News Roundup for November 15, 2023

November 15, 2023
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J Street In the News

How The Israel Lobby Silenced Democratic Dissent, The Lever
“What could explain this mostly unflinching and unexamined backing of Israel among Republicans and Democrats alike? In large part, this is a political moment created by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobbying group. […] “To empower Netanyahu, to empower the settlers, to have a global superpower saying you can do whatever you want,” adds Logan Bayroff, a spokesperson for the lobbying group J Street. “That’s the line that AIPAC has pushed for Israel.’”

290,000 People Show Up for Historic Pro-Israel Rally in DC, Organizers Say, JTA
“An array of Jewish organizations across the political spectrum attended the event. The inclusion of some of the more right-wing speakers, including Johnson and Pastor John Hagee — the head of the influential Christians United for Israel group who is an opponent of LGBTQ rights — caused controversy before the rally. “A dangerous bigot like Hagee should not be welcomed anywhere in our community,” the liberal pro-Israel lobby J Street tweeted on Tuesday morning.”

Top News and Analysis

Israeli Forces Raid Gaza’s Largest Hospital, Where Hundreds of Patients Are Stranded by Fighting, AP
Israeli forces raided Gaza’s largest hospital early Wednesday, where hundreds of patients, including newborns, have been stranded with dwindling supplies and no electricity, as the army extended its control across Gaza City and the north. Shifa Hospital has become a symbol of the widespread suffering of Palestinian civilians during the war between Israel and Hamas. The hospital is also at the heart of clashing narratives over who is to blame for the thousands of deaths and widespread destruction in the besieged territory.

‘I Can’t Sit Around Any More’: Families of Israeli Hostages March to Jerusalem, The Guardian
Relatives of hostages taken by Hamas on its October 7 attack on southern Israel have begun a march from Tel Aviv to Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem. At the start of the 40-mile route, families gathered outside the Tel Aviv Museum Square and fought back tears as they made impassioned pleas for the release of their loved ones held captive in Gaza for 39 days.

Netanyahu Stances Frustrating US Attempts to Rally Arab Support for Post-Hamas Gaza, The Times of Israel
Netanyahu’s refusal to address who will govern Gaza if Israel succeeds in toppling Hamas, along with the premier’s mixed messaging regarding whether the Israeli military will re-occupy the Strip, have pushed away Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The Biden administration believes the backing of those countries will be needed to help rehabilitate and manage the Strip for an interim period after the war, the three officials explained. But absent a post-war strategy, the countries will be more likely to instead pile pressure on Israel to cease fighting short of its goal of removing Hamas. Sensing that Netanyahu is being hamstrung by his far-right coalition allies, the US has begun to ask about the possibility of a more moderate government being shuffled in, according to a former official.

US Intelligence Backs Israeli Claims About Hamas Operations Under Gaza Hospitals, NPR
The United States has its own intelligence that the militant group Hamas has used hospitals in Gaza, along with tunnels buried underneath, to plan operations and store weapons, the White House said Tuesday. The US intelligence appears to back Israeli claims about militant group activities underneath Gaza’s hospitals — including Al-Shifa Hospital, the major complex in Gaza City that is the territory’s largest medical center.

Israel Turns Down International Request to Allow Gaza Aid via Its Territory, Haaretz
Several Western countries have appealed to Israel in recent days, asking it to allow them to bring humanitarian relief into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza, in order to streamline and expedite the arrival of the aid to the Palestinian population concentrated in the southern part of the Hamas-controlled enclave. Israel opposes the idea, having announced the complete closure of all crossings into the Strip immediately after the outbreak of the war.

Gaza Reports More Than 11,100 Killed. That’s One Out of Every 200 People, The Washington Post
In a visual analysis, the Washington Post reports, “They include doctors, journalists, professors and poets. More than 11,100 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. While there is no breakdown between fighters and civilians, most of the dead are women and children. In just a little over a month of war, that amounts to over 0.5 percent of Gaza’s more than 2 million people. This was Hala Mufid Abu Saada. She was 14 years old and lived in the Jabalya camp in Gaza’s Al Fakhoura area. She loved drawing, Dabkeh dancing and singing. She was killed on Oct. 16 when an Israeli airstrike destroyed her family home, taking the lives of her mother, brother and five sisters as well.”

