News Roundup for November 7, 2023

November 7, 2023
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J Street In the News

Liberal Jewish US Groups Are Walking an Oh-So-Thin Tightrope, The New Republic
“What’s deeply painful about all of this is just how fundamentally right everything that J Street has been saying was,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a self-described pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy organization. The idea that Palestinians could simply be ignored while Israel pursues normalization with other Arab countries was a “strategic failure.” That core principle and messaging, he said, remains. “Another key to our messaging is the word ‘and,’” he said. “Feeling deep pain for the people of Israel and the people of Gaza. The vast majority of Jewish America holds a middle ground,” Ben-Ami said. That middle ground includes “support for Israel, empathy for Palestinians.”

J Street Supports Bipartisan Senate and House Legislation Condemning Campus Antisemitism, J Street
“J Street is appalled by the surge of antisemitism on college campuses, and strongly supports robust, responsible action by Congress and the White House to condemn and respond to it. Given the intense sensitivity and importance of the issue, it is critical that elected officials address it strongly, responsibly and accurately. Last week, J Street proudly urged Senators to support the bipartisan Rosen-Blackburn resolution condemning campus antisemitism, which passed the Senate unanimously. We urge Members of the House to pass the bipartisan companion resolution to that bill, introduced by Reps. Kustoff and Wasserman Schultz.”

Top News and Analysis

Israeli Forces Cut off North Gaza to Isolate Hamas as Advance on Urban Center Looms, ABC News
The Israeli army severed northern Gaza from the rest of the besieged territory and pounded it with airstrikes Monday, preparing for expected ground battles with Hamas militants in Gaza’s largest city and an even bloodier phase of the month-old war. Already, the Palestinian death toll surpassed 10,000, the Health Ministry of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip said Monday. The ministry does not distinguish between fighters and civilians. Some 1,400 Israelis have died, mostly civilians killed in the Oct. 7 incursion by Hamas that started the war.

As Gaza Hospitals Collapse, Medical Workers Face the Hardest Choices, The New York Times
Doctors and nurses in Gaza’s teetering hospitals, which are nearing collapse without electricity and basic supplies, say they must now decide which patients get ventilators, who gets resuscitated, or who gets any medical treatment at all. They make snap decisions amid the screams of small children undergoing amputations or brain surgeries without anesthesia or clean water to wash their wounds. Some veterans of wartime medicine in the Gaza Strip say conditions inside the overcrowded and impoverished territory are the worst they have ever seen, as entire apartment blocks, schools and hospitals crumble under an Israeli bombardment.

Biden, Netanyahu Discussed Potential ‘Tactical Pauses’ in Gaza Fighting, Reuters
US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the potential for “tactical pauses” in fighting in Gaza for humanitarian reasons and possible hostage releases in talks on Monday, according to a spokesperson. White House spokesperson John Kirby said the US and Israeli governments would continue to be in touch on such potential temporary pauses and that Biden and Netanyahu agreed to continue talks in the coming days.

Israel to Maintain Security Control in Gaza ‘Indefinitely’ After War, Netanyahu Says, The Times of Israel
Israel will have “security responsibility” over the Gaza Strip for some time after its war against Hamas ends, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview aired Monday night. How Israel intends to handle Gaza’s postwar future remains an open and burning question as Israeli forces push deeper into the enclave amid a campaign to eliminate the Hamas terror group, which has ruled the Strip for over 15 years. “I think Israel will for an indefinite period have security responsibility,” Netanyahu told ABC News.

Israel’s Bombardment of Gaza Could Be Potent Recruitment Tool for Hamas, Experts Warn, NBC News
Israel’s ferocious bombardment of the Gaza Strip will create an incubator for a new generation of terrorists, some extremism experts say, as thousands of young people who have lost families and homes risk being radicalized by the war and its likely chaotic aftermath. Israel says it wants to destroy Hamas, the terrorist group that carried out the massacre of more than 1,400 people and the kidnappings of 240 others on Oct. 7, according to official estimates. But Israel’s retaliatory bombing campaign has killed thousands of civilians, many of them women and children.

‘I’m Scared to Leave My Home’: West Bank Resident on Increasing Settler Violence [Video], The Guardian
Alaa Hathleen, a Palestinian living in Masafer Yatta, told the Guardian he and his neighbours are under threat. Over the past three weeks, he says settlers have burned down homes and attacked Palestinians residing there, as violence from Israeli settlers and IDF forces has intensified in the aftermath of the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7. Masafer Yatta is a collection of shepherding hamlets in the West Bank under full Israeli control and under threat of annexation.


Civilians Fleeing Northern Gaza’s Combat Zone Report a Terrifying Journey on Foot Past Israeli Tanks, AP
What was once Gaza’s busiest thoroughfare has become a terrifying escape route for Palestinian civilians fleeing combat on foot or on donkey carts. On their way south, those running for their lives said they raised their hands and waved white flags to move past Israeli tanks along the four-lane highway. Some reported Israeli soldiers firing at them and said they passed bodies strewn alongside the road. Many escaped with just the clothes on their back.

What Will It Take to Free the Hostages in Gaza? Many Israelis Support a Prisoner Swap, NPR
The US is seeking a pause in the Hamas-Israel war, in order to allow for the release of the roughly 240 hostages taken prisoner inside Gaza during the deadly Hamas massacre of some 1,400 people in southern Israel on Oct. 7. Many Israelis are advocating a far-reaching idea: a historic prisoner exchange in which Israel would release all its Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails. Hamas has so far released four hostages through Qatar’s mediation. It has called for a grand prisoner exchange to release the rest. Israel says no such deal is on the table.

