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Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October 2020, p. 5

A “New Normal?”

For months, corporations, politicians and commentators have been telling us how to best embrace the “new normal.” In August, Israel and the UAE announced plans to normalize relations, a move that Israel hopes will spur a “new normal” in the region. Indeed, soon after the agreement was announced, “sources” began reporting that other Arab countries, perhaps Bahrain or Oman or Morocco, may also be finalizing official diplomatic relations with Israel. Only time will tell. Palestinians are worried the UAE-Israel deal removes one of the few cards they had at the negotiating table—the promise of normalization with the Arab and Muslim world if Israel agreed to end its occupation of Palestinian lands. It’s still too early to understand the full ramifications of this agreement, but it appears de facto Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands will continue, and that the already bleak prospects for a resolution to the “conflict” have diminished even further. We have three views on the normalization agreement on pp. 8-11.


Palestinians may feel abandoned by the West, and now the UAE, but there’s no doubt that the entire world rallied in support of the Lebanese people after a surreal and horrific explosion rocked the capital of Beirut on Aug. 4. Preliminary reports determined the blast to be a result of gross negligence on behalf of the corrupt and much despised government. Many believe the blast will have long-term political ripples. Will Lebanon do away with its confessional political system? Can a plan be launched to reinvigorate the country’s collapsing economy? How can the country move forward with so many rival internal factions as well as regional actors such as Israel and Iran ever willing to intervene in the country’s affairs? The questions plaguing Lebanon are many and existential. We delve into some of these issues, and tell you how you can help the humanitarian situation, on pp. 32-35.


Sometimes Israel and the United States are mirror images of each other and that is not something either country should be proud of. Americans were sickened when they saw a policeman’s knee pressing on George Floyd’s neck during his arrest for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill in Minneapolis. Americans and Israelis should also be appalled by another incident on Sept. 1, when an Israeli soldier was filmed with his knee pressing on the neck of a Palestinian man being handcuffed at a protest against Israeli settlement construction in the village of Shufa, near Nablus. Khairi Hanoon is a well-known activist in his 60s. Unlike Floyd he lived. See pp. 18-19 for an article that helps explain the “special relationship” between Israel and the United States.


American Jews, especially young liberals are growing disillusioned with Israel. They can’t support racial justice at home and turn a blind eye to injustice in Israel (see pp. 16-17). Jewish Voice for Peace and interfaith groups are helping to elevate Palestinian voices and convince our leaders that they can no longer be “progressive except for Palestine.”


The November 2020 election is almost upon us, and with the high number of mail- in ballots being used this year, votes will start rolling in earlier than ever. (Be sure to mail in your ballots early and closely follow all procedures, especially if your election board requires a signature that matches their records!) We know voting is likely to be more stressful than ever this year for a multitude of reasons, and we know there are many issues to consider when casting your ballot. For the one issue we know our readers all agree on...getting pro-Israel money out of Congress...


This issue features the latest 2020 pro-Israel PAC charts, showing how much money each congressional candidate has received from pro-Israel political action committees. Keep in mind, with all the untraceable “dark money” in politics today, this chart is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the amount of pro-Israel money flowing into campaign coffers. In our next issue, we will publish voting records showing how your member of Congress voted on key pieces of Middle East legislation. It’s important we hold our elected officials accountable, and keep on pestering them to do the right thing, regardless of who is in office.


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