News Roundup for May 16, 2024

May 16, 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

The Pro-Palestinian Movement Finds Its Footing As Biden Inches Left, HuffPost
“It’s significant for any American president, but I think we should recognize how much of a change and a shift this constitutes for this president,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, which describes itself as “the home for pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy Americans.” “There has to be a consistent policy and a consistent follow-through, and we need to see a lot more than we have seen. But this is a really important first step. And it indicates that the president is willing to say, ‘No more blank check.’”

Top News and Analysis

Israeli Defence Chief Challenges Netanyahu Over Post-War Gaza Plans, Reuters
Netanyahu was publicly challenged about post-war plans for the Gaza Strip on Wednesday by his own defence chief, who vowed to oppose any long-term military rule by Israel over the ravaged Palestinian enclave. The televised statement by Defence Minister Yoav Gallant marked the most vocal dissent from within Israel’s top echelon against Netanyahu during a seven-month-old and multi-front conflict that has set off political fissures at home and abroad.

Egypt Warns Israel of ‘Dire Repercussions’ Over Rafah Operation in Gaza, CNN
Egypt could consider downgrading relations with Israel if it presses on with a military operation in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah on the Egyptian border, an Egyptian official told CNN. “Everything is possible and is on the table, including the downgrade of the relations. But we are not there yet. We are talking to the Israelis, trying to explain and reach a consensus,” the official said. The official said that coordination between the two countries on the Rafah operation, which Egypt has publicly opposed, “didn’t go well. And that’s why we warned Israel of dire repercussions.”

Even Democrats Don’t Get What Biden’s Israel Weapons Policy Is, Politico
Last week’s halt on 3,500 bombs that were to be sent to Israel ahead of an invasion of Rafah was a singular decision, not reflective of some larger strategic shift toward the Middle Eastern ally, administration officials said. But the quiet congressional notification Tuesday night of a potential $1 billion arms sale to Israel that’s years from delivery confused lawmakers, including Democrats, who say the administration has a significant messaging problem.

Gaza Aid Gains May Be Lost as Fighting Rages in Rafah, the US Secretary of State Says, The New York Times
“At the very time when Israel was taking important and much needed steps to improve the provision of humanitarian assistance,” Mr. Blinken said, “we’ve seen a negative impact on the fact that we have this active, very active conflict in the Rafah area.” He noted that “we also seen Hamas firing at the crossings themselves, making it also more difficult.”

Health Crisis in Gaza Spirals as New Diseases, Infections Spread, Haaretz
After more than 220 days of war, those falling ill face severely restricted treatment options. According to the World Health Organization earlier this month, “only 33 percent of Gaza’s 36 hospitals and 30 percent of primary health-care centers are functional in some capacity,” amid frequent Israeli bombardments and severe shortages of essential supplies and staff.


US Military Finishes Installing Offshore Pier to Provide Aid to Gaza, CBS News
The flow of aid through the corridor is expected to start in Cyprus, where it will be inspected and loaded onto ships to travel about 200 miles to the floating platform in the eastern Mediterranean. Once it arrives, the aid will be transferred by U.S. military vessels to the causeway attached to the coast of Gaza. From there, trucks driven by a third party — not U.S. troops — will take the aid into Gaza.

South Africa Asks UN Court to Order Israel to Halt Rafah Assault, The Washington Post
Juliette McIntyre, a law lecturer at the University of South Australia said it was unlikely that the ICJ would dismiss the call for additional measures altogether. “The court remains unable to order Hamas to cease fire, and will be cognizant of this imbalance,” she said. “But they might order Israel … to do what they can to achieve a cease-fire. Or they may go further and order a cease-fire directly.”

Democrats Seek Escape Hatch on Increasingly Toxic Israel Vote, Axios
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-N.C.) told Axios she has introduced two amendments to make the bill more palatable to Democrats. One of the amendments would strip out language around cutting the salaries of Pentagon and State Department officials. The other would require the prompt delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza as well. The bill would require the “prompt delivery” of arms to Israel and restrict funding to the State Department and Pentagon if they refuse.

