News Roundup for October 15, 2020

October 8, 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

J Street Alarmed by GOP Candidates Affiliating With QAnon, Weaponizing Conspiracy Theories, J Street
“J Street is alarmed and appalled that a number of Republican congressional candidates, with the support of official Republican campaign committees, have associated themselves with the extremist QAnon movement and sought to weaponize dangerous conspiracy theories against their political opponents. There are now close to a dozen Republican candidates who have either amplified QAnon conspiracy theories or openly embraced the movement. The FBI has labeled QAnon a domestic terror threat, and the Anti-Defamation League has noted that it has ‘marked undertones of antisemitism and xenophobia.’”

Chevy Chase pol, J Street founder tapped to direct American Jewish Congress, Washington Jewish Week
“A Chevy Chase Council member, former congressional staffer and top State Department official, Rubin is steeped in the liberal wing of the pro-Israel movement and is one of the founders of J Street, the liberal Middle East lobby. In a statement, Rosen suggested that a progressive like Rubin would reach younger Jews likely to be as exercised by social justice issues as they are by Israel.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel gives the green light to over 2,000 settlement homes, AP
Israeli authorities on Wednesday advanced plans to build over 2,100 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, pressing ahead with a building boom that has gained steam during the presidency of Donald Trump. The approval raised the number of settlement homes to be advanced this year to nearly 9,500, according to a settlement watchdog group, by far the highest number of approvals since Trump took office in early 2017. The Civil Administration’s higher planning council, the defense body that grants the approvals, is set to meet again on Thursday, meaning that figure could go even higher […] “This is de facto annexation,” said Brian Reeves, a spokesman for Peace Now. “We will continue to feel the effects of this when construction begins,” he said, regardless of who wins next month’s presidential election.

Trump struggles to mount clear closing argument against Biden, careening toward Election Day with disjointed message, Washington Post
Less than three weeks before Election Day, President Trump’s lack of a consistent and coherent closing argument is alarming some Republicans, raising fears among his allies that his undisciplined approach to campaigning could render him a one-term president. With more than 10 million Americans already casting their ballots and millions more beginning to tune in to the race, Trump is engaged in a frenetic attempt to define his Democratic rival Joe Biden, win over skeptical voters and delegitimize the election results if he is unsuccessful. In the final stretch of the race, a trio of long-standing challenges have converged to create a daunting barrier to Trump’s reelection: the inability to drag down Biden’s favorability ratings, the lack of a clearly articulated ­second-term agenda, and a pandemic that continues to upend American life.

As cases drop to 2,000, virus czar says threshold for easing lockdown is close, Times of Israel
Ronni Gamzu, the leader of the government’s efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak, estimated on Thursday that infection rates in Israel could reach the threshold for easing some lockdown restrictions in the coming days, while warning that the current downward trend could still be reversed and that it was too early to draw definite conclusions.


Al Gross, Jewish doctor who killed a bear, has raised $9M in Alaska’s tight Senate race, JTA
Al Gross, the Jewish Alaska physician running to defeat incumbent Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan, raised an eye-popping $9.1 million in the last quarter, funds fueled in part by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Continued Lockdown on Red Zones, Reopening Schools at Heart of Israel’s Crucial COVID Cabinet Meeting, Haaretz
The coronavirus cabinet will meet Thursday to discuss strategy for ending the lockdown that began September 25. Infections rates have begun to decline, and pressure for an accelerated exit has been mounting.

Israel approves first West Bank settler homes since suspending annexation, Deutsche Welle
Israel has given the green light for new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, ending an eight-month lull in settlement expansion. The decision has dealt another blow to hopes of a wider Israeli-Arab peace deal.

Israel and Lebanon Begin Talks on Sea Border, With U.S. as Mediator, New York Times
Lebanon and Israel kicked off their first negotiations in 30 years on nonsecurity issues, aiming to end a long-running dispute over their maritime border in the gas-rich Mediterranean Sea.

Amy Coney Barrett may threaten access to IVF, and Jewish fertility advocates are worried, The Forward
When does life actually begin? Some conservatives — Supreme Court Justice candidate Amy Coney Barett among them — believe that it begins at fertilization. That poses a potential challenge not only to abortion advocates, but to the one in eight American couples suffering infertility in America — and many Jewish organizations and fertility advocates are concerned about Coney Barrett’s stance on IVF (in vitro fertilization).

Ginni Thomas, activist and Supreme Court justice’s wife, says George Soros’ family ‘is really running the Democrat Party’, JTA
A caption reads, “Who is really running the Democrat Party? …The Soros family. The original post also says, “George Soros is training his family to carry on his evil legacy…”

Jewish candidate’s signs vandalized in Rockland County, The Forward
The vandalized signs, spray-painted with phrases like “Nazi lover” were found in the towns of Monsey, Suffern and Nyack. Eisen is the son of a Holocaust survivor.

Registration, lawyers and patience: How Jewish groups are protecting voting access in 2020, JTA
“The goal is really to register disenfranchised voters, specifically minority communities where access to proper information on voting access, to voter education, all the stuff that you need to be informed, and really to vote in general is really at an all-time low,” said Sarah Walters, the federation’s community relations director.

Israeli policy of bombing crowded areas in Gaza takes fresh toll: head injuries in two children and damage to homes, B’Tselem
The Israeli military has reported that over three weeks, from 6 to 31 August 2020, it attacked more than 100 targets in the Gaza Strip using tanks and airplanes. During that time, Palestinians fired rockets at Israel and sent incendiary and explosive balloons into its territory. The UN listed one Israeli and five Palestinians – four minors and a woman – injured in these incidents. The Israeli attacks also lightly damaged a school and six houses in Gaza.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s pact with the UAE is not about peace. It’s a business deal, The Guardian
Sami Abu Shehadeh writes, “Palestinian homes are still being demolished and illegal settlements expanded. That’s why tomorrow I’ll be voting against the agreement in the Knesset.”

Endless warnings of Gaza’s collapse are why we’re failing to prevent it, +972 Mag
Yara M. Asi writes, “The strip’s rehabilitation already demanded ‘herculean efforts.’ With the spread of COVID-19, action is imperative.”

Why the UAE deal is not ‘peacemaking’, The Forward
Mae Elise Cannon writes, “Israel’s normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which its Parliament is scheduled to approve on Thursday, was termed ‘peacemaking’ by the Trump administration that mediated it, and all involved seek credit for being peacemakers. In reality, these deals could lead to increased arms sales, more violence in the Middle East, and the perpetuation of the ongoing military occupation of the Palestinian people.”

Normalization cannot silence Arab resistance forever, +972 Mag
Samah Salaime writes, “Israel will one day have to face Arab opposition to its alliances with dictators who care little for the people under their rule.”

Netanyahu’s Opponents on the Right Are Getting Stronger, and They Could Take Him Down, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party is soaring in the polls, but stitching together an alternative coalition will prove more challenging.”