J Street News Roundup 7/28/2014

July 28th, 2014

J Street works to promote an open, honest and rigorous conversation about Israel. The opinions reflected in articles posted in the News Roundup do not necessarily reflect J Street's positions, and their posting does not constitute an endorsement from J Street.

Questions, comments, or suggestions? Please email newsroundup@jstreet.org

J Street in the News

European anti-Semitism is focus as Jewish leaders, Democratic senators meet, JTA

At the annual meeting between Democratic senators and Jewish groups, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami focused his remarks on supporting Secretary of State Kerry’s efforts to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

A prayer for peace, Jewish Journal

J Street U at Berkeley leader Ariel Brenner argued, “Nothing is going to end the ever-heightening escalation of violence other than a peace agreement; there is no other viable long-term solution. What are we going to do to make that a reality?”

Tzaddikim shining like stars, T’ruah

In Israel, J Street Boston Rabbinic Cabinet Co-Chair Rabbi Toba Spitzer wrote, “May those in power, those controlling the rockets and the guns and the bombs, see through the complexity and the brokenness to a real solution, to a way forward for every child, every human being, in this region.”

Obama needs to play the honest broker in the Mideast, Financial Times

Edward Luce said that “other groups, such as J Street, which promotes ‘moderate and sane’ (as opposed to blind) support for Israel, are growing in influence.”

What Would Happen if Hamas Lost Its Rockets?, US News and World Report

Paul Shinkman noted that J Street and other pro-Israel groups supported a Congressional letter backing Israel’s right to defend itself.

Top News and Analysis

LIVE UPDATES: After five-hour lull, sirens sound in Israel's Gaza border communities, Haaretz

Operation Protective Edge entered its 21st day as Israeli ground forces continued their incursion into Gaza. A humanitarian cease-fire that began at 8 am on Saturday collapsed 26 hours later when the IDF announced it was resuming aerial, naval and ground strikes on Gaza in retaliation for repeated rocket barrages. Israel's security cabinet voted on Saturday evening to extend the temporary break in fighting but Gaza militants continued to fire rockets throughout the night and the following morning. A Hamas spokesman said that any ceasefire that doesn't ensure that the IDF pulls out of Gaza and the evacuation of the wounded is not acceptable.

Since the operation started, three Israeli civilians and 43 IDF soldiers have been killed. On Sunday, 15 Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip, while 1,065 Palestinians have been killed in all, along with over 6,200 wounded.

Obama presses Netanyahu: It is imperative to reach immediate humanitarian cease-fire, Haaretz

President Obama called Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday, the third such call since the launch of the IDF operation in Gaza. Obama stressed to Netanyahu that it is "strategically imperative" to reach an immediate humanitarian ceasefire "that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement," following operation Pillar of Defense. The president also stressed that the Palestinian Authority must be part of the solution in the Gaza Strip, and that any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must include the disarmament of terrorist organizations and the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.

UN Security Council calls for Gaza cease-fire, Associated Press

The UN Security Council called for “an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire” in the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas at an emergency meeting just after midnight Monday morning.

Even Gaza Truce Is Hard to Win, Kerry Is Finding, The New York Times

After failing to win a deal to end fighting in Gaza last week, Kerry is trying to salvage Plan B: a succession of temporary cease-fires that he hopes might yet open the door to Israeli and Palestinian negotiations for a long-term solution.

A skeptical Congress to weigh Iran nuclear talks' extension, Al-Monitor

President Obama is dispatching his top Iran negotiator and sanctions expert to Congress this week to try to sell a four-month extension of nuclear talks.

An Israel Without Illusions, The New York Times

David Grossman urges, “As soon as the war is over, we must begin the process of creating a new partnership, an internal alliance that will alter the array of narrow interest groups that controls us. An alliance of those who comprehend the fatal risk of continuing to circle the grindstone; those who understand that our borderlines no longer separate Jews from Arabs, but people who long to live in peace from those who feed, ideologically and emotionally, on continued violence.”

To Save Gaza, Destroy Hamas, The New York Times

According to former Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, “Israeli military officials know there is no simple solution — but that a political solution is always better than a military one. But to achieve that political solution, Israel must first arrive at cease-fire negotiations from a position of strength. For that, a significant price must be extracted from Hamas.”


Israeli Official at Heart of Twit Fit Still Blames Hamas for June Kidnappings, The Daily Beast

Weeks after the bodies of three Israeli teenagers were discovered in the West Bank, the Hamas connection to their murderers remains in question.

Netanyahu talks demilitarization of Gaza in US interviews, Haaretz

Netanyahu took his message to the American talk shows on Sunday, accusing Hamas of "violating its own ceasefires," and asking how Americans would react if they were the targets of what he called a "terrorist operation."

Israeli right-wing MKs slam Obama's call for immediate truce, Haaretz

Knesset members from the Likud and HaBayit HaYehudi parties criticized Obama’s demand for an immediate ceasefire and attacked the American administration’s policy of “abandoning the home front” when it comes to the State of Israel.