First Jewish Biden Appointee Publicly Resigns Over His Handling of Israel-Hamas War, The Times of Israel
Lily Greenberg Call, a special assistant to the chief of staff in the Interior Department, accused US President Joe Biden of using Jews to justify US policy in the conflict. Call had worked for the presidential campaigns of both Biden and US Vice President Kamala Harris and was a longtime activist and advocate for Israel in Washington and elsewhere before joining the government.

Palestinians Mark 76th ‘Nakba,’ as the Raging Israel-Hamas War Leaves Them to Suffer a Brand New Catastrophe, CBS News
For the Palestinian people, it’s already been a crisis on a scale far greater than the violence and displacement of 76 years ago, and with the prospect of a Rafah incursion looming, thousands have fled in fear for their lives all over again.

West Bank Israeli Settlers Assault, Wound Palestinian Truck Driver, Falsely Assuming He Was Hauling Gaza Aid, Haaretz
Footage from the scene indicates that the activists stopped both trucks on Wednesday near the Givat Asaf settlement, unloaded their cargo, deflated their tires, and set them on fire on the road. The Israel Police arrived at the scene a while after the attack and did not arrest any suspects involved in the incident.

5 Israeli Soldiers Killed by Friendly Fire in Northern Gaza, NBC News
Three of those injured were in serious condition, the IDF added. The troops were members of the 202nd Battalion of the Paratroopers Brigade. An initial investigation into the deaths of five IDF soldiers reveals that IDF tanks, located dozens of meters away, identified a weapon and fired shells at an IDF force nearby, the IDF said in a statement.

Opinion and Analysis

Young Jews Are Fleeing Jewish Institutions: Here’s How to Keep Them, The Forward
Rabbi Jill Jacobs writes, “The major institutions and funders can continue down the path they have forged, labeling anyone who fails to toe the line as anti-Israel or antisemitic. This path will push away major swaths of young Jews, and delay any chance of a political resolution aimed at bringing about peace. Or our community can change course.”

This ‘Indispensable’ Israeli Leader Has a Proposal for ‘The Day After’ in Gaza, The Washington Post
David Ignatius shares, “His views are widely shared by the defense and security establishment but opposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition. The defense minister presented these arguments to the Israeli public in a speech Wednesday, following our embargoed briefing Tuesday. This open, public campaign for a new approach to postwar Gaza that includes Palestinian security forces could split the Likud party, of which Gallant and Netanyahu are both members, and increase what has been growing talk in Israel and the United States that Gallant could be a future prime minister.”

The Unpunished: How Extremists Took Over Israel, The New York Times
Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti report, “This story is told in three parts. The first documents the unequal system of justice that grew around Jewish settlements in Gaza and the West Bank. The second shows how extremists targeted not only Palestinians but also Israeli officials trying to make peace. The third explores how this movement gained control of the state itself. Taken together, they tell the story of how a radical ideology moved from the fringes to the heart of Israeli political power.”

Are US Campus Protests Antisemitic? Jewish Students Weigh In, The Guardian
Matan Berg, chair of J Street U at the University of Michigan, shares, “It is neither helpful nor right to chastise these encampments and the larger movement they represent as antisemitic. Many of the protestors I interacted with agreed with my goals, even though they often had different beliefs for how to achieve them. Moreover, rebuking a group of people pleading for an end to the deaths of innocent civilians in Gaza by calling every single one of them antisemitic is grossly uncharitable and severely lacks the empathy that we desperately need.”

Saudi Normalization Could Abort Israel’s Rafah Operation, but Not Solve Gaza’s Troubles, Haaretz
Zvi Bar’el states, “Securing a normalization deal is a slow process. The big question is whether Sullivan will be able to recruit bin Salman for a gradual move that’ll allow Israel to halt its Rafah operation and start examining the establishment of a non-Hamas Palestinian government in the Strip.”