News Roundup for October 16, 2023

October 16, 2023
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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

Progressives Press Biden on Israel’s Plans for Gaza, Axios
“The letter comes as more than 50 House Democrats were briefed on the situation in Israel on Friday morning by leaders of J Street, a liberal PAC that advocates for a two-state solution, according to a spokesperson for the group. Representatives of the IDF and Israeli analysts and commentators – including some with firsthand experience with the attack – briefed members as well. The spokesperson said J Street also held a separate briefing for congressional staffers in both parties.”

House Democrats Briefed on Israel as Progressives Raise Concerns Over Gaza Evacuation, Politico
“House Democrats got an Israel briefing on Friday as the US ally ordered the mass evacuation of more than a million residents from Gaza in the aftermath of terrorist attacks that have killed more than a thousand people. A spokesperson for J Street — which hosted the call — said it included participants from the Israel Defense Forces, included “representatives of the IDF and from Israeli analysts/commentators, including those with firsthand experiences of the attack.” They said it’s the second briefing hosted since the attack and that the group would be happy to brief interested Republican members.”

America’s Evolving Views of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, US News and World Report
“Indeed, critiques aimed at the policies of the Israeli government had been growing prior to the recent Hamas attacks and the “debate was expanding,” says Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a US-based pro-Israel organization that advocates for diplomacy. But now, he says, “nothing will be the same.” “One of the things about horrific tragedies like this is that it can harden people’s minds again, harden people’s hearts,” Ben-Ami adds. “Our perspective as an organization is that the only resolution to this horrific conflict between Jews and Palestinians is through diplomacy and compromise.”

The World Can No Longer Sideline the Israeli-Palestinian Issue. But the US Doesn’t Have to Be the Only Broker, Politico
“While Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Iran have no interest in resolving the conflict and in peace,” says Jeremy Ben Ami, CEO of J Street, a progressive Washington lobbying group, which strongly supports a peace agreement with the Palestinians, “there are plenty of Palestinians who do, and our entire policy should be directed at bolstering and building up those Palestinians and other players who genuinely want to create a productive, peaceful and thriving Middle East. If you do that, then Hamas and the bad actors won’t find fertile ground to build on.”

A Rift Over Israel Threatens the Left’s Fragile Gains, Semafor
“Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, said that the media was telling a too-easy story of infighting, focusing on fringe activists or parsing the words used by Israel’s critics in Congress “who had the temerity to say ‘ceasefire.’ There is wall to wall condemnation of what happened, and we’re still in the phase where that’s the appropriate place to be,” said Ben-Ami, who spoke with Semafor shortly after learning that a friend’s daughter had been killed with her boyfriend in the Hamas attacks. “There will come another chapter — a more nuanced discussion, at the appropriate time. But we’re still in a phase where you’re finding, except for a very small number of outliers, nearly unanimous condemnation of Hamas and support for the people of Israel.”

Can Biden Transform a Tragedy into an Opportunity?, The Times of Israel
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir writes, “The Biden administration can and should initiate an international move towards a political horizon that will raise the Palestinian issue to the Israeli public agenda once again, instills hope and faith among moderate Palestinians, and strengthen supporters of a two-state diplomatic solution. According to all polls in Israel and also among the Palestinian population, there is a liberal majority when given a political horizon, while Hamas represents less than 30 percent of the Palestinian people. Successful diplomacy will significantly weaken Hamas and its appeal among Palestinians.”

Top News and Analysis

Biden Warns Israel Not to Occupy Gaza, The New York Times
President Biden warned Israel in an interview aired on Sunday not to reoccupy Gaza, his first significant public effort to restrain America’s ally in the wake of the Hamas assault that killed more than 1,300 people, including at least 29 Americans. Biden has offered staunch support for Israel since the October 7 attack and refused to criticize Israel for its retaliatory siege of Gaza, even as UN officials warned of a humanitarian crisis. But in the new interview, he cautioned against a full-scale occupation of Gaza.

Hundreds of Thousands Flee South in Gaza after Israel Orders Evacuation, The Washington Post
Evacuation orders from Israel’s military have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee south from their homes in northern Gaza since Friday, the largest wave of civilian displacement in a week of war with Hamas, according to the United Nations, even as others refused to leave, fearing that escape routes are too dangerous.

IDF has Notified Families of 199 People Being Held Hostage in Gaza, The Times of Israel
IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military has so far notified the families of 199 hostages that their loved ones are being held in the Gaza Strip. Among the hostages that Hamas terrorists took to Gaza after the devastating assault last week are many elderly, children and women.

