News Roundup for November 17, 2023

November 17, 2023
Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

J Street In the News

How the Hostage Crisis Is Changing Israel, The World
“It is by far the most devastating attack on Israelis, I would say even Jews, since the Holocaust,” said Nadav Tamir, a former Israeli diplomat based in Tel Aviv, who now works with the US organization J Street, which advocates for peace in Israel. “And you know, we had another surprise attack in the Yom Kippur War in ‘73, and it was devastating but all the deaths and the casualties were soldiers. This time we’re talking about civilians who were taken out of their beds or from a party,” Tamir added.

Defeat Terror. Protect Civilians. Pursue Peace, J Street
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “It’s America’s choice, however, whether we will enable our close ally and friend to pursue a dangerous plan of action filled with violence, bloodshed and pain, or whether we will instead do all we can to guide them to a better path. The stakes of this moment could not be higher for all that J Street cares about – peace, security, human rights, democracy and more – or for Israel, the Palestinian people and the region. Congress has a real opportunity, in the weeks leading to the vote on supplemental assistance, to ensure that out of this horrible nightmare, we are on a path that leads toward conflict resolution and that provides both peoples with self-determination, security and freedom in states of their own.”

Top News and Analysis

Military Recovers Hostage’s Body Near Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, Says Hamas Killed Her, The Times of Israel
The body of Yehudit Weiss, who was abducted by Hamas on October 7, was recovered by the Israel Defense Forces from a building near Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip, the military said Thursday. The IDF said troops from the 7th Armored Brigade’s 603rd Battalion found her body, along with military equipment, including assault rifles and RPGs, belonging to the Hamas terrorists who had held her captive.

Aid Agencies Say They Can’t Send Food and Other Supplies to Gaza Because of Communications Blackout, AP
Communications systems in the Gaza Strip were down for a second day Friday with no fuel to power the internet and phone networks, causing aid agencies to halt cross-border deliveries of humanitarian supplies even as they warned people may soon face starvation. Gaza is now receiving only 10% of its needed food supplies daily, and dehydration and malnutrition are growing with nearly all of the 2.3 million people in the territory needing food, said Abeer Etefa, a Mideast regional spokeswoman for the United Nations’ World Food Program.

Biden Says a ‘Real’ Palestinian State Must Come After War, The New York Times
President Biden said on Wednesday that the endpoint of the Israel-Hamas conflict has to be a Palestinian state that is “real,” existing alongside an Israeli one. He added that he and his aides have been negotiating with Arab nations on next steps, but did not give any details. “I can tell you, I don’t think it ultimately ends until there’s a two-state solution,” Biden said at a news conference.

Democratic Lawmakers Press Biden on Israeli Violence in the West Bank, NBC News
Two Democratic lawmakers wrote to President Biden on Thursday to ask him to keep pressing Israel to crack down on violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank. “As your administration tirelessly works to prevent the expansion of this conflict, we write to specifically highlight the threat that violence in the West Bank — especially vigilante violence by Israeli settlers — poses to those efforts, Israel’s near-term security, Palestinian human rights, and long-term regional peace,” Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Dan Goldman wrote in a letter first obtained by NBC News.

Israeli Troops Scour Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital for Evidence of Hamas, The Washington Post
The Israeli raid of the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital stretched into its second day Thursday as troops searched for evidence of the extensive Hamas infrastructure that Israeli and US officials have said lies beneath the facility. The Israel Defense Forces said Thursday that searches had uncovered the body of a captive Israeli woman in a house near the hospital, along with weapons. On Wednesday, the IDF released photographs and video of small caches of weapons it said belonged to Hamas. Israel has yet to produce findings that corroborate its claims that al-Shifa sits atop a Hamas headquarters and was central to the militant group’s operations in northern Gaza.

Israel Approves Daily Entry of Fuel Into Gaza After US Pressure, Axios
The Israeli war cabinet late Thursday approved a plan to allow the entry of fuel into the southern Gaza Strip from Egypt following strong pressure from the Biden administration, two Israeli and US officials said. It is the first time since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack that Israel will allow a significant amount of fuel into Gaza on a regular basis. Israel earlier this week allowed a limited supply of fuel to be used to refuel trucks the UN uses to deliver humanitarian aid. The UN said, however, it wasn’t near enough to fulfill the needs in Gaza.

Thousands Attend Funeral of Slain Canadian-Israeli Peace Activist Vivian Silver, Haaretz
At the entrance to Kibbutz Gezer on Thursday were cars parked in every possible configuration, on every empty stretch along the road’s shoulder. This continued as one neared the dining hall, on the path to which an unending caravan of vehicle inched towards available spaces, directed by volunteers. There seemed to be no end in sight to the people pouring in. They were here, in the thousands, for the funeral of Vivian Silver, the Canadian-Israeli peace activist murdered by Hamas on October 7 in her home at Kibbutz Be’eri.

How Netanyahu Is Undermining Biden’s Gaza Strategy, Time Magazine
Nimrod Novik writes, “Netanyahu threw a political grenade at US diplomacy during a recent press conference. Its explosion threatened to sabotage American efforts to put together a three-way, win-win, post-Gaza war regional architecture. First, the US plan would relieve Israel of the need to govern Gaza’s 2.2 million Palestinians with no exit in sight. Second, it would offer Palestinians a credible political horizon and thereby prevent the West Bank from sliding into a Gaza-like crisis, while prepping the Palestinian Authority for controlling Gaza in the future. Third, it was to consolidate a powerful, US-led regional coalition to check Iran’s and its proxies’ regional meddling, with revived talk of Israeli-Saudi normalization included. But, in declaring his flat objection for having Gaza run by the PA, Netanyahu removed the cornerstone on which Secretary of State Blinken had been trying to mobilize regional support.”