Netanyahu Faces Rising Anger From Within Israel After Hamas Attack, CBS News
Angry protesters paid Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a home visit over the weekend, chanting, “jail now!” They were echoing rising cries from across the country for the veteran Israeli leader to step down. A new poll by an Israeli news station found that 76% of respondents want Netanyahu to resign. Many blame him for the security failures behind Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror rampage across southern Israel.

Netanyahu Suspends Israeli Minister Who Said Dropping a Nuclear Bomb on Gaza Was an Option, The New York Times
Prime Minister Netanyahu took the highly unusual step on Sunday of suspending a far-right minister from his government, after the minister said that dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza and killing everyone there was “one way” of dealing with the threat from Hamas. Netanyahu’s swift action came amid an immediate and broad outcry over the comments made on Sunday morning by Amichay Eliyahu, the minister of heritage from the ultranationalist Jewish Power party. In his remarks, made to a Hebrew radio station, Eliyahu also said that there was no such thing as noncombatants in Gaza.

An Inside Look at Israel’s Mission to Find and Destroy Hamas’ Vast Tunnel Network in Northern Gaza, NBC News
Israeli forces seized this strip of Gaza’s Mediterranean coastline days ago. Since then, columns of Israeli troops have rolled through on their way south toward Gaza City. And yet on Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces said three Hamas fighters burst out of a tunnel hidden beneath the soldiers’ feet to launch an ambush with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. No Israeli troops were killed, the IDF said, but the tunnel represented a threat deep behind the front line.

US Diplomats Slam Israel Policy in Leaked Memo, Politico
State Department staffers offered a blistering critique of the Biden administration’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war in a dissent memo obtained by POLITICO, arguing that, among other things, the US should be willing to publicly criticize the Israelis. The message suggests a growing loss of confidence among US diplomats in President Joe Biden’s approach to the Middle East crisis. It reflects the sentiments of many US diplomats, especially at mid-level and lower ranks.

Jewish Man Dies After Confrontation During Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian Demonstrations, AP
A Jewish man in California has died after getting into a confrontation during dueling protests over the Israel-Hamas war, authorities said. Paul Kessler, 69, died at a hospital on Monday, a day after he was struck during pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations at an intersection in Thousand Oaks, a suburb northwest of Los Angeles, authorities said. Witnesses said Kessler was involved in a “physical altercation” with one or more counter-protesters, fell backward and struck his head on the ground.

Far-Right Finance Minister Calls for Palestinian-Free Buffer Zones Near West Bank Settlements, The Times of Israel
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich calls for a ban against Palestinians harvesting olives close to Israeli West Bank settlements, and the creation of “sterile” no-go areas prohibiting the presence of Palestinians in the vicinity of the settlements and major roads that lead to them. In a letter to the prime minister that he shares with the media, Smotrich alleges Israel is failing to maintain acceptable levels of security in the West Bank.

Israel Assures US New M16s Won’t Go to West Bank Settlers, Axios
The Biden administration allowed Israel to buy thousands of M16 rifles from US defense companies only after being assured the weapons wouldn’t go to civilian teams in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to four US and Israeli officials with direct knowledge of the deal. The Israeli commitment was a key condition the administration and members of Congress demanded before approving the sale of the rifles.

The State Department Approves $320 Million Sale of Guided Bomb Equipment to Israel, The New York Times
The US State Department has approved a $320 million sale to Israel of equipment for kits that turn unguided bombs into more precise, GPS-guided munitions, according to a letter sent by the department to Congress that was obtained by The New York Times. The order comes on top of an earlier one for the same equipment that was valued at almost $403 million. Israel has been using the kits during its bombing campaign in Gaza.

Opinion and Analysis

Biden Risks Re-Election by Alienating Arab and Muslim Voters, MSNBC
Democratic strategist Waleed Shahid shares, “Each of these moments of neglect has contributed to a feeling among Muslim and Arab American Democrats that the leaders of the party that are supposed to represent them are dehumanizing them instead. These things are personal — they hit on a core level of identity, trust and belonging. Many Muslim and Arab Democrats have found the outpouring of support and care for Jewish Americans to be heartwarming, even while they have also been heartbroken and enraged that the same care hasn’t been extended to Arab and Muslim Americans or to Palestinians.”

Is That Antisemitic? The Fraught Terminology Surrounding the War in Gaza, New York Magazine
Eric Levitz notes, “Debates over Israel’s policies have always been plagued by antisemitism and specious allegations of the same. This is especially the case in the current moment. Hamas’s mass murder of Israeli Jews and others has prompted some of Palestine’s sympathizers to betray their disregard for Jewish life. Israel’s mass killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, meanwhile, has led its knee-jerk defenders to use baseless allegations of bigotry as a means of disqualifying legitimate dissent.”

I Was the Victim of Settler Violence in the West Bank. Looking Away From It Will Endanger All of Us, JTA
Sam Stein writes, “Sometimes, victims of settler violence do not go to the police because it seems like a waste of time. In cases like mine, traumatic experiences with the police and the fear of more trauma discourage victims from coming forward. In Wadi Al-Siq, state actors took part in the crime in the first place. With all eyes on the Gaza Strip, what little accountability police and settlers faced in the West Bank may disappear. It is not in spite of the horrors occurring in Gaza, but because of them, that we must pay more attention to the similar horrors occurring throughout the West Bank.”