Israel Resumes Water Supply to Southern Gaza After US Pressure, Axios
Israel resumed on Sunday the water supply to the southern Gaza Strip after strong pressure from the Biden administration, two Israeli officials told Axios. Israel’s decision to completely stop the water supply to Gaza exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, with aid groups warning water supplies were quickly running out.


Deadly Violence Surges in West Bank as War Rages in Gaza Region, The Times of Israel
While the world is focused on the war in Gaza since the Hamas terror group’s devastating assault on Israel, tensions have risen in the West Bank, where 55 Palestinians were killed over the past week in clashes with Israeli troops, arrest raids and attacks by Jewish settlers, according to the Palestinian Authority’s health ministry.

Families of Israelis Abducted to Gaza Decry Government ‘Abandonment’, 972
A one-man protest outside Tel Aviv’s military HQ quickly swelled into a mass demonstration, with families demanding the immediate return of loved ones. If at first people only shouted “Shame!” in less than an hour they were shouting “Criminal government!” and “Send Bibi to prison!” Not a single protester openly defended the coalition, but victims’ families voiced concerns that political messaging would make a divisive far-right government even less likely to return their loved ones.

Israel and US Discussing Possible Biden Visit after Netanyahu Extends Invitation, CNN
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited President Joe Biden to visit Israel soon, and both countries are discussing the possibility, a source familiar with the matter told CNN. It wasn’t clear how advanced the discussions were, or when a possible trip might occur. The White House said Sunday it didn’t have any new travel plans by the president to announce.

Saudi Arabia Reportedly Suspends Peace Talks with Israel in Wake of War with Hamas, JTA
Saudi Arabia is reportedly pausing normalization talks with Israel and the United States, a major diplomatic blow in the wake of Hamas’ invasion of Israel on Sautrday. Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also spoke with Iran’s president this week, signaling a retreat from the Biden administration’s efforts to isolate Iran, which backs Hamas.

Man Killed Muslim Boy and Wounded Woman in Hate Crime Motivated by Israeli-Hamas War, Police Say, AP
A 71-year-old Illinois man accused of fatally stabbing a 6-year-old boy and seriously wounding a 32-year-old woman was charged with a hate crime Sunday. Police allege he singled out the victims because of their Islamic faith and as a response to the war between Israel and Hamas.

‘No Safety to Be Found’: Americans with Family in Gaza Watch and Worry, The Forward
As many American Jews remain focused on mourning the 1,300 Israelis killed in the attack by Hamas Saturday — and on crushing the terrorist organization’s infrastructure in Gaza — Palestinian Americans are wracked with fear for their families and frustration with the US government, which is sending military aid to Israel. Israeli forces have killed 1,800 Palestinians and left 400,000 homeless, according to local officials.

Reuters Journalist Killed in Lebanon in Missile Fire from Direction of Israel, Reuters
A Reuters video journalist was killed and six other journalists injured in southern Lebanon on Friday when missiles fired from the direction of Israel struck them. The group of journalists, including from Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse, were working near Alma al-Shaab, close to the Israel border, where the Israeli military and Lebanese militia Hezbollah have been trading fire in border clashes.

Opinion and Analysis

My 84-year-old Mother Was Taken Hostage. In Her Name, Too, I Plead: Don’t Destroy Gaza, Haaretz
Neta Heiman shares, “So, from this terrifying place we are now in, I call out to the government that will rise after the nightmare is over and I say: Do not destroy the Gaza Strip; that won’t help anyone and will only bring an even more ferocious round of violence the next time. And when the moment for negotiations on a cease-fire arrives, take advantage of that moment to also bring about an agreement between the two sides – not an “arrangement,” but a true peace agreement.”

Hamas’s Barbarism Does Not Justify the Collective Punishment of Palestinians, The Guardian
Kenan Malik writes, “To suggest that such butchery represents the Palestinian struggle is to demean the Palestinian people and their battle for freedom and rights, to view them in the same way as do those Israeli politicians and western commentators who talk of “animals” and “savages”. There have been Palestinian leaders, and supporters, who have deplored the depravity of the acts. Hamas represents a betrayal of Palestinian hopes as well as a threat to Jews.”

The Tangled Grief of Israel’s Anti-Occupation Activists, The New Yorker
Masha Gessen notes, “That Gvaryahu (Breaking the Silence executive director) felt he had to draft two separate statements in the space of three days, that he felt that he had to state the obvious—that the Hamas attacks had been horrific and unjustifiable—is one symptom of the excruciatingly complicated predicament in which Israelis who publicly oppose the occupation have found themselves. In Israeli society, which has invented myriad ways to keep the occupation invisible, their expertise is their ability to see the causal connections between the occupation and violence directed at Israeli Jews.”