News Roundup for October 28, 2020

October 28, 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.

Top News and Analysis

‘Trump Encourages It’: Pittsburgh Jews Still Fear Far-right Violence, Two Years After Massacre, Haaretz
Many Jews in the neighborhood now have another statement to make: President Donald Trump’s rhetoric at the time and failure to condemn white supremacy contributed to the attack and they vow to vote him out of office next Tuesday on Election Day.

Israel to okay permits for 31 settler homes in Hebron — watchdog, Times of Israel
Israel is set to approve construction of settler homes in a flashpoint area of the West Bank city of Hebron for the first time since 2002, the anti-occupation group Peace Now said Tuesday.

With or without flights to Abu Dhabi, Israel annexed the West Bank long ago, B’Tselem
B’Tselem writes, “As part of its normalization of ties with the United Arab Emirates, Israel has decided, at least for the time being, not to officially annex the West Bank – and remain with the de-facto annexation already in place. The uproar over official annexation subsided, the international community has breathed a sigh of relief, and the Palestinians remain oppressed under occupation, while Israel continues to establish facts on the ground without paying any price.”


Israel looks to far-right figure to head Holocaust memorial, AP
Israel plans to nominate a far-right former general and Cabinet minister who once called for the expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank to head the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, officials said Tuesday.

Holocaust survivors are angry that a far-right politician has been nominated to lead Yad Vashem, JTA
Israeli Holocaust survivor organizations are calling the man nominated to lead the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum “unfit” for the job.

Trump supporters rally at US Embassy in Jerusalem, AP
A convoy of cars decorated with American flags and Trump 2020 banners on Tuesday drove from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, holding a rally outside the U.S. Embassy in support of the American president ahead of next week’s election.

Trump Says ‘We Have 10’ Countries Waiting to Join Israeli-Arab Deals After U.S. Election, Haaretz
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that up to 10 more countries will normalize ties with Israel, following agreements and declarations secured from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

UN watchdog: Iran building at underground nuclear facility, AP
Inspectors from the U.N.’s atomic watchdog have confirmed Iran has started building an underground centrifuge assembly plant after its previous one exploded in what Tehran called a sabotage attack over the summer, the agency’s head told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Bipartisan House bill will encourage US to sell bunker buster bombs to Israel, Times of Israel
Bipartisan legislation will be introduced in Congress this week requiring the US Department of Defense to consider selling Israel bunker-buster bombs capable of penetrating heavily fortified underground infrastructure, one of the bill’s co-sponsors announced Tuesday.

Hamas releases Palestinian peace activists arrested after Zoom call with Israelis, Reuters
Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas convicted three Palestinian peace activists of “weakening revolutionary spirit” for having held a Zoom call with Israelis peace campaigners, but ordered the release of two of them after six months in jail.

From Israel to the U.S., Deepfake Videos Are Becoming a Major Threat to Democracy, Haaretz
AI-generated images, audio and video are increasingly affecting our ability to separate fact from fiction in the political sphere. Today, Donald Trump could plausibly deny the infamous ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, one expert warns.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s Repressive Diplomacy, Jewish Currents
Peter Beinart writes, “Twelve days after the Abraham Accords were signed, a poet named Dhabiya Khamis tried to exercise her freedom to leave the UAE. Her government barred her from boarding the plane. ‘The ban is probably because of my announced opinion against Zionism and normalization,’ Khamis declared. ‘I fear for my freedom and life from being threatened and arrested.’ Those fears were well-founded. According to a report in Middle East Monitor, ‘scores of Emiratis, Palestinians and Jordanians living in the UAE’ had already been jailed ‘for opposing Abu-Dhabi’s peace deal with Israel.’”

What does a Trump or Biden presidency mean for Israel and Palestine?, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs
Khaled Elgindy writes, “The U.S. presidential election on November 3 promises to be one of the most consequential in recent memory, with far reaching implications for Americans and the global community alike. Insofar as Israelis and Palestinians are concerned, the differences between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger former Vice-President Joe Biden could not be more stark. In his distinctly iconoclastic approach to the conflict, Trump has upended one sacred pillar of international diplomacy after another, including the long-cherished goal of two states for two peoples in Israel and Palestine and the very principles that undergird it. For his part, Biden has pledged to reverse the most destructive of these policies in a bid to salvage what remains of a two-state solution and restore U.S.-Palestinian relations. “

Israelis Who Pillage Palestinian Olive Harvesters Are Not My Brothers, Haaretz
Michael Sfard writes, “In recent years, Israeli and Palestinian rights groups have made a breakthrough discovery that may one day earn them a Nobel Prize in physics. Their researchers have observed that along with the speed of light and the laws of gravity, nature has given us two more universal physical constants: despicable settler criminality, which surges during the olive harvest, and collaboration by Israeli law enforcement that just lets it happen.”

In the U.S. and Israel, voter suppression is the ruling parties’ game plan, +972 Mag
Mitchell Plitnick writes, “Trump’s attempts to intimidate voters speaks volumes about the anti-democratic strategies shared by right-wing forces around the world.”