Kerry's ceasefire draft revealed: US plan would let Hamas keep its rockets, Haaretz

The ceasefire draft Kerry presented to Israel on Friday evening reportedly contained practically no mention of Israel's security needs or of demilitarizing the Gaza Strip of rockets and heavy weaponry or of the need of destroying the tunnels linking Gaza to Israeli territory.

Israel disputes US account of Kerry’s ceasefire effort, Times of Israel

Israeli officials flatly rejected a series of American assertions about Kerry’s ceasefire efforts. In a briefing late Sunday, a senior American official said that the document conveyed by the secretary of state to the Israeli leadership on Friday was not a ceasefire proposal but rather “a draft… that emerged from discussions between a number of parties.” The official, who asked not be named, added that the document “was provided for comment and input, not for rejection or acceptance,” that it was “fully consistent with the Egyptian proposal,” and that it did not aim to satisfy Hamas demands. The official also castigated parts of the Israeli media for misreporting Kerry’s work, mischaracterizing his strategy and motivations, and launching gratuitous attacks on him, including accusations of betrayal.

Abbas fumes at Kerry over alternative ceasefire bid, Times of Israel

One report said that the Palestinian Authority is fuming at Kerry, accusing him of trying to undermine the Egyptian ceasefire initiative endorsed by Israel and the PA last week and rejected by Hamas.

Hamas official claims it rejected Egyptian deal to avoid recognizing Israel, Times of Israel

A Hamas official claimed that the Egyptian ceasefire proposal put forward on July 15 included a preamble calling on Hamas to recognize Israel on the 1967 borders and for the resumption of peace talks, conditions he said that Hamas could not agree to.

Destroy Hamas? Something worse would follow: Pentagon intel chief, Reuters

The outgoing head of the Defense Intelligence Agency warned that the destruction of Hamas would only lead to something more dangerous taking its place.

Peering Into Darkness Beneath the Israel-Gaza Border, The New York Times

Israeli officials acknowledge that it is a difficult technological and operational challenge to destroy all Hamas tunnels and neutralize the threat they pose. The tunnels are well hidden, said one Israeli officer, and some tunnels are booby-trapped. “We are confident we can destroy all or most of the tunnels,” he said. “At least the ones we know about.”

In war-struck Gaza, civilians struggle to get by, Associated Press

Caught in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, Gazan civilians are increasingly struggling to get by. There is no electricity 21 hours a day because power lines have been hit. Water taps have run dry because there's no power to their fuel pumps and tens of thousands of displaced people sleep on the floors of schools and hospitals.

Gaza officials accuse Israel of war crimes at ICC, Associated Press

Top Palestinian officials have accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, filing a complaint Friday to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Thousands of Israelis Protest Gaza War in Rare Outpouring for Peace, Forward

7,000 assembled at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday evening for what became the largest protest against the Israeli military operation in Gaza thus far.

Opinion and Analysis

Kerry's latest cease-fire plan: What was he thinking?, Haaretz

“Kerry isn’t anti-Israeli; on the contrary, he's a true friend to Israel. But his conduct in recent days over the Gaza cease-fire raises serious doubts over his judgment and perception of regional events,” says Barak Ravid.

Truce offer may signal Hamas has reached breaking point, Times of Israel

Avi Issacharoff reports that Hamas “is singing a different tune — less decisive, less fiery. This is partly due to the Gazan public, which is reeling from the destruction.”

Obama gets tough with Netanyahu, for Gaza and/or for Kerry, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev contends that “the brief honeymoon that has characterized the relations between Obama and Netanyahu since the start of Operation Protective Edge on July 8 may have come to an abrupt end on Sunday, in a transatlantic phone call that signaled a return to business as usual, bitter as before.”

Israel’s other war, New Yorker

Etgar Keret writes, “At times it seems that there are two wars going on. On one front, the military is battling against Hamas. On the other, a government minister, who called Arab colleagues ‘terrorists’ on the floor of the Knesset, and hooligans who intimidate peace activists on social media, jointly  persecute ‘the enemy within’: anyone who speaks differently.”

Israel's Conflict Has a Past — and a Future, Forward

“This is not a situation of ein brera — no choice,” says Dahlia Scheindlin. “There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference.”

A Third Intifada? Perhaps, but not quite yet, Haaretz

Anshel Pfeffer warns that “if a truce isn't reached soon, the threats of a Third Intifada may finally materialize. “

An eye for a tooth, Foreign Policy

Daniel Byman explores questions of deterrence in Israel’s operation against Hamas.

Why Is Israel Losing a War It's Winning?, Atlantic

Jeffrey Goldberg offers five reasons “Israel is losing the war in Gaza, even as it wins the battle against Hamas’s rocket arsenal.”

An Unusual Dialogue, Partners for Progressive Israel

Paul Scham shares a back-and-forth with Richard Landes.