Good Friday morning!
President Donald Trump announced a historic deal yesterday between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, marking a breakthrough celebrated by Israel and welcomed by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. More below.
Senior administration officialstellThe Daily Beast that Jared Kushner is focused on rolling out additional peace agreements between Israel and other Arab nations in the coming months, with State Department officials indicating Oman, Bahrain and Morocco are potentially next in line.
FBI officials are joining the Lebanese investigation into the recent explosion at the port in Beirut.
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Trump-brokered deal between Israel and UAE hailed as historic development
Israeli and U.S. leaders celebrated the groundbreaking deal normalizing ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Speaking from the Oval Office yesterday, President Donald Trump said an official signing ceremony between the two nations will be held in the coming weeks.
Details: A statement issued by the three countries proclaimed the “full normalization of relations” between the two nations and plans to establish “reciprocal embassies” as well as direct flights and other bilateral agreements. As part of the deal, “Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace,” effectively shelving its West Bank annexation plans. The joint statement, signed by Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, also made a point to note that “all Muslims who come in peace may visit and pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque” in Jerusalem.
Branding: “It will be known as the Abraham Accord,” Trump said of the deal. U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman explained that Abraham was the father of all three faiths and “no person better symbolizes the potential for unity among all these three great faiths than Abraham.” Trump joked to reporters: “I wanted it to be called the Donald J. Trump Accord. But I didn’t think the press would understand that.”
Behind the scenes: White House senior advisor Jared Kushner told reporters in a press briefing that he began talks over a possible normalization agreement with UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al-Otaiba after reading his op-ed in June warning against annexation. “We started a discussion with the UAE, saying, maybe, this is something that we can do that shows that that’s a much greater interest to Israel in the short, medium and long term than applying Israeli sovereignty [in parts of the West Bank], even though we believe that that’s a good step for them to do.” Kushner said he argued that normalizing ties between Israel and an Arab state “would be a much more strategic step forward and give much more benefit to their people, less risk, and create less controversy.” The Daily Beastreported that Kushner worked closely with Friedman on the language, particularly around annexation, and with outgoing special envoy on Iran Brian Hook.
Credit: Israeli-American mogul Haim Saban, who created a backchannel with the UAE ambassador, told JI: “As someone who has been speaking for years with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed and Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba about the importance of normalizing relations with Israel, I applaud them for taking the crucial steps forward to reach this deal. I am hopeful that this breakthrough will help increase the prospects of future agreements between Israel and others in the region.” Read more here.
Across the board: Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called UAE recognition of Israel “a welcome, brave, and badly-needed act of statesmanship.” If elected, he said, his administration would “seek to build on this progress, and will challenge all the nations of the region to keep pace.”
Mideast waves: The Palestinian Authority called the move a “betrayal” by the UAE and recalled its ambassador from Abu Dhabi, while Turkey denounced the UAE for signing the deal and Iran called it a “dagger that was unjustly struck by the UAE in the backs of the Palestinian people and all Muslims.” Egypt and Bahrain, meanwhile, praised news of the agreement, while Jordan said the deal should push forward Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Driving the convo
Mideast experts, Israeli opposition react to deal shelving annexation plans
In a live primetime address Thursday evening, Netanyahu maintained that there is “no change in my plans for annexation, with full coordination with the U.S,” but said he agreed to “temporarily suspend” the plan at Trump’s request. Trump later told reporters in the White House briefing room that “it’s more than just off the table, they’ve agreed not to do it,” though Friedman added: “It’s not off the table permanently.”
All sides win: Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. negotiator and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, described the agreement as a “win, win, win” situation “on a scale that rarely appears” for all three nations. “The UAE can now stand up and claim it has taken responsibility for preventing Israeli annexation of the West Bank. The Trump administration can now claim that its policy of cultivating the Arab states has paid off in spades. And Netanyahu, with sagging popularity in the middle of the COVID resurgence and economic recession, now gets himself out of the annexation trap and scores an enormous breakthrough in normalizing relations with the UAE,” Miller explained.
Winning votes: Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told JI that Trump’s foreign policy accomplishment will help him make inroads with Jewish voters in the fall. “I think there’s a fair number of Jewish voters who disapprove of Donald Trump personally, but who like what he’s done in terms of policy, and today’s announcement really shows the policy advantages of President Trump,” he explained. “So I suspect that’s the group that is most likely to, in the end, go into the secrecy of a voting booth and pull the lever for Donald Trump.” Republican Jewish Coalition chairman and former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) suggested on an RJC press call that the Israel-UAE deal “couldn’t have been done by Joe Biden. It was facilitated by President Trump because Israel and the Gulf allies know that President Trump has had their back.” The RJC also announced its intention to spend $10 million in Florida and other swing states this fall.
