News Roundup for September 2, 2020

September 2, 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

Biden won’t return U.S. Embassy to Tel Aviv, but can he undo other Trump moves in Mideast conflict?, LA Times
“Regaining Palestinian trust will be a major challenge. The Biden team has released careful, measured policies for the decades-old conflict, a clear rebuke to Trump, but disappointing to many progressives. Unlike Trump, Biden supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. ‘There will be a very important statement about the intention to pursue a two-state solution,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a pro-Israel advocacy organization in Washington and informal advisor to the campaign. ‘Those signals will be sent early.’ And Biden said he plans to revive U.S. financial aid to support Palestinians that was cut off by Trump as punishment for what he termed their lack of cooperation.”

Top News and Analysis

Virus toll rises to 957 as pace of deaths appears to quicken, Times of Israel
The death toll from the novel coronavirus rose to 957 in Israel, the Health Ministry said Tuesday night, as infection numbers continued to hover near 2,000 cases a day.

Pompeo cancels plan to film Trump campaign ad geared to US expats while in Israel, JTA
The decision not to participate in the campaign by Republicans Overseas Israel followed the uproar over Pompeo’s prerecorded message from Jerusalem to last week’s Republican National Convention, and following legal consultations, Israel’s Channel 12 News reported, citing sources involved in the discussions.

Senior UAE Official: We Have U.S., Israeli Assurances Annexation Is Halted, Haaretz
United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Jamal Al Musharakh said Tuesday, “We have assurances from the United States through trilateral dialogue,” that Israel would not annex parts of the West Bank.


Video shows Israeli soldier kneeling on protester’s neck, AP
A video circulating on social media appears to show an Israeli soldier kneeling on a Palestinian protester’s neck while arresting him during a demonstration in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday. The 65-year-old protester said he was not seriously injured and acknowledged shoving an Israeli soldier. The Israeli military said troops were “forced to apprehend” a suspect who had “repeatedly assaulted them.”

Hitler was right’ fliers posted at Arizona State University, The Forward
Posters printed with slogans like “Hitler was right” and swastikas were found at Arizona State University in Tempe on Sunday, according to a Facebook post by ASU Chabad rabbi Shmuel Tiechtel.

Kushner tries to smooth over F-35 dispute in visits to Israel and UAE, Axios
President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plan to discuss the pending sale of F-35 fighter jets by the U.S. to the UAE, Jared Kushner told reporters on board the first commercial flight from Israel to the UAE, which landed in Abu Dhabi this morning.

Hamas deputy: We’ll give Israel two months to implement ceasefire, Times of Israel
If Israel does not fulfill the terms of the ceasefire agreement with Hamas by the end of two months, there could be another round of escalation of violence on the southern border, a senior official in the Gaza-based terror group, Khalil al-Hayya, said on Tuesday night.

Amnesty accuses Iran of ‘widespread torture’ following protests, AFP
Amnesty International on Wednesday accused Iran’s security forces of using torture to extract confessions, saying hundreds of people have been jailed since a sweeping crackdown against protests last year.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain tell Kushner Israel ties will have to wait, Times of Israel
The leaders of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain appeared to express hesitation about joining a US push for normalization with Israel in talks with top White House adviser Jared Kushner Tuesday.

In Los Angeles, Israelis rally for Trump, The Forward
Close to 2,000 people participated in the pro-Trump rally on Aug. 30 in Los Angeles. The rally, which started at Taft High School in Woodland Hills and ended at Jerry’s Famous Deli in Studio City, drew some 600 cars, motorcycles and trucks all decorated with Trump banners and US and Israel flags.

Schools in West Bank Settlement Defy Closure Order for Israel’s Coronavirus Hot Spots, Haaretz
Ultra-Orthodox girls’ schools in the West Bank settlement of Betar Ilit opened Tuesday, flouting government orders for schools in communities with high rates of coronavirus infections to remain closed.

Soldiers shoot at Palestinian teens suspected of throwing Molotov cocktail and kill passerby, B’Tselem
B’Tselem’s investigation indicates that the soldiers opened fire while in pursuit, putting the teens’ lives at unjustified risk. The shooting injured one of them in the leg, and he required surgery. The other youth escaped. The shooting killed Ibrahim Abu Ya’qub (34), a village resident.

Opinion and Analysis

Why young Jews like me need to vote for Joe Biden, The Forward
Tanner Larkin writes, “Despite our reputation for recklessness, many young people are making incredible sacrifices to avoid catching or spreading the coronavirus. Yet there is one risk that no amount of hand-washing or mask-wearing can protect us against — the pandemic’s economic impact. My peers who graduated from top colleges last spring were supposed to be hotly sought-after talent. Instead, I have watched them lose job offers, return to childhood bedrooms and confront looming student loan payments.”

An expert analyst breaks down the ‘militia movement’ and other groups involved in the Kenosha and Portland shootings, JTA
The notion of a teenager crossing state lines with a semiautomatic rifle in hand to uphold public order shocked many Americans. But to Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, it was the latest sign of a disturbing trend — armed men showing up to scenes of unrest and, without training or a mandate, acting as self-appointed guardians of law and order.

Concern in Gaza Over Coronavirus Led to Agreement – but It’s a Fragile One, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “Israel was concerned that a deterioration on the Gaza border would overshadow the first public diplomatic visit to the United Arab Emirates, but in the end, the exact opposite happened. As the Israeli delegation was arriving in Abu Dhabi, its Qatari neighbors achieved another temporary compromise between Israel and Hamas.”

Why is Iran developing missiles and bolstering regional proxies?, Responsible Statecraft
Jalil Bayat writes, “Trump purportedly wants a new deal with Iran which will not only prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but will also limit the country’s missile program and cut its support for proxy forces in the region. But he seemingly pays no attention to what motivates Iran to develop a missile program or to form regional proxies […] The U.S. should understand the motives of Iran’s leaders. U.S. leaders need to understand why Iran wants missiles or seeks to form regional proxies. Merely observing behavior without understanding the motives behind it does not provide U.S. leaders with and accurate analysis. It will only continue the spiral of misperceptions on both sides.”

Israel-UAE Relations Will Truly Be Tested When America’s Out of the Room, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “Except for the questions about annexation and Kushner’s call to return to negotiating table, the absent-present entity in delegation visiting Abu Dhabi was, as usual, the Palestinians.”