Daily Briefing: WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW” (November 18,2020)

 

Corbyn speaking at the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival and Rally in 2015 (Source:Wikipedia)

 

MEDIA – OCRITIES OF THE WEEK

2020 Shows Why the Electoral College Is Stupid and Immoral Jamelle Bouie, NYTimes, Nov. 13, 2020 Last year I wrote that the Electoral College, an archaic and outmoded system that runs contrary to our democratic principles and intuitions, was the “greatest threat to our democracy.” Somehow, this was an understatement. As recently as Wednesday, according to a report by my colleague Maggie Haberman, President Trump was pressing his aides on whether Republican legislatures in key states could overturn the results of the presidential election and pick pro-Trump electors, potentially giving him a second term. It’s not likely, but the fact that it is even theoretically possible is one of the most starkly undemocratic elements of the Electoral College. If it actually happened, in 2020 or the future, it would mark the end of American democracy as we know it…”

Mr. President, Pack Your Bags and Be Gone Roger Cohen, NYTimes, Nov. 13, 2020 —  “The ruler broods, alone with his rage and shame, undone by rejection, his mind, like Macbeth’s, “full of scorpions,” plotting to overturn facts and destroy American democracy. His lackeys, and only they remain, try to humor the master in his labyrinth. … He can’t. He won’t. It’s not in the man. Truth is unbearable. Fraud! Rigged! Trump can no more accept defeat than recall the fact that he took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. … This is a column I never thought I would write. But better to write it than to be blindsided. The world needs an American democracy restored, rid of its brooding ruler, and led by the man who won, Joe Biden. End of story.”

The People Who Fought Donald Trump Will Miss Him When He’s Gone Andrew Potter, Globe and Mail, Nov. 12, 2020 — … And yet, given the whole VE-day tenor of the celebrations, it is hard not to think that a lot of people, especially those who have been most fully engaged with the fight against Donald Trump and everything he stands for, are going to miss him when he’s gone. The past four years has been described as a “culture war,” but that seriously plays down what actually went on. The fight against Mr. Trump and his administration saw a mobilization across virtually every social and civic institution. Journalism and academia are two of the most obvious places, but in one form or another the battle against Mr. Trump infected the arts, professional and amateur sports, corporate culture and marketing. …

WEEKLY QUOTES

The problem of the (American) administration, which is in its final months, was that it was not very familiar with international politics. It was almost carrying out the dictates of the (American) extremists and of the Zionist regime,” —  said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a recent Cabinet meeting adding that now conditions would be more favorable for acting in America’s “actual interests.” (JNS, Nov. 16, 2020)“Among those [expressing condolences for Saeb Erekat’s death] were current Labour leader and minister Amir Peretz, one of his Labour predecessors Shelly Yachimovich, Meretz leader Nissan Horowitz and one of his predecessors Yossi Beilin, Furthermore, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who had been in jail for corruption, former Israeli minister Tzipi Livni and even Likud Settlements Minister Tzachi Hanegbi. Most of these people falsely stressed that Erekat was a man of peace. They intentionally forgot to mention that, among other things, he frequently supported payments to murderers of Jews.  The behavior of these Israelis has a strong similarity to that of Jews in exile traditionally known as galut Jews. They regularly prostrate themselves before their enemies. How can a responsible Israeli who is in favor of peace praise a person who has supported payments to the murderers of Jews? You can, apparently, if you are a Jewish masochist. Such scandalous statements of praise are profoundly unworthy statements. They provide an additional  perspective on the distorted mindsets of leading figures, mainly on the Israeli left.,” – writes author and journalist Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld. (Arutz Sheva, Nov. 16, 2020)

“This week, 82 years ago, Kristallnacht happened. It was the Nazis’ warning shot across the bow of our human civilization that led to genocide against a whole identity. And, in that tower of burning books, it led to an attack on fact, knowledge, history, and truth/ After four years of a modern-day assault on those same values by Donald Trump, the Biden/Harris team pledges a return to norms,” – said CNNanchorwoman Christiane Amanpour.  Reports in Israeli media suggest the comparison between US President Donald Trump and Kristallnacht, the 1938 Nazi pogroms against Jews, was not lost on the Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Affairs ministries as they came out with statements demanding an apology from the news outlet, saying the comparison was highly inaccurate and untruthful. Ms. Amanpour has since apologized. (Algemeiner, Nov. 13, 2020)

“It would be a really big mistake to turn the clock back to 2016 and resurrect the nuclear deal. The Iran nuclear deal was a political disaster masquarading as a diplomatic triumph,” — former National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster told Fox New’sBrett Baier. He added, “These big payoffs to Iran when the deal was signed, as well as the relief of sanctions … what did they do with that money? They applied that money to intensify sectarian violence across the region in an effort to put a proxy army on the border of Israel.” (Fox News, Nov. 12, 2020)

