News Roundup for April 22, 2024

April 22, 2024
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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.

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J Street In the News

Pro-Israel Groups Target Progressive Lawmakers in Primaries, The Hill
“It’s really disappointing to see groups like United Democracy Project funneling millions and millions of Republican billionaire dollars into Democratic primaries,” said Tali deGroot, J Street’s national political director, referring to the independent expenditure arm of AIPAC. “They’re doing the same thing that Republicans are doing in the House, which is using the war as a political football and dividing the Democratic Party over it at a moment when the future of our democracy is on the line,” she continued.

The Jewish Vote Could Play a Huge Role in 2024. Pennsylvania is About to Put Up an Early Test, NBC
“Before Oct. 7, most candidates would say this issue is so messy. … It’s not necessarily something that I want to focus on in my campaign,” said Tali deGroot, political director for the liberal Jewish group J Street. “And I would have said, ‘Absolutely, this isn’t a voting issue for people we poll year after year.’ And it’s too soon to tell if it’s going to be a voting issue. But not talking about it is not an option.”

Statement on House Passage of National Security Supplemental, J Street
“As we welcome passage of this package, we reiterate our urgent call on the Biden Administration to enforce existing US law – and, specifically, the Biden Administration’s own National Security Memorandum 20. NSM-20 mandates compliance with Section 620I and with international humanitarian law for countries receiving US security assistance.”

Top News and Analysis

House Approves Aid Bills for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, CBS News
The package consists of four bills that were voted on separately and will be combined into one before being sent to the Senate. The first three bills include $60.8 billion to help Ukraine in its war with Russia; $26.4 billion to support Israel, which is fighting Hamas and Iran; and $8.1 billion to counter China in the Indo-Pacific. Humanitarian aid for Gaza, which Democrats said was necessary for their support, is also included.

Scoop: US Expected to Sanction IDF Unit for Human Rights Violations in West Bank, Axios
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to within days announce sanctions against the Israel Defense Forces “Netzah Yehuda” battalion for human rights violations in the occupied West Bank, three US sources with knowledge of the issue told Axios. It would be the first time the US imposed sanctions on an Israeli military unit. The sanctions will ban the battalion and its members from receiving any kind of US military assistance or training. Over the years, the unit stationed in the West Bank became a destination for many “Hilltop Youth” — young radical right wing settlers who weren’t accepted into any other combat unit in the IDF.

After Passover, Israel Faces a Choice: Hostages or War, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “If Israel still wants to rescue all the hostages alive, before they die in the harsh conditions of captivity or are murdered by Hamas, it will have to consider an alternative solution: to cut its losses, declare an end to the war and withdraw from Gaza. Then, when the hostages and bodies of their friends are home, find the excuse (which Hamas will provide) to continue the campaign under better conditions. That is the approach made by some of the IDF Hostages and Missing Center. On Saturday night, the war cabinet convened to discuss the hostages for the first time in almost two weeks. That is not the behavior of leaders who view their return as urgent.”

Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Resigns over Failure to Prevent Oct. 7 Attack, NPR
“The intelligence directorate under my command did not live up to the task we were entrusted with. I carry that black day with me ever since, day after day, night after night. I will carry the horrible pain of the war with me forever,” Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva wrote in his resignation letter, which was provided by the military.

Deadly Israeli Airstrikes Again Hit Rafah, The New York Times
Israeli airstrikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Saturday killed several civilians, including women and children, according to Palestinian state media, sending more fear through an area where over one million displaced Palestinians are crowded into tents and temporary quarters. The airstrikes hit two family homes, killing 10 residents, and missiles and artillery also struck other areas of Rafah and the surrounding area. The Israeli military would not immediately comment on the strikes. It has said the goal of its offensive in Gaza is to eradicate Hamas.


Gaza Hostages Raise Painful Reminders as Jews Prepare for Passover, NPR
Jews around the world begin celebrating Passover on Monday night. The holiday recalls the story of Exodus – escape from Egypt and crossing from captivity into the promised land. This year’s observation is poignant for many following October 7.

