News Roundup for September 21, 2020

September 21, 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

Trump Seeks to Turn Israeli-Arab Accords Into Campaign Gains, New York Times
“When President Trump presided over a grandiose White House signing ceremony for new accords between Israel and two Arab states last week, his re-election campaign wasted little time cashing in. Two days after the event, his campaign released a slick, 30-second ad featuring footage from the ceremony and depicting Mr. Trump as a heroic peacemaker for bringing Israel into normalized relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain […] Democrats note Mr. Trump’s unpopularity among American Jews, citing a poll released last week by the Jewish Electorate Institute, which found that he trails his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., 67 percent to 30 percent among Jewish voters […] The Jewish Electorate Institute poll did show a slight improvement for Mr. Trump from a 2016 exit poll commissioned by the liberal pro-Israel group J Street, which found that he carried 25 percent of the Jewish vote. But he still faces serious headwinds to winning over American Jews.”

Jewish Groups and Lawmakers Mourn the Passing of Community Icon RBG, Haaretz
“Jewish organizations and lawmakers mourned the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday night, calling her a ‘hero’ and a Jewish community icon. ‘There are no words as we pray virtually tonight for a better future and bless the memory of our hero Justice Ginsburg,’ J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami tweeted. “

Jewish organizations mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The Jerusalem Post
“The progressive group J Street tweeted that ‘if this year has taught us anything, it’s how to mourn as we fight and fight as we mourn.’–‘[Ginsburg’s] memory shall be a blessing and her example an inspiration as we give our all to defend our democracy.’”

Top News and Analysis

Day into 2nd lockdown, Israel registers 30 new virus deaths in 24 hours, Times of Israel
Israel recorded 30 new deaths in 24 hours as the country’s coronavirus death toll climbed to 1,226 on Saturday, a day into a second national lockdown.

Trump to Kill What’s Left of Iran Deal Then Confront UN Assembly, Bloomberg
The U.S. bid to restore all UN sanctions on Iran — which Secretary of State Michael Pompeo contends will go into effect on Sunday in the middle of the UN General Assembly — deepens a chasm between the U.S. and most other nations. Even European allies say the U.S. has no right to invoke the accord’s “snapback” provision because President Donald Trump quit the multinational deal to restrain Iran’s nuclear program two years ago.

Trump Wants New Iran Sanctions. The World Is Flipping Him the Bird, Haaretz
Ziv Bar’el writes, “Instead of support, Trump got the middle finger. His administration claims that the United States, as a party to the UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the nuclear agreement, retains the legal right to invoke the ‘snapback’ mechanism. But the five other signatories to the deal – Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany – say that Washington lost legal standing when President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed American sanctions.”


Thousands protest Netanyahu; many ignore Israeli virus rules, AP
Thousands of Israelis resumed their weekly protest Sunday outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in central Jerusalem, despite a new nationwide lockdown order aimed at curbing a raging coronavirus outbreak.

11 arrested at first major anti-Netanyahu protest since start of new lockdown, Times of Israel
Police arrested 11 anti-government demonstrators in Jerusalem on Sunday night during the first major protest since Israel started its second nationwide lockdown to curb its surging coronavirus outbreak.

Iran’s Rouhani says U.S. faces defeat in bid to reimpose U.N. sanctions, Reuters
“America is approaching a certain defeat in its sanctions move … It faced defeat and negative response from the international community,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

Virus czar orders hospitals to open new COVID wards, warns of 600 deaths monthly, Times of Israel
Israel’s coronavirus czar warned Sunday that virus numbers were reaching “emergency” levels that could see the country face 600 deaths a month, and ordered hospitals to add new virus wards.

Israeli Cops Thought the Palestinian Shepherd Stole a Car. So They Shot Him in the Head, Haaretz
In the dead of night, Border Police stopped a car carrying three young Palestinians and without a word shot one of them in the head, point blank. Now he may lose his eyesight.