The Israeli Right Hopes Not Just for Victory in Gaza, but Also Conquest, The Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “Perhaps the most articulated ideas on what should come next among Israelis are being voiced on Netanyahu’s right flank. And they also happen to be the most hard-line and extreme visions for what Israel should do in Gaza. Consider the remarks of far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who, while inciting new rounds of violence in the West Bank, also suggested anyone who sympathizes with Hamas should be “eliminated.” Or those of Amihai Eliyahu, a far-right coalition partner of Netanyahu and Israel’s heritage minister, who said dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza could be an option.”


Israel Blocks Some Palestinian Americans From Entering From West Bank, The New York Times
Israel is preventing some Palestinian Americans from entering the country from the West Bank, an apparent violation of a recent agreement in which citizens from the United States and Israel can travel to the other nation without a visa. The Homeland Security and State Departments, which manage the program, said American officials were trying to resolve the issue.

Sympathy for Israel Plunges Among Younger Voters, The Hill
Sympathy among US voters for Israel in its war with militant group Hamas plunged among young voters, with more than half now expressing more sympathy for the Palestinians, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. The nationwide poll released Thursday found 54 percent of those surveyed said their sympathies lie more with Israelis while 24 percent said their sympathies lie more with Palestinians.

Israel Drops Leaflets on Parts of Southern Gaza Suggesting Possible Expansion of Offensive Against Hamas, CNN
Israel has dropped leaflets across parts of southern Gaza calling on civilians to evacuate and “head towards known shelters,” indicating Israel could soon expand its ground operation against Hamas to the south of the enclave. Leaflets were dropped Wednesday on four communities to the east of Khan Younis, the largest city in southern Gaza, warning people living there to “evacuate your residence immediately.”

Police Start Building Oct. 7 Rape Cases, Focusing On Footage and Testimonies, The Times of Israel
Israeli police investigators are currently building several sexual assault cases against Gazan terrorists who participated in the massacres in southern Israel on October 7, with the goal of eventually trying the perpetrators for rape and other crimes. “We have multiple witnesses for several cases” of sexual abuse, said David Katz, who heads cyber crime at Lahav 433, the Israel Police’s criminal investigation division. In addition to witness testimony, Katz said the police have video evidence, testimony from terrorists, and photographs of victims’ bodies that all point toward sexual assault.

Israeli and Palestinian Activists Ask Americans to Take Side of Peace, The New York Times
But the staff of Sally Abed and Alon-Lee Green’s organization, Standing Together, are trying to teach Americans — anyone who will listen, really — about their lived reality and the only path they see moving forward. They describe that path as one that cannot be boiled down to a hashtag: one in which millions of Israelis and Palestinians would remain on the land they each call home, and one that would require enough popular political will to demand peace.

Long-neglected and Underfunded, Israel’s Mental Health System Unable to Treat All October 7 Survivors, Haaretz
The Israeli Health Ministry’s mental healthcare services are failing at providing aid to all those scarred by the war, chiefly the victims of the Hamas mass attack on October 7. At a hearing held by the Knesset Health Committee on the ministry’s nationwide plan for mental resilience, Daniel Raz, head of forced hospitalization and personal status matters for the Justice Ministry’s legal aid department, said the state was compelled to forcibly institutionalize victims who did not receive timely mental care.

Antisemites Are Saying Elon Musk Is on Their Side After His Latest Tweets About Jews, NBC News
Tech billionaire Elon Musk faced backlash from some Jewish leaders and at least one advertiser Thursday after he again embraced an antisemitic conspiracy theory, the latest in a pattern of his echoing anti-Jewish bigotry going back years. Responding to another user who had accused Jews of hating white people and who had expressed indifference to antisemitism, Musk wrote: “You have said the actual truth.”

Opinion and Analysis

‘Voluntary’ Expulsion of Gazans: The Israeli Lawmakers Falling Into an Abyss of Incitement, Haaretz
Eran Etzion shares, “Writing in an op-ed co-authored with Danny Danon, a Likud lawmaker, in the Wall Street Journal Monday, the pair called for “the international community explore potential solutions to help civilians caught in the crisis. One idea is for countries around the world to accept limited numbers of Gazan families who have expressed a desire to relocate.” […] If versions of ethnic cleansing are now considered legitimate even within the Israeli archetypical “centrist party”, it is a clear sign, even in the eyes of Israel’s friends, that the country is rapidly sliding into a dangerous abyss.”

Why the Most Hated Man in Israel Might Stay in Power, The Atlantic
Graeme Wood writes, “So why is Netanyahu still in office—and why do I keep meeting people who think he’ll still be there for a long time to come? Even Israelis who despise him, and would give him to Hamas gratis, acknowledge that it would be senseless for him to step down in the middle of a war. Once it’s over, he’ll have his political reckoning—and although I suspect he will no longer be prime minister in a year’s time, betting against Netanyahu’s survival is like betting against the house. He might be too shameless to step down, and too entrenched to be forced into retirement.”

Joe Biden’s Middle East Mess, Politico
Gregg Carlstrom writes, “American officials have struggled to articulate a “Biden doctrine” in the region, but Sullivan came closest in his September speech: “We want to depressurize, deescalate and ultimately integrate the Middle East region,” he said. To do that the administration relied on three strands of policy: promote Arab-Israeli normalization, pursue diplomacy with Iran and push efforts at economic integration. These strands were meant to reinforce one another. They would ease the tensions of the Trump years, forge a new security alliance in the region and lock everyone in a virtuous circle of stability and growth. Everything else was shunted aside. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was ignored.”