News Roundup for October 5, 2020

October 5, 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

Jeremy Ben-Ami: Alliance with Israel sometimes means imposing leadership, tough love, St Louis Post-Dispatch
“As senior members of the Israeli security establishment have warned, the current path — in which Israel would rule permanently over millions of Palestinians who lack the right to vote or other basic civil rights — is ultimately disastrous for Israel’s security, for its status as a democracy and for its long-term relationship with the United States. America’s close partnership with Israel has long been based on both nations’ shared security interests and shared democratic values. If Israel’s current leaders continue to pursue permanent occupation and choose a path of endless conflict over one of conflict resolution, they will be undermining both shared commitments.”

Top News and Analysis

As Trump Seeks to Project Strength, Doctors Disclose Alarming Episodes, New York Times
The doctors said that Mr. Trump’s blood oxygen level dropped twice in the two days after he was diagnosed with the coronavirus, requiring medical intervention, and that he had been put on steroids, suggesting his condition might be more serious than initially described. But they insisted that his situation had improved enough since then that he could be released from the hospital as early as Monday.

US Ambassador to Israel: Biden’s Iran policy will be bad for Israel and Gulf states, Axios
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in an interview with an Emirati website that a Biden victory in the November presidential election will lead to a shift in U.S. policy toward Iran that will be bad for Israel and the Gulf countries. Friedman is a political appointee who is very close to President Trump after serving as his lawyer for many years. In the 2016 campaign, Friedman was leading the Trump campaign in Israel and in the U.S. Jewish community. Still, it’s very unusual for a U.S. ambassador to weigh in on U.S. domestic politics during an election campaign.

In Third Week of Lockdown, Israel Shows Tentative Signs of Slowing Coronavirus Spread, Haaretz
Israel’s rate of coronovirus infection – which is among the highest in the world – may be slowing down, according to data from the past few days. But it will take another week or two to see if these preliminary indications reflect a real change.


Israelis persist in rallies against PM despite lockdown, AP
Tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated in hundreds of locations across Israel against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pressing ahead with their campaign against the Israeli leader on Saturday night after the government banned large, centralized demonstrations as part of a new coronavirus lockdown.

Blue and White MK says growing group within party favors breaking with Netanyahu, Times of Israel
A Blue and White lawmaker said Sunday that a growing number of lawmakers in Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s party were considering dissolving the partnership with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, which would topple the government and likely result in the fourth national election since April 2019.

Keith Ellison, first Muslim elected to Congress, to speak at Rabin memorial snubbed by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, JTA
Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general and a leader of Democratic Party progressives, will join an Americans for Peace Now memorial event marking the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

Dismissing MK’s comment, Blue and White members signal coalition to stay intact, Times of Israel
Blue and White on Sunday night appeared to distance itself from a party member’s remark that a growing group within the party of Defense Minister Benny Gantz favors ending its partnership with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, a move that would topple the current unity government.

De-facto freeze broken, IDF to approve new West Bank settler homes, The Jerusalem Post
The Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria is set to approve and advance new homes in at least 25 West Bank settlements on October 14, thereby breaking the eight month de-facto freeze on such action.

Iran president says ‘no’ to pre-election deal with Trump, Al-Monitor
Despite an official line of indifference toward US election results, Iranian authorities are closely monitoring the race from Tehran.

House overwhelmingly passes resolution condemning QAnon, including for its anti-Semitism, JTA
Reps. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., and Denver Riggleman, R-Va., sponsored the measure, which “condemns QAnon and rejects the conspiracy theories it promotes.” Its preamble says that “many QAnon followers express anti-Semitic views, and the Anti-Defamation League has said that the movement’s central conspiracy theory includes anti-Semitic elements.”

Palestinian Authority targets Dahlan’s supporters in West Bank, Al-Monitor
Supporters of the exiled Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan appear to be taking the brunt of the Fatah leadership’s anger, with rounds of political arrests.

New York City to shut down 9 neighborhoods, many with large Orthodox populations, due to COVID case spike, JTA
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday that the city will re-impose a COVID lockdown, which will include the closing of schools and nonessential businesses, in several neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish populations. The city had just opened all public schools this past week.

Opinion and Analysis

Lockdown Feels Pretty Different the Second Time Around, New York Times
Ruth Margalit writes, “Israel has become the first country to reimpose a full national lockdown. This one is nothing like the first.”

The Point of No Return: The 2020 Election and the Crisis of American Foreign Policy, The Lowy Institute
Thomas Wright writes, “In each of the four areas — China, cooperation among democracies, foreign economic policy, and the Middle East — the debate is between those who see little reason to change the principal assumptions underpinning Obama’s approach, and those who do. Some of this divide is generational, although the lines can be blurred. The reformers tend to have the urgency of a group that believes the world is slipping away and can only be salvaged with major changes in approach, not just from Trump, but from Obama too. Both approaches are compatible with Biden’s worldview. Restorationists and reformers are both likely to be represented in his administration and he will adjudicate between them.”

US media talks a lot about Palestinians — just without Palestinians, +972 Mag
Mahar Nassar writes, “Although major U.S. newspapers hosted thousands of opinion pieces on Israel-Palestine over 50 years, hardly any were actually written by Palestinians.”

How Israel is destroying Palestinian livelihoods, Washington Post
Mary Post writes, “Palestinian farmers are not permitted to dig wells, unlike the Israeli settlements, and the natural springs traditionally used have dried up because of the pumping of the aquifers. Palestinians cannot buy water from the Israeli water company. As the article pointed out, the cutting up of the West Bank into numerous areas prevents the Palestinian Authority from distributing what water it does control from wet areas to dry. “

Israel Never Had a More Chaotic, Miserable Government. It’s Exactly Why It May Survive, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “In a long history of unhappy coalitions, Israel has never had a more chaotic and miserable government than this one. But it could end up having better survival prospects than anyone thinks.”

Naftali Bennett’s secret to power: He is not Netanyahu, Al Jazeera
Akiva Eldar writes, “Yamina, a reincarnation of the New Right party led by Bennett and his partner, Knesset member Ayelet Shaked, garnered fewer than 140,000 votes in the April 2019 elections and failed to make it to the Knesset. So how is it now commanding the support of more than 700,000 eligible voters?”