News Roundup for October 18, 2023

October 18, 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

After a Palestinian-American Child is Stabbed to Death, Jewish Groups Across the Spectrum Speak Out Against Anti-Muslim Hate, JTA
“In the wake of the murder of a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy in a Chicago suburb, Jewish groups across the religious spectrum are pleading with Americans to not allow anti-Muslim hate to spread because of Israel’s war with Hamas. […] “This is a moment of deep Jewish pain, mourning the lives taken and praying for the safe release of the hostages in Gaza – and this pain and fear is compounded by a horrific rise in antisemitism here in the United States and around the globe,” said the JCPA statement, which in addition to the religious movements was also signed by the American Jewish Committee, J Street, Hadassah and the National Council of Jewish Women, among other groups.”

Can Biden Transform a Human Tragedy into a Diplomatic Opportunity?, The Forward
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir writes, “Biden described the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel as an act of sheer evil and an atrocity on an appalling scale. His empathy for our anger, pain and hopelessness has, more than ever before, earned him the trust of Israelis. He can now leverage this trust with a move that would save Israel from the biggest threat to its mission as the democratic homeland of the Jewish People — which is the continuing occupation.”

Top News and Analysis

After Blast Kills Hundreds at Gaza Hospital, Hamas and Israel Trade Blame as Rage Spreads in Region, AP
A massive blast rocked a Gaza City hospital packed with wounded and other Palestinians seeking shelter Tuesday, killing hundreds of people, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said. Hamas blamed an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli military blamed a rocket misfired by other Palestinian militants. At least 500 people were killed, the ministry said.

On Unprecedented Warzone Visit to Israel, Biden Faces a Race Against Time, Haaretz
US President Joe Biden will land in Israel on Wednesday for an unprecedented warzone visit that has already been cut short by the rapid escalation of violence in the region. Biden was forced to cut his itinerary in half before Air Force One could even leave the tarmac. Biden’s visit, in word and deed, is designed to showcase America’s unwavering bipartisan support for Israel after the Hamas attack that led to the deadliest day in the country’s history.

Ahead of Biden Visit, Israel’s Treatment of Civilians Looms Large, The Washington Post
Israel’s treatment of civilians in Gaza poses a deepening dilemma for the Biden administration, as officials scramble to illustrate strong support for a core US ally following Hamas’ brutal assault while grappling with a spiraling human toll that could threaten Israel’s international backing and undermine America’s own steps to shield noncombatants from harm.


‘He’s Unfit’: Israel Fiercely Divided Over Netanyahu’s Hostage Response, The Guardian
Many of the families are careful to temper their criticism, fearful that being too outspoken may hamper the government’s responsiveness to their needs. But some of their supporters, who had also gathered in Tel Aviv, said the prime minister’s decision to prioritize striking Hamas over freeing the hostages was the latest sign that he should step aside, after a combined 16 years in power.

Israeli Doctors Pressure WHO, Red Cross and Others to Protect Hostages in Gaza, The Times of Israel
Public health leaders are working closely with the families of the Israeli hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza and interacting on their behalf with international health organizations in a bid to ensure the hostages’ health and safety. While the international organizations are supportive, it doesn’t appear that they have taken any concrete steps to help, according to Israeli doctors who spoke with The Times of Israel.

Illinois Boy Killed in Alleged Hate Crime Remembered as Kind, Playful as Suspect Appears in Court, AP
A 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy who authorities allege was stabbed 26 times by his landlord in response to escalating right-wing rhetoric on the Israel-Hamas war was being remembered as a kind child while multiple authorities investigate the attack that has become a symbol of larger struggles with hate crime in the US. Crowds of mourners in the heavily Palestinian Chicago suburb of Bridgeview, paid respects Monday as Wadea Al-Fayoume was buried.

Why Aid for Gaza is Still Stuck Near Rafah Crossing in Egypt, The Washington Post
It’s been a week since the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt was effectively shut, following Israeli airstrikes on the main passage for possible relief convoys and an exit route for people desperate to leave the besieged Palestinian territory. As the humanitarian situation inside Gaza worsens, hundreds of tons of aid remain stuck on the Egyptian side of the crossing despite growing international calls to provide relief to Gazan civilians.

‘There’s War, Blood Is Boiling’: Settlers Force Palestinians Out Their West Bank Homes, Haaretz
Since the outbreak of the war on October 7, more and more Palestinians in shepherding communities in the West Bank have been fleeing from their homes because of escalating settler violence. In some cases, entire communities have been emptied. In others a number of families have left, or just the women and children.

Hezbollah Calls for ‘Day of Anger’ as Biden Heads to Israel, Gaza War Rages, Al-Monitor
Lebanon’s juggernaut militant group Hezbollah has called for a “day of rage” on Wednesday over the Gaza hospital strike that has left hundreds dead and comes just as US President Joe Biden heads to Israel. Hundreds of Lebanese protesters gathered outside US embassy compound on Wednesday, where they clashed with security forces. The US raised the travel alert in Lebanon to level 4 urging citizens against any travel to the country, and authorized departure of non-emergency personnel.

Universities Struggle with Responses as Israel-Hamas War Reverberates, Axios
American academic institutions are grappling with how to respond to the Israel-Hamas war for fear of angering students, faculty, donors and alumni. After a pattern of communication missteps from some of America’s top schools, a group of multifaith colleges and universities banded together to issue a joint statement supporting Israel and opposing Hamas.

Opinion and Analysis

Vast Gaza Tunnels Present a Battlefield of Nightmares, The Washington Post
David Ignatius writes, “They hide rockets, artillery, ammunition and other war supplies — as well as the fighters themselves. They provide a last redoubt, an underground Alamo. Israel won’t be able to “crush” Hamas, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed, without taking these subterranean command posts. But the underground maze is also where as many as 200 Israeli and American hostages might be hidden. Rescuing the hostages — rooting out the terrorist fighters nearby without killing their captives — will be a supreme test of arms for the Israeli military.”

Why a Gaza Invasion and ‘Once and for All’ Thinking Are Wrong for Israel, The New York Times
Thomas Friedman notes, “If Israel were to announce today that it has decided for now to forgo an invasion of Gaza and will look for more surgical means to eliminate or capture Hamas’s leadership while trying to engineer a trade for the more than 150 Israeli and other hostages whom Hamas is holding, it would not only avoid further traumatizing its own society, as well as Palestinian civilians in Gaza; it would also give Israel and its allies time to think through how to build — with Palestinians — a legitimate alternative to Hamas.”

Netanyahu Has Turned his Back on Israel’s Hostages, and Abandoned Israel in its Darkest Moment, The Forward
Nora Berman argues, “In the wake of the worst terrorist attack in Israel’s history by many magnitudes, Netanyahu and his government have completely abdicated any sense of leadership, most atrociously concerning the hostages. They are bombing Gaza into oblivion, without a clear strategy for what might come after Hamas is uprooted, in an effort to distract the Israeli public from the colossal intelligence failure, and the way his government directly facilitated it.”