November 17, 2023
Special Edition
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy

In-Depth Issues:

Poll: Americans Believe Support for Israel Is in U.S. National Interest (Quinnipiac Poll)
    In the wake of the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, 84% of Republicans, 76% of Democrats, and 74% of independents think supporting Israel is in the national interest of the U.S., according to a poll conducted Oct. 12-16.
    64% approve of the U.S. sending weapons and military equipment to Israel in response to the Hamas terrorist attack.
    61% say their sympathies lie more with the Israelis, an all-time high, while 13% say the Palestinians.
    Asked who they thought was more responsible for the outbreak of violence, 72% said Hamas and 10% said Israel.

With Mapping Robots and Blast Gel, Israel Wages War on Hamas Tunnels - Dan Williams (Reuters)
    After locating the entrance to a Hamas tunnel under an evacuated hospital in northern Gaza, Israeli army engineers filled the passage with exploding gel and hit the detonator.
    The blast engulfed the building and sent smoke spewing out of at least three points along a nearby road in Beit Hanoun, surveillance footage showed.
    Israel's policy was not to send personnel down into tunnel shafts, where Palestinian fighters would have a defender's advantage in passages with which they were familiar.
    "We don't want to go down there. We know that they left us a lot of side-bombs (IEDs)," said an IDF officer.

U.S. Navy Shoots Down Drone in Red Sea - Diana Stancy Correll (Navy Times)
    The Navy destroyer Thomas Hudner shot down an air drone Wednesday in the Red Sea - the second time in less than a month that a Navy ship has done so.
    The destroyer was transiting international waters Wednesday when it "engaged a drone that originated from Yemen and was heading in the direction of the ship," the Pentagon said, adding that the Hudner fired on the drone in self-defense.

German Authorities Raid Group Promoting Iranian Ideology (AP)
    German police raided 54 locations across the country on Thursday in an investigation of the Islamic Center Hamburg, suspected of promoting the Iranian leadership's ideology and possibly supporting activities of Hizbullah in Germany.
    "Our measures show that we have the Islamist scene in our sights," said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser. "We are acting against Islamist extremism; we are not acting against a religion or another state."
    "But it is just as clear that we don't tolerate any Islamist propaganda, antisemitic and anti-Israel agitation here."

Initial Lessons from the Gaza War - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror (Jerusalem Strategic Tribune)
    Combined arms operations have peeled off Hamas defensive layers and the IDF now operates in the urban core of Gaza City. Nowhere has Hamas succeeded in pushing back IDF advances.
    Two weeks into the ground campaign, Hamas' ability to launch rockets has been significantly degraded.
    In the future, Israel will need to deploy larger forces to protect its borders. Being permanently ready for the "worst possible scenario" will alter the IDF's planning assumptions for border defense.
    It is wrong to argue that too much money has been spent on technology. It turns out that technology is vital for the IDF's success.
    This includes the Iron Dome missile defense system, the Trophy active protection system for armored vehicles, and the unmanned aerial vehicles which accompany troops and provide tactical intelligence and "around-the-corner" fire cover.
    Threats are effectively eliminated that once would have exacted heavy losses in similar situations.
    Technology also repays its investment in offense, with tools enabling commanders to concentrate great and accurate firepower to remove obstacles.
    Israel must seriously weigh preventive action to push away the buildup of military capabilities which threaten it - not only in terms of the nuclear threat but also the removal of acute conventional threats.
    A small country such as Israel, surrounded by many threats, must occasionally embark on a preventive war.
    This was the one measure that could have prevented the catastrophe of Oct. 7. But it would not have been seen as legitimate either at home or abroad.
    The writer was national security adviser to the Israeli prime minister and chairman of Israel's National Security Council.

