News Roundup for May 8, 2024

May 8, 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

Biden Says Antisemitism Has No Place in America in Somber Speech Connecting the Holocaust to Hamas’ Attack on Israel, CNN
Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street – a liberal pro-Israel advocacy group – said in a statement he is grateful to Biden “for standing unequivocally against the sharp rise in antisemitism while also defending our First Amendment rights to speech and nonviolent protest.”

What’s Happening on College Campuses: Hear Directly from Students [Video], J Street
In J Street’s second webinar on the topic, listen to J Street U students from across the country as they discuss their perspectives on what’s really happening with regard to the anti-war protests on college campuses.

For American Jews, Biden’s Speech on Antisemitism Offers Recognition and Healing, New York Times
Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J-Street, a left-leaning lobbying organization that supports Israel but has been deeply critical of its current government, called the speech “very welcome” and praised the president for addressing antisemitism broadly.

House Passes Bill to Expand Definition of Antisemitism Amid Growing Campus Protests Over Gaza War, Fox59
Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the centrist 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.”

Protests, Then and Now, Current Affairs
W.D. Ehrhart shares, “But like the extremists of the Sixties, the extremists among today’s campus protesters are a minority. Indeed, many of the protestors are themselves Jewish. I listened recently to four Jewish college students from UCLA, Columbia, Michigan, and Tufts who are members of J Street, a group promoting dialogue, the dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis, and a two-state solution. It’s not the kind of perspective you’ll find on most media outlets, especially the ones most people listen to, if they’re listening at all.”

Top News and Analysis

Biden Withheld Bomb Shipment to Israel Out of Fear It Could Be Used in Rafah, ABC News
U.S. officials confirmed the policy decision earlier on Tuesday, the same day Israel began what its officials called a “precise” operation in Rafah. U.S. officials said they did not believe those operations were the beginning of the larger-scale invasion that Israel has been planning for weeks; that timeline remains uncertain, they say.

What to Know About the Gaps Between Israel and Hamas on the Cease-Fire Proposal, The New York Times
The most substantive sticking point centers on a key phrase that appears in both the Israeli and Hamas-approved proposals: a path to “sustainable calm.” In the proposal that Israel approved, and that Egypt conveyed to the Hamas leadership on April 26, the two sides would work toward achieving a “sustainable calm” in Gaza after an initial six-week pause in fighting. That proposal left those two words open to interpretation. But in the Hamas-approved proposal, that term is clearly defined as a permanent cessation of hostilities and a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Tanks Have Rolled Into Rafah. What Does This Mean for the Palestinians Sheltering There?, AP
U.N. officials say an attack on Rafah will collapse the aid operation that is keeping the population across the Gaza Strip alive, and potentially push Palestinians into greater starvation and mass death.

US Report on Israel’s Wartime Conduct in Gaza Delayed, Aides Say, Politico
The report won’t be finished by an initial Wednesday deadline, said the aides, granted anonymity to discuss internal communications. In an email, the Biden administration notified the Hill that it will miss the date — without providing a clear reason why.

White House Says Israel and Hamas Put a Hostage Deal Within Reach, Axios
Senior Israeli officials said that despite the disappointment with the American and Egyptian conduct in recent days, Israel decided to send the delegation to Cairo to examine whether Hamas’s position is final or if it is a basis for negotiations. A senior Israeli official said that the Israeli team went to hear from the Egyptian and Qatari mediators and to ask for clarification on a long list of issues included in the Hamas response.


US Knew of Mediators’ Altered Proposal to Hamas, Did Not Inform Israel, The Times of Israel
The new offer was apparently presented to Hamas by Egyptian officials during talks in Cairo over the weekend. Neither Hamas nor the mediators specified Monday that the proposal agreed to was different from the one Israel had accepted days earlier, creating the impression that Hamas had greenlit an offer Israel had already signed off on.