A Tribute to Vivian, +972
Samah Salaime shares, “I, along with thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women, will accompany you on your final journey some day — a walk I cannot make behind the corpses of my own friends from Gaza. Their stories, their hopes, and their dreams are faintly heard, somewhere in this world. In accompanying you, Vivian, we, the women of peace, will walk and cry together, and we will hug and mourn this deep loss. And each will remember, in your honor, the loved ones and friends, Palestinians and Israelis, who lost their lives in this pointless war, in this region we all loved. I promise you I will continue on that path. Our destination will not be another cemetery; it will be a place of dreams, somewhere over the house of eternal peace.”


The Heavy Burdens of War for Gaza’s Women and Girls, The Washington Post
Salma Tarabin is eight months pregnant, praying the war ends before her third child is born into a “poisoned” world. The 30-year-old is exhausted, hungry and sick from drinking dirty water. For a month now, she has been sleeping on a sheet on a hard classroom floor with more than 80 other women and children, she told The Washington Post by phone. Dirt cakes every surface and crevice, she said. There’s no water for washing up.

Israel Plans to Allow UN Trucks in Gaza to Refuel at Rafah Crossing, Axios
Israel plans to allow trucks used by the UN Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza to refuel at the Rafah crossing on Wednesday, according to four US and Israeli sources. The UN, other aid groups and hospitals have said they desperately need fuel to deliver aid to those in need in Gaza or to run generators that have been powering hospitals. If the refueling takes place on Wednesday, it will be the first time Israel has allowed a significant amount of fuel into Gaza since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

Poll: Only 4% Of Israeli Jews Find Netanyahu Reliable Source on Gaza War, Al-Monitor
The survey showed that Netanyahu is considered a reliable source of information by less than 4% of the people polled. Divided according to political camps, only 6.63% of people identifying with right-wing camp trust Netanyahu as a reliable source of information. In contrast, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari, who has been communicating regularly since Oct. 7 via social media and frequent press conferences both in Hebrew and in English, topped the list, as 73.7% of the people polled singled him out as the most trustworthy source of information.

Israeli MKs Call on West to ‘Welcome’ Refugees From Gaza, Haaretz
Two Israeli Knesset members, from both the coalition and the opposition, published an article in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, calling for the formulation of a plan to transfer parts of the population from the Gaza Strip to countries that agree to accept them. MKs Danny Danon of Likud, former ambassador to the UN, and Ram Ben Barak of opposition party Yesh Atid, former deputy director of the Mossad, wrote that “even if countries took in as few as 10,000 people each, it would help alleviate the crisis” in Gaza.

Israelis Are Arming up in the Aftermath of Hamas’ Attack. Some Are Worried It Is Playing to the Far Right’s Vision for the Country, CNN
Behind tables laden with more than 50 assault rifles, Israel’s far-right national security minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, smiled at a crowd of people who had come to the coastal city of Caesarea for a ceremony to receive the firearms. The divisive politician has been crisscrossing Israel in the past weeks handing out guns to civilian members of security squads as he expands Israeli citizens’ access to guns in the wake of Hamas’ attack last month. The aim, according to the Ministry of National Security, is to create teams to respond to future terror incidents.

Palestinians Fear ‘Slow Death’ as Hunger and Thirst Spread in Gaza, +972
The resulting food shortage has caused massive lines to form outside surviving bakeries, such as the Ajour bakery in Al-Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City, in the northern part of the Strip. “I have been waiting here since 3 a.m.,” Marwan Al-Shawa, 56, told me. “My sons and I came to get enough bread for our family. The daily ration for each person isn’t enough for a breakfast for a small family. Now even a small house is full of displaced families, requiring double the amount of food allowed. I sometimes wait five hours for my turn, and sometimes they’re out of bread by the time I get there.”

