News Roundup for May 6, 2024

May 6, 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

J Street Praises Crucial Letter from 88 House Members Urging Biden to Enforce Us Law and Address Israeli Restrictions on Humanitarian Aid to Gaza, J Street
“Like these Members of Congress, J Street is firmly committed to Israel’s security, and we believe that restrictions on humanitarian aid into Gaza, and the resulting unacceptable levels of suffering for Palestinian civilians, seriously threaten Israel’s long-term security and international standing, along with Israel’s eligibility for certain offensive arms transfers under US law.”

Protests: UCLA Faculty, Jewish Groups, Echo Students, Allege Leaders Disregarded Protesters’ Safety, Los Angeles Daily News
For students such as Rachel Burnett, a fourth-year psychology and Middle Eastern studies student and the national vice president of communications at J Street U, recent events continued to resonate. Burnett said while she disagreed with the Palestine Solidarity Encampment’s stated goals, people have a right to protest and she was angry that no pro-Israel counter-demonstrators who engaged in violence this week were arrested. Asked if she felt unsafe on campus over the past week, Burnett said she felt uncomfortable but not unsafe. “I think students have a right to feel safe. Students do not have a right to feel comfortable. I think that’s part of what higher ed should be about – is learning how to be uncomfortable.”

Why Biden Finally Decided to Speak out on College Protest Violence, Politico
“All of this is unfortunately turning an extremely important and sensitive issue into a political football. It plays into the hands of the Republicans and of Donald Trump,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a liberal advocacy group.

Large Jewish Organizations Boycotted a Meeting With the Education Secretary Because Progressive Jewish Groups Would Be Present, JTA
“Also attending were liberal-leaning groups that work with the mainstream, such as the Reform movement, the Conservative movement, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, was represented by its student affiliate, J Street U.”

Top News and Analysis

Israeli Army Tells Palestinians to Evacuate Parts of Gaza’s Rafah Ahead of an Expected Assault, AP
The Israeli army ordered some 100,000 Palestinians on Monday to begin evacuating from the southern city of Rafah, signaling that a long-promised ground invasion there could be imminent and further complicating efforts to broker a cease-fire in Gaza. The looming operation in the city — where more than 1 million Palestinians are sheltering and a high number of deaths is feared — has raised global alarm and Israeli’s closest allies have warned against it. On Monday, the United Nations agency serving Palestinian refugees said it would not comply with the evacuation order.

Scoop: US Put a Hold on an Ammunition Shipment to Israel, Axios
Blinken told Netanyahu during their meeting that “a major military operation” in Rafah would lead to the U.S. publicly opposing it and would negatively impact U.S.-Israel relations. A day later White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Israeli leaders understand that President Biden “is sincere” when he talks about the possibility of changes to U.S. policy regarding the Gaza war “should they move ahead with some sort of ground operation in Rafah that doesn’t take into account the refugees.”

Israel Attacks Rafah After Hamas Claims Responsibility for Deadly Rocket Attack, Reuters
Three Israeli soldiers were killed in a rocket attack claimed by Hamas armed wing, near the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, where Palestinian health officials said at least 19 people were killed by Israeli fire on Sunday. Hamas’s armed wing claimed responsibility on Sunday for an attack on the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza that Israel said killed three of its soldiers. Shortly after the Hamas attack, an Israeli airstrike hit a house in Rafah killing three people and wounding several others, Palestinian medics said.

Joe Biden Is Days From A Key Statement On Israel and Gaza. Here’s What The Ally Who Sought It Expects, HuffPost
Akbar Shahid Ahmed reports, “With the Biden administration days away from issuing its opinion on whether Israel is violating international and US law in Gaza, the lawmaker who pushed for a State Department probe of that question doubts he’ll get an honest answer. Starting in December, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) rallied 19 senators to support legislation demanding assurances that all countries receiving American weaponry — including Israel — are complying with international and US statutes barring violence against civilians and efforts to block humanitarian aid. In response, President Joe Biden in February issued a new policy known as NSM-20, which required federal agencies to send a report to Congress on Israel’s conduct during its Gaza operation by May 8.”

