News Roundup for September 16, 2020

September 16, 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

Israel, U.A.E. and Bahrain Sign Accords, With an Eager Trump Playing Host, New York Times
“‘It’s not conflict resolution and it’s not peace — this is a business deal,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel advocacy group sharply critical of Mr. Netanyahu. ‘It’s very, very clear that there are aligned interests between Israel and these countries — military, security, diplomatic, economic — and those interests have been there for two decades. This formalizes that, but it shouldn’t be overplayed as resolving a core conflict for Israel with its neighbors,’ he added. Israel’s decades-old conflict with the Palestinians, he said, ‘remains unaddressed with this agreement.’ Unmentioned in the official proceedings was the gravitational pull of Iran, which played a key role in bringing the parties together, analysts said.”

US Jewish Groups Divided on Israel’s Trump-brokered Pacts With UAE, Bahrain, Haaretz
“While J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said the signing is ‘good news for all who wish to see a stable and prosperous Israel living in peace and security alongside all of its regional neighbors,’ he noted that it should not be a substitute for diplomacy with the Palestinians. ‘Comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbors in the Arab world will only be achieved through an agreement that resolves the issues at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and leads to the establishment of a viable and independent Palestinian state alongside Israel,’ he said.”

Top News and Analysis

Over 5,500 new coronavirus cases, as government rules to close schools Thursday, The Jerusalem Post
Israel’s school system will close Thursday, the government ruled on Wednesday, as the infection rate hit a peak: 5,523 new cases in a single day. The move came at the request of coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu, who sent a letter to Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Education Minister Yoav Gallant on Tuesday asking them to close schools immediately.

Peace deal or arms race? Proposed sale of F-35 jets to UAE prompts fears in Israel, Washington Post
Ruth Eglash and Karen DeYoung write, “The proposed sale of advanced U.S. fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates is raising concerns among some security experts in Israel that the Middle East could be on the verge of an arms race even as those two countries sign a peace deal Tuesday at the White House. Senior U.S. and UAE officials say the peace agreement is smoothing the way for the Trump administration to proceed with the sale of long-sought F-35 stealth fighter jets and other sophisticated weaponry to the Persian Gulf state. That prospect is increasing the likelihood that Israel and other Middle East countries will in turn seek more advanced arms. In Israel, the proposed sale is tainting the otherwise great enthusiasm here for the agreements brokered by the White House to normalize relations with the UAE and Bahrain as well.”

Agreements indicate UAE and Bahrain are now less pro-Palestinian than Europe, Times of Israel
Raphael Ahren writes, “Officials and analysts familiar with Jerusalem’s clandestine relations with several Arab states have long argued that they don’t really care so much about the Palestinians anymore. In public statements, however, all Arab governments until Tuesday stuck to their dogma and reiterated the need for a Palestinian state based on the 1967-lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a just solution to the refugee problem. Remarkably, however, the agreements the State of Israel signed with the United Arab Emirates and with Bahrain do not echo such calls.”


Trump says he has ‘absolutely no problem’ with selling F-35s to UAE, Times of Israel
US President Donald Trump said Tuesday he has “absolutely no problem” with selling advanced F-35 fighters to the United Arab Emirates, a sale that has been reported to be part of Abu Dhabi’s reasoning for normalizing relations with Israel.

Rockets fired from Gaza at Israel as Israel and UAE sign agreement in Washington, JTA
Rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel on Tuesday during the signing ceremony in Washington, D.C., of the normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Netanyahu greeted at White House by Israeli, pro-Palestinian demonstrators, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was met at the White House on Tuesday by both Israeli anti-corruption protesters and dozens of pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

Palestinians protest Arab normalisation deals with Israel, Al Jazeera
Hundreds of Palestinians protested Tuesday in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, denouncing the Emirati and Bahraini normalisation agreements with Israel as rockets were fired into the country.

Trump threatens ‘1,000 times greater’ response to any attack by Iran, Times of Israel
“According to press reports, Iran may be planning an assassination, or other attack, against the United States in retaliation for the killing of terrorist leader Soleimani,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!” he warned.

Jews have lived in Bahrain for 140 years. The country’s peace deal with Israel changes their lives, JTA
Tuesday’s signing of the agreements called the Abraham Accords is expected to open up routes for collaboration, trade and travel between Bahrain and Israel, which had all been restricted. It will have a significant impact on Bahrain’s Jews, many of whom have relatives in Israel they have not been able to visit.

Fundraiser for Jewish terrorist in Duma attack raises over NIS 500,000 in a day, Times of Israel
An online fundraising appeal for a Jewish Israeli terrorist convicted of killing three members of a Palestinian family has raised over half a million shekels for his appeal in less than a day.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel, the UAE, & Bahrain didn’t sign peace deals, they’re military alliances to counter Iran, Responsible Statecraft
Mitchell Plitnick writes, “Israel’s other historical alliances in the region tell us much about the true value of the deals being struck this week in Washington, and it’s far less than Netanyahu and Trump claim […] Trump’s effort to buy peace with arms sales and a military alliance in a region already devastated by war and on the edge of much more is a losing proposition for everyone concerned.”

Trump and Netanyahu’s Big Fat Fake Peace Deal, Haaretz
Diana Buttu writes, “As a reward for destroying the lives of generations of Palestinians, Israel made ‘peace’ with two Arab states, UAE and Bahrain, whose combined populations are smaller than the Gaza Strip.”

We’re calling for ZOA to be kicked out of Boston’s JCRC, The Forward
Beth Badik and Rabbi Barbara Penzner write, “This is not a step we took lightly. The principle of a big tent — of open debate and inclusivity in our Jewish communal spaces — is something we take very seriously. We have been proud to see this modeled at the Boston JCRC. But if the JCRC’s core mission and principles are to have any meaning, this body cannot continue to include in its membership an organization that flagrantly and deliberately undermines its core beliefs.”

How Israel Became the First Rich Country to Go Into a Second Nationwide Coronavirus Lockdown, Time
Joseph Hincks writes, “Israel was one of the earliest adopters of stringent measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, forcing all foreign arrivals to self-isolate on March 9, just before the World Health Organization announced a global pandemic. This week, as cases rise, it is set to become the world’s first country to enter a second nationwide shutdown.”

How a pro-Bibi paper tilted Israeli voters to the right, +972 Mag
Oren Persico writes, “The billionaire-funded daily Israel Hayom helped boost the right-wing bloc by two Knesset seats over three elections, a new study finds.”

Israel Signs Important Peace Deal That Ended No War, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “If an alien had landed on the White House South Lawn on Tuesday during the signing of the peace agreements in the Middle East, he would have certainly thought this was the end of a long and bloody war. The rhetoric in the speeches, the strange Hollywood-like music, the trumpets, the general pathos, all screamed historic peace agreement. But where and with whom was this war? Certainly not with the Gulf states.”

The Two Way Street for Rosh Hashanah : ‘A Path Toward a Solution’, J Street
Rabbi Alana Suskin writes, “The occupation is not a feature of the landscape, but a political dispute. Like Abraham and Avimelekh, there is a history together for which each side has its own narrative of being wronged. But also like Abraham and Avimelekh, a solution is achievable.”