News Roundup for October 30, 2023

October 30, 2023
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J Street In the News

President Biden: Provide Us Light in This Darkness, J Street
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami shares, “The message to Israel must be clear: You are a legitimate and recognized state in the world. There is no question about the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the land of Israel and to security with American support. Yet your right to self-determination in Israel does not negate the rights of Palestinians to live by your side. […] The message to the Palestinian people must be bold and clear as well: The world sees you and recognizes you and your right to freedom and self-determination in a state of your own. Your legitimate rights will be fulfilled in a state of your own, but the path to freedom and independence can only be one of non-violence and renunciation of terror.”

J Street Mourns the Passing of Marilyn Katz, Long-Time Activist, Board Member and Friend, J Street
“A legendary figure in Chicago politics, the progressive movement and pro-peace advocacy, Marilyn was a tireless fighter for the oppressed, a warrior against injustice, and a crusader for a better, fairer and more peaceful world – for Chicagoans, for Americans, for Israelis and Palestinians. […] Marilyn was a genuine, one-of-a-kind original, a force of nature and a force for good. She was a pillar of the J Street community and family. She will be deeply missed, warmly remembered, and always treasured.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel Moves to ‘New Phase’ of War With Hamas in Major Incursion in Gaza, Axios
The Israeli military late Friday into Saturday “expanded” its ground operation in Gaza while also ramping up its bombardment of the Strip, targeting what the IDF said were Hamas tunnels and other infrastructure. Gaza’s more than 2.2 million people remained largely cut off from the outside world amid a communications blackout in the enclave.

No Text, No Talk. Palestinians Plunged Into Digital Darkness in Gaza, The Washington Post
The near complete communications blackout in Gaza, as Israel expanded its military campaign, plunged residents into a deep digital darkness. Before Friday night — when phone and internet connections were abruptly severed — you could be poor in Gaza, you could struggle to charge a battery, but if you had a mobile phone with a few minutes of credit, you could still make a call. Now those minutes are useless.

UN General Assembly Calls for ‘Immediate, Durable Humanitarian Truce’, The Guardian
The motion drafted by Jordan is not binding, but carries political weight, reflecting the degree to which the US and Israel are isolated internationally as Israel steps up its ground operations. It passed late on Friday with 120 votes in favour, while 45 abstained, and 14, including Israel and the US, voted against.

US, in Policy Switch, Urges Humanitarian Pauses in Gaza, The Washington Post
After weeks of declining to back growing international calls for “humanitarian pauses” in Israeli airstrikes to allow a steady flow of aid to enter Gaza, permit American and foreign citizens to exit into Egypt and facilitate the release of hostages, the Biden administration is now fully in favor of them and is pressing Israel to agree. The abrupt policy shift comes as the humanitarian situation inside the enclave has become more dire.

Palestinians Fear They’re Being Displaced Permanently. Here’s Why That’s Logical, Vox
Sigal Samuel writes, “Since Hamas’s deadly attack on Israel on October 7, 1.4 million people have been displaced in Gaza following Israeli orders to flee south, according to the United Nations. That’s over 60 percent of the Gaza Strip’s population. In wartime, civilians sometimes have to flee an area until it’s safe to return. In the early days following the Russian invasion in 2022, for instance, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fled in search of safety. But many Palestinians worldwide fear that those who are trying to escape the fighting in Gaza will never be able to return to their homes. The displacement, they worry, will become a permanent exile.”

What About the West Bank?, Salon
Uriel Heilman writes, “Israel has a little-noticed, rear-flank menace that’s undermining its war against Hamas. Ironically, this threat comes from a segment of Israel’s Jewish population: settlers in the West Bank who commit violent acts, including murder, against Palestinian civilians. This mostly overlooked problem represents a two-pronged threat. One, it’s a drain on the Israeli Defense Forces, which already is overextended fighting Hamas terrorists in Gaza, contending with militant threats in the West Bank and holding off Hezbollah on the Lebanese border. Two, this issue imperils global public support for Israel and the country’s moral high ground in its war — critical factors that affect the Israeli military’s ability to operate unhindered against foes.”

How Years of Israeli Failures on Hamas Led to a Devastating Attack, The New York Times
The New York Times shares, “The most powerful military force in the Middle East had not only completely underestimated the magnitude of the attack, it had totally failed in its intelligence-gathering efforts, mostly due to hubris and the mistaken assumption that Hamas was a threat contained. Despite Israel’s sophisticated technological prowess in espionage, Hamas gunmen had undergone extensive training for the assault, virtually undetected for at least a year. The fighters, who were divided into different units with specific goals, had meticulous information on Israel’s military bases and the layout of kibbutzim. The country’s once invincible sense of security was shattered.”


Gaza Residents Break Into UN Warehouse for Supplies as Israeli Barrage Continues, NPR
Thousands of Gaza residents broke into warehouses and distribution centers of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency, grabbing flour and “basic survival items,” the organization said on Sunday. “This is a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege on Gaza,” the organization said in a statement.

‘Death to Arabs’: Students Evacuated From Dorms After Hundreds of Rioters Attempt Break-in, Haaretz
Arab-Israeli students had to be rescued from their college dormitory in the central city of Netanya Saturday night after a crowd of hundreds of Jews gathered outside, claiming that they had disrupted Shabbat prayer in a nearby synagogue. Videos of the riot showed the angry crowd storming the campus, waving Israeli flags, chanting “Death to Arabs” and attempting to break down the gates. The rioting crowd even attempted to break in and remove them forcibly.