Former President Barack Obama said it was “reasonable” to ask Israel to take such a step [freeze settlement construction as part of his efforts to facilitate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks] as it was the “stronger party.”However, “as expected,” Netanyahu’s reaction was “sharply negative” and Obama noted his administration came under pressure from the premier’s American allies. Obama then accused Netanyahu of an “orchestrated” push against him, which he argued underscored that “normal policy differences with an Israeli prime minister exacted a domestic political cost,” – former President Barack Obama wrote in presidential memoir, “A Promised Land,” which will be published on Tuesday. (Algemeiner, Nov. 13, 2020)

“There was a time when Democrats embraced and defended the principles of free speech. There was a time when Democrats embraced and defended the principles of a free press. And yet there’s an absolute silence from Democrats speaking up for the press outlets censored by Big Tech. There’s an absolute silence from Democrats speaking out for the citizens silenced by Big Tech. Instead there is a demand to use even more power to silence dissent and that’s a totalitarian instinct that I think is very dangerous,” – US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, after taking him to task over his company’s suppression of the New York Postreport on Hunter Biden’s emails linking Joe Biden to his son’s notorious business deals during a Senate hearing.  (PJ Media, Nov. 17, 2020)

  SHORT TAKES

REPORT: TRUMP SOUGHT OPTIONS FOR ATTACK ON IRAN (Washington) — US President Donald Trump asked senior advisers during a meeting at the Oval Office whether he had options to take action against Iran’s main nuclear site in the coming weeks, The New York Times reported on Monday, citing four current and former US officials. According to the report, a range of senior advisers— including Vice President Mike Pence; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Christopher C. Miller, the acting defense secretary; and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military strike. They warned him that a strike against Iran’s facilities could easily escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of his presidency. Thursday’s meeting occurred a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported a significant increase in Iran’s stockpile of nuclear material, in violation of the 2015 deal it signed with world powers. (Arutz Sheva, Nov. 17, 2020)

OUTGOING ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO US URGES BIDEN TO STAY OUT OF IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL (Washington) –– Israel’s outgoing ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, urged President-elect Joe Biden on Monday to not reenter the nuclear deal with Iran that the current president, Donald Trump, exited two and a half years ago. Dermer — whose term as ambassador will be ending in January, when he will be replaced by Gilad Erdan — advised Biden, “Sit with your allies in the region. Talk to us in order to get to a common position on Iran. Not only on the nuclear issue but also about the Iranian aggression in the region. It will put the US in a much better position to deal with Iran.” (Algemeiner, Nov. 16, 2020)

SAUDIS URGE ACTION OVER IRAN NUKE PROGRAM (Riyadh) — Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz urged a “decisive stance” against Iran’s nuclear program on Thursday, the day after the United Nations nuclear watchdog announced the Islamic republic has stockpiled 12 times more enriched uranium than is permitted under a 2015 deal with world powers. (Calgary Herald, Nov. 13, 2020)

HAMAS FURIOUS THAT PA CAVED AND RESTORED TIES WITH ISRAEL(Gaza) — After a senior Palestinian official announced that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is restoring ties with Israel, Hamas denounced the move as a betrayal of “national values and principles.” The PA’s announcement means it will again engage in security coordination with Israel after claiming it ended all cooperation six months ago. Even after the PA said it cut off coordination with Israel, sources within each sides’ security establishment cast doubt on whether all cooperation had actually been severed. (United With Israel, Nov. 17, 2020)

22% OF ARABS BELIEVE ISRAEL IS THE LARGEST SECURITY THREAT TO THEIR COUNTRY, POLL SUGGESTS(Qatar) – According to the Doha Institute‘s 2019-20  Arab Opinion Index, 22% of Arabs living in the Middle East believe that Israel is the most threatening to the security of their countries, while 14% point to the United States of America, and 13% Iran. About half of Iraqis believe that Iran is the main threat to the security of their country. The largest bloc in Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, and Mauritania believes that Israel is the most threatening to their respective countries. 47% of the respondents in the Mashreq countries said that Israel is the main threat to their countries. While 27% of the Arab Gulf region respondents stated that Iran is the first threat. For threats facing the Arab region, Israel occupied the first place as a threat to the Arab region in the eyes of the respondents from all countries, and from each country separately. (Arab Opinion Index, Nov. 2020)