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Video: Farmer Dodged Bullets as He Saved 120 from Music Festival Massacre - Sue Surkes (Times of Israel)
    Oz Davidian, a farmer from Moshav Maslul near Ofakim, rescued 120 young people trying to escape from Hamas terrorists who attacked a music festival on Oct. 7. Channel 13 aired the dashcam footage from his truck.
    The footage shows Davidian speeding past wrecked cars, while shots are being fired.
    At one stage, Davidian rescued a reserve army officer who had been at the party and had the locations on his phone of other places where people were hiding.
    Davidian said they saw "hundreds of corpses all over the place, on the road and in the fields," and "loads of cars - some burnt out, some with their lights blinking, and corpses with gunshot wounds inside cars."
   "They were spraying everywhere with bullets. You can't get your head around that level of evil. They shot at everything that moved." They also used RPGs.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Netanyahu: Israel Is "Not Seeking to Occupy" Gaza - Caitlin Yilek
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told "CBS Evening News" on Thursday that in Gaza, "We want overall military responsibility to prevent the reemergence of terror. We're not seeking to occupy. That's not our goal. But our goal is to make sure what happens there is different. To do that we have to demilitarize Gaza and we have to deradicalize Gaza."
        "Just as you had to have a different future after the conquest of Germany, you deradicalize, denazify Germany. After the conquest of Japan, you make sure that the aggressive policies of Imperial Japan are different. There was a cultural change. We need a cultural change here. We can't have a civilian administration enter Gaza that will not fight terrorists, that is committed to funding terrorists as opposed to fighting terrorists."
        He said that liberating Palestinians from Hamas will "give them a real future....Let the Palestinians have all the powers to govern themselves, but none of the powers to threaten Israel."  (CBS News)
  • Audio: Do Hamas Fighters Shelter in Al-Shifa Hospital?
    On Nov. 15, we asked a Palestinian patient at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza what she saw there.
        "Hamas' Qassam fighters enter among us civilians so the Jews can't get to them. And nobody can tell on them. When I went to Shifa, I found Qassam fighters all around us: next to us, in front of us, behind us, over and under us. Isn't that forbidden in Islam? Isn't that oppression of civilians? Every Palestinian knows Shifa hospital is full of them, but nobody can talk: death by the Jews is better than death by ISIS."
        "Our people will bear poverty, hunger and thirst, as long as Hamas gets out of here. From the day they arrived, we have endured catastrophe. Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We've had enough. They need to be wiped out."  (Free Press-Center for Peace Communications)
  • Lawmakers Move to Cut Federal Funding to Colleges over Antisemitic Activity - Marc Rod
    In response to growing antisemitic activity on college campuses, House lawmakers on Wednesday moved to cut federal funding to schools that don't respond forcefully to such activity. The House approved an amendment to an appropriation bill that would ban funding any institution that "authorizes, facilitates, provides funding for, or otherwise supports" events promoting antisemitism on campus, by a 373-54 vote.
        Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed interest in pushing the FBI and Internal Revenue Service to investigate the funding sources of groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, which has organized many of the campus protests, and American Muslims for Palestine, which has ties to SJP.
        Former Israeli antisemitism envoy Noa Tishby told the Ways and Means Committee, "SJP is a hate group. It is grooming American college students - grooming your children - to hate Israel, to hate America and to hate Jews. Universities have let Jewish students down and they're letting America down."  (Jewish Insider)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Troops Raid Terror Sites in Gaza, Find Heavy Rockets and Kill Gunmen - Emanuel Fabian
    IDF operations are continuing in Gaza, with airstrikes against Hamas weapons storage facilities and terror operatives. Troops raided an Islamic Jihad outpost in northern Gaza, locating Iran-made Badr-3 rockets, drones, and other weapons. The Badr-3 has a range of 160 km. and carries a 250-kg. explosive warhead. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Strikes Hamas Underground Sites Where Senior Commanders Were Hiding - Emanuel Fabian
    The IDF announced Thursday that it targeted a number of top Hamas political and military leaders in recent airstrikes against underground tunnels in Gaza. IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari said,"It can be said with certainty that the underground area where they were was very heavily damaged. Hamas is trying to hide the results of the strike."
        IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi said Thursday, "We are quite close to destroying the [Hamas] military system that existed in northern Gaza." Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Thursday that the IDF has killed 4,000 terrorists since the outbreak of the war. (Times of Israel)
  • "If We See a School or a Hospital, That's the Best Way to Find Terror Sites" - Emily Schrader
    On Nov. 16, I joined IDF forces in northern Gaza to witness the humanitarian corridor that tens of thousands of Palestinians have safely used to flee the areas of intensive fighting. The humanitarian corridor is protected on all sides by IDF combat soldiers - protecting the Palestinian civilians seeking refuge. Additionally, as of Nov. 16, the IDF has overseen the transfer of 1,373 trucks of humanitarian aid to Gaza since the start of the war and is in the process of planning field hospitals in southern Gaza.
        Capt. Natan, an IDF reserve officer, said, "We know that if we see a school and if we see a hospital, that's actually the best way to find [terror sites]. Hamas terrorists use civilians as human shields and they use schools to put very big launching sites and tunnels nearby, all the time. We see it all over Gaza."
        "Our mission is to destroy the Hamas infrastructure [not the people].... When we came a day after the massacre and saw the destroyed houses, and we saw what they did to little children and to entire families...I have four kids in my house....We are here to ensure that this will never happen again."  (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The Gaza War

  • No Ceasefire Now - Editorial
    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote an op-ed published Tuesday in The Atlantic, titled: "Hamas Must Go." She wrote: "A full ceasefire that leaves Hamas in power would be a mistake." A truce would give Hamas "a chance to rearm and perpetuate the cycle of violence.... Israel's policy since 2009 of containing rather than destroying Hamas has failed."
        "October 7 made clear that this bloody cycle must end, and that Hamas cannot be allowed to once again retrench, rearm, and launch new attacks. Hamas would claim that it had won and it would remain a key part of Iran's so-called axis of resistance. Ceasefires freeze conflicts rather than resolve them."
        Israel's opposition to a ceasefire and insistence that it be able to finish the job and destroy Hamas was most eloquently expressed by Yechiel Leiter, Netanyahu's former bureau chief, at the funeral on Sunday of his son, Moshe Leiter, who was killed in Gaza. Reading out a letter he had written to President Biden, Leiter said: "Stand back, Mr. President. Don't pressure us. Let us do what we know how to do, indeed what we must do, to defeat evil. This is a war of light against darkness, of truth against lies, of civility against murderous barbarism." We agree. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Hostages Are at the Heart of This War - Moshe Emilio Lavi
    More than five weeks ago, on Oct. 7, my brother-in-law Omri Miran was kidnapped from his home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Hamas has yet to allow any international humanitarian group to visit the Israelis and foreign nationals being held captive. We have no idea whether the hostages are still alive and in good health. This illustrates the urgent need to prioritize the release of all the hostages as a condition for any humanitarian pause or cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas.
        Taking hostages - civilians, including babies, children, the disabled and the elderly - is a grave violation of the Geneva Conventions. The safe return of the hostages should be at the forefront of diplomatic discussions, the center of Israel's demands, and the focus point for the American response to the conflict.
        The writer is a former captain in the Israel Defense Forces.  (New York Times)
  • Hamas Murdered Canadian-Israeli Peace Activist - Sabrina Maddeaux
    Over a month after the Oct. 7 terrorist attack, remains found at Kibbutz Be'eri confirmed that peace activist Vivian Silver, 74, was killed by Hamas terrorists. CTV News ran a story with the headline, "Canadian Peace Activist Vivian Silver, Who Went Missing after Hamas Attack, Has Died" - