Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update

Calling balls and strikes for the pro-Israel community since 2006

September 13, 2020
51 days till Election Day

If you remember nothing else, remember this:

  • Trump deliberately deceived us about COVID. Remember that next weekend when you're not at services or with your family on Rosh HaShanah.
  • Trump is the biggest security threat to Jewish Americans.
  • The Serbia-Kosovo deal is less than meets the eye, and the most tangible result of the UAE deal might be the erosion of Israel's qualitative military edge--for that Trump wants a Nobel Peace Prize.
  • The GOP is running against Biden by making stuff up about his conversation with Begin and lying about Biden's relationship with the Arab American community.
  • Share the election resources toward the end of the newsletter with your friends and family.
  • Read to the end for upcoming events and fun stuff.

You're welcome to read for free, but if you'd like to chip in for the cost of the newsletter, please click here and fill in the amount of your choice. You don't need a PayPal account; the link will allow you to use a credit card. Or you can Venmo @Steven-Sheffey (if it asks, last four phone digits are 9479).


Next weekend is Rosh HaShanah, so look for next week's newsletter on Monday rather than Sunday. On Rosh HaShanah, we ask "who shall live and who shall die." Nearly 200,000 Americans have died because of Trump's incompetence and corruption. Bob Woodward has Trump on tape saying he intentionally misled the American people about COVID. Jennifer Rubin writes that Trump's "actions cost critical time, prevented earlier lockdowns and provided a false sense of security to vulnerable people. In all likelihood, tens of thousands of dead Americans would be alive today if he had acted with minimal competence and honesty." Joe Biden was right.

If you are upset about what Rosh HaShanah looks like this year, if you are upset that you can't be with family or at services, if you are upset about what your kids pre-k through college are going through, if you are saying Yizkor prayers you didn't expect to say a year ago--remember how you feel now when you vote in a few weeks. It did not have to be this way.

Donald Trump is the most serious threat to Jewish (and other minority groups) security in this country in the past half century; it’s not even close.

But what about Serbia, Kosovo, and the UAE? Remember the hoopla about the Serbia-Kosovo announcement? Trump hopes you do, and he hopes you didn't notice that the EU warned Serbia and Kosovo not to move their embassies and Serbia added that it won't move its embassy to Jerusalem if Israel recognizes Kosovo, adding absurdity to absurdity since no one cared where Kosovo's and Serbia's embassy was until it became a GOP talking point. Majda Ruge writes that the Serbia-Kosovo deal was "amateur-hour diplomacy, and the damage done dwarfs any gains."

The UAE deal isn't looking much better. Normalization with Arab states is important, even with countries 1,800 miles away that Israel isn't at war with. But at what price? Moshe Phillips writes that putting "sophisticated American weapons—such as F-35 fighter-bombers—in the hands of an Arab dictatorship—such as the United Arab Emirates" is an "amazingly bad idea."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) warned that the F-35 sale could erode Israel's qualitative military edge and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) authored a letter to Trump telling him that stalwart supporters of Israel will oppose any sale that threatens Israel's qualitative military edge. Israel's security establishment agrees.

What we are seeing with Bahrain jumping on board is currying up to Trump, not real change, and certainly not the change Israel needs (two-state solution and restraint on Iran's nuclear program). But these vague moves toward normalization are what Trump and Bibi need to distract their publics from the problems they have created, and it doesn't seem to bother anyone that the few details that have been made public, such as F-35s and the Temple Mount, are problematic. Yet so many are falling over themselves to issue statements gushing with unequivocal praise for agreements they haven't read and that might not even exist. Given the parties involved--Trump, Bibi, and an assortment of dictators--skepticism is warranted. Let's read the fine print before we cheer.

In the meantime, if moving toward normalization creates the illusion that a two-state solution is less important than it was before, Israel's status as a Jewish, democratic state (and with it, domestic support for Israel in the U.S.), will be further at risk. As Joe Biden said last week, “A two-state solution is the only way to ensure Israel’s long-term security while sustaining its Jewish and democratic identity."

