News Roundup for November 25, 2020

November 25, 2020

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J Street in the News

Will Biden Undo Trump’s Disastrous Legacy on Israel/Palestine?, Jewish Currents
“‘Almost all of this can be easily undone early on in a Biden administration by executive action,’ said Dylan Williams, head of policy at J Street. Williams said a Biden administration could immediately repudiate Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ peace plan and reiterate its opposition to unilateral annexation of territory. ‘It could and should revoke the ‘Pompeo Doctrine’’—open US support for Israeli annexation of the West Bank—’and reinstate the longstanding State Department legal opinion that settlements are illegal under international law.’ Williams added that Biden’s State Department could also reinstate the previous US customs guidelines on labeling of products from the West Bank, refuse to fund joint scientific research projects in settlements, and once again refer to Israel’s ‘occupation’ in their reports […] When asked what J Street’s top priority will be after January 20, Williams replied that it would be ‘restoring and building on the Iran deal,’ which Biden has made clear he wants to rejoin, and which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is already lobbying against.”

Letter to the Editor, Atlanta Jewish Times
J Street Atlanta’s Scott Rafshoon and Joe Sterling write, “To summarize Ms. Cohen’s assertion, J-Street backs concessions to terrorists, supports anti-Semitic lawmakers, hangs out with the BDS crowd and traffics in anti-Israel rhetoric and actions. Nope. Nope. Nope. And nope […] We encourage you to explore J Street’s information-filled website, Read its writings and probe its actions. Watch its webinars. We want everyone to scan the names of the clergy, academics, artists, diplomats, community leaders and former military commanders who back J Street. Its supporters hail from across the spectrum of the Jewish world — Israelis and Americans. These include former Israeli government officials and American diplomats and business executives. Check out the dozens of honorable and talented candidates J Street has endorsed, including Senate candidate Jon Ossoff and Representative-elect Carolyn Bourdeaux in metro Atlanta. J Street endorsed Joe Biden earlier this year and Biden, now the president-elect, accepted the endorsement.”

Top News and Analysis

Biden can clean up Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian policy mess, but can he broker peace?, NBC News
Martin Indyk writes, “The first priority is to repair the damage wrought by the Trump administration. Trump’s “deal” should be taken off the table when he departs the White House. Relations should be restored with the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, which were severed in the wake of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. U.S. aid to projects that provide vital support to the Palestinian people should be revived. The U.S. Embassy should stay in Jerusalem, Israel’s designated capital, but Biden should declare that he also recognizes that Palestinians aspire to have the capital of their state in East Jerusalem. Second, Biden should reassert the basic principles of U.S. policy toward resolving the conflict, some of which are enshrined in U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which both sides have accepted. These principles include: the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force; the need for Israeli withdrawal to secure and recognized borders based on the 1967 lines; condemnation of all forms of violence, terrorism and incitement; and opposition to unilateral acts, including annexation and settlement expansion.”

Labeling Israeli products, or formalizing theft of Palestinian land?, Brookings
Salam Fayyad writes, “On November 19, the U.S. Department of State issued a press statement with the stated objective of announcing new guidelines on country of origin markings for Israeli and Palestinian goods. At issue in the first instance was the intent to do away with a longstanding U.S. policy that required products of Israeli settlements to be labeled as West Bank products […] An early annulment of this policy — the most recent in a long series of transgressions away from norms — would go a long way toward imparting credibility to a much-needed restoration. Indeed, it should also be compelled by the Democratic Party’s endorsement of the two-state solution, and the importance that President-Elect Biden has consistently attached to preserving the viability of that solution concept.”


Djibouti: Ties with Israel only after peace gesture to Palestinians, The Jerusalem Post
“We take issue with the Israeli government because they’re denying Palestinians their inalienable rights,” President Ismail Omar Guelleh said. “All we ask that the government do is make one gesture of peace, and we will make 10 in return. But I’m afraid they’ll never do that.” Guelleh added that his country does not have an issue with Jews or Israeli people more broadly.

Columbus Jewish couple say they were victims of anti-Semitic hate crime by their neighbor, JTA
A Jewish couple in Columbus say their neighbor yelled anti-Semitic threats at them and threw rocks through their window on the day that Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election.

In Georgia Senate runoffs, the focus — and the fire — is on Raphael Warnock, Washington Post
“Georgia is positioned to do a marvelous thing,” Warnock told the crowd. “Send a young Jewish man, the son of immigrants, who sat at the feet of Congressman John Lewis, and a kid who grew up in the public-housing projects of Savannah, Georgia, the pastor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, to the United States Senate at the same time.”

‘We can’t trust foreigners’: Khamenei warns against hopes of ‘opening’ with West, AFP
At a meeting with Rouhani, parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and judicial chief Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “we can’t trust foreigners and hope for an opening on their part.” – “We tried to lift sanctions once and negotiated for several years, but to no avail,” his office quoted him as saying, in reference to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

World Bank: Palestinian economy to contract 8% in 2020, AP
The report showed how the pandemic has accelerated the trends of sluggish growth and high unemployment plaguing the Palestinian economy in recent years. After clashing with the Trump administration, which cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, the Palestinians are hopeful that improved ties with the incoming Biden administration will help give a lift to the economy.

After Trump, what’s next for the West’s far right?, Washington Post
“With Trump gone, populist politicians will not only enjoy less domestic legitimacy; governments will face a higher international price for nationalist stances,” wrote Philippe Legrain, a former economic adviser to the president of the European Commission.

Kosher hotels and authoritarianism: Israelis see attraction in easy UAE travel, but some have concerns, JTA
Some Israelis are wary of patronizing a constitutional monarchy known for its repression of civil liberties. According to a report this year by Human Rights Watch, freedom of expression in the UAE is limited and “especially in cases related to state security, individuals were at serious risk of arbitrary and incommunicado detention, torture, and ill-treatment, prolonged solitary confinement, and denial of access to legal assistance.”

Border Police cop injured in alleged car-ramming by settler at extremist outpost, Times of Israel
A Border Police officer was lightly injured early Wednesday when a resident of the hardline settlement of Yitzhar hit him while trying to force his way into the nearby illegal outpost of Kumi Ori in the West Bank, police said in a statement.

‘Who’s not going to go?’: NY Hasidic Jews continue to hold large weddings despite COVID rules, JTA
This week, the New York Post reported about a Satmar wedding — of one of Teitelbaum’s grandsons — that was organized and held in secret earlier this month in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with thousands in attendance. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the plans “totally deceitful” and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the synagogue that hosted the wedding would be fined $15,000. (De Blasio told the Post on Tuesday that New York was a “big city” in explaining why the city didn’t catch on to the wedding.)

Opinion and Analysis

Inside Trump and Netanyahu’s ‘end of season’ settlement bonanza, +972 Mag
Daniel Seidemann writes, “Amid ongoing political instability in the US, Israel is advancing ‘doomsday’ settlements in East Jerusalem that would devastate prospects for a future peace deal.”