News Roundup for February 8, 2024

February 8, 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

Democrats Have Become Way More Comfortable Putting Israel Aid on Hold Amid War in Gaza, Business Insider
“J Street, a more left-leaning pro-Israel group, said that Democrats were right to reject the aid without the humanitarian provisions. “To provide billions in weapons and materials for Israel’s war effort without a dime to meet basic Palestinian humanitarian needs is counter to America’s and Israel’s interests and values,” said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami.”

Tackling the Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza [Video], J Street
Senator Peter Welch, longtime J Street champion, Tania Hary, Executive Director of the Gaza-focused Israeli human rights group Gisha, and Ahmed Alkhatib, a Palestinian-American humanitarian advocate who grew up in Gaza, join J Street’s Dr. Debra Shushan for a conversation unpacking the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and potential paths to alleviate the crisis.

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu Dismisses Hamas Ceasefire Proposal, Insists on Total Victory, Reuters
Netanyahu renewed a pledge to destroy the Palestinian Islamist movement, saying there was no alternative for Israel but bringing about the collapse of Hamas. “The day after is the day after Hamas. All of Hamas,” he told a press conference, insisting that total victory against Hamas was the only solution to the Gaza war.

Israel’s Self-Destruction, Foreign Affairs
Aluf Benn writes, “To live in peace, Israel will have to finally come to terms with the Palestinians, and that is something Netanyahu has opposed throughout his career. He has devoted his tenure as prime minister, the longest in Israeli history, to undermining and sidelining the Palestinian national movement. He has promised his people that they can prosper without peace. He has sold the country on the idea that it can continue to occupy Palestinian lands forever at little domestic or international cost. And even now, in the wake of October 7, he has not changed this message.”

‘Our Last Stop Is Rafah’: Trapped Palestinians Await Israeli Onslaught, The Guardian
Large areas are occupied by tented encampments, which have encroached even on some of Rafah’s cemeteries. Aid officials have described the city as a “pressure cooker of despair”, warning that a full-scale Israeli offensive on an area so overcrowded could cause large-scale loss of civilian life, and could be a war crime.

Hostages’ Families to Intensify Their Campaign as Netanyahu Rebuffs Mediation Efforts, Haaretz
Even before the report claiming at least thirty of the remaining hostages are dead was published, the hostages’ families and the Hostages and Missing Families Forum had been waging a fraught battle to demand that the government immediately sign a deal that would bring all the hostages home, at any price. Now, the families will doubtless use this report to underscore just how urgent this is, and how much they fear that dozens of other hostages will come to the same tragic end.

Israel Scorns America’s Unprecedented Peace Plan, The Economist
“Netanyahu has declared his intention to fight for “absolute victory” and his opposition to any Palestinian state. Arab leaders want America to exert more pressure on him. For now, despite growing public disagreement, the Biden administration thinks that halting the flow of weapons to Israel would only encourage Hamas and members of Iran’s “axis of resistance.” Instead, Blinken stressed “measures to protect civilians in Gaza” and admitting more humanitarian supplies. On February 1, America also imposed sanctions on four Jewish settlers accused of violence against Palestinians — something Netanyahu criticised as “very problematic.”

‘The Destruction Is Massive … It’s a Disaster Area’: Israeli Soldiers Speak About Fighting in Gaza, The Guardian
IDF soldiers were not authorized to speak to the media and were interviewed by the Guardian on condition of anonymity. “The destruction is massive,” said one noncommissioned officer (NCO) who was in Gaza for two months with an infantry unit. “What really blew my mind was that there is nowhere for anyone to come back to. There aren’t even three walls connected. It looks like a scene of a zombie attack or something. It’s not a war zone. It’s a disaster area, like out of Hollywood.”

An Israeli “Buffer Zone” Could Shape Gaza’s Post-War Reality, Jewish Currents
Alex Kane reports, “For months, United States and European officials have repeatedly voiced opposition to the idea of Israel’s permanent militarized border zone within Gaza, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying in November that there should be “no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza” and “no reduction in the territory of Gaza”—both outcomes that would likely result from such a zone. But the AP’s analysis, coupled with other recent events, indicate that Israel is forging ahead with creating its “fire zone” despite such objections.”