More Than 500 US Officials Sign Letter Protesting Biden’s Israel Policy, The New York Times
More than 500 political appointees and staff members representing some 40 government agencies sent a letter to President Biden on Tuesday protesting his support of Israel in its war in Gaza. The letter, part of growing internal dissent over the administration’s support of the war, calls on the president to seek an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and to push Israel to allow humanitarian aid into the territory.

For Historically Conservative Jewish Americans, Biden’s Response to Israel Receives Praise, NBC News
American Jews have taken note, according to several leaders who say they have observed a shift, particularly among groups that did not previously support Biden. After Hamas’ attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, many American Jews are rallying around Biden’s handling of the war, referring to his response as a show of “moral clarity.”

Harsh Visuals of War Leave Newsrooms Facing Tough Choices, The New York Times
The visual chronicle of the war between Israel and Hamas has become its own disturbing case study of the age of disinformation, when photographs, and the act of photojournalism itself, are weaponized by both sides of a highly charged conflict. For newsrooms in the United States and Europe, the question of which images to publish — and which are too graphic or misleading to be published — has rarely been more complex.

Israel Defends Airstrikes in Gaza: ‘We Are Not Fighting for Our Image’, The Hill
A spokesman for the Israeli government defended his country’s offensive into Gaza on Monday, admitting that “the optics” of the airstrike campaign and ground offensive are “bad,” but that the country is not concerned with the way things look. “You’re right, the optics are bad. But we are not fighting for our image, we are fighting for survival,” Eylon Levy told Chris Cuomo on Monday.

Opinion and Analysis

Grief Is Fuelling Repression and Racism in Israel. But Our Movement for Peace Is Growing, The Guardian
Uri Weltmann, national field organizer of Standing Together, shares “While war rages in Gaza, there is also a battle in Israel for the character of our society. That is why we’ve formed the Jewish-Arab Solidarity Network with more than 12 local groups in cities across the country, which works on the ground to combat racism, promote peace and equality, and bring Jewish and Palestinian citizens together. Our activists erase racist graffiti (replacing “Death to Arabs” with “Equality for all”); put up bilingual posters that read “Only peace will bring security”; and support Jewish and Arab families whose members have been injured or killed in the war.”

This War Did Not Start a Month Ago, The New York Times
Dalia Hatuqa writes, “For Palestinians, this type of systematic violence is nothing new. To many inside and outside this war, the brutality of Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks was unthinkable, as have been the scale and ferocity of Israel’s reprisal. But Palestinians have been subject to a steady stream of unfathomable violence — as well as the creeping annexation of their land by Israel and Israeli settlers — for generations. If people are going to understand this latest conflict and see a path forward for everyone, we need to be more honest, nuanced and comprehensive about the recent decades of history in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank, particularly the impact of occupation and violence on the Palestinians.”

The Third Front: Settler Violence in Gaza War’s Shadow and the Impact on Area C, Peace Now
Peace Now reports, “Taking advantage of the war, a group of violent settlers is carrying out an organized operation to expel Palestinian communities residing in Area C through organized attacks, threats, intimidation, property damage, and even physical assaults, mainly in the southern Hebron hills and the Jordan Valley. Some of these actions are carried out by settlers dressed in IDF uniforms, while others have been recruited to the reserves to defend the settlements following the war. In addition to the attacks on Palestinian communities, an organization, supported by prominent settlers, aims to prevent Palestinians from harvesting their olives. Alongside a campaign demanding that the IDF prohibit Palestinian movement, organized groups of settlers are forcing Palestinians off their lands.”

There Might Be No Day After in Gaza, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Nathan J. Brown writes, “The question “How should Gaza be governed when the war is over?” will likely reveal itself to have no good answers and not even to be the right starting point. Instead, better questions ask: What does it mean to oust a party like Hamas from governance when it dominates all levels of Gaza’s government? What does it mean for Israel to attempt to end the military capability of Hamas, a social movement with a military wing that also oversees public security, administration, and other governmental functions—especially when it operates both above and below ground? What does victory mean? And whatever its goals, what will Israel actually achieve?”