Same old: Michael Koplow, policy director at the Israel Policy Forum, said that while brokering closer relations between Israel and a Gulf state “is unquestionably a win,” it won’t have much impact on the U.S. presidential race. “Voters who are fans of Trump’s Israel policy will see this as yet another reason to support him,” said Koplow, “while voters who do not support the president for a whole variety of reasons will not change their minds as a result of this announcement.”
Bibi’s legacy: Ari Harow, a member of Likud and former chief of staff to Netanyahu, told JI that the deal is “an exciting development for Israel and the region, and will most definitely solidify Netanyahu’s legacy.” But Harow pointed out that brokering peace with Abu Dhabi “does not replace the Israeli desire, or Netanyahu’s political need, for sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.”
No biggie: Shimrit Meir, an Israeli analyst and commentator, suggested that the Israeli public “is not mainly concerned about annexation at this moment or peace at all” due to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis. But, she said, “after months now that [Netanyahu] is underperforming, and there is a sense that he kind of lost his touch, he is now showing leadership and initiative and takes over the agenda.” Former Israeli Consul General in New York Asaf Shariv told JI that the peace deal was “like winning the bronze medal after being the biggest favorite.” The announcement is a “consolation prize, because the dream of annexation was postponed,” he said, predicting that Netanyahu’s base “will be sour” and his opponents won’t be swayed.
Watch: In a Zoom interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh, former White House Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said the Israel-UAE accord is “part and parcel” of Trump’s Mideast peace plan. Greenblatt also weighed in on the future of annexation and on Biden’s statement reacting to the deal. Watch the full interview here.
The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg discusses power, corruption, and free speech
In an interview on the Shalom Hartman Institute’s “Identity/Crisis” podcast hosted by Yehuda Kurtzer, The Atlantic‘seditor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg discussed his views on free speech and power in the Jewish tradition:
Power of persuasion: “I think if you’re if you’re at all familiar with the Jewish tradition of disputation, leading to refinement, leading to deeper understanding, then you’re very comfortable in the framework that I’ve described,” Goldberg said. “That it is persuasion rather than coercion or inquiry rather than dogma. Maybe there is a kind of Jewish intellectual curiosity that matches theological curiosity — that matches the kind of thing that I’m talking [about].”
Touting tolerance: “The reason that you protect speech viewed as reprehensible by the majority of the community is because one day your speech will be judged reprehensible by the majority of the community. And so the gallows that you build will one day be used to hang you. And so it’s just easier and safer for everyone to just allow all of us to flourish,” Goldberg argued, later adding, “That societies that are restrained, that honor divergent views, that protect unpopular speech, and unpopular groups, and that value compromise, these are societies where Jews tend to not get murdered.”
Tipping point: Goldberg cited the American Civil Liberties Union’s successful defense of a neo-Nazi group’s right to assemble in Skokie, Ill. — home to a sizable population of Holocaust survivors — in the 1977 Supreme Court case NSPA v. Skokie as making him “a free speech absolutist.” But, he, qualified, “I understand there are many people and marginalized communities who don’t have access to channels of widely disseminated speech, who feel like that’s another sort of way that elites protect themselves.”
Damned if you do: “When you have power, you have a temptation to use it in ways that are not healthy or Jewish,” Goldberg said. “I think I have a pretty sensible view that having power for the Jews is better than not having power. I mean, we’re unpopular when we have power, unpopular when we don’t have power. So you might as well have power but we should not rest easy with our power.” He pointed specifically to his distaste with how “[Prime Minister Viktor] Orban and Hungary or other leaders of quasi-fascist European parties are the natural allies of the Jewish state… It makes a certain amount of tactical sense, right? Israel is a powerful state now. Other powerful states want to be supportive of it. Who are we to say no, right? That’s the argument. I just don’t find it very Jewish.”
Have thoughts on Goldberg’s remarks? Want to add to the discussion? Comment at @J_Insider on Twitter.
🤝 In Lockstep:The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer explores how the “soft-spoken” Jared Kushner has become the president’s “most dangerous enabler,” parroting Trump’s views on most issues including his approach to COVID-19. “In the end, what he lacked wasn’t competence, but the courage to challenge his father-in-law’s fantasies.” [TheAtlantic]
📋 Uncovered:In The Daily Beast, Noga Tarnopolsky reveals details of the now-unclassified 1969 Israeli proposal to encourage the emigration of 60,000 Palestinians living in areas captured during the Six Day War to Paraguay, through funding, grants and the promise of a path to citizenship. [DailyBeast]
👩 Historical Wrongs:In The Washington Post, Jayne Orenstein looks at a 1907 law that revoked the U.S. citizenship of women — including her Jewish great-grandmother, Ida Brown — who married immigrants, stripping them of their rights without even notifying them. [WashPost]
Around the Web
👵 Kitchen Cabinet: Former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen briefed the Biden/Harris campaign, including economic advisors Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, on Thursday.