BOSTON-AREA SYNAGOGUE EQUATES TRUMP POST-ELECTION ACTIONS TO NAZI GERMANY (Newton, Mass.) — Temple Emanuel, a Conservative synagogue, recently sent out a newsletter where it equated U.S. President Donald Trump’s post-election actions to those of Nazi Germany prior to the Holocaust. In a newsletter to commemorate Veterans Day and Kristallnacht, the synagogue’s leadership warned that “the attack on democracy happening now is literally unprecedented,” referring to Trump’s refusal to concede the election to Democratic contender President-elect Joe Biden. (JNS, Nov. 16, 2020)

JEWISH GROUPS LOOK TO US CONGRESS AMID ALARMING RISE IN HATE CRIMES DOCUMENTED BY FBI(Washington) — Hate crimes committed in the US rose to their highest level in more than a decade in 2019, a new report from the FBI disclosed, leading to calls from American Jewish groups for the urgent passage of legislation to counter the trend. The FBI’s “Hate Crimes Statistics, 2019” report recorded 7,314 criminal incidents and 8,559 related offenses as being motivated “by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity” — an increase of 3 percent on the previous year and the highest number since 2008. (Algemeiner, Nov. 16, 2020)

MAJOR JEWISH GROUPS TO PM: RETURN TO PRINCIPLED VOTING AT UN (Ottawa) — B’nai Brith Canada and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center have joined the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) in formally writing to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, urging the Government of Canada to return to its principled and unequivocal opposition to the annual United Nations General Assembly basket of resolutions entitled “The Question of Palestine.” The letter, co-signed by the chairs of the three national organizations, was delivered to the Prime Minister on Friday, Nov. 13 in advance of the vote this week. (Bnai Brith Canada, Nov. 16, 2020)

CORBYN READMITTED TO UK LABOUR AFTER 19-DAY SUSPENSION OVER ANTI-SEMITISM ROW (London) — The British Labour party’s ruling body reinstated the party’s former leader Jeremy Corbyn following a brief suspension over anti-Semitism. Corbyn was ousted pending an investigation after he refused to accept all the findings of a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which said his office had broken the law in its handling of anti-Semitism complaints by Jewish members. (Times of Israel, Nov. 17, 2020)

AL QAEDA’S SECOND-IN-COMMAND KILLED IN IRAN (Tehran) — Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, who went by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle in the streets of Tehran on Aug. 7, the NYTimesreported. The killing of Masri, who was seen as a likely successor to al Qaeda’s current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was kept secret until now.  It was unclear what, if any, role the United States had in the killing of the Egyptian-born militant as the U.S. authorities had been tracking Masri and other al Qaeda operatives in Iran for years. (France 24, Nov. 14, 2020)

FRENCH FORCES KILL AL-QAEDA COMMANDER IN AFRICA (Mali) — According to French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, a military strike claimed the life of a senior leader of Al-Qaeda’s North Africa wing – Bah ag Moussa in northeastern Mali in Africa. “A historic figure of the jihadist movement in the Sahel, Bah ag Moussa is considered responsible for several attacks against Malian and international forces,” Parly said in a statement. (Pratidin Time, Nov. 18, 2020)

THIEVES GRAB NAZI MEMORABILIA IN MUSEUM HEISTS, PUZZLING POLICE (The Netherlands) – In the early morning, thieves raided the Eyewitness War Museum in Beek, The Netherlands, and stole nine mannequins wearing rare Nazi uniforms. The outfits included one worn by Hitler’s personal chef, and another by a high-ranking member of the S.S. Since March, four museums in the Netherlands and Denmark have been broken into, and memorabilia, including Nazi uniforms, has been stolen. The most recent raid took place on Nov. 3, when robbers broke through a window at the German Museum North Schleswig, in southern Denmark, and made off with three mannequins in Nazi outfits. (NYTimes, Nov. 13, 2020)

FOR FURTHER REFERENCE

The 2020 Presidential Election: How Jewish-Americans Voted:  Dr. Irwin J. Mansdorf, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Nov. 16, 2020 — The latest in a series of studies on the Jewish-American community explores voting behavior in the 2020 Presidential election. We discuss the trends as well as some of the limitations of the present study.

Eliot Engel Looks Back Mathew Kassel, Jewish Insider, Nov. 18, 2020 — Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) admits that he has some regrets about his performance in the June 23 Democratic primary, when the 16-term congressman lost in an upset to Jamaal Bowman, the former Bronx principal and political upstart who is heading to Congress next year.

The Gang Assault on Israel at the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly:  Alan Baker, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 17, 2020 — When it comes to the annual sessions of the United Nations General Assembly, one can easily bet on the fact that of all the General Assembly committees, the Fourth Committee, with the curious title of “Special Political and Decolonization Committee,” will blindly and inanely adopt the same resolutions, year after year. As the runner-up, the Assembly’s Third Committee, titled, “Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Issues,” earns a place on the podium