Israeli PM Netanyahu Says He Will Fight Any Sanctions on Army Battalions, Reuters
“If anyone thinks they can impose sanctions on a unit of the IDF – I will fight it with all my strength,” Netanyahu said in a statement. Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, a centrist former armed forces chief, said in a statement on Sunday that he spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and asked him to reconsider the matter.

Palestinian President Says He Will “Reevaluate” US Relations After UN Veto, Axios
The practical implications of Abbas’ statement are unclear, but it is the harshest criticism of US policy he has expressed since President Biden assumed office. The US on Thursday voted no and vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to accept Palestine as a full member of the UN.

More Than 14 Palestinians Killed as Violence Flares in West Bank, Reuters
Israeli forces killed 14 Palestinians during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, while an ambulance driver was killed as he went to pick up wounded from a separate attack by violent Jewish settlers, Palestinian authorities said.

White House Condemns Campus Antisemitism as Rabbi Warns Jewish Students to Stay Away From Columbia, Haaretz
“While every American has the right to peaceful protest, calls for violence and physical intimidation targeting Jewish students and the Jewish community are blatantly antisemitic, unconscionable, and dangerous – they have absolutely no place on any college campus, or anywhere in the United States of America,” said White House deputy spokesperson Andrew Bates.

Biden, US Officials Were Surprised by Scale of Iranian Attack on Israel, The Times of Israel
President Joe Biden and security officials watched with “mounting alarm” as the scale of Iran’s ballistic missile attack on Israel became clear last weekend, according to a Sunday report. “This was on the high end, I think, of what we were anticipating,” a senior official was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying of the moments the scope of the Iranian barrage became clear.

Israeli, US Officials Say New Sanctions Due to Conduct of Ben-Gvir, Smotrich, Haaretz
A senior Israeli source told Haaretz that in many of the discussions, American officials pointed a finger at Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir as giving backing to Israelis involved in the violence.

American Leaders Should Stay Out of Internal Israeli Politics, Israel’s President Says, Politico
“Whilst I respect Charles Schumer for his steadfast support of Israel. I would recommend to American political leaders not to intervene as such in Israeli politics, but leave it to the Israeli public and the body politic to take its own decision,” President Isaac Herzog said in an interview with Axel Springer media outlets.

Israel Planned Bigger Attack on Iran, but Scaled It Back to Avoid War, The New York Times
Israel abandoned plans for a much more extensive counterstrike on Iran after concerted diplomatic pressure from the United States and other foreign allies and because the brunt of an Iranian assault on Israel soil had been thwarted, according to three senior Israeli officials.

Opinion and Analysis

Passover in Israel: The Ten Plagues of Netanyahu, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “Death of the firstborn. All these plagues are dwarfed by the October 7 catastrophe, which Netanyahu caused due to the debilitation of the state and the military. A catastrophe that continues in a failed and brutal war in Gaza, where tens of thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of soldiers have been killed; in a pointless confrontation in the north; in the opening of an Iranian front and, above all, in the cries of the Israeli hostages, who are fighting for their lives in Hamas’ tunnels while the prime minister cares nothing for their liberty.”

Iran Seems Like It’s in Escalation Mode – But All-Out War with Israel Is the Last Thing It Wants, The Guardian
Lina Khatib argues, “Iran’s downplaying of the subsequent attack on Isfahan on 19 April, widely attributed to Israel, is in line with its desire to limit direct confrontation with Israel. Iran knows that in targeting Isfahan, near nuclear facilities, Israel is sending it a message about what Israel can do and where it can reach.”

As Israel-Iran Clash Cools, Gaza’s Crisis Remains, The Washington Post
Ishan Tharoor writes, “In a febrile situation, that’s welcome news. The long-rolling shadow war between the [Israel and Iran] yields plenty of scenarios for miscalculation by either side, and experts saw the past week as perhaps one of the riskiest moments yet. […] But there’s less reason for optimism when it comes to Gaza, the besieged territory in Israel’s crosshairs that’s the site of one of the world’s most staggering humanitarian catastrophes.”