Daily Briefing: BIDEN ADMINISTRATION: IMPLICATIONS FOR ISRAEL, MIDDLE EAST, AND US  (November 17,2020)

Cropped official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann) (Wikipedia)

Table of Contents:

The US Election: Preliminary Lessons for America’s Allies:  Alex Joffe, JNS,Nov. 16, 2020


Biden’s Win Good News for Conservatives: Sean Speer, National Post, Nov. 12, 2020

This Election Was Full of Surprises:  Allen C. Guelzo, WSJ, Nov. 6, 2020

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The US Election: Preliminary Lessons for America’s Allies
Alex Joffe
JNS, Nov. 16, 2020

Though the result of the 2020 U.S. presidential election is still pending litigation over allegations of fraud, many U.S. allies have been unrestrained in their expressions of happiness and relief at the prospect of the ouster of President Donald Trump. As Democratic President-elect Joe Biden is indeed likely to take office in January, U.S. allies in the Middle East and elsewhere need to take stock of the implications of a Biden administration.The Trump administration was routinely excoriated for its defiance of “norms” and eschewing of experts. What would the re-establishment of these “norms” by Obama-era experts mean, particularly in a world reorganized by Trump, the coronavirus pandemic and China?

As a whole, Trump’s foreign policy is being retroactively condemned as “chaotic” for its military disengagement from conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria, economic confrontation with China, and disdain for international institutions. All these aspects will likely be reemphasized in a Biden administration.

One obvious result will be the return of the so-called “experts,” who, in the case of the Middle East, were proven failures at both bringing peace to the region and promoting American national interests. A foreshadowing of their return is that the breakthrough Abraham Accords, which were negotiated by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, are already being buried by a torrent of elite abuse.

Much has been and will be said about the Iran nuclear deal, which Biden and his advisers have promised to reenter, albeit while maintaining some sanctions. Two points bear emphasis. First is continued evidence of Iranian cheating both past and present, most recently, revelations that Iran massively exceeded agreed-to levels of stockpiled enriched uranium. Second is the parlous state of the Iranian economy, which has been brought to near-collapse by sanctions.

Rescuing Iran from disaster is a specialty of Democratic administrations; recall Obama’s unwillingness to support the Green Revolution of 2009. But thanks to the Trump administration and their own initiative, the Gulf states and even Saudi Arabia are less dependent on U.S. security arrangements, have opened relations with Israel and may be in a better position to foil renewed U.S. overtures to Iran. Saudi Arabia in particular would be well-advised to formalize relations with Israel now as a counterweight to American pressure.

The Trump policy of encouraging independence from the United States is likely to be reversed in pursuit of another Iran-centered “grand bargain” that will lead inexorably toward Iranian nuclear capability. This threatening reversal might encourage Gulf states to look to China for big-power support. Israel’s strengthening of its alliance with Gulf states could help convince them to avoid this trap.

Israel itself has far less room to maneuver. Despite the professed affinity for Israel and Jews of Biden and Harris as individuals, their Obama-era staffs can barely contain their hostility. The hated figures of Netanyahu and Trump loom large, as shown by evidence of obstruction from State Department staffers and foreign policy “experts” who impeded and derided Trump policies at every turn. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Netanyahu, Trump, Biden and the Future of Israel’s Settlements
Nadav Shragai
JNS, Nov. 16, 2020

Worry and a sense of missed opportunity hang over Israel’s settlement leadership as we enter the interim period between two U.S. administrations.
Nearly half a million Jews currently live in over 140 recognized settlements and another 70 or so “unregulated” ones, and many settlement leaders are convinced that number could be much bigger if the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had taken the lifeline the Trump administration threw it.

“Another 200,000 thousand people, 25 percent more,” says chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (Yesha) and head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council David Alhayani, assessing the “missed settlement potential.”

Alhayani and his friends are heart-stricken to see thousands of young couples who wanted to make their homes in the settlements leaving them for communities inside the Green Line because of the housing shortage.

Ma’ale Adumim on the eastern fringes of Jerusalem, which until recently was a “frozen” city in terms of settlement, is a classic example.
Its long-serving mayor, Benny Kasriel, says that “since Netanyahu’s speech at Bar-Ilan [University] in June 2009, the Netanyahu government has built about 80 housing units a year in our city. Yes—10 years straight, when the average of the governments prior to Netanyahu was 1,000 housing units per year, sometimes more.”

Kasriel says that in this 10-year period, the city has lost “many young families who wanted to live close to their parents. It’s not Trump or [U.S. President-elect] Biden, it’s us.”

The change of presidents is creating a lot of bustle among settlers, and what was only whispered during the Netanyahu government is now being spoken aloud; Alhayani and Kasriel are not alone. Still, last-ditch efforts are underway to get as much done as possible while Trump is still in office, and everyone’s eyes are on the prime minister. This includes regulating dozens of more settlements that have existed under the threat of evacuation and destruction for years.

“It’s not easy,” says Alhayani. “The Prime Minister’s Office is already taking into account the positions of the new [U.S.] administration and trying to not annoy them at the start or appear like they’re trying to make a last grab under the outgoing president.”

One thing is already clear: The issue of the settlements and settlement construction will soon come up as the U.S. administration transitions. Jerusalem remembers very well the last few weeks of the Obama administration in 2016 before Trump entered the White House. Biden, then Obama’s vice president, was very active in promoting U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, to declare the settlements in “occupied Palestinian territory” illegal. Biden and Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser and now a candidate for secretary of state, convinced the representatives of Senegal and New Zealand to take part in submitting the resolution and pressured Ukraine to vote for it. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Biden’s Win Good News for Conservatives
Sean Speer
National Post, Nov. 12, 2020

The weekend’s calling of the U. S. presidential election for Joe Biden produced jubilation from his supporters across this city. Many American conservatives, on the other hand, are feeling a sense of despair. They shouldn’t. There are strong arguments that the mix of last week’s election results is actually good news for conservatives. Let me outline five such arguments here.