Israel’s Rafah Invasion Shows Biden Admin Stance Isn’t ‘Clear’, Politico
The US is monitoring to ensure the precise counterterrorism mission doesn’t grow into an all-out invasion of the city. Israel would have to call up more forces to take on the estimated 3,000 Hamas fighters in and under Rafah, indicating that a large-scale operation isn’t imminent.

Scoop: House GOP Drafts ICC Sanctions as ‘Precaution’, Axios
“We want to emphasize to him that going down this road of arrest warrants is a really bad idea and it’s going to blow up the relationship,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul said. “We’re not sure if the arrest warrants are imminent, but it’s sort of a precaution to let them know that, if they do, we have this legislation ready to go. It won’t be put on the floor unless we have to.”

Presumed Hostage Lior Rudaeff Confirmed Killed on Oct. 7, Body Taken to Gaza, The Times of Israel
Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak announced Tuesday that resident Lior Rudaeff, who for the past seven months was presumed to be a hostage in Gaza, has died. A statement from the Kibbutz did not give any further details, saying they would be provided later. The Hostages and Missing Families Forum issued a separate statement saying that Rudaeff was killed on October 7 and his body was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists to the Strip, without details of how this was discovered.

Israel Says It Reopened a Key Gaza Crossing After a Rocket Attack but the UN Says No Aid Has Entered, AP
The Israeli military said Wednesday that it has reopened its Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza after days of closure, but the U.N. said no humanitarian aid has yet entered and there is no one to receive it on the Palestinian side after workers fled during Israel’s military incursion in the area.

What We Can Learn from 4 Schools That Have Reached Agreements with Gaza Protesters, NPR
None of the schools outright committed to divest from Israel. But they say they will provide more transparency around their endowments and limit disciplinary action against students, among other commitments. Several also pledged scholarships or aid for Palestinian students and improved space for Muslim students on campus.

Opinion and Analysis
How AI Tells Israel Who to Bomb [Video], Vox
Rajaa Elidrissi reports, “Over the past few months Israeli outlets +972 magazine and Local Call have revealed that the multiple AI systems that help the IDF select targets in Gaza have contributed to the highest number of Palestinian civilian deaths and injuries ever.”

Peace Cannot Be Achieved by Disregarding Dual Narrative of Pro-Palestine Movement, Daily Bruin
J Street U student leader Cecelia Fischer argues, “While I share many convictions with my peers in the encampment who oppose the IDF indiscriminate and unconscionable violence against innocent Palestinians, I don’t find myself in ideological harmony with all of the chants I heard. For example, while some may interpret “intifada” in its Arabic form, meaning to “shake off” through acts of civil disobedience, others see “intifada” as synonymous with violent uprisings against civilians that trigger a never-ending cycle of vengefulness and death.”

How Iran and Israel Are Unnatural Adversaries, The New York Times
Karim Sadjadpour states, “Iran’s Axis of Resistance has empowered right-wing Israeli politicians far more than Palestinians over the past two decades. The threat of a Holocaust-denying Iranian regime with regional and nuclear ambitions has stoked Israeli anxieties, diverted attention from Palestinian suffering and facilitated normalization agreements between Israel and Arab governments equally fearful of Iran.”

Biden Should Not Stand in the Way of the ICC, Foreign Policy
Kenneth Roth writes, “There is no way to know how the Israeli public will respond to potential ICC charges against Netanyahu, but they are likely to underscore that his prioritization of his own power and future has become a profound liability for Israel. That would make it more likely for Israelis to usher in a government that is more open to the kinds of difficult compromises needed to free the hostages, end the bloodshed in Gaza, and remove the perennial threat of armed conflict that has so destabilized the region.”

Nothing About Israel’s Rafah Attack and the Cease-fire Talks Is Quite What It Seems, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer shares, “The Israeli operation on the ground has been focused on the Rafah border crossing outside the city of Rafah. But the narrative, at least within Israel, serves Netanyahu who has been under fire from his far-right coalition partners and even some of his usually obedient media proxies to launch the Rafah operation.”