “The president’s raging against reality is putting American lives at risk. The nation is in the grips of a generational economic collapse and shot through with a pandemic that has already killed more than a quarter million Americans and is on track to fell another 70,000 by Inauguration Day. Mr. Trump is refusing to allow the Biden transition team to gain access to national security briefings or details on the government’s pandemic response.”


Mike Pompeo backs West Bank settlements in landmark visit, Deutsche Welle
The secretary of state said he supports guidelines for Israeli products made in settlements to be labelled “Made in Israel” or “Product of Israel” when imported to the US. The move would remove the distinction between products made within Israel and those produced in occupied territory.

Pompeo makes unprecedented Golan Heights visit: ‘This is Israel’, Times of Israel
Mike Pompeo on Thursday became the first US secretary of state to visit the Golan Heights since Washington recognized Israeli sovereignty over the plateau last year.

Pompeo visits Israel museum honoring Christian Zionists, AP
The museum visit came a day after Pompeo became the first secretary of state to visit an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. He also announced a new policy allowing settlement products exported to the U.S. to be labeled “made in Israel” and a new initiative to combat the Palestinian-led international boycott movement.

UN Votes Overwhelmingly in Support of Palestinian Self-determination, Haaretz
A United Nations General Assembly committee endorsed on Thursday by an overwhelming majority a draft resolution recognizing “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine.” 163 states voted in favor, including Canada, where Jewish groups were split between condemning the government’s decision to vote in favor and applauding it. Only five states – Israel, the United States, Micronesia, Nauru and the Marshall Islands – voted against the draft resolution, while Australia, Rwanda and eight others abstained.

Trump administration to name political appointee with ties to Israel’s right wing to Middle East development post, JTA
The Trump administration has chosen the first leader of a U.S. investment fund aimed at advancing Israeli-Arab peace: a right-wing rabbi who once raised funds for an Israeli political group so extreme that even prominent pro-Israel leaders have cut off ties.

With dye dripping down cheeks, Giuliani pushes conspiracies at bizarre presser, AFP
With hair dye streaming down his cheeks and Donald Trump watching on television, the US president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani unleashed eyebrow-raising claims Thursday that George Soros, China and a dead Venezuelan dictator conspired with Democratic “crooks” to hand the election to Joe Biden.

Gantz to Oppose Netanyahu’s anti-Arab Pick for Yad Vashem Chairman, Haaretz
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, leader of Kahol Lavan, intends to oppose the appointment of Effi Eitam, the anti-Arab former Israeli politician and military commander, to the top job at Yad Vashem, knowledgeable sources told Haaretz on Thursday.

Georgia’s Senate candidates run as dynamic duos. Will it work?, LA Times
As a rare duo runoff election for two Senate seats unfolds in Georgia, Warnock and Ossoff have essentially become running mates, their fates tied together as they try to persuade voters to send them — not the two Republican incumbent Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — to Washington.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump and Pompeo embrace Israel’s one-state reality, Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid the capstone this week on the Trump administration’s four-year ideological project in Israel. Pompeo made an unprecedented visit to settlements located in the West Bank and the Golan Heights, marking the first time a U.S. secretary of state has appeared at such sites, which much of the world views as illegal and, in many instances, a direct obstacle to a viable Palestinian state.”

Biden faces mounting hurdles on path to rejoin Iran deal, The Hill
Rebecca Kheel and Laura Kelly write, “President-elect Joe Biden is facing mounting hurdles to reenter the Iran nuclear deal as the Trump administration uses its final days in office to try to cement its so-called maximum pressure campaign against Tehran. With just two months left in his presidency, President Trump is levying more sanctions and selling weapons to Iran’s enemies. He also reportedly even considered military action after international inspectors confirmed Iran’s supply of nuclear fuel has swelled since Trump withdrew from the deal.”

Latest tunnel was Hamas’s deepest; it’s not what worries Israel most about Gaza, Times of Israel
Judah Ari Gross writes, “The IDF regards the Strip as calm for now, but a perpetual potential powder keg, and Southern Command deems most rounds of fighting in past 2.5 years to have been failures.”