News Roundup for December 6, 2023

December 6, 2023
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J Street In the News

Statement on Passage of House Resolution that States Unequivocally that All Anti-Zionism is Antisemitism, J Street
“While we will never waver in calling out antisemitism from any corner, we have been equally clear that not all beliefs, statements and actions that are anti-Zionist are also antisemitic. Unfortunately, while the Kustoff-Miller resolution (H.Res.894) rightly denounces antisemitism, supports the Jewish community, and rejects terror, the resolution states “clearly and firmly” that “anti-Zionism is antisemitism” – a blanket, inaccurate and ultimately counterproductive statement with no recognition of the complexities of the Jewish people or the definition of Zionism and anti-Zionism itself.”

In Rare Israel Rebuke, US Restricts Visas on Extremist Settlers, AFP
“J Street, the left-leaning pro-Israel US group that is frequently critical of Netanyahu, praised the visa restrictions as an “important first step.” It said that the Biden administration should specifically restrict two far-right ministers in Netanyahu’s cabinet, Minister for National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.”

Top News and Analysis

Israeli Forces Storm Khan Younis in South Gaza, Killing Scores of Palestinians, Reuters
Israeli forces stormed southern Gaza’s main city on Tuesday in what they called the most intense day of combat in five weeks of ground operations against Hamas militants, and hospitals struggled to cope with scores of Palestinian dead and wounded. In what appeared to be the biggest ground assault in Gaza since a truce with Hamas unravelled last week, Israel said its troops – who were backed by warplanes – had reached the heart of Khan Younis and were also surrounding the city. Hamas’ media office said on Tuesday at least 16,248 people including 7,112 children and 4,885 women had been killed in Gaza by Israeli military action since Oct. 7.

‘Chaos and Yelling’: Freed Hostages, Family Members Clash With Netanyahu in Meeting, The Times of Israel
Those who were present at the gathering in Herzliya told media outlets afterward that voices were raised and that Netanyahu did not engage directly with any of their demands, largely reading remarks off of a piece of paper, angering those present. In recordings, some attendees could be heard screaming at the prime minister to resign. In leaked excerpts from the meeting, Netanyahu could be heard telling the families “there is no possibility right now to bring everyone home. Can anyone really imagine that if that was an option, anyone would refuse it?” — a statement met with outrage from many.

US Imposes Visa Ban on Israeli Settlers Who Attacked Palestinians, Axios
The move shows how concerned the Biden administration is about escalating attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank — and that the Israeli government isn’t doing enough to prevent the violence. It is the first time the US is sanctioning extremist settlers since the Clinton administration, the officials said.

Israel’s New Grid Maps Add to Confusion and Anger in Gaza, NBC News
This grid-based map has been derided by international aid agencies and people in Gaza. They say it is a confusing system that many inside the densely populated strip will be unable to access because of the intermittent electricity and internet coverage. Furthermore, Palestinians and international observers of Israel’s aerial and ground operation say that — with or without a map — nowhere in this heavily bombarded and besieged enclave is safe.

Despite Israeli Intelligence Warnings About a Hamas Attack, the Army Didn’t Evacuate the Nova Festival, Haaretz
Hours before Hamas’ October 7 terror attack, Israel’s security forces had enough warning signs to prepare – at least partially – for the possibility that terrorists would seek to infiltrate from Gaza into Israel. Despite the fact that the Gaza Division’s Northern Brigade approved the Nova music festival’s staging in the Kibbutz Re’im parking lot, was responsible for its security, and its commander was aware of the warnings, no one in the IDF notified the thousands of party-goers or the party’s organizers of their concerns, or demanded that the event be shut down.

As Israel-Hamas War Expands, US Pledges More Aid for Palestinians, Including a Field Hospital Inside Gaza, CBS News
The US plans to help establish a field hospital inside the war-torn Gaza Strip for civilians wounded amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the US Agency for International Development announced Tuesday. USAID Administrator Samantha Power made the announcement — part of a new $21 million aid pledge for Gaza and the West Bank — as she arrived on a US military plane carrying humanitarian supplies that flew into Egypt on the 60th day of the war, which looked set to expand after a brief cease-fire.

Israel Has Vowed to Destroy Hamas. Yet the Group Remains Largely Intact, The Washington Post
Loveday Morris writes, “At least 5,000 Hamas militants have been killed, according to three Israeli security officials, leaving the majority of its estimated 30,000-strong military wing intact. The Israeli officials spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing military operations and details that have not been made public. Operations in the north are far from complete. Though much of Gaza City has been leveled by airstrikes, ground forces have yet to enter some of Hamas’s key strongholds there.”

Biden’s Strategy Faces a Test as Israeli Forces Push Into Southern Gaza, The New York Times
Peter Baker writes, “The nightly phone calls between Washington and Jerusalem have turned increasingly fraught and the public messages by some of the administration’s top officials have become sharper in recent days. The friction was evident on Tuesday when the State Department imposed visa bans on Israeli settlers in the West Bank who have committed violence against Palestinians. At the same time, in defiance of Washington’s warnings, Netanyahu said that Israel’s military would maintain security control over Gaza long after defeating Hamas.”


