News Roundup for December 8, 2023

December 8, 2023
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J Street In the News

J Street Threatens to Pull Support for Israel Military Campaign if Government Does Not Change ‘Conduct and Attitudes’, The Forward
“The progressive US Jewish organization J Street on Thursday said it was on the verge of announcing opposition to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, citing the toll on Palestinian civilians and the Israeli government’s refusal to lay groundwork for a long-term solution to the Palestinian conflict. “If we do not see evidence soon that the government of Israel is, in fact, making meaningful changes to its conduct of the war and its attitudes regarding post-war arrangements, then J Street will no longer be able to provide our organizational support for the current military campaign,” the organization said in a statement.”

All of a Sudden, It’s No Longer Taboo to Talk About Placing Conditions on the Billions of Dollars in US Aid to Israel, Business Insider
“But it’s not the images [coming out of Gaza] alone — it’s also due to the efforts of groups like J Street, a more liberal pro-Israel organization that questioned Democratic presidential candidates in 2019 about conditioning aid. “We were asking a lot of questions about aid, and what people think about it, whether it should be like a blank check, or whether we should be having more restrictions and guardrails on how it can be used,” said Logan Bayroff, VP of Communications at J Street.”

An Exchange of Views on Progressives and the Link between Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism, The Jerusalem Strategic Tribune
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir shares, “It is undeniable that critics of Israel can sometimes cross the line into antisemitism, as we saw recently, and they should be held accountable when they do. It is also clear that the threat of antisemitism has risen dramatically. We have been and continue to be outspoken about this. However, the approach that automatically links anti-Zionism and antisemitism is not presenting the true reality and is counterproductive for both the fight against antisemitism and against anti-Zionism. We find that some in the United States seek to label all critics of Israel as antisemites – including Jews themselves – and find that this is deeply unhelpful to the very important goal of countering antisemitism.”

Moment of Truth for Israel’s Government: Either Heed Biden Administration Limits or Lose US Support for Military Operation, J Street
“It is untenable for any ally receiving generous American economic, military and diplomatic support to act in a way that disregards the United States and our goals, values and interests. The Prime Minister and the extremists in his Cabinet show no interest in cracking down on lawless and thuggish violence on the West Bank, in opening up anywhere near sufficient channels for humanitarian assistance in Gaza or in minimizing the level of civilian casualties there – even as we recognize that Hamas itself has placed civilians in the crossfire. Perhaps most significant, the Netanyahu government has made clear it has no interest in establishing an independent Palestinian state at any point – the only conceivable long-term solution to the underlying conflict.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel’s Map and Evacuation Messages for Gaza Are Adding to the Chaos, NPR
But the map proved difficult to navigate on computers and the cellphones that most Palestinians use. Residents are asked to locate their neighborhood on a numbered grid, memorize its zone number and then “track and follow the instructions of the [Israeli military] through various media outlets and obey them.” Many residents in Gaza have little electricity or internet service, making it difficult to access the map. And those who have identified their zone according to the map have received mixed messages from both the Israeli military and other residents about whether their zone had been ordered to evacuate.

Freed Hamas Hostages Come Home to Find Kibbutz Destroyed, NBC News
Irena Tati and her daughter Yelena Trupanov spent more than seven weeks in Hamas captivity in Gaza, and just over a week after they were freed they returned to survey the wreckage of the burned-out kibbutz that had been their home. Ordinarily, the residents of Kibbutz Nir Oz would be lighting candles Thursday for the first night of Hanukkah. But there are few residents around, the communal dining hall is riddled with bullet holes, and the kitchen is burned out.

‘We Have No Choice’: Illness in Gaza as Clean Water Becomes a Luxury, The Guardian
In a house in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, some of the women in a building housing 60 people decided to cut their hair short to save on water when washing. Others in southern Gaza say they’re stretching out the time between showers, or flushes of the toilet. Everyone knows exactly how much water they have, and how much they can store. Above all they know that water, especially water that is both safe to drink and doesn’t taste bad, has become precious.

Senate Democrats Press Biden for More Oversight Over Civilian Deaths in Gaza, The Washington Post
The senators said they believe “there is insufficient transparency around weapons transfers to Israel,” noting that Israel is one of a few countries exempt from typical congressional notification requirements for military sales. They also point out that the Defense Department has not issued a statement or guidelines on “how Israel should use US weapons.” They raised concerns specifically about the use of 155mm artillery shells, which they say are particularly harmful to civilians because they are unguided and have a large blast radius.

Israeli Tank Fire Killed Reuters Journalist Issam Abdallah in Lebanon, Reuters
The group of seven reporters from AFP, Al Jazeera and Reuters were all wearing blue flak jackets and helmets, most with “PRESS” written on them in white letters. There were journalists from at least another seven media outlets in and around Alma al-Chaab that day. “The evidence we now have, and have published today, shows that an Israeli tank crew killed our colleague Issam Abdallah,” Reuters Editor-in-Chief Alessandra Galloni said. “We condemn Issam’s killing. We call on Israel to explain how this could have happened and to hold to account those responsible for his death.”

US Officials Privately Raise Fears Of Israel-Gaza Conflict Sparking A Broader War, HuffPost
Biden administration officials at multiple government agencies have in recent days expressed concerns that Israel may be seeking American military aid for fighting in Lebanon, two US officials told HuffPost. Such a step would mark a major escalation, almost certainly proving extremely deadly for civilians in both Lebanon and Israel. It could also force a confrontation with Iran, a regional heavyweight that backs the powerful Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

Biden Is Keen to Let Israel Play Out Offensive Against Hamas in Gaza, but Sets a Clear Price, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “Despite the administration’s growing interest in ending the war, Israeli political and defense officials haven’t gotten the impression that the Americans are close to slapping Israel with an ultimatum. US President Joe Biden apparently thinks the IDF should be allowed to complete its offensive in the Khan Yunis area and thereby exert increased pressure on Hamas, in the hope of taming its leaders’ desire to continue fighting. It’s reasonable to assume that Washington will let Israel keep fighting for another month or maybe a little longer, if the battles don’t result in further mass Palestinian civilian casualties and if Gaza’s humanitarian crisis doesn’t spin out of control.”


UN Says Its Gaza Aid Humanitarian Program in ‘Tatters’ Amid Fighting, The Washington Post
The intense fighting in the south as well as parts of the north have disrupted communications and travel across the Gaza Strip and made the provision of aid largely impossible, according to Martin Griffiths, the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs. “We do not have a humanitarian operation in southern Gaza that can be called by that name anymore,” he said, emphasizing that despite Israeli assurances, there were no safe zones which were needed “to protect civilians and thus to provide aid to them.”

Washington Faces UN Showdown Over Fresh Resolution for Gaza Ceasefire, The Guardian
The US deputy envoy, Robert Wood, said the Biden administration did not support the Gaza issue being brought to the UN security council at this point. “We remain focused on the difficult and sensitive diplomacy geared to getting more hostages released, more aid flowing into Gaza and better protection of civilians,” he told Reuters. The diplomatic price the US would have to pay for vetoing a ceasefire call is high, but Washington believes a ceasefire would leave Hamas entrenched in Gaza.

Egypt Warned Israel of “A Rupture” in Relations if Palestinians Flee to Sinai, Axios
Egypt sees the war in Gaza as a threat to its national security and wants to prevent Palestinian refugees from crossing the border into its territory. Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have been concerned since the early days of the war that Israel would push Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt — and not allow them to return after the war.

US Officials Meet With Head of Israeli Civil Commission on Oct. 7 Sexual Violence, The Times of Israel
US presidential adviser Jennifer Klein reiterated US President Joe Biden’s “commitment to exercising all financial, diplomatic and legal tools to address sexual violence in conflict, and the ongoing efforts by the Administration to secure the release of the women and girls that continue to be held as hostages by Hamas.” Meanwhile, US Vice President Kamala Harris joins Biden in condemning the sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas on October 7.

Israeli Education Ministry Orders Temporary School Ban for Palestinian Students Released in Hostage Deal, Haaretz
The move, which prohibits the students from receiving an education for a specific period, contravenes the legal right to education. Israel’s Education Ministry did not respond to Haaretz’s query about whether it had received a legal opinion supporting the decision. A source familiar with the matter said there are currently 48 students on the list of children banned from returning to school, some of whom were arrested in recent weeks.

Over 200K Palestinians Who Worked in Israel Remain at Home Two Months Into War, The Times of Israel
The move has resulted in over $350 million in lost revenue for the West Bank economy each month. The crisis is compounded due to the monthly tax revenues that the PA hasn’t received from Israel since the war started. Israel decided to deduct some $275 million from the funds that belong to Ramallah, leading the PA to refuse to accept any of the revenues, which make up over 60% of its budget. Thousands of PA employees have not been receiving their salaries as a result.

Palestinian PM: Working With US on ‘Day After’ Plan, Which Must Include Hamas, Haaretz
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told Bloomberg that dismantling Hamas is unrealistic. He also said he believes that Hamas should take part after the war in building a new independent Palestinian state that includes the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Shtayyeh said that US officials visited him this week to discuss a day-after plan in Gaza. They agreed that Israel shouldn’t reconquer Gaza, establish a security zone there or exile Palestinian residents.

500 Staffers of Jewish Groups, Most of Them Progressive, Appeal to Biden to Press for Ceasefire, JTA
The letter, which does not necessarily reflect the views of the signatories’ employers, is the latest sign that differences among American Jews regarding Israel’s response to Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 invasion are becoming more public and pronounced. A number of Jewish Congress members now back a ceasefire, after having initially presented a unanimous voice in support of Biden’s backing for Israel.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s War Against Hamas Is Just, but It Must Be Fought Justly, The Washington Post
Senator Chris Van Hollen shares, “I’m calling upon President Biden to require more accountability from the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. He should insist the prime minister produce a verifiable plan to reduce the unacceptable level of civilian casualties and fully cooperate with our efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza. Until then, the United States should not support the current resumption of hostilities. […] The United States is not a bystander here. Israel is the largest annual recipient of US security assistance, totaling more than $39 billion over the past 10 years alone. And right now, bombs and artillery made in America and paid for by Americans are being used in Gaza.”

Israel Cannot Beat Hamas. It’s Time to Halt the Fighting and Think Ahead, Haaretz
Tom Mehager writes, “The time has come to recognize that victory is not in the cards, no matter how many cruel blows we administer on Gaza and its hapless population. […] What can be done, then? First, Israel must strive to resume the cease-fire, to obtain a comprehensive agreement for the release of all the hostages and to settle accounts with everyone who bears responsibility for the debacle. Afterward, we must commit to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in exchange for a long-term cease-fire, of around 15 years, and move to realize this promise.”

“Imagine a Child Gets Stabbed 26 Times”, Slate
Aymann Ismail shares, “They told him over the phone, about an hour after it happened. Odai Alfayoumi still looked stunned as he sat across from me, with some sweets and coffees on the table. Pictures of a young boy surrounded us on the shelves. Alfayoumi’s fingers were folded, and he mostly looked away while we talked. When he did look me in the eyes, I could see that his own eyes were red, as if he’d just cried before I arrived. Wadee was 6 years old. It didn’t compute. Who would kill a 6-year-old?”