👩❤️👨 Bashert:Vanity Fair dives deep into the romance of ideological soulmates and White House aides Stephen Miller and Katie Waldman.
🎻 Never Forget:Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, 95, the last known survivor of the Auschwitz women’s orchestra, is speaking at the opening of the Salzburg Festival this weekend.
🧫 Rapid Results: An Israeli hospital is leading a trial of a saliva-based coronavirus test that provides results in just one second.
💵 Cyber Coins: Hamas is increasingly turning to bitcoin and cryptocurrency to raise funds, making it more difficult to track the terror group’s financial activities.
🚦 Green Light: Israelis will soon be allowed to travel to Croatia, Bulgaria and Greece without requiring a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon return.
⚖️ Day in Court:Israel charged five members of its border police with stealing belongings from Palestinians illegally crossing into Israel.
💸 Safe Bet:Israeli security startup Adaptive Shield has raised $4 million in seed funding.
💰 Still Backing:SoftBank has committed an additional $1 billion in financing to WeWork.
🚑 Girl Power: Ezras Nashim, the all-female Hasidic emergency response organization, was approved for an ambulance license by New York’s State Emergency Medical Services Council.
🥯 Chow Down: Paulie Gee’s pizzeria in Brooklyn is hosting a Jewish deli pop-up on weekends featuring bagels, shakshuka and a “bacon, egg and cheese latke.”
🕯️ Remembering:David Galante, who spoke about his experiences at Auschwitz after seeing “Schindler’s List,” died of COVID-19 complications at 96. Noted linguist and NPR “Fresh Air” commentator Geoff Nunberg died at 75.
GIF of the Day
The Israeli and UAE flags flashed on the Tel Aviv Municipality building Thursday night after the announcement of the historic peace accord.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, she graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served as a Navy officer for 20 years prior to entering politics, Elaine Goodman Luria turns 45 on Saturday…
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SATURDAY: Founder of Slim-Fast, S. Daniel Abraham turns 96… Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Stephen Breyer turns 82… Irvin Farber turns 90… CFO of The Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg turns 73… Founder and chairman of the Executive Committee of Limmud FSU, Chaim Chesler turns 71… Founding member of wealth advisor RVW Investing LLC, Selwyn Gerber turns 70… Colorado resident, he is an artist and avid mountain biker, William Crary (“Bill”) Weidman turns 70… Co-founder and former co-rabbi of Congregation Or Hadash in Sandy Springs, Georgia, Rabbi Mario Karpuj turns 54… Emmy Award-winning actress, Debra Messing turns 52… Associate vice president of the Northeastern region for the Birthright Israel Foundation, Margot (Atlas) Ettlinger turns 51…
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SUNDAY: Former member of Congress, Richard Alan “Dick” Zimmer turns 76… Sportscaster who is known as the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys,” Brad Sham turns 71… President and CEO of the Business Roundtable, Joshua Brewster “Josh” Bolten turns 66… Gerald Platt turns 66… Media consultant, Sol Levine turns 65… Former commander of the Israeli Air Force and then CEO of El Al, General Eliezer Shkedi turns 63… Senior partner in the Denver office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and an AIPAC board member, Steven C. Demby turns 62… Founder of Value Retail Plc and co-owner of the New York Islanders, Scott David Malkin turns 62… Sports journalist and executive, she is a founder of Walk Swiftly Productions, Bonnie Bernstein turns 50… Senior staff writer for Politico Magazine and editor-at-large of The Agenda, Michael Grunwald turns 50… Kami Troy turns 46…
President of Profitero, Sarah Hofstetter turns 46… Co-founder at Johannesburg-based LLH Capital in 2017, Gil Oved turns 45… Political and public relations consultant based in Albuquerque, Jonathan Lipshutz turns 42… CBS producer, Matthew J. Silverstein turns 39… Associate at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Julian Olidort turns 31… Studio manager at Barre3 Bethesda, Anna Dubinsky turns 30… Development project associate at AIPAC, Rachel Berman turns 26… Head of urban diplomacy at Tel Aviv Global, Galit Tassi… VP and chief of staff to the Global CMO at BlackRock, Phillip Schermer… Assistant regional director in the New England office of J Street, Cooper Boyar… Former president of the Israel Alliance at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., Katherine Dolgenos… Ellen Weissfeld… Marshall Cohen… Dave Jacobsen… BIRTHWEEK: Deputy Director General and head of North America Division at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, David Roet…