The first is the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the U. S. Supreme Court in the lead up to the election. Although President Donald Trump’s judicial appointments were generally good, Barrett’s elevation to the top court is particularly outstanding. Her combination of character, intellect and relative youthfulness (she’s only 48 years old) has the potential to make her a transformational figure in the coming decades. Not only will Justice Barrett have a major effect on American jurisprudence, her legal thinking and writing are bound to inspire a new generation of conservative lawyers, scholars and ultimately judges.

The second is that the Republicans seem poised to hold the Senate, notwithstanding expectations that the Democrats would take both the White House and the Senate. A renewed Republican majority can serve as a check on the left-wing excesses of the Biden administration. But, more importantly, it can also play a crucial role in the renewal of conservative politics and the Republican party in the post-trump era.

Although the House Republicans are a bit Trumpy, the Senate Republicans are generally more serious and thoughtful. Young, dynamic and policy-oriented legislators like Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Ben Sasse and Josh Hawley, in particular, will be key figures in a fundamental debate about the future of conservatism including what, if any, adjustments ought to be made to its policy orthodoxy in the aftermath of the Trump presidency. Retaining the Senate will help to facilitate these important discussions.

The third is the repudiation of socialism. That the Republicans were able to pick up seats in the House of Representatives from Democrats who were inspired by Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez’s leftward lurch is good news. It’s a powerful proof- point about the political limitations of her uncompromising progressivism. It may appeal to a small yet passionate audience on social media. But it’s not a path to a political majority.

Reports out of the first, postelection Democratic caucus meeting show that a lot of centrist Democrats resent the extent to which Ocasio- Cortez and the so-called “squad” are trying to pull the party in a socialist direction and in so doing making it less palatable in large swaths of the country. One has to assume that the Biden administration will learn from this lesson and stay clear of these political excesses. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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This Election Was Full of Surprises
Allen C. Guelzo

WSJ, Nov. 6, 2020

It was a peculiar election. Not, as was often prophesied, the most epochal election. Even while it’s not over in the true Yogi Berra sense, some unanticipated features are coming into focus.

The first is the unholy mess created by the sudden introduction of mail-in voting in state after state. Nevada’s Democratic governor, Steve Sisolak, called a hurried special session of the Legislature at the end of July, which rushed into law provisions for mailing out ballots to every voter registered in the state. The result swamped Nevada’s ability to count, and since the new law provides that ballots count if they’re received as late as a week after the election, the prospect for irregularities is sky-high.

Similar problems have plagued vote counts in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania (where Philadelphia has had an unhappy history of voter fraud, leading last May to the conviction of an elections judge on federal bribery charges). On the other hand, 20 years after the Florida recount, the Sunshine State sailed through 2020.

Not since the bitterly contested election of 1824—not even in 2000—has so much confusion and accusation over voting hung in the air in so many places. The 1824 election was thrown into the House and ended with the victory of John Quincy Adams, even though Andrew Jackson had a plurality of both popular and electoral votes. That result instantly became stigmatized as “the corrupt bargain” and doomed Adams’s presidency to four years of futility. The election of 2020 is already taking on the profile of “the stolen election,” with the losing side, regardless of the outcome, ready to accuse the other. If Mr. Biden emerges the winner, there will probably be demands in statehouse after statehouse to erase any tarnish from the result by making mail-in balloting the new normal.

There have been other surprises. Scandals and accusations, which hurt candidates in 2016, no longer seemed to bother voters in 2020. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was seriously damaged by FBI inquiries into her handling of classified emails while secretary of state. This time voters didn’t seem to care about either the president’s impeachment or the Biden family’s links to Chinese and Ukrainian financial interests.

Despite Mr. Trump’s being cast as racist, and race-related protests and riots across the country this summer, he managed to outperform his 2016 showing with minorities. His share of black voters in exit polls rose from 8% to 12%. A September Democracy Fund survey found the president with 21% support among black voters under 45. Mr. Trump’s share of Hispanic men rose from 32% to 36% and Hispanic women from 25% to 28%. But only 58% of white men voted for him, down from 62% four years ago. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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For Further Reference:

Address by Justice Samuel Alito [2020 NLC Live]:  YouTube, Nov. 12, 2020 Hon. Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court.

2020’s Biggest Election Losers Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, Nov. 5, 2020 The jury is still out on who’ll occupy the Oval Office, but America’s verdict on liberal norm-busting is resounding. This election’s clearest losers were Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the public faces of the unhinged left.

Derek H. Burney: Trump Will Be with Us for Years to Come Derek H. Burney, National Post, Nov. 9, 2020 While it is not yet official the media have declared Joe Biden the winner. Yet post-election wrangling continues over voting irregularities stimulated by a patchwork of inconsistent state regulations that threaten perceptions about legitimacy and convey a messy image of American democracy to the world.

Trump’s Down, Not Out:  Conrad Black, National Post, Nov. 7, 2020 His back against the electoral college wall, a frustrated Donald Trump is lashing out with conspiracy theories of political corruption and malfeasance as he tries to maintain his grasp on the Oval Office.

Rex Murphy: An Election that Solved Nothing — At Least for Now:  Rex Murphy, National Post, Nov. 4, 2020 Holding a national election in a democracy of well over 300 million people is a huge and complicated undertaking at the best of times.