News Roundup for September 24, 2020

September 24, 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

The CJN goes one-on-one with Loree Resnik, Cleveland Jewish News
“J Street, the political home for people who favor a negotiated, two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict in Israel, will launch J Street CLE, with a virtual celebration Sept. 30. Ohio’s senior U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, New York Times’ columnist Roger Cohen and J Street founder and president, Jeremy Ben-Ami will discuss the importance of J Street’s mission and the challenges facing U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Loree Resnik, executive director emerita of Suburban Temple-Kol Ami in Beachwood, will head the chapter.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump Won’t Commit to ‘Peaceful’ Post-Election Transfer of Power, New York Times
President Trump declined an opportunity on Wednesday to endorse a peaceful transfer of power after the November election, renewing his baseless warnings about extensive voting fraud before saying there would be no power transfer at all. Asked whether he would “commit here today for a peaceful transferral of power after the November election,” Mr. Trump demurred, passing on a chance to call for a calm and orderly election process. “We’re going to have to see what happens,” he told a reporter during a news conference at the White House. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

Allegations of racism have marked Trump’s presidency and become key issue as election nears, Washington Post
In unguarded moments with senior aides, President Trump has maintained that Black Americans have mainly themselves to blame in their struggle for equality, hindered more by lack of initiative than societal impediments, according to current and former U.S. officials. After phone calls with Jewish lawmakers, Trump has muttered that Jews “are only in it for themselves” and “stick together” in an ethnic allegiance that exceeds other loyalties, officials said.

Normalization deals don’t ‘repair damage’ of Trump policies, says US senator, Al-Monitor
The Trump administration’s approach to Iran is a “metaphor for everything that this administration has done to undermine American credibility and influence in the world,” according to US Sen. Chris Van Hollen in this week’s Al-Monitor podcast, On the Middle East. Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland, assailed the administration’s policies toward Iran and the region, saying they have undermined US interests and values and allowed Russia and China to expand their roles there. Van Hollen said the work to restore US standing in the region will be central to the foreign policy of a Joe Biden administration if Biden is elected Nov. 3.


With Coronavirus on the Rampage, Israel Tightens Holiday Lockdown, New York Times
The Israeli government said on Thursday that it was tightening its second national lockdown after coronavirus infection rates soared this week to about 7,000 new cases a day, among the highest in the world. The new measures, which go into effect on Friday, will remain in place at least until the end of the Jewish High Holy Days in mid-October. Most businesses will have to close, and all gatherings, including protests and communal prayers, will be restricted to groups of up to 20 people outdoors within about 1,100 yards of home. An exception has been made for Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, which begins at sundown on Sunday. Limited numbers of worshipers will be allowed to pray inside synagogues as they did during last week’s Rosh Hashana, or New Year, holiday.

Cabinet approves near-total national shutdown to stem runaway infection rate, Times of Israel
Beginning Friday at 2 p.m., nearly all businesses will be closed, with the exception of specific companies and factories specifically designated as “essential” by the Defense Ministry’s National Emergency Authority. The decision, drafted Wednesday by the coronavirus cabinet and approved by the full cabinet on Thursday morning, exempted supermarkets and pharmacies from the closure, and allowed restaurants to work on a home delivery basis only.

As hospitals overflow, Haifa’s Rambam transforms parking lot into virus ward, AFP
As Israeli doctors confront a surge in coronavirus cases, with some patients waiting for hours in ambulances, one hospital is tackling the crisis by transforming its car park into a ward.

Pompeo shatters diplomatic norms with political appearances, AP
Casting aside a long tradition of the nation’s top diplomat shunning partisan politics, Pompeo gave a speech on Wednesday in the swing state of Wisconsin, marking his participation in the fourth event this month alone that goes well beyond what previous secretaries of state have done in support of the presidents they have served.

Israel’s Netanyahu brings his dirty laundry to Washington. Literally, Washington Post
Over the years, the Israeli leader has developed a reputation among the staff at the U.S. president’s guesthouse for bringing special cargo on his trips to Washington: bags and suitcases full of dirty laundry, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

Air force chief: UAE F-35 sale could be ‘less optimal’ for Israel in long term, Times of Israel
The proposed United States sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates could have a long-term negative strategic impact for Israel, Air Force Chief Amikam Norkin said in an interview aired Wednesday.

Saudi heir and Jared Kushner inch kingdom towards deal with Israel, The Guardian
For several months before the deals were signed at the White House, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, had been laying out his rationale for a pact that would overturn regional policies towards a long-term foe.

U.S.-Sudan talks on normalization with Israel end without breakthrough, Axios
Negotiations in Abu Dhabi between the U.S. and Sudan have ended without a breakthrough on Sudanese recognition of Israel, sources briefed on the talks tell me.

Jews may not be able to visit the Western Wall — but they can still have their prayers placed there, JTA
A visit to Israel and the Western Wall before Yom Kippur is pretty much out of the question due to coronavirus restrictions, but Jews can still have their prayers placed between the stones of the holy site.

Opinion and Analysis

What a post-Ruth Bader Ginsburg court will mean for issues Jews care about, The Forward
The Forward asked Laurie Levenson, a renowned lawyer and law professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, to examine the intersection of the court-to-come on issues that many American Jews care about, and on the values they hold dear. What follows are her thoughts on several major issues of the day through the lens of Jewish tradition and the Supreme Court bearing the next Trump appointee, his third.

Arab-Israeli progress seemed impossible. That’s because of old assumptions, Washington Post
Aaron David Miller writes, “If left unattended by Trump or a potential successor, the Israel-Palestinian conflict will fester, threatening both Israel’s democratic and Jewish character, and leaving Palestinians’ national ambitions unfulfilled.”

For Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Society, Coronavirus Has Changed the Rules, Haaretz
Aaron Rabinowitz writes, “The driving force behind the recent ‘rebellion’ against restricted zones was not the Haredi leadership: It was the Haredi public. This shift is also reflected in a survey showing plummeting trust in rabbis”

Iran: The double jeopardy of sanctions and COVID-19, Responsible Statecraft
Djavad Salehi-Isfahani writes, “Rather than easing sanctions to help Iran manage the pandemic better, if only to stop the spread of the virus in the region, the U.S. piled on more sanctions, and chose to ignore calls from world leaders, former U.S. diplomats, and the United Nations to ease sanctions.”

Israel’s Deals With Gulf States Normalize Immorality. An Ethical Left Shouldn’t Accept Them, Haaretz
Avner Gvaryahu writes, “Netanyahu remains focused on his objective. The new agreements are not a diversion from his course but rather a path to achieving the right’s vision of normalizing the situation of an ongoing occupation, something that is fundamentally not normal. The diplomatic objectives they seek to reject as well as those they seek to advance, are characterized by belligerence and cynicism: unprecedented legitimacy for perpetuating control over the Palestinians, based entirely on thwarting the possibility of establishing an independent Palestinian state.”