Report: Eisenkot Slams Netanyahu for Time-Wasting, Failure to Make Key War Decisions, The Times of Israel
The report quoted Eisenkot, a former IDF chief of staff, as telling his National Unity party colleagues in a faction meeting Wednesday that “the prime minister is procrastinating.” “He does not consult and he does not make decisions on crucial issues,” Eisenkot said, adding that Hamas was benefiting from this inaction.

AIPAC-Affiliated Attack Ads Raise Questions over Israel Policy in California House Race, Jewish Insider
“Despite State Sen. Min’s support of Israel, and a broad coalition of endorsements from the Jewish community, a number of Republican donors at AIPAC are upset that he has called for Bibi Netanyahu to be held accountable for the security failures on Oct. 7 and Netanyahu’s failure of leadership during this crisis,” Driscoll said in a statement shared with JI on Tuesday. “Sen. Min does not believe in the annexation of West Bank settlements, he had hoped that a constructive dialogue could be had. It appears they disagreed.”

If Hostages Aren’t Returned, It Will ‘Stain Israel Forever,’ Released Women Warn at Press Conference, The Times of Israel
Freed hostage Adina Moshe directs her remarks to the prime minister and his family: “I was there but I was released and my friends, the young men and women I educated, are still there. I think some of them didn’t survive because they were moved from place to place,” she cries. “I turn to you again, Mr. Netanyahu, it’s all in your hands.”

Palestinian American Man Stabbed After Attending Protest: ‘He’s In Agony’, HuffPost
When the four young men pulled up at a stop sign, a passerby attempted to rip a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf hanging out of their car window, Nizar told HuffPost. The man allegedly opened the car door and attacked Zacharia. The man allegedly pulled out a knife and stabbed Zacharia in the back, breaking one of his ribs.

Blinken to Bibi: US Very Concerned About Possible Israeli Ground Operation in Rafah, Axios
The US is concerned that an Israeli Defense Forces operation in the city without evacuating the civilian population to safe areas will lead to mass casualties. It also fears that such an operation will push tens of thousands of Palestinians into Egypt. The Egyptian government has already warned the displacement of Palestinians to Egypt would lead to a rupture in its relations with Israel.

US Senate to Vote on Standalone Foreign Aid Package Including Ukraine, The Guardian
The foreign aid package would include military assistance for Ukraine, security assistance for Israel and humanitarian assistance for civilians in Ukraine, Gaza and the West Bank. The bill would not include the US border security measures outlined in the bipartisan bill, although some Republican senators expressed interest in adding border provisions through an amendment process.

Biden Sending Aides to Michigan to See Arab American and Muslim Leaders Over the War, AP
Some community leaders invited to the meeting said they welcome the opportunity to make their case directly to top Biden aides to use the administration’s leverage on Israel to press for an immediate cease-fire and allow more humanitarian relief into Gaza. “I’m going into that room and making it clear that the frustrations are that a cease-fire needs to be called,” said Michigan state Rep. Alabas Farhat.

Opinion and Analysis

The Political Perils of a Black-Jewish Rift Over the War in Gaza, The New York Times
Charles M. Blow argues, “Many Jewish Americans support Israel’s right to conduct the war and American support for Israel’s war effort in order to eliminate the threat posed by Hamas — and some feel disappointed or even betrayed that many Black people seem to have more sympathy for the Palestinian perspective than the Israeli perspective. The issues involved feel irreconcilable, because many of those engaged in the debate believe that their positions represent the moral high ground. And nuanced views are sometimes characterized as weak. But there has to be room for nuance.”

Israel Must Not Accept a Second Abandonment of Hostages Held by Hamas in Gaza, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board shares, “Contrary to the slogans scattered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Wednesday he said that “surrender to Hamas’ delusional demands will invite another massacre and bring upon Israel a great disaster that no one is willing to accept” – giving up on a deal would mark the second abandonment of the hostages, and a disaster that Israel must not accept.”

Netanyahu Cannot Risk Losing America’s Affection, The Jerusalem Post
Avi Gil writes, “In the past, when asked about his relationship with Netanyahu, Biden has responded that the two had been friends for decades, saying, “I told him: I don’t agree with one thing you say – but I love you.” Even if the end of that beautiful friendship is approaching, and Netanyahu blows up his personal relationship with Biden for good, Israel must not follow suit and risk losing America’s affection. After all, the US is the only great power we can count on – in every aspect of our national security.”