News Roundup for September 18, 2020

September 18, 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

On gloomy Rosh Hashana Eve, Israel prepares for painful second national lockdown, Times of Israel
Israelis prepared to welcome the Jewish New Year Friday with a new deeply unpopular national coronavirus lockdown, amid expectations of serious financial harm to many businesses and fears of civil disobedience in response to a measure widely regarded to be the result of failed government policies. Ahead of the start of the country-wide closure at 2 p.m., which is set to last at least three weeks, the Health Ministry released data showing that infection rates remained sky-high, with 5,238 cases identified the previous day — keeping Israel near the top of the global list of daily infections per capita.

The Bidens tell Jewish supporters the new Jewish year will be happier with Trump out, JTA
Jill and Joe Biden greeted Jewish supporters for the Jewish New Year and cast the holy day’s message as an imperative to drive President Donald Trump from office. It was the second New Year’s greetings-turned-pitch for votes of the season. Trump made his own appeal Wednesday during a White House call to Jewish supporters. “These are the Days of Awe that give us a chance to restart, to speak up,” the Democratic presidential nominee said Thursday in a webcast organized by Jewish Americans for Biden, an arm of his campaign. “What kind of country do we wish to be? Both of our faiths, yours and mine, instruct us not to ignore what’s around us.”


Trump heats up culture war in appeal to Wisconsin voters, AP
“I saved the suburbs,” Trump said Thursday of his call for federal law enforcement and national guard troops to confront protesters. He added that police “did a great job in Kenosha.” Trump also previewed aid to the region’s farmers, saying $13 billion would begin flowing “starting next week” to help farmers. He provided no details. Trump took another victory lap two days after he presided over Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recognizing Israel in a White House ceremony. “I got nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. That’s a big deal,” Trump said, adding, “I should’ve gotten nominated seven times.” His supporters chanted “Nobel Peace Prize” in response.

Rosh Hashanah is usually when Jews gather in synagogue. This year, they’re mostly online — or masked and spread out, Washington Post
The High Holidays, which begin Friday night with Rosh Hashanah, are the latest tradition to be upended by the novel coronavirus pandemic. According to the somber, introspective liturgy, this is the period when God decides who will live and who will die, when Jews are commanded to look hard at their own mortality and to make amends. It is the time of the year that draws more Jews to the synagogue than any other.

One-third of Netanyahu’s voters believe COVID-19 was sent by God, JTA
The survey, put out by Hiddush, which advocates for religious freedom and pluralism in Israel, also found that 70% of Israelis reject the notion that criticism of haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, conduct during the pandemic stems from bigotry as opposed to how haredi communities have conducted themselves.

Opinion and Analysis

Why Trump Won’t Disavow QAnon’s Dangerous Antisemitic Lunacy, Haaretz
Eric Yoffie writes, “The president won’t hesitate to incite violence to hang on to power. And it’s the pro-Trump mob and militias, fueled by conspiracy theories dripping in hate, who will oblige him. I’ve never felt less safe in America.”

The political convergence of Trump and Netanyahu, Responsible Statecraft
Paul Pillar writes, “The Trump/Netanyahu partnership operates within a larger transnational alliance between the Republican and Likud parties. Interference by one country in the internal political affairs of the other has become central to that alliance. Americans ought to worry about how such interference erodes their democracy, whether the interference comes from Russia or, in a longstanding and more blatant way, from Israel. Israelis should worry, too, not only about what happens to U.S.-Israeli relations when the Likud-allied party is not in power in Washington, but also about how much their own country’s politics are influenced by the domestic politics of the United States.”

White House Peace Deals Are as Vacuous as Miss Universe Statements, and That’s by Design, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “The drafters of Israel’s agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain faced a very difficult task. Racing against the clock, in coordination with the Americans, in the space of less than a week, they had to draft three separate documents – the Abraham Accords Declaration, the peace treaty with the UAE and the declaration of peace with Bahrain – that would say absolutely nothing.”

A fever dream of dictators, +972 Mag
Karim Kattan writes, “In the seven-page document, far-reaching issues such as the peaceful uses of outer space are repeatedly mentioned, but one would be hard-pressed to find any mention of Palestine. It only appears as half of an infamous adjective, when the text refers to the so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The rest of the agreement reads like a business proposal for cooperation between accelerationist theocracies that believe in colonizing Mars and the historicity of Abraham — but certainly not in the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, freedom or dignity.”

Israel Has Joined the Arab Axis. It Will Have to Start Paying Its Dues, Haaretz
Zvi Bar’el writes, “Normalization with Bahrain and the UAE could complicate Israel’s relations with Qatar, its dealings with Turkey and any future action in Iran.”