News Roundup for October 9, 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

Harris’ Iran Comment Is Shot Across Netanyahu’s Bow in Advance of Biden’s Looming Victory, Haaretz
“Netanyahu will no longer be able to rely on the unyielding support of Sheldon Adelson and the evangelicals, who will lose their grip on the presidency overnight. He is likely to win back the allegiance of AIPAC, despite abandoning it in favor of evangelicals, but will likely find himself at odds with a newly confident and doubly influential J Street, the left-leaning lobby that Netanyahu has boycotted and fought since its inception in 2007.”

Trump’s Cruel New Sanctions on Iran Are Morally Reprehensible and Strategically Harmful, J Street
“The Trump administration’s decision to impose new sanctions that will sweep in Iranian banks facilitating trade in medical supplies and other humanitarian goods is morally reprehensible and harms both ordinary Iranians and US security interests. This is the latest misstep in the president’s belligerent anti-diplomacy campaign that has resulted in Iran being closer to a nuclear weapon, left Iranian hardliners more empowered and placed US troops and allies in the region under greater threat.”

Top News and Analysis

Officials fear violence on Election Day. Some worry it could target the Jews, JTA
Ryan Greer used to spend his days trying to prevent people from becoming radicalized and joining ISIS. Now he and several former colleagues who used to work on combating foreign terrorism are paying attention to a threat closer to home: White supremacist violence in the United States. As Election Day nears, Greer sees that threat as growing ever more urgent. Right-wing extremist groups see the Nov. 3 election as an “apocalyptic moment” where the country’s fate hangs in the balance, Greer says. And he is concerned that Jews may be among the target of groups prepared to take up arms to ensure that Donald Trump wins the election. “We’re not necessarily predicting that there will be a civil war, but we are very concerned that there will be some violent acts,” said Greer, now the Anti-Defamation League’s director for program assessment and strategy. “As the conspiracy theories become more urgent, many of them may be directed toward Jews.”

US vice presidential candidates debate Iran policy, Al-Monitor
“We were in the Iran nuclear deal with friends, with allies,” said Harris. “And because of Donald Trump’s unilateral approach to foreign policy, coupled with his isolationism, he pulled us out and has made America less safe.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition’s Shocking, Shameful Appeasement of Donald Trump, Haaretz
Eric Yoffie writes, “The Republican Jewish Coalition has lost its ethics, dignity and purpose and became a Sheldon Adelson-backed Jewish community stooge of a demagogue who dog-whistles, loudly, to white supremacists.”


Hundreds of anti-Netanyahu protesters march in Tel Aviv despite virus lockdown, Times of Israel
Hundreds of anti-government protesters marched in Tel Aviv on Thursday night, a day after the government extended an emergency provision that bars public gatherings, including the ongoing demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for another week.

Orthodox Jewish leaders sue to block New York restrictions where covid-19 cases are rising, Washington Post
Sitting in his son’s dining room in the neighborhood of Borough Park on Wednesday, Rapaport said that many people in his community are angry with city officials who allowed massive Black Lives Matter protests but are now cracking down on their religious gatherings.

Amid NYC protests, Orthodox Jews urge new virus-era dialogue, AP
“We need partnership. We need government and the community to work together” on an approach to fighting the virus that can “respect the culture” of the faith, said Rabbi Abe Friedman, an Orthodox leader and law enforcement chaplain in Brooklyn.

Agudath Israel sues Cuomo for restrictions imposed as holy days begin, JTA
Agudath Israel of America, an umbrella body for haredi Orthodox Jews, sued New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in federal court for pandemic restrictions on religious gatherings that the group says are discriminatory coming just ahead of three important holy days.

Ahead of Simchat Torah street parties, mayor says NYPD not sure how to enforce new health rules, The Forward
The New York City Police Department does not know how it will enforce new state restrictions on religious gatherings just days before Simchat Torah, a holiday typically celebrated in Orthodox communities with massive dance parties that spill onto the street.

Top PLO official Saeb Erekat diagnosed with coronavirus, Times of Israel
Senior Palestinian Liberation Organization official Saeb Erekat has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the longtime Palestinian diplomat said on Thursday night.

Jewish Republican donor set to plead guilty to failing to declare himself a foreign agent, JTA
Jho Low, a Malaysian national, paid Elliott Broidy, a former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee and a vice-chairman of the finance committee of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, $6 million to influence a Justice Department investigation into a corruption scandal involving Low, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. Broidy will enter his plea soon, the paper said, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Iranian musicians help out in secret on Israeli singer’s new record, The Guardian
An Israeli singer of Persian heritage is set to release an album she made by working in secret with Iranian musicians, her long-held aspiration for artistic collaboration despite bitter animosity between the two states.

Opinion and Analysis

Why ultra-Orthodox Trump-worshipping Mobs Are Attacking Fellow Jews in New York, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Demagogues like Trump (and Netanyahu) have nothing in common with ultra-Orthodox Jews, but they tap into deep resentments and empower the community’s most charlatan politicians and opportunistic rabble-rousers.”

Rabbis need to do our part to help keep the coronavirus from spreading, Washington Post
Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt writes, “Telling our congregants how to fight the pandemic may not be popular, but we still have to do it.”

The undeniable cruelty of Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran, Responsible Statecraft
Tyler Cullis writes, “The Trump administration calls its policy towards Iran one of ‘maximum pressure.’ By its latest move, it would more properly be called ‘siege and starve,’ as the feigned interest in establishing leverage for comprehensive negotiations with Iran has been replaced by a full-throttle push to pulverize Iran’s economy and collapse its social and economic life.”

The real winners in the Israel-UAE deal? Arms dealers, +972 Mag
Sahar Vardi writes, “The normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates was presented as a peace deal. In reality, it’s a license for weapons manufacturers to expand their customer base.”

When It Comes to COVID, Israel Is Now Divided Into Two Countries, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “On the coronavirus map, Israel is currently divided into two countries: the ultra-Orthodox population, and all the rest. The national rate of positive results from all coronavirus tests has been declining for more than a week, from 15 percent at its peak to 9 percent on Wednesday. When the Haredim are removed from the calculation, the figure goes down to 7 percent. “

The Real Cancel Culture: Pro-Israel Blacklists, The Intercept
Murtaza Hussain writes, “Amid the heated debate about free speech and censorship in the United States, the attacks against pro-Palestine activism stand as a less remarked upon yet much more ruthless type of silencing. Few of the high-profile public intellectuals who have staked claims on the militantly free speech side of the national debate have highlighted the incredible degree of suppression on speech supportive of Palestinian rights — particularly among ordinary people lacking access to elite platforms.”