News Roundup for December 11, 2023

December 11, 2023
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J Street In the News

Jeremy Ben-Ami on Ali Velshi [Video], MSNBC
Israel is facing increasing criticism for what many perceive as a disproportionate response in Gaza. Among those reevaluating their position on Israel’s war is J Street, an Israel advocacy group. The group issued a statement calling this a moment of truth for the US-Israel relationship, adding that J Street will withdraw support for Israel’s military campaign unless its government changes its conduct in the conflict and supports post-war negotiations. “This is simply not in keeping [with] the values of the Jewish community and the lessons we should have learned from our own history,” Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of J Street, tells host Ali Velshi.

Pro-Israel PACs Gear Up for Significant Spending to Oust Progressive Congress Members in 2024, Truthout
“AIPAC also uses X, formerly known as Twitter, as a platform to support or oppose candidates in particular races. In August, the organization made a series of posts attacking candidates supported by J Street. A rival pro-Israel group, J Street lobbies for US security assistance and aid to Israel but does support progressive lawmakers. Most politicians backed by J Street’s independent expenditures are progressive Democrats opposed by AIPAC and its affiliates, which support more moderate and conservative candidates in both parties.”

Top News and Analysis

Fighting Rages On Across Gaza as Israel Moves Ahead With Renewed US Support, Time
About 90% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced within the besieged territory, where UN agencies say there is no safe place to flee. The United States has lent vital support to the offensive once again in recent days, by vetoing United Nations Security Council efforts to end the fighting that enjoyed wide international support, and by pushing through an emergency sale of over $100 million worth of tank ammunition to Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked US President Joe Biden for the “important ammunition for the continuation of the war.”

UN Warns of Gaza Starvation as Concerns Rise About Safety in the South, The Guardian
The UN has said Gaza’s civilians face the “immediate possibility” of starvation, amid mounting concerns about Israeli plans to expand military operations in parts of the south where people have sought refuge from fighting. Fuel shortages on Friday halted aid shipments and blacked out communications across the strip. The UN said its trucks could not move and it could not coordinate deliveries. Palestinian network operators said they could no longer power the phone and internet systems.

Most Americans Disapprove of Biden’s Handling of Israel-Hamas War, CBS News
The president’s approach toward Israel elicits increasing differences within his own Democratic party. Now, more than a third of Democrats think he’s showing too much support for Israel, which is up from October. Back home, regarding pro-Palestinian protests taking place, most would prefer Biden take no position on these in the US, or else condemn them —more than support them. Republicans are relatively more inclined to want him to condemn them; a quarter of Democrats would look for support.

‘Buying Quiet’: Inside the Israeli Plan That Propped Up Hamas, The New York Times
The New York Times reports, “Even as the Israeli military obtained battle plans for a Hamas invasion and analysts observed significant terrorism exercises just over the border in Gaza, the payments continued. For years, Israeli intelligence officers even escorted a Qatari official into Gaza, where he doled out money from suitcases filled with millions of dollars. The money from Qatar had humanitarian goals like paying government salaries in Gaza and buying fuel to keep a power plant running. But Israeli intelligence officials now believe that the money had a role in the success of the Oct. 7 attacks, if only because the donations allowed Hamas to divert some of its own budget toward military operations.”

Biden Under Scrutiny After Bypassing Congress to Supply Tank Shells to Israel, The Guardian
The new details on the lengths the administration has gone to arm Israel in its Gaza campaign are likely to draw fresh criticism from US allies in the region and also progressive voters on whose votes Biden could depend to win reelection next year. On Sunday, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, thanked Biden for the security council veto and the arms supplies.

‘We Must Prevent Humanitarian Aid from Being Used as an Instrument of War’, LA Times
Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner General of UNRWA writes “…The US [has] firmly rejected forcibly displacing Gazans out of the Gaza Strip. But the developments we are witnessing point to attempts to move Palestinians into Egypt, regardless of whether they stay there or are resettled elsewhere.   The decimation of northern Gaza and the displacement of millions of Gazans to the south is the first stage of such a scenario, and it is already complete. The next stage is underway – forcing people out of the urban center in Khan Yunis and closer to the Egyptian border. ”

Israel’s Hunt for the Most-Wanted Person in Gaza, Axios
After more than two months of battering the terror group’s positions, Israeli officials believe that eliminating Sinwar and his close associates would accelerate Hamas’ military collapse and an end to the war that began after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7. Israeli intelligence believes Sinwar escaped from Gaza City early in the war and has been hiding in Hamas tunnels under the southern city of Khan Younis.

Netanyahu Must Be Politically Destroyed, or Israel Will Go Down With Him, Haaretz
Alon Pinkas writes, “His responsibility for the October 7 debacle, the worst day in Israel’s history, has been and will increasingly be dealt with extensively. The same applies for his management of the war, which was hitched to his political survival. However, there’s another aspect that deserves closer scrutiny: his foreign policy record. After all, here’s a man who built a career on the false premise of being an astute statesman, claiming even now that his experience is critical to winning the war.”


