News Roundup for June 17, 2024

June 17, 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

A Preference for Enemies over Partners: How Smotrich and Ben-Gvir Control Netanyahu – Opinion, The Jerusalem Post
J Street Director Nadav Tamir writes, “The Israeli government led by Smotrich, Struck, Ben-Gvir, and Netanyahu is realizing the exact vision of Iran and Hamas. This alliance of extremists is the greatest danger to the State of Israel today.”

Israel, Hezbollah, and the Potential for Full-Scale War, J Street
The J Street Policy Center shares an explainer on the history of Hezbollah and the prospects for war.

A J Street Conversation | A Path Forward: Creating a Political Horizon for Israel-Palestine, J Street
At a J Street event at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue in Evantston, IL, Dr. Debra Shushan, J Street Director of Policy, was joined by Special Guest Congressman Sean Casten (IL-6) and Mideast policy experts representing Israeli, Palestinian and Arab perspectives.

Right’s Crusade Against Antisemitism: It’s a Blatant Effort to Silence Jewish Voices, Salon
‘When the House under Johnson votes to punish protesters by telling the Department of Education to make federal funding contingent on schools’ adherence to the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism, no one should be fooled. Both the ACLU and J Street came out against the bill, the latter’s president calling it an attempt to force ‘votes that divide the Democratic caucus on an issue that shouldn’t be turned into a political football.’ Some members of Congress called the bill an attempt to weaponize antisemitism. But what is an attempt to weaponize antisemitism, if not antisemitism?’

Top News and Analysis

Israeli Officials Say Netanyahu Has Dissolved the War Cabinet after Key Partner Bolted Government, AP
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the change with the media, said that going forward Netanyahu would hold smaller forums with some of his government members for sensitive issues surrounding the war. That includes his security Cabinet, where far-right governing partners who oppose cease-fire deals and have voiced support for reoccupying Gaza, are members.

US Envoy Due in Israel for Talks Aimed at Averting Deeper Conflict with Hezbollah, The Guardian
Thus far, Hochstein, who last visited Israel in November to discuss the conflict with Hezbollah, appears to have been focused on phased and more long-term de-escalation. He has offered an economic carrot to Lebanon, not least in its energy infrastructure; an approach that appears to have been overtaken by the speed of recent events.

Israel Warns of Escalation from Cross-Border Fire from Hezbollah, Reuters
Intensified cross-border fire from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement into Israel could trigger serious escalation, the Israeli military said on Sunday. Hezbollah’s increasing aggression is bringing us to the brink of what could be a wider escalation, one that could have devastating consequences for Lebanon and the entire region, Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a video statement in English.


Netanyahu Denounces Tactical Pauses in Gaza Fighting to Get in Aid, Reuters
The military had announced the daily pauses from 0500 GMT until 1600 GMT in the area from the Kerem Shalom Crossing to the Salah al-Din Road and then northwards. When the prime minister heard the reports of an 11-hour humanitarian pause in the morning, he turned to his military secretary and made it clear that this was unacceptable to him, an Israeli official said. The military clarified that normal operations would continue in Rafah, the main focus of its operation in southern Gaza, where eight soldiers were killed on Saturday.

8 Israeli Soldiers Killed in Southern Gaza in Deadliest Attack on Israeli Forces in Months, AP
Saturday’s explosion took place in Rafah, a southern city that Israel has identified as Hamas’ last major stronghold. It sent in ground troops to the city in early May and has given no indication when the operation will end. “They knew they might have to sacrifice their lives, but they did it so we could live in this country. I salute them and hug their families,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Food Supplies in Southern Gaza at Risk, Says UN Official, Reuters
Distribution of aid has been hampered by military operations, delayed Israeli authorisations and increasing lawlessness within Gaza. Skau said that although more food was reaching northern Gaza, basic healthcare, water and sanitation was needed to “turn the curve in the north on famine completely”. Israel needed to let more healthcare goods into Gaza, he said.

IDF Warns Hezbollah Is Bringing Israel to the Brink of a ‘Wider Escalation’, The Times of Israel
“Hezbollah’s increasing aggression is bringing us to the brink of what could be a wider escalation, one that could have devastating consequences for Lebanon and the entire region,” IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in an English-language video statement.

Israel Defence Exports Hit Record $13.1 Billion in 2023, Reuters
Some 36% of exports came from missile, rocket and air defence systems, followed by radar and electronic warfare, weapon stations and launchers at 11% each, with crewed aircraft and avionics at 9%, the Defence Ministry said. Defence exports, which totalled $12.5 billion in 2022, have doubled over the past five years.

Protesters Block Major Highways and Interchanges in Call for Early Elections, The Times of Israel
Dozens of activists gathered at Tel Aviv government offices, calling for “tax resistance” against the government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is facing massive blame over its failure to prevent the October 7 massacre, with some also charging that it has fumbled when dealing with key matters relating to the conflict such as negotiating a deal to release the hostages.

Opinion and Analysis

U.N. Humanitarian Chief: World Leaders Are Failing Us, The New York Times
Martin Griffiths writes, “these failures are particularly evident in the fact that every year, international funding for humanitarian relief reaches nowhere near the amount required, while individual nations’ military spending increases. In 2023, the world’s collective military expenditure rose to $2.4 trillion, while the United Nations and other aid organizations scraped together just $24 billion for humanitarian assistance, a mere 43 percent of the amount required to meet the most urgent needs of hundreds of millions of people.”

Israel Can Dig In — Or Declare Victory and Gain Advantages, Forward
Dan Perry states, “Part of the problem is that Netanyahu has set the bar for “total victory” so high; this is generally a bad idea in life, since failure to meet such a goal projects weakness and failure. Better instead, then, to declare victory and move on. Netanyahu’s benighted coalition allies would rebel, and so his patriotism will soon be tested.”

As War Drags On, Gazans More Willing to Speak Out Against Hamas, The New York Times
Raja Abdulrahim reports, “Some of the Gazans who spoke to The New York Times said that Hamas knew it would be starting a devastating war with Israel that would cause heavy civilian casualties, but that it did not provide any food, water or shelter to help people survive it. Hamas leaders have said they wanted to ignite a permanent state of war with Israel on all fronts as a way to revive the Palestinian cause and knew that the Israeli response would be big.”

One of the Most Striking Minor Characters in Herman Wouk’s World War II Novel the Winds of War Is Leslie Slote, Moment Minute
Noah Philips writes, “Unapologetically genocidal rhetoric by Israeli leaders is one of the best arguments South Africa has in favor of their case in the International Court of Justice. His views may seem extreme, but his core premise—the nullification of the two state solution without any allowance for a Palestinian presence in the country—has become the default in many Jewish spaces. Meanwhile, the American-Israel Public Affairs Council spends millions upon millions of dollars to punish criticism of Israel and stifle the democratic process, allying with 2020 election deniers beholden to Donald Trump in the process.”

How Much of a Threat Does Hamas Still Pose to Israel?, CFR
Bruce Hoffman shares, “At this point, it’s unclear whether Hamas’s strategy—sacrificing the lives of innocent civilians in Gaza to undermine global support for Israel—will erode its support among Palestinians. Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s military leader in Gaza, has described the tens of thousands killed and injured as “necessary sacrifices.” This cynical encouragement of loss of life and harm to their fellow Palestinians has long been a prominent feature of Hamas’s strategy.”