News Roundup for May 2, 2024

May 2, 2024
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J Street News Roundup

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

House Passes Bill to Expand Definition of Antisemitism amid Growing Campus Protests over Gaza War, AP
Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of pro-Israel group J Street, said his organization opposes the bipartisan proposal because he sees it as an “unserious” effort led by Republicans “to continually force votes that divide the Democratic caucus on an issue that shouldn’t be turned into a political football.”

The Situation on College Campuses: J Street U Students Discuss Anti-War Protests [Video], J Street
The scenes on college campuses have been shocking – grotesque displays of antisemitism, appalling exchanges between protesters and counter-protesters, students and faculty thrown to the ground by police in inexcusable displays of brutality. As protests spread, members of J Street U – the student organizing arm of J Street – have met the moment with empathy, nuance and compassion. Listen to what four J Street U student leaders have to say about the current moment.

Top News and Analysis

Blinken Presses Hamas to Seal Cease-Fire with Israel, Says ‘The Time Is Now’ for a Deal, AP
Blinken said Israel has made “very important” compromises in cease-fire efforts and it is now up to Hamas to get the deal done. “There’s no time for further haggling. The deal is there,” Blinken said, shortly before he was to leave Israel. Earlier in the day, he said in talks with Israel’s ceremonial President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv that Hamas would bear the blame for any failure to get a deal. “No delays, no excuses. The time is now,” he said.

Hamas Indicates It Will Snub Latest Hostage Deal Offer, but Says Talks to Continue, The Times of Israel
Hamas’s opposition to the latest offer stems from its belief that the proposal doesn’t go far enough in guaranteeing an end to the war, an Arab diplomat told The Times of Israel. Instead, it envisions the sides holding during the first, six-week phase on a permanent ceasefire.

Qatari Official Says Israeli Operation in Rafah Would Prevent Hostage Deal, Haaretz
A senior Qatari official harshly criticized Israel’s intent to launch a large-scale military operation in Rafah in an effort to spur Hamas to agree to a hostage deal, arguing that invading the Gazan city would actually prevent a deal and endanger the hostages’ lives. “The Rafah operation is preventing a deal,” he said. “It isn’t a means of pressuring Hamas.”

US House Okays Bill Codifying Controversial Antisemitism Definition Amid Campus Tumult, The Times of Israel
If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the bill would broaden the legal definition of antisemitism to include the “targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.” Critics say the move would have a chilling effect on free speech throughout college campuses. “Speech that is critical of Israel alone does not constitute unlawful discrimination,” Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler said.

Israeli Settlers Try to Block Aid to Gaza as Blinken Touts Progress on Trip to Israel, NPR
A day after Blinken stood before pallets of food aid in Jordan touting a new direct aid route into Northern Gaza, Israeli settlers tried to block the convoy, dumping some of the supplies on the street and damaging the trucks, according to Jordanian officials. Israel arrested several settlers, and the trucks did get through the Erez Crossing.


Israel High Court Hears First Case Challenging Secret Detentions in Gaza War, The Washington Post
In a report released last month, UNRWA said former detainees described being beaten, threatened and deprived of food, water, toilets and sleep. Responding to the report, the IDF said mistreatment of detainees “is a violation of the IDF’s values and contravenes IDF orders and is therefore absolutely prohibited.”

Israel Tells US It Will Punish Palestinian Authority if ICC Issues Warrants, Axios
US and Israeli officials said Israel told the Biden administration that if arrests warrants are issued, it will consider the Palestinian Authority responsible and retaliate with strong action that could lead to its collapse. One possible action could be to freeze the transfer of tax revenues Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority. Without these funds, the Palestinian Authority would be bankrupt.

Families of Hostages Threaten to ‘Lay Siege’ to Israeli Leaders if Deal Falls Through, Haaretz
Einav Zangauker, whose son Matan is being held hostage in Gaza, repeated what she said at the demonstration earlier this week. “We will lay siege to the Knesset with a million people,” she says. “We will also lay siege to the Kirya [IDF headquarters]. No one will be able to come in, and no one will be able to get out. Only in helicopters. We will stay out on the streets and not go home. It won’t be a symbolic act.”

After Violent Night at UCLA, UC President Launches Investigation Into Response, LA Times
A camp representative said the counter-demonstrators repeatedly pushed over barricades that mark the boundaries of the encampment, and some campers said they were hit by a substance they thought was pepper spray. As counterprotesters attempted to pull down the wood boards surrounding the encampment, at least one person could be heard yelling, “Second nakba!” referring to the mass displacement and dispossession of Palestinians during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Trump Tries to Paint College Campus Anti-Israel Protests as a Biden Political Liability, NBC News
Trump’s political operation sees an opening, however. Corey Lewandowski, a consultant to the Republican National Committee who previously worked for Trump, said in an interview: “This is not good for the young vote for Biden. Historically, the Democrats have outperformed Republicans among younger voters. If it is perceived that Joe Biden is soft, meaning not standing up to the people who are protesting, it’s going to hurt him.”

Colombia Will Break Relations with Israel over Its Actions in Gaza, Petro Says, NPR
Colombia is one of the U.S.’s closest partners in Latin America, and it has previously been a close partner of Israel. But Colombia’s leftist president is one of several Latin American leaders to take a strong vocal stand against Israel since its military campaign in Gaza in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel.

Gazans Thank US University Protesters as Israel Calls for Students to Be Expelled, CNN
Palestinians in Gaza have been showing support for the US protesters for several days. In several refugee camps in the Palestinian enclave on Wednesday, children could also be seen holding signs and banners with the names of different American universities where pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been held, saying “thanks for your solidarity!”

‘They Hide When Israelis Come’: Palestinians Despair of Leadership After Killing of Colonel’s Son, The Guardian
A recent sharp rise in violence from the Israeli security forces and settlers has fuelled a sentiment that if the PA is unable to protect Palestinians even in its centre of power, there is little point to its rule at all.

Opinion and Analysis

Can American Jews Step Back From the Brink of Conspiratorial Paranoia?, The Forward
Jay Michaelson writes, “Right or wrong, there are, on college campuses and elsewhere, thousands of young activists who are horrified at the carnage in Gaza and who are raising their voices to oppose it. Some of them are deeply misguided. Some do indeed lapse into antisemitism. But many — I would wager most — are sincere in their convictions, and are motivated by moral intentions.”

Egypt’s Proposal Puts Netanyahu in a Bind, but It’s Gantz and Eisenkot Who Must Really Decide, Haaretz
Ravit Hecht states, “Despite American and Egyptian pressure, whose importance should not be underestimated, many people who are involved in the negotiations believe that neither Netanyahu nor Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, has an interest in signing a deal.”

Is 24/7 Protest Coverage Distracting From the Real War, in Gaza?, Responsible Statecraft
Jack Hunter argues, “It is much easier for the protests to overshadow the actual misery in Gaza and that is clearly what is happening. While many protesters’ intentions might be noble, is there a better distraction right now for Israel to do as it pleases? This is not an argument for or against the protests. Just an observation that probably deserves at least a minimum moment of thought by anyone genuinely concerned about the current plight of the Palestinians.”