Israel Is Detaining Civilians in Gaza. Many Have Disappeared, Families Say, The Washington Post
Israeli forces have detained Palestinian civilians in Gaza during two months of war, according to family members and rights groups, who say they have been given no information about the whereabouts, conditions or charges against the missing. Many of those detained have been rounded up by Israeli forces while fleeing south or during raids in the north, friends and family said in more than a dozen interviews. Some were held for hours, outside or in metal trailers, and released. Others have disappeared.

US Vetoes UN Resolution Backed by Many Nations Demanding Immediate Humanitarian Cease-Fire in Gaza, AP
The United States’ isolated stand reflected a growing fracture between Washington and some of its closest allies over Israel’s monthslong bombardment of Gaza. France and Japan were among those supporting the call for a cease-fire.

US Still Unclear on What Happens When the Fighting Between Israel and Hamas Ends, Politico
“We have these discussions with Israel including about the duration as well as how it is prosecuting this campaign against Hamas. These are decisions for Israel to make,” Blinken said Sunday during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But Hamas has decisions to make, too. It could get out from hiding behind civilians tomorrow. It could put down its arms tomorrow. It could surrender tomorrow and this would be over,” he added.

1,593 Israeli Soldiers Wounded Since October 7, IDF Reveals, Haaretz
According to the IDF, the total figure includes 255 soldiers who were seriously wounded, 446 who were moderately wounded and 892 who were lightly wounded. The army released the information on the numbers of wounded soldiers and their condition after Haaretz reported it is refusing to do so.

Israel Is Losing the War in Terms of How the Conflict Is Perceived, Sen. Bernie Sanders Says [Video], CBS News
Sen. Bernie Sanders tells “Face the Nation” that “Israel is losing the war in terms of how the world is looking at the situation” in the Middle East. “I think it would be irresponsible for the United States to give [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu another $10 billion to continue to wage this awful war,” he added.

Security Cabinet Skips Vote on Allowing Return of West Bank Palestinian Workers, The Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who apparently supported the move, did not bring the issue to a vote amid reported disagreements between security cabinet ministers and fears he would not have a majority. The proposal to allow Palestinian workers back into Israel following the unprecedented October 7 massacre was rejected earlier Sunday by the 15-member socioeconomic cabinet.

Israeli Strike Leaves Gaza’s Oldest Mosque in Ruins, NPR
Gaza’s central mosque, with its blue-carpeted floors and stained glass windows, is unrecognizable. Images published Friday by a local Gaza news site and the Gaza City municipality show the mosque’s roof demolished and the main hall covered in rubble, with some arched walls and a damaged, but still intact, minaret. Israel says its aim is to eliminate Hamas in Gaza so it doesn’t carry out another attack like its Oct. 7 assault.

Former US Ambassador to Israel Calls on Netanyahu to Resign, The Hill
Martin Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israel, called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign from his position amid Israel’s ongoing war with the militant group Hamas. His comment came after he shared a link to a New York Times report on how Netanyahu was aware of neighboring country Qatar sending millions of dollars each month to the Gaza Strip.

Opinion and Analysis

My Son Has Been Held Hostage by Hamas for 65 Days and Counting [Audio], The New York Times
Rachel Goldberg’s 23-year-old son, Hersh, was abducted by Hamas at a music festival in southern Israel on Oct. 7. In this interview with the Opinion editor Sarah Wildman, Ms. Goldberg reflects on the past two months of the crisis, the recent pause in fighting and the brief moments of “delicious, thankful respite” she felt as hostages returned home — even as her son remains captive. And she argues the hostage plight should be treated as a humanitarian crisis, not a political one.

It’s Time to Reconsider US Military Aid, Foreign Policy
Howard French writes, “The Gaza crisis offers more than just an opportunity for the United States to think carefully about the nature of its military support for Israel and the guilt by association that may redound to it for continued large-scale death in Gaza, especially if Israel’s tactics are deemed more widely to amount to war crimes. This is also a good moment for Washington to think afresh about the nature and purpose of US power in the world. Far too often when dealing with crises, the US toolbox has been shrunken down to a mere two implements: guns and sanctions.”

The Prisoner Swap: Outside a Prison Where Detained Palestinians Were Released, The New Yorker
Anand Gopal shares, “People surged forward with a roar: a jeep carrying an Israeli flag appeared. It paused, seeming to size up the crowd, then disappeared around a bend. The atmosphere grew more tense, and some youths carried stones in their hands. What happened next was very difficult to parse. Everyone turned and started running, as if on command, and I found myself running with them. A scream pierced the air. We fled in unison—young men in track pants, little girls, grandmothers—amid more screams. I didn’t dare turn around; a moment’s hesitation and I would have been trampled. After about a minute, the mass of bodies slowed, and I looked behind me. I couldn’t see anything, but the air smelled of vinegar, and I realized that the Israelis had tear-gassed the crowd.”