News Roundup for April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024
Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

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.

J Street In the News

J Street: ADL ‘Report Card’ on Campus Antisemitism ‘Deeply Unproductive’, The Times of Israel
“We’ve been fielding frustrated responses across the country from Jewish students who find this deeply unproductive and bristle at the lack of consultation. We’ve heard from students at universities which have received F or D grades that they find the rankings detached from reality. Many Jewish students who engage in human rights advocacy and protests against the Israeli government are also deeply concerned by definitions which appear to designate pro-Palestinian activities as inherently antisemitic,” J Street U Director Erin Beiner says in the statement.

I’m a Jewish College Student. I Wish External Activists Were Promoting Education, Not Confrontation, Forward
President of the National Board of J Street U Lauren Haines writes, “Antisemitism has proliferated across college campuses in recent months following Hamas’ heinous terror attack and the outbreak of a devastating war and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. This dehumanization has been targeted not only at Jews, but also at Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students. Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and racism are inextricably interconnected and stem from the same source of hate, which is why the situation on campuses should not and cannot be approached as a “war” between groups. If there’s anything the past six months have taught us, it’s that wars only divide us further and traumatize all who bear witness to them.”

‘Peace Is the Only Way’, The Jewish Standard
Peace activist Achinoam Nini states “I’m a Zionist best embodied in the philosophy of J Street and similar organizations,” […] “My approach always comes from my love for Israel. I have always borne the flag of peace and continue to do so. Some people no longer believe peace is the way, but I believe it’s the only way. I will continue to work for peace just as I have since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.”

Top News and Analysis

Pentagon Official Arrives in Israel Amid Fears of Iranian Attack, The New York Times
A day after President Biden warned that Iran was threatening a “significant” attack, the top American military commander for the Middle East, Gen. Michael E. Kurilla, arrived in Israel. The general went to coordinate with Israel on what is expected to be imminent retaliatory action by Iran, as well as to discuss the war in Gaza, Defense Department officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Israelis Remain Pessimistic on Future of Country’s Security, Democracy, Times of Israel
84% of Jews overall — 87% of left-wing and centrist Jews, and 84% of right-wing Jews — believe that the policies of the Israeli government toward Hamas in recent years made it easier for the terror group to carry out the October 7 massacres.

US, Israeli Officials Fear Most Hostages Held by Hamas Are Dead, Times of Israel
US officials quoted in the report said that some of the hostages had likely been killed by Israeli strikes on Gaza amid the ongoing war, while others had died of health issues, including injuries suffered during their abduction.

With Little Fanfare, Gaza War Enters a New Stage, from High to Low Intensity, NPR
The Israel-Hamas war is by no means over, and could drag on indefinitely. Yet months of high-intensity battles have given way to a more limited conflict, according to analysts closely tracking the war. The Israeli military now controls most of Gaza, therefore, said Hussein Ibish with the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. “There’s not that much more for the full might of the Israeli military to do. As for Hamas, they still can function as a fighting force. But it’s a much weaker fighting force than it used to be.”

Few Signs of Progress on Aid to Gaza After Israeli Pledges, The New York Times
Facing international condemnation after an Israeli airstrike killed seven workers for an international aid group, Israel said last week that it would reopen the Erez crossing between Israel and northern Gaza for aid delivery. But satellite imagery taken on Tuesday showed that the road leading to Erez on the Gaza side was blocked by rubble from a destroyed building, a crater and other damage that was also visible in images from last week and last month. A spokeswoman for the defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said on Wednesday that another crossing into northern Gaza, near Zikim, a kibbutz, would open instead, and not the one near Erez. It was not clear if that was because of the damage at Erez.


Australia Hints It Could Recognise Palestinian State, BBC
Penny Wong, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs said claims that recognition of a Palestinian state would be “rewarding the enemy” were “wrong”. Israel’s security depends on a two-state solution, she said, and recognition of statehood would help undermine and marginalise Hamas.

Israelis Are Returning to Sderot, the Biggest City Attacked by Hamas, NPR
Sderot adapted to years of rocket fire from Gaza by building rocket-proofed schools. Since the city reopened to returning residents last month, each school is now guarded by a soldier in uniform. On a hilltop near the Gaza border is a daycare center, with a new concrete wall shielding it, and a soldier standing out front.

Iran Signals It Will Limit Response to Israel Attack to Avoid Escalation, Axios
The source added that while the Iranian foreign minister said during the call that the Iranian response will be limited, it is unclear how Iran defines a limited response. Those calls took place after White House Middle East czar Brett McGurk had called the Arab foreign ministers and asked them to pass a message to Iran about the need for de-escalation, according to a source with direct knowledge.