‘It’s Chaos:’ Starving Gazans Dig for Food, Supplies Under the Rubble, CNN
Kamil Al-Raie told CNN that hunger had driven Gazans to such desperate measures. “Look at the people,” he said, referring to the crowd of Palestinians digging through the rubble. “This is all from hunger.” Gaza’s entire population is in need of food assistance, according to the World Food Programme, adding that at the start of the crisis, the relief organization was operating with 23 bakeries. “But food systems are collapsing. The last bakery that WFP had been working with was shut down because it had no fuel or gas,” the UN agency said.

UN Hears Accounts of Sexual Violence During October 7 Attacks by Hamas, The Guardian
The United Nations has heard accounts of sexual violence during the October 7 attacks by Hamas, in a meeting where speakers also attacked women’s rights activists and UN officials for not doing more to investigate or condemn these crimes. Israeli officials and frontline workers, senior US politicians, and activists from both countries spoke at the meeting on Monday, organized in part by former Meta executive Sheryl Sandberg. She told those gathered that “silence is complicity”.

Unexploded Bombs, Many US-Made, Could Make Parts of Gaza Uninhabitable, The Washington Post
Riddled with hundreds if not thousands of unexploded ordnance, ranging from makeshift rockets built by Hamas to high-tech munitions provided to Israel by the United States, “the contamination will be unbelievable, like something from World War II,” said Charles Birch, an explosives clearance expert for the UN Mine Action Service who was in Gaza at the height of the bombing campaign. Birch estimated it would cost tens of millions of dollars and take many years to make the entire area safe.

Israeli Police Greenlight Far-right March Rallying for ‘Full Jewish Control’ Over Temple Mount, Haaretz
Israel’s police has authorized far right Jewish activists to march on the Temple Mount/ Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Thursday evening to demand an end to control by the Waqf, the Islamic endowment which administers the holy site. The activists are calling to “restore full Jewish control over the Temple Mount and Jerusalem,” against Waqf control that has traditionally declared strong opposition to any Jewish religious expression there.

Suspect Charged With Hate Crimes for Allegedly Assaulting Israeli Near Times Square, The Times of Israel
According to the indictment, in the Times Square incident 11 days after the Hamas attack, defendant Yehia Amin, 28, allegedly stalked and punched a 23-year-old Jewish Israeli who was walking with four friends at around 9:30 p.m. The Jewish men were all wearing kippahs when they passed by Amin, who recognized them as Jewish and began to pursue them.

Former Biden Official Warns of Looming Humanitarian Catastrophe in Gaza, Haaretz
“You can’t keep saying ‘We want Israel to follow international law,’ having Israel quite manifestly not doing that and not adjust your policy,” said Refugees International President Jeremy Konyndyk, noting the potential leverage the US has, such as conditioning aid or pulling diplomatic cover at the United Nations. “I don’t think it’s going to be possible to maintain this lockstep support for a military operation about which they have deep concerns,” he says, “while also claiming they’re trying to prioritize civilian protection.”

Israel Now Willing to Discuss Post-war Gaza, US Officials Say, Axios
Israel is showing more willingness to discuss plans for Gaza after the war, according to two US officials with knowledge of talks. President Biden’s team has been pressing Israel since the early stages of the war to make a plan for what will happen in Gaza after the conflict that began when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7. The US wants to avoid a governing and security vacuum in Gaza after the war that might allow Hamas rise again, the US officials said.

Opinion and Analysis

When Will You Understand? Women Are Needed in Leadership, Haaretz
Zehava Galon shares, “We saw how a government, composed almost entirely of men and in which the director generals of the government ministries are men, that can’t tie its shoelaces without operating instructions from Ikea. It’s not only the government. Look who sits on the panels on the TV news programs. Men, who talk about the rape of women, about how women fight, about everything. That has to stop. Women aren’t your property, they aren’t a representation of your national honor. They’re human beings, with different life experiences and different viewpoints. Some of them are better, some less so, but these viewpoints could be irreplaceable.”

Israeli Attacks Leave Gaza’s Doctors With Impossible Choices: ‘I Had to Leave Them to Die’, Rolling Stone
Jesse Rosenfeld writes, “As their society is shattered all around them, Gaza’s doctors are trying to save whoever they can. Keeping people alive and giving them a chance to rebuild when their world is blown to bits, they provide the last hope of survival and sanctuary in an enclave that’s home to more than 2 million people. For those pulled from the rubble or cut down in the street, it is people like Dr. Alloh who give them a chance to live. It is their life-saving work that gives people any hope of rebuilding their future as their community is turned into scorched earth.”

Biden Now Regrets the Strength of His Support for Netanyahu – He Must Act Before It’s Too Late, The Guardian
Simon Tisdall notes, “Biden cannot continue to stand back or hide behind his officials. He must step in personally – and draw a line. What’s needed from the White House is less of the sympathetic uncle act, less of the soppy Joe, and more of the hard-headed pater familias and superpower commander-in-chief. Biden needs to stop pleading and wheedling, spell out the concrete costs of this reckless course (including mooted US sanctions), and talk directly, as he did in October, to Israelis and the anti-Netanyahu, anti-extremist majority.”

My Pro-Israel Journey from AIPAC to J Street, The Times of Israel
J Street board member Larry Gellman writes, “AIPAC, the ADL, and Federations in particular no longer reflect the core values of Judaism and the guarantees made in Israel’s Declaration of Independence and have instead become defined by Israelism–a term I first coined in a blog twelve years ago to describe the new religion of many older, wealthier and Republican Jews to conflate being Jewish with the unequivocal and unquestioning support of whatever the government of Israel decides to do even if it means abandoning time honored Jewish values.”