News Roundup for March 28, 2024

March 28, 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

Chuck Schumer Was Right on Israel and Netanyahu, New York Daily News
Rabbis Steve Gutow and Shira Milgrom, members of J Street’s Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet, share, “It’s profoundly Jewish for love and criticism to go hand in hand, and they have always walked together in the words and prayers of those who care deeply about Israel. Both in word and in practice, Schumer has articulated and maintained a deep love for Israel and an unwavering commitment to its Jewish future throughout his life.”

Top News and Analysis

Majority in US Now Disapprove of Israeli Action in Gaza, Gallup
All three major party groups in the US have become less supportive of Israel’s actions in Gaza than they were in November. This includes declines of 18 percentage points in approval among both Democrats and independents and a seven-point decline among Republicans. Independents have shifted from being divided in their views of the Israeli military action to opposing it. Democrats, who were already largely opposed in November, are even more so now, with 18% approving and 75% disapproving. Republicans still support Israel’s military efforts, but a reduced majority – 64%, down from 71% – now approve.

In Reversal, Netanyahu Sending Delegation to White House for Rafah Talks, Axios
The Prime Minister’s office has agreed to reschedule the meeting dedicated to Rafah, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday, adding that the discussions about Rafah are “urgent.” We are now working on a convenient date that will work for both sides, she said. Netanyahu is expected to send his close confidants Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi. Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister hadn’t approved the delegation’s departure but didn’t deny discussions are being held about it.

Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Talks Are ‘Stuck but Ongoing,’ Sources Tell CNN, CNN
In the latest talks, Israel had agreed to release around 700 Palestinian prisoners – including many with life sentences – in exchange for 40 Israeli hostages held in Gaza, the Israeli official and the source familiar with the discussions said. Those releases would take place during the first phase of a ceasefire, which would be expected to last around six weeks. But other major discussion points – for just the first phase – are still being fiercely debated: the ability for Gazans in the south to return home to the north, a surge of humanitarian aid for Gaza and the locations of Israeli troops.

The Limits of Biden’s One-On-One Diplomacy With Netanyahu, Politico
“Their talks are very candid,” said an anonymous US senior official. “They skip past the diplomatic formalities and go right into the substance and work things out on the calls all the time.” The limits of that one-on-one strategy are being tested, however. This week, Netanyahu abruptly canceled a planned visit of Israeli officials to DC to discuss guardrails for a planned Rafah invasion. That fed into a growing sense in Washington — even among those who have long backed Biden’s approach — that his reliance on a personal relationship with Netanyahu is no longer enough to navigate the Israel-Gaza crisis.


Three Israelis Wounded in West Bank Shooting Attack; Israeli Army Searching for Assailant, Haaretz
Three Israelis were wounded on Thursday morning after a gunman shot at a bus and several cars on a main road, north of the West Bank city of Jericho, fleeing shortly after. One person was moderately wounded, while the other two were lightly wounded.

‘Struggle, Struggle, Struggle.’ What New and Expecting Mothers Are Facing in Gaza, NPR
Baby Manal is one of an estimated 20,000 children who have been born in Gaza since Israel began its bombardment of the enclave in response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas. Amid a spiraling humanitarian crisis, women who are pregnant or have recently given birth are confronting impossible conditions as they grapple with how to care for their newborns.

Israeli Police Arrest Relatives of Gaza Hostages During Tel Aviv Protest, CNN
Shahar Mor confirmed to CNN on Wednesday that he was arrested alongside his cousin, Barak Ben Ezra. Both men are relatives of Avraham Munder who is still being held in Gaza. Their cousins, Ohad Munder, Ruth Munder and Keren Munder, were all released by Hamas last year.

US Raises Treatment of Imprisoned Palestinian Leader Barghouti With Israel, The Washington Post
Securing Barghouti’s release is a popular cause among Palestinians who see him as a possible successor to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. Barghouti has been near the top of Hamas’s list of prisoners it wants Israel to release in exchange for Israeli hostages held in Gaza, according to two Middle Eastern officials who are familiar with the negotiations to secure the release of hostages and a cease-fire.

Netanyahu Says Civilians in Rafah Can ‘Just Move’ Away From an Israeli Ground Invasion, PBS
Speaking Wednesday to a bipartisan US Congressional delegation visiting Israel, Netanyahu said people sheltering in Rafah – now more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million population – will be able to move away from the fighting. “People just move, they move with their tents,” Netanyahu said. “People moved down (to Rafah). They can move back up.”