Hundreds Storm Airport in Russia in Antisemitic Riot Over Arrival of Plane From Israel, AP
Hundreds of people stormed into the main airport in Russia’s Dagestan region and onto the landing field Sunday, chanting antisemitic slogans and seeking passengers arriving on a flight from Tel Aviv, Israel, Russian news agencies and social media reported. Russian news reports said the crowd surrounded the airliner, which belonged to Russian carrier Red Wings.

Internal US State Dept. Document Urges Pressure on Israel to Renew Gaza Water Supply, Haaretz
The authors assess that 52,000 pregnant women and more than 30,000 babies under six months of age are currently drinking brackish or contaminated water due to the absence of drinking water or the electricity needed to power the water infrastructure. This exposes them to health complications that could be life-threatening.

‘They Were Abandoned’: Grief and Anger at Funeral for Hamas Kibbutz Victims, The Guardian
The Israeli mourners talked of grief and vowed never to “forgive or forget” how families like the Itamaris had been “abandoned” by the government, which has been accused of failing to come to the aid of people after the Hamas attacks and of focusing resources on the occupied West Bank in the months before. They described ordinary lives cut short and the struggle to comprehend what had happened.

Authorities Investigating Online Threats Against Jewish Students at Cornell University, CNN
Cornell University police are investigating a series of antisemitic threats made against the school’s Jewish community in online posts over the weekend, its president announced. “Earlier today, a series of horrendous, antisemitic messages threatening violence to our Jewish community and specifically naming 104 West — the home of the Center for Jewish Living — was posted on a website unaffiliated with Cornell,” President Martha E. Pollack said in a statement Sunday.

Israel’s Hidden Victims, Arab Bedouins, Were Attacked by Hamas Too, The New York Times
At least 17 people killed in the Hamas attacks were Bedouins from villages scattered around the Negev and Rahat, the biggest city in an impoverished, predominantly Bedouin area of southern Israel. Another victim there was an Arab paramedic from northern Israel who had come to work at the all-night music and dance festival where 260 people were slain.

More Democrats Warn Biden About How Israel Is Conducting Response, The Washington Post
Biden has resisted calls to join other Democrats who are seeking a cease-fire, and has largely avoided commenting on how Israel is carrying out a new phase in a war that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend warned “is going to be long and difficult.” But in recent days, other Democrats have pointedly criticized the pace of humanitarian aid, a communications blackout and the rising death toll among Palestinian civilians.

Opinion and Analysis

Emergency Call to the International Community – Stop the Forcible Transfer in the West Bank, B’Tselem
Thirty human rights and civil society NGOs in Israel, including B’Tselem, call on the international community to act urgently to stop the state-backed wave of settler violence which has led, and is leading to, the forcible transfer of Palestinian communities in the West Bank. They write, “The Israeli government is supportive of these attacks and does nothing to stop this violence. […] Since the war has begun there has been a growing number of incidents in which violent settlers have been documented attacking nearby Palestinian communities while wearing military uniform and using government-issued weapons. With grave concern and with a clear understanding of the political landscape, we recognize that the only way to stop this forcible transfer in the West Bank is a clear, strong and direct intervention by the international community.”

I Fought for the IDF in Gaza. It Made Me Fight for Peace, The New York Times
Benzion Sanders writes, “Those three fateful weeks inside the Gaza Strip transformed me from a deeply religious, Modern Orthodox yeshiva student and West Bank settler into an activist with the movement opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, first with the antiwar veterans organization Breaking the Silence and now with Extend, a group that connects Palestinian and Israeli human rights leaders with American Jewish audiences. All our casualties and the suffering brought on Palestinians in Gaza accomplished nothing since our leaders refused to work on creating a political reality in which more violence would not be inevitable.”

From the Gulf War to Gaza: Israel Must Not Make America’s Mistakes, Haaretz
Former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer shares, “Today, Israeli leaders would be wise to ponder the lessons that Israeli analysts shared with the United States back in 2002-2003. First, do not occupy Gaza militarily for an extended period, and certainly do not entertain any notion of permanently reoccupying and resettling Gaza. […] Second, do not assume that decapitating Hamas will lead to a flowering of democracy in Gaza, especially if the social and economic conditions there remain as dire as they are now and likely to get worse. […] And, third, Gaza’s underlying problems are tied directly to the underlying Israel-Palestine dispute.”

Netanyahu Is Trying to Avoid an Accounting for October 7. This Time, He Won’t Escape, The Times of Israel
Tal Schneider notes, “In the war of October 7, the State of Israel was not wiped out, and its second War of Independence did not arrive. But Israel lost that day. The battle was harsh and cruel. The number of victims is beyond comprehension. Israeli communities were occupied by the enemy for many hours. On that day of terrible battles, we lost. And, therefore, where the history of October 7 is concerned, Netanyahu will not be on the side written by the victors. This time, even he will not be able to evade, distort, revise and remake the narrative.”

This War Will Not End Well for Anybody, The New Republic
Eric Alterman writes, “It’s a mistake to believe that American presidents can move Israeli leaders to do anything they really don’t want to do. It has almost never happened since the state was founded in 1948. Even the smallest concession by Israel demands a degree of confrontation from the US that is clearly off the table at the moment. The Israelis have understood that American presidents will almost always acquiesce to their demands if they hold out long enough, no matter how much Susan Collins–style “concern” they express along the way.”