News Roundup for October 22, 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

Jewish swing-state voters support Biden in higher numbers than Clinton: poll, Forward
“Jewish voters in the crucial swing states of Pennsylvania and Florida overwhelmingly favor Democrat Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential election, according to a poll released Wednesday by J Street….While Jewish voters have historically supported Democrats candidates, the J Street poll shows an improvement for Democrats compared to 2016, when the organization’s exit polling found Democrat Hillary Clinton received 68 percent of the Jewish vote in Florida. ‘After four years of constant refrains from Donald Trump and the Republican Jewish Coalition about how he’s the most pro-Israel president ever and Jewish voters should flock to him, we’re seeing the exact opposite,’ J Street spokesman Logan Bayroff said in an interview.”

In battleground states, American Jews prefer Biden over Trump by a wide margin, Religious News Service
“A pair of surveys of likely Jewish voters in two key battleground states shows that former Vice President Joe Biden has a massive lead over President Donald Trump in the upcoming elections. The surveys, conducted for J Street, a liberal pro-Israel advocacy group, by GBAO, also suggest Biden is more trusted among American Jews on a host of domestic and foreign issues, including Israel….’The only movement you will find from 2016 and 2018 to today is that Jewish voters are abandoning Donald Trump and moving even more into the Democratic column and into supporting Joe Biden,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, on a call with reporters Wednesday. ‘This is a consistent pattern.’”

Biden Holds Big Lead Over Trump With Florida, Pennsylvania Jews, Poll Shows, Haaretz
“On Wednesday, the progressive Jewish group J Street released two polls of Jewish voters in the battleground states. In Florida, 73 percent of respondents said they were voting for Biden and 22 percent said they were voting for Trump. In Pennsylvania, 75 percent said they were voting for Biden and 22 percent said they were voting for Trump….Biden enjoys a massive advantage over Trump among the survey respondents over the question of who would better handle COVID-19, as well as on the issue of combatting antisemitism in the United States and keeping Jewish communities safe.”

Poll: Biden holds massive lead over Trump among Jewish voters in Florida, Palm Beach Post
“The findings show that Trump’s efforts to strengthen political, military and cultural ties with Israel, including moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, have done little to win over Jewish voters, according to J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami….“Once again, the notion that American Jews make their voting decisions based on Israel — and that they support right-leaning Middle East policies — is proving to be a total myth,” said Ben-Ami. “No matter how many times he claims to be the ‘most pro-Israel president’ ever, Trump is facing a tidal wave of fierce opposition from American Jews in Florida, in Pennsylvania and across the country.”

Top News and Analysis

U.S. Says Iran and Russia Obtained Americans Data for Election Meddling, NY Magazine
“The U.S. government on Wednesday publicly accused Russia and Iran of separately interfering in the 2020 election, using information they each obtained on American voters. Tehran is specifically accused of threatening Democratic voters in four states by sending emails that claimed to be from the Proud Boys, the Trump-supporting far-right group. Moscow, authorities said, obtained voter information just as they had during the 2016 election. Authorities did not detail what Russia has allegedly done to influence Americans’ votes.”

U.S. weighs labeling leading human rights groups ‘anti-Semitic’, Politico
“The Trump administration is considering declaring that several prominent international NGOs — including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam — are anti-Semitic and that governments should not support them, two people familiar with the issue said. The proposed declaration could come from the State Department as soon as this week. If the declaration happens, it is likely to cause an uproar among civil society groups and might spur litigation. Critics of the possible move also worry it could lead other governments to further crack down on such groups. The groups named, meanwhile, deny any allegations that they are anti-Semitic. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is pushing for the declaration, according to a congressional aide with contacts inside the State Department. Pompeo is eyeing a future presidential run and has taken a number of steps to gain favor with pro-Israel and evangelical voters who make up a key part of Trump’s electoral base.”

Knesset Legal Experts Justify Annulling Probe Into Netanyhau’s Submarine Affair, Haaretz
“Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin of Likud annulled a Knesset vote on Wednesday that approved a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the so-called submarine affair. The affair centers around claims that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu interevened to buy more submarines from Germany, against the security establishment’s position….Later on Wednesday, the Knesset’s legal adviser said Levin acted legally when he annulled the vote.”


Monitor claims 3 pro-Iran fighters killed in alleged Israeli strike in Syria, Times of Israel
Three Iran-backed paramilitary fighters were killed in an overnight Israeli strike that hit Syria’s southern province of Quneitra, a war monitor said Wednesday.

Settler Violence Against Palestinians Increases During Annual Olive Harvest, Haaretz
Israeli authorities have documented five violent assaults against Palestinians and the destruction of 62 olive trees during the first week of the olive harvest, according to data obtained by Haaretz. The Yesh Din human rights organization reported 25 incidents linked to the annual harvest since it began earlier this October, including assaults, the destruction of trees, and thefts.

Citing rights abuses, House Democrats push administration to snub Saudi-hosted G-20 summit, Al-Monitor
As Saudi Arabia gears up to host the Group of 20 next month, a group of House Democrats is urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to withdraw the United States from the annual summit in protest of the kingdom’s dismal human rights record. A letter signed by more than 40 members of Congress describes Saudi Arabia as “an unfit and inappropriate” host and calls on Pompeo to make progress on human reforms a condition for US participation in this year’s meeting of major world economies.

Opinion and Analysis

A State Department Memo Suggests It’s About to Accuse Prominent Human Rights Groups of “Anti-Semitism”, Mother Jones
Dan Spinelli reports, “The move, first reported by Politico, is coming out of the office of Elan Carr, the special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism. A report from his office reportedly criticizes these groups, which include Amnesty International and Oxfam, for their perceived involvement in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, a campaign to put economic pressure on Israel to end its West Bank settlements and change its policies toward Palestinians….A State Department official familiar with the planning said that the report focuses on an effort by several NGOs to encourage the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to release a database of businesses “engaged in listed activities related to Israel’s settlement enterprise,” as required by a 2016 UN resolution.”

With anti-Palestinian Hostility Surging, Can Israel’s Peace Camp Find Allies in the Gulf?, Haaretz
Katie Wachsberger writes, “To engage with this new reality, and ensure its relevance and influence, the Israeli peace camp – Israeli and joint Israeli-Palestinian initiatives that work towards ending the occupation and promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians – needs to upgrade its understanding of the Gulf, its external and domestic politics, its civil society, how the issues of the occupation and Palestinian rights plays out in those societies, and how to build common ground. What local needs and interests intersect with the peace camp’s goals? Can Israeli groups effectively engage with Gulf partners without compromising their own liberal democratic values, or jeopardizing the credibility of those Arab partners?