Israeli Strikes on Rafah Raise Fear Ground Assault Could Begin, Reuters
Mussa Dhaheer, looking on from below as neighbours helped an emergency worker lower a victim in a black body bag from an upper storey, said he had awakened to the blast, kissed his terrified daughter, and rushed outside to find the destruction. His father, 75, and mother, 62, were among the dead.

Israeli Strikes in Lebanon Kill 16, Militant Rockets Kill 1 Israeli as Cross-Border Violence Soars, AP
A series of Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon killed 16 people and a barrage of rockets fired by the militant group Hezbollah killed one Israeli man, making Wednesday the deadliest day in more than five months of fighting along the border.

Opinion and Analysis

Benjamin Netanyahu Is Israel’s Worst Prime Minister Ever, The Atlantic
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “One man’s pursuit of power has diverted Israel from confronting its most urgent priorities: the threat from Iran, the conflict with the Palestinians, the desire to nurture a Westernized society and economy in the most contested corner of the Middle East, the internal contradictions between democracy and religion, the clash between tribal phobias and high-tech hopes. Netanyahu’s obsession with his own destiny as Israel’s protector has caused his country grievous damage. Most Israelis already realize that Netanyahu is the worst of the 14 prime ministers their country has had in its 76 years of independence.”

Americans’ Patience With Israel Appears to Wear Thin, The Washington Post
Aaron Blake writes, “It’s worth putting those numbers in context: Americans still support Israel and its cause, if not its prosecution of the war, and they differentiate between the Israeli people and their government. This US ally hasn’t squandered Americans’ sympathies — at least not yet. The trend regarding support for the war, however, is clear; these polls are just the latest to show Americans turning against Israel’s military campaign. They show Democrats, in particular, increasingly sympathizing more with the Palestinians than the Israelis. But even as they express views that are somewhat tough to reconcile, Americans and even Democrats still sympathize with Israel.”

The Hypocrisy of Antisemites ‘Fighting’ Antisemitism, The Times of Israel
J Street U student leader Meirav Solomon argues, “While I don’t doubt that there are Republican politicians who care for their Jewish constituents and truly deplore antisemitism, it has become evident since Hamas’ heinous Oct. 7 attack just how many right-wing leaders have joined the fight against anti-Jewish hatred under false pretenses, using its vocabulary to demonize and censor legitimate pro-Palestinian voices and to advance their own political agendas. Once you become aware of this false allyship, it’s easy to find examples of it between primary debates and town hall stages, in press releases from Members of Congress and even in the sermons of religious leaders.”

We Israeli Mothers Must Save Our Children From Our Leaders, Haaretz
Mika Almog writes, “In the background of my childhood and youth there was a peace process. Some were in favor of it, others against, it took one step forward and two steps back – but its very existence allowed us to see Israel not only through the prism of what it is, but also through the prism of what it can be. We let all that die. And we denied the next generation the ability to imagine a different reality. The power is in our hands, to teach them to imagine again. But it’s not a collective decision, it’s a personal one. You don’t get called; you choose to show up.”

I’m a Former IDF Combat Soldier. Treating the Trauma of Israelis and Palestinians Is the Only Way Forward, The Forward
Elazar Weiss shares, “From the river to the sea, 15 million people fear the “enemy” will throw them into the sea. Oct. 7 and its aftermath have now convinced both sides even further there is “no partner for peace.” Yet no one is going anywhere. Israelis and Palestinians desperately need safe spaces for fostering trust and understanding. Competing over whose suffering is worse, which narrative is truer or more just, only prolongs the war. We must instead process our collective and individual traumas together by acknowledging the other’s narrative and psyche.”

Is It a Mystery? Where Trump Stands on Israel-Gaza War, Responsible Statecraft
James Carden and Kelley Beaucar Vlahos write, “Given [Trump’s] scattershot comments over the last several weeks, can we actually discern what a U.S. policy toward Israel and the Palestinians might look like if Trump won the November election and was installed as the 47th president in January 2025? Maybe it’s best to go beyond his exhortations and take a look at the record instead.” […] “The idea that Trump might be cautioning restraint in the Israel-Gaza war when he makes comments about “peace” would seem to be belied by the people with which he has surrounded himself over the years.”