Biden Pressure on Israel Not Enough, Say Dissenting US Officials, BBC
Despite the steps taken by Netanyahu last week, the views of seven current and former US government officials reflect the way internal objections to policy continue to mount. They said many government workers were voicing their frustrations in unofficial forums that include at least a dozen groups on messaging apps, which the officials said counted hundreds of administration staff as members.

Russia, Germany and UK Urge Restraint as Iranian Threat Puts Middle East on Edge, Reuters
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on her Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian to urge “maximum restraint” to avoid further escalation. Russia’s foreign ministry told citizens they should not travel to the Middle East, especially to Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. British foreign minister David Cameron said on Thursday he had made clear to Amirabdollahian that Iran should not draw the Middle East into a wider conflict.

Pentagon Frustrated by Lack of Notice From Israel in Syria Strike, The Washington Post
Three U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss security matters said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other senior defense officials believed Israel should have informed them ahead of time because of the strike’s implications for U.S. troops and interests in the region.

Democratic Coalition Sends Biden a Demand on Military Aid to Israel, The New York Times
A coalition of a dozen liberal organizations and labor unions sent a letter to the White House on Thursday night demanding that President Biden end military aid to Israel until its government lifts restrictions on humanitarian aid to Gaza, the latest indicator of shifting mainstream Democratic opinion on the war. The group includes not only progressive groups like MoveOn and the Working Families Party, but also the mainstream Democratic Center for American Progress and NextGen America.

Israeli Assurances Fail to Move Key Democrat on F-15 Deal, Axios
A key House Democrat reviewed Israel’s assurances on following international law in Gaza but still came away without giving his approval for Israel’s purchase of F-15 fighter jets, Axios has learned. Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) faces pressure from “at least a dozen” Democrats on his committee to exercise his power to effectively block the deal, according to a lawmaker familiar with the matter.

US Tries to Avert Iranian Retaliatory Attack on Israel amid Threat of Wider Regional Conflict, ABC News
Although the U.S. does not have direct diplomatic ties to Iran, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had been working the phones with his counterparts in countries that do — encouraging them to use their influence to dissuade Iran from taking military action in response to the bombing of its consulate in Damascus, Syria.

Opinion and Analysis

Saying What Can’t Be Said: Israel Has Been Defeated – a Total Defeat, Haaretz
Chaim Levinson writes, “We could have been in a better place. The shock of the outbreak of the war could have been a starting point for a swift, powerful, aggressive, eminently justified campaign to quickly root out Hamas wherever that was possible. It could have then been replaced by a coalition of countries with money and good intentions to carry out reconstruction, with global and Arab backing, along with the Palestinian Authority. We could have created a viable alternative to Hamas in Gaza. After six months, there already might have been the first signs of independent government there. Every day and every minute, better decisions could have been made.”

Tonnes of Food is Stuck on Gaza’s Border While the Enclave Nears Famine, The Financial Times
Lucy Rodgers stated, “Stretching along the remote desert road in late March, this almost stationary line of trucks depicts the daily struggle to feed Gaza during Israel’s war against Hamas. Yet even once crossings were complete on that day, the vast bulk of the aid was still stuck on the wrong side of the Gaza border from a population on the brink of famine. Just this backlog of trucks along the 4km stretch — carrying 14,000 tonnes of goods, the equivalent to 19mn ready-to-eat meals — would take more than three days to clear at the typical rate of crossings in March and April. On bad days, aid workers say the queues of trucks can stretch all the way back to Egypt’s El Arish airport — 50km from the border.”

From Selma to Selma, JCall
Sebastien Levi writes, “The current trap is that the growing isolation suffered by Israel risks further reinforcing the nationalist and religious evolution of the country, creating a vicious circle that is difficult to stop. Netanyahu’s legacy is indeed that of self-isolation and accelerated isolation of the country. Netanyahu sees the history of the Jewish people and of Israel as a story of oppression, of loneliness, and it is, in fact, a self-fulfilling prophecy. In thirty years, we will have gone from “Israel among the nations,” the title of Netanyahu’s book, to “Israel shunned by the nations.”

Incorporating Israel and Palestinians Into the Moderate Middle East Axis Is the Solution, The Jerusalem Post
Ronit Levine-Schnur and Daphna Joel argue, “Israel could now act to guarantee its security in all its territory, solidify its standing on the global and regional stage as a legitimate state, and affirm its right to exist. The Israeli government still has the option of leveraging the interests of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries to advance Israel’s paramount interest: living in security. This can only be achieved by incorporating both Israel and the Palestinians into the moderate Middle East axis, which will stand firmly against the jihadist forces in the region.”