Wide Gaps Put Israel-Hamas Hostage Deal Talks at Risk of Collapse, Axios
Egypt, Qatar and the US are working to prevent the indirect talks between Israel and Hamas on a hostage deal that will lead to a ceasefire in Gaza from collapsing, two Israeli officials and a source with knowledge of the talks told Axios. A collapse of the talks would risk another serious escalation in the six-month war, including an imminent Israeli invasion of the city of Rafah in southern Gaza where more than one million displaced Palestinians have been taking shelter.


Israel Closes Major Crossing Into Gaza After It Said Hamas Fired Rockets Towards Border, NBC News
Israel closed a major crossing into Gaza used for humanitarian aid transport after it said Hamas fired rockets towards the border. The closure is a significant setback for relief efforts, with a UN World Food Program representative saying famine is spreading throughout Gaza.

Israel Has Briefed US on Plan to Evacuate Palestinian Civilians Ahead of Potential Rafah Operation, AP
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday that no “comprehensive” plan for a potential Rafah operation has been revealed by the Israelis to the White House. The operation, however, has been discussed during recent calls between Biden and Netanyahu as well as during recent virtual talks with top Israeli and U.S. national security officials.

World Food Programme Director Cindy McCain: Northern Gaza Is in a ‘Full-Blown Famine’, NBC News
Cindy McCain, the executive director of the World Food Program states, “here has not yet been an official declaration of famine, based on what her organization has seen and experienced on the ground, she believes there is a “full-blown” issue in Gaza.”

‘Never Again Is Now!’: Hostages’ Families Rally Ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, The Times of Israel
“Speakers will call upon the prime minister and the cabinet: ‘This is the time to fulfill your duty as leaders of the people and ensure ‘Never Again’! Make the right and courageous decision – bring them all home – the living for rehabilitation and the murdered for burial!’” they said.

Israel to Close Al Jazeera News Network in the Country, CNN
The Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Israel described the move as “a dark day for democracy” and “a cause for concern for all supporters of a free press,” while the Committee to Protect Journalists said it “sets an extremely alarming precedent for restricting international media outlets working in Israel.”

When Rockets Fall, Bedouin Israeli Citizens Have Nowhere to Hide, NPR
The Israel Land Authority, which manages most of the land in the country, says that these unrecognized villages are built on land owned by the state. The authorities regularly issue demolition orders for Bedouin houses in unrecognized settlements — a practice that has drawn intense criticism from human rights groups.

Opinion and Analysis

Both Netanyahu and Sinwar Need to Win, So the Gaza War Will Carry On, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer argues, “Autocratic populists like Netanyahu and murdering fundamentalists like Sinwar don’t care about facts, and only ever need to convince just a chunk of the population – the “real” people – of their victory. Everyone else will be branded as defeatists and traitors for not believing in victory.”

How Counterprotesters at UCLA Provoked Violence, Unchecked for Hours, The New York Times
The New York Times reports, “The videos showed counterprotesters attacking students in the pro-Palestinian encampment for several hours, including beating them with sticks, using chemical sprays and launching fireworks as weapons. As of Friday, no arrests had been made in connection with the attack. To build a timeline of the events that night, The Times analyzed two livestreams, along with social media videos captured by journalists and witnesses.”

This Wasn’t an Uncontrolled Mob of Settlers. It Was a Well-orchestrated Assault, Haaretz
Amira Hass writes, “The assailants were well-organized, with a division of labor and prior planning. The invading settlers split up into several units that operated simultaneously in several neighborhoods, residents said. Each unit then split into several smaller cells. One cell was responsible for throwing stones at car and house windows; another engaged in arson; a third, comprised mainly of younger boys, collected stones and handed them to the throwers; and a fourth, relatively large cell, was comprised of armed men who spread out across the area.”