News Roundup for February 29, 2024

February 29, 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.

J Street In the News

What You Need to Know about J Street’s Statehood Proposal, J Street
“Decades of “managing” the conflict rather than solving it have led to relentless bloodshed and loss of life on both sides. In the absence of leadership toward a better future, extremism, retaliation and violence have filled the void. Outlining an achievable, peaceful path to statehood offers a clear alternative to violent struggle and terrorism, which Hamas advocates. An alternate path – with real, achievable gains – will empower moderates, disempower extremists and combat the disenfranchisement and hopelessness upon which terror thrives.”

Top News and Analysis

Palestinian Deaths in Gaza Pass 30,000 as Witnesses Say Israeli Forces Fire on Crowd Waiting for Aid, AP
Israeli troops fired on a crowd of Palestinians waiting for aid in Gaza City on Thursday, witnesses said. More than 100 people were killed, bringing the death toll since the start of the Israel-Hamas war to more than 30,000, according to health officials. Hospital officials initially reported an Israeli strike on the crowd, but witnesses later said Israeli troops opened fire as people pulled flour and canned goods off of trucks.

Starvation Is Stalking Gaza’s Children, The New York Times
Megan Stack writes, “These children are not suffering from drought or crop failure or some other natural disaster. Their hunger is a man-made catastrophe. The Israeli government has slowed and even prevented food aid from entering the besieged Gaza Strip. Even when trucks do get through, Israeli bombardment and, more recently, the growing desperation of hungry mobs have turned food distribution into an arduous and sometimes deadly endeavor.”

Senate Democrats Urge Israeli Ambassador to Allow Greater Humanitarian Aid for Palestinians, Politico
“There are concrete and realistic steps Israel can take to accelerate aid delivery and safety for aid workers,” the lawmakers, led by Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), wrote in a letter first obtained by Politico. Their letter specifically requests that Israel improve deconfliction mechanisms, establish humanitarian aid access points in Gaza, offer a plan for repairing critical infrastructure in Gaza and expand deliveries of aid.

US Weighs Airdropping Aid Into Gaza as Land Deliveries Slow, Axios
The fact the Biden administration is even considering such a move underscores the growing concern within the White House about the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, especially in the north where there is a growing threat of starvation, US officials said. “The situation is really bad. We are unable to get enough aid [in] by truck so we need desperate measures like airdrops,” one US official told Axios.

War Cabinet Sidelines Ben Gvir, Rejects Ramadan Al Aqsa Limits on Arab Israelis, The Times of Israel
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir will not be permitted to bar Arab Israelis from worshiping at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount on Ramadan, Israel’s war cabinet has ruled. The Channel 12 report, said the war cabinet also decided that it would be the sole body to make decisions regarding policy at the flashpoint site.

How Indiscriminate Israeli Fire Killed Half a Family in Gaza, CNN
A CNN special report shares, “The right side of Roba Abu Jibba’s face is almost completely gone – a deep, bloody wound is where her eye should be. The 18-year-old, confused and in pain, lies on a gurney. She tries to explain how she got there. […] After a chance encounter and the discovery of Roba’s identification card under rubble, a weeks-long CNN investigation has been able to piece together what happened during one terrifying night in early January, which left five of her siblings dead. Their story offers a window into the Israeli military’s overwhelming and often indiscriminate use of force in areas where civilians were told they would be safe.”

‘A Giant Gift’: Settler Leaders Hail IDF Approval of New West Bank Settlement, The Times of Israel
Settler leaders hailed the formal approval of municipal boundaries for a new West Bank settlement, a step that implements a government resolution from February 2023 legalizing nine previously illegal outposts in the territory. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who was a key player behind the development, celebrated the decision, as did local settlement leaders.

AIPAC, Explained: The Inside Story of America’s Powerful and Divisive pro-Israel Lobby, Haaretz
Ben Samuels writes, “Much of the overwhelmingly liberal US-Jewish community has grown resentful of AIPAC’s self-appointed role as the monolithic voice of the American-Jewish consensus on Israel. Center-left elements of the US-Jewish community, in particular, have found themselves opposed to AIPAC’s increasingly black-and-white views. The polarization intensified in recent decades as AIPAC used its muscle to fully back Israel’s rightward shift under Netanyahu – to the extent that AIPAC and the Israeli leader have become largely synonymous in Washington over the past three US administrations.”


Local Election Results Are a Flashing Red Light for Israel’s Democratic Camp, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “The antidemocratic forces – the ultra-Orthodox parties, the religious Zionist groups, and the far-right, racist parties – organized in a few communities and scored gains that are disproportionate to the true size of the groups they represent. Conversely, the democratic camp, which for nearly a year turned out weekly for giant demonstrations on Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street and dozens of locations around the country, failed in most cases to translate the anger at the most useless and corrupt government in the country’s history into electoral gains in local governments.”

Hamas Raises Stakes in Gaza Truce Talks by Calling for Ramadan March, Reuters
Hamas called on Wednesday for Palestinians to march to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque at the start of Ramadan, raising the stakes in ongoing negotiations for a truce in Gaza, which President Biden hopes will be in place by then. The call by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh followed comments by Biden that an agreement could be reached between Israel and Hamas as soon as next week for a ceasefire during the Muslim fasting month.

Democrats Push Blinken to Protect Press Freedom in Gaza, The Hill
In a letter sent to Secretary of State Blinken, lawmakers expressed concerns that Israel’s strict limitations on press freedom in Gaza — combined with the physical dangers inherent in covering the conflict — have left the world with a narrow view of what’s actually happening in the region. They’re asking Blinken to work with leaders in Israel and Egypt to do more to protect reporters and civilians from physical harm.

‘Netanyahu’s Overconfidence and Arrogance Led to Oct. 7’: Former PM Olmert [Audio], Haaretz
During a wide-ranging conversation on this week’s Haaretz Podcast, Olmert tells host Allison Kaplan Sommer that for Ben-Gvir, Smotrich and Netanyahu, Gaza is only the beginning – they are aiming for “Armageddon, that will make it possible to expel many of the Palestinians in the West Bank.”

Humanitarian Workers Face Deportation From Israel After Freeze on Visas, The Guardian
Israel has stopped issuing visas for international staff of humanitarian organisations that work in occupied Palestinian territories, hampering efforts to get food and other vital supplies into Gaza. Dozens of foreign aid workers, including heads of organisations, have had to leave Israel and the Palestinian territories, or are overstaying their visas and risking deportation so they can continue working.

‘Uncommitted’ Vote in Michigan a Warning Shot Over Biden’s Support of Israel, The Guardian
Although Biden took the state, it was the hastily organized but committed grassroots campaign against the president’s support for the Israeli government’s war with Gaza that took the night. Organizers with Listen to Michigan, had hoped for a showing of 10,000 votes. They returned more than 100,000 – a clear demonstration of the growing fractures among the diverse coalition that brought Biden to power in 2020.

In Israeli-Occupied Hebron, Palestinians Describe Living in ‘A Prison’, The Washington Post
To leave their home, the Idris family has to navigate an obstacle course. “This is our secret way,” said Firas Idris, 57, gesturing toward the 12-foot ladder that leads over a garden wall and into the basement of a neighboring building. After two flights of stairs, a door opens onto the street. The Israeli military blocked off the house in Hebron with razor wire earlier this month, penning in around 20 members of the extended family.

Opinion and Analysis

Does the Biden Administration Want a Long-Lasting Ceasefire in Gaza?, The New Yorker
Isaac Chotiner interviews John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman. Kirby says, “If a temporary ceasefire can hold for six weeks or so, we think it’s possible that it might be extended, with a view toward seeing if there’s a way to end this conflict. That’s not the same as saying we’ve changed our mind on a general ceasefire. We want to see the conflict end. We think that a temporary ceasefire can be useful for all the three purposes I gave you, and maybe, potentially, extended even further so that we can get to an end of the conflict.”

BDS Is Counter-Productive. We Need to Crack Down on Israeli Settlements Instead, The Guardian
Jo-Ann Mort argues, “Like Biden, progressives in the US and across the world need to differentiate between the state of Israel within the “green line” and the occupied Palestinian territories – from which a viable Palestinian state must emerge. […] Ignoring the Israeli left and promoting BDS campaigns that are often aimed precisely at the very opponents of the occupation – for instance, artists and those in academia – is counterproductive at the least, harmful at the most.”

Why Using More Than the IHRA Definition Strengthens, Not Undermines, the Fight Against Antisemitism, eJewish Philanthropy
David Schraub and Jonathan Jacoby share, “These distinctions and nuances are not simply academic matters. They are critical for developing strategies to fight antisemitism. If those with whom we disagree about Israel — sometimes vehemently — are labeled antisemitic without regard to nuance or context, we cannot form cross-community alliances against Jew-hatred with them. A viable strategy against antisemitism must recognize this.”