J Street’s Ongoing Response to the Israel-Hamas War and Israeli-Palestinian Crisis

In a moment of crisis and war for Israelis and Palestinians, and with events on the ground and in Washington moving fast, it is extremely important for J Street to be clear about where we stand, what we are advocating for, and what we are encouraging the Biden Administration and Members of Congress to do.

At the start of the Israel-Hamas war, J Street laid out a range of policies and legislation to advance our core principles and priorities in this moment:

  1. We condemn Hamas unequivocally and support Israel’s goal of removing the organization from operational control of Gaza, within the bounds of international law. Hamas is a despicable, inhumane terrorist organization. It has committed – and continues to commit – crimes against humanity. The organization’s leadership must be held accountable and cannot remain in operational control of Gaza post-conflict. That said, Israel’s response to Hamas must differentiate between Hamas and the civilian population of Gaza.
  2. We support making every possible effort to secure the immediate release of hostages. A temporary “humanitarian pause” in the fighting should be utilized to permit productive negotiations around hostage release.
  3. We support the President, the EU and many others who are urging an immediate and meaningful humanitarian pause in the fighting to permit robust assistance to be arranged for Gaza’s civilians. In addition to permitting diplomatic pursuit of hostage release, a pause now and further pauses later can give time and space for creation of specific safe zones for civilians to leave the areas of heaviest fighting with a guarantee of being able to return, and for humanitarian relief to get into those safe zones.
  4. We support a massive commitment to humanitarian relief by the United States that matches its commitment to security assistance for Israel. Congress should approve a supplemental assistance package that includes significant, designated assistance for Gaza civilian relief. The US commitment to humanitarian relief should at least approach its commitment to security assistance for Israel. US funding of weapons and equipment for Israel brings with it responsibility for the well-being of the civilians in harm’s way.
  5. We support consideration of alternative strategies and tactics for removing Hamas from operational control of Gaza that minimize harm to Palestinian civilians. The relentless air campaign and the invasion underway on the ground have killed and will kill thousands – even tens of thousands – of noncombatants. By taking a pause in its actions, Israel can consider alternative strategies and hear more from military veterans of recent urban combat in Iraq among others offering alternatives.
  6. We support the Biden Administration’s efforts to prevent regional escalation. Regional actors from Hezbollah to Iran and other loosely affiliated groups may try to expand the field of fighting. The Biden Administration is right to send clear diplomatic and military signals that it does not want escalation but will not hesitate to respond appropriately to those who try to take advantage of or expand this crisis. The Biden administration must continue as well to press Israel to end settler violence and provocations on the West Bank, aimed at driving Palestinians from their land and villages in particular in Area C while attention is focused on Gaza.
  7. We urge the White House and Congress to impose clear guardrails on Israeli policy as it works to secure further security assistance from Congress in a supplemental aid package. These include ensuring that Israel: take all possible measures to minimize civilian casualties and harm; facilitate robust humanitarian aid; enact zero tolerance for settler violence and bring a halt to all provocative policies and actions on the West Bank and East Jerusalem; and acknowledge that post-conflict arrangements will ultimately result in the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
  8. We call on the President to outline a clear vision to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This conflict did not start on October 7th. It has no military resolution. Only courageous diplomacy to achieve a political resolution leading to a Palestinian state can end this conflict and provide the meaningful security both people crave and the freedom Palestinians must have from occupation, settlements and blockade. J Street has outlined thoughts about how to do this, and we believe the President should commit to recognition of a Palestinian state and lay out a clear vision now of the path to statehood that establishes the rationale for removal of Hamas from operational control of Gaza and clarifies the future the United States envisions.
  9. We urge leaders of all communities – Jewish, Arab, Christian, Muslim and more – to condemn antisemitism and Islamophobia and to express empathy for the suffering of all caught up in this conflict. We are deeply concerned by the upswing in antisemitism, and hate generally, around this conflict. 21st century communications are driving people to extremes, and bad actors are stoking the divisions. All Palestinians cannot be held responsible for the actions of Hamas or other Palestinian groups nor can all Jewish people be held responsible for the actions of the state of Israel.
  10. We call on leaders in politics, education, business and other fields to refrain from silencing opinions they do not like. Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of democracy, which must not be a victim of this conflict. Our commitment to fighting antisemitism is ironclad. We believe efforts to silence legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies by labeling critics of Israeli policy antisemitic only undercuts our efforts to counter this scourge. This admonition applies as well to Israel where we oppose efforts by the government to crack down on organizations expressing alternative viewpoints.

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J Street has endorsed the following legislation and Congressional letters, and urged our endorsed candidates to support and sign on to these measures:

Since October 7, J Street has held the following public webinars and virtual gatherings:

The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza | November 21

Bring Them Home: The Struggle to Protect & Free Hostages in Gaza | November 9

Challenges and Dilemmas of Israel-Hamas Conflict, with Rep. Jason Crow | October 31

Israel’s Response to Hamas: Strategies and Dilemmas | October 26

Community Gathering with Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi | October 18

Community Gathering: Voices of Survivors, Reflections from our Movement | October 12

Expert Briefing: Terror Onslaught, Israel at War with Hamas | October 10

The Homefront: Challenges to Israeli Society During War | October 6

J Street is supporting organizations working to provide much-needed services to those impacted by the devastating attacks and ongoing crisis:

Click here to contribute to these organizations’ vital work, including medical services for victims and resources for Israelis stranded in the US.

Suggested Reading

In this difficult, painful and incredibly consequential time, there are no easy or simple answers for US policy, for Israelis and Palestinians, or for the pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy movement. We continue to work with J Street U students on dozens of campuses, with rabbis, and with all of our supporters to help them navigate the incredibly divisive responses to this war in their communities. We are striving to do all we can, as best we can, to represent the core values and commitments of our organization and our supporters across the country.