Scoop: Decisive meeting could lead to Israeli-Sudanese normalization, Axios
U.S., Emirati and Sudanese officials will hold a decisive meeting in Abu Dhabi on Monday on a possible normalization agreement between Sudan and Israel, Sudanese sources told me.

Jerusalem Police Arrest Driver Suspected of Trying to Run Over anti-Netanyahu Protesters, Haaretz
Police said they arrested a driver who was speeding near the main protest site, “putting protesters and police officers in danger.” No injuries were reported, and the suspect, a 20-year-old resident of Jerusalem, was taken into questioning. Overall, 11 protesters were arrested or detained Sunday night for disturbance of the peace and assaulting a police officer.

Honduras to move embassy to Jerusalem by end of 2020, Israel says, Times of Israel
Honduras will move its embassy to Jerusalem this year, and Israel will open an embassy in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement released overnight Sunday-Monday.

August in ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah: Settlers and soldiers repeatedly invade village and attack residents, B’Tselem
In August 2020, settlers attacked the village several times. In most cases, they were escorted by soldiers who did nothing to protect the Palestinians. The soldiers only intervened when the residents came out to defend their homes and property, and fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades at them.

Opinion and Analysis

How Politics Are Compounding Israel’s COVID-19 Crisis, Foreign Policy
Joshua Mitnick writes, “The story of an embattled political leader facing deep social divisions in his country and allowing political interests to steer his handling of the coronavirus crisis sounds like a uniquely American one. But these days it’s also the story of Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has imposed a second nationwide lockdown to halt a spiraling infection rate, even as he rejected the opinions of experts and succumbed to assorted pressures from ultra-Orthodox groups that give him his governing majority in parliament.”

Joe Biden Will Have to Seize the Moment on the Iran Deal, The National Interest
Ryan Costello writes, “Trump’s foolhardy decision to withdraw from the deal and impose a series of escalatory sanctions eventually convinced Iran to halt its own adherence to the accord in May 2019. Since that time, Iran has slowly but consistently breached the JCPOA’s limits while continuing to participate in the accord. As a result, Iran’s breakout time—the time it could produce sufficient fissile material for a single nuclear weapon if it chose to do so—is now down from over twelve months with the JCPOA to roughly three to four months. Thus, Iran has effectively restored much of its own nuclear leverage in anticipation of future negotiations. However, still to this day, Iranian authorities publicly confirm that they will return to full compliance with the JCPOA if and when the United States returns to its commitments. “

US says all UN sanctions on Iran restored, but world yawns, AP
Matthew Lee writes, “The U.S. move faces stiff opposition from the other members of the Security Council who have vowed to ignore it. They say the U.S. lost legal standing to invoke snapback when President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed American sanctions on Iran. The U.S. argues it retains the right to do it as an original participant in the deal and a member of the council.”

May Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s memory be ‘for a blessing.’ What, exactly, does that mean?, The Forward
Molly Conway writes, “When we say that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a tzaddeket (the feminine form of tzaddik) we don’t just mean she was a nice person. What we’re saying is that she was a thoughtful person who worked tirelessly to create a more just world. One that would perpetuate equality and access, one that wasn’t reliant on charity, one that was better for people she did not know, without the expectation of praise or fame. That is what it means to be a tzaddeket, and I can’t think of anyone who better embodies the pursuit of justice.”

Netanyahu, a Master of Humiliation, Haaretz
Carolina Landsmann writes, “It’s impossible to share the joy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his followers over the agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, because their joy is schadenfreude over the Palestinians: Look at how your brothers betrayed you.”

What would Ginsburg do? Move forward with hope, The Forward
Talya Zax writes, “Before my mom called my brother and me to tell us about Ginsburg’s death — we went camping for the first day of the holiday — I’d already been thinking about hopelessness. It is my most perpetual sin, the one I inevitably think of each year when I perform tashlich, the ritual of casting our sins — in the form of breadcrumbs — into a body of water. When things are difficult, I struggle to imagine a world in which they might be less so. When I’m confronted with miseries that I can’t control, or even lightly influence, my overpowering instinct is to just give up.”