For this Trump wants a Nobel Peace Prize.

Here we go again. Refuting falsehoods risks spreading bringing them to the attention of those who otherwise would not have heard them. But we've reached a tipping point with two of them, so here are the facts:

In 1982, behind closed doors, Joe Biden warned Prime Minister Menachem Begin that continued settlement expansion could weaken support for Israel in the U.S. This came at a time of great tension between the U.S. and Israel, and between Begin and President Reagan, leading Begin to publicly rebuke Reagan. Sources who refused to go on the record slightly reworded Begin’s public rebuke of Reagan and alleged that Begin said to Biden what Begin said to Reagan.

Biden responded on the record that “I hope we are able to put to rest some of the stuff that’s been going around, particularly in a Republican counterpart Jewish organization. They actually went after me, saying that I threatened to cut off aid to Israel – things I never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever did.” Biden has consistently voted for aid to Israel, helped put together the largest aid package to Israel in U.S. history as Vice President, and recently said that conditioning aid to Israel would be “outrageous” and “a gigantic mistake.” You be the judge.

Linda Sarsour is not running for president or any office, but Republicans would rather run against her than Biden. Sarsour did not speak at the Democratic National Convention. She participated in an event organized by Arab Americans held in conjunction with the convention. Hours after she spoke, the Biden campaign said that "Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and a vehement opponent of anti-Semitism his entire life, and he obviously condemns her views and opposes BDS, as does the Democratic platform. She has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever." The Biden spokesperson pointed to this in the Democratic Platform: “We oppose any effort to unfairly single out and delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement, while protecting the Constitutional right of our citizens to free speech.”

Biden later held a call with representatives of the Arab American community. He didn't apologize to Sarsour or take back his disagreement or the fact that Sarsour is not on his campaign. Instead, he clarified that despite his disavowal of Sarsour, the Arab and Muslim communities are welcome in the Democratic Party, which is what any decent person would do.

This is how the Biden campaign described that meeting: “We met to affirm Vice President Biden's unshakeable commitment to working with Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim Americans and to standing up against anti-Muslim prejudice, and to make clear that we regretted any hurt that was caused to these communities. We continue to reject the views that Linda Sarsour has expressed."

Read where Biden stands on issues of concern to the Arab American community. There is no contradiction between what he tells the Arab American community and what he tells the Jewish American community.

Need more information? Check out these great resources:

Tweets of the Week. Daniel Seidemann and Chris Stein.

Catchiest Election Song of the Year. Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby.

Upcoming Events. Dana Gordon and I are hosting Georgia Senate candidate Jon Ossoff on Wednesday, September 23, at noon CT. Contributions are welcome but not required. RSVP to get the Zoom link. Jon is running against Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). Perdue has yet to apologize for anti-Semitic ads he ran against Ossoff.

I guess this is a good problem to have: This list is now so large that while many people are local, even more live outside the Chicago area and have no interest in local news. If you want to be on a list that will receive infrequent newsletters about local issues and events, reply to this email and I'll add you.

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The Fine Print: This newsletter usually runs on Sunday mornings. Unless stated otherwise, my views do not necessarily reflect the views of any candidates or organizations that I support or am associated with. I reserve the right to change my mind as I learn more. Intelligent, well-informed people may disagree with me; read opposing views and decide for yourself. A link to an article doesn't mean that I agree with everything its author has ever said or that I even agree with everything in the article; it means that the article supports or elaborates on the point I was making. I take pride in accurately reporting the facts on which I base my opinions. Tell me if you spot any inaccuracies, typos, or other mistakes so that I can correct them in the next newsletter (and give you credit if you want it). Advertisements reflect the views of the advertisers, not necessarily of me, and advertisers are solely responsible for the content of their advertisements. I read, value, and encourage replies to my newsletters, but I don't always have time to acknowledge replies or to engage in one-on-one discussion. Don't expect a reply if your message is uncivil or if it's clear from your message that you haven't read the newsletter or clicked on the relevant links. © 2020 Steve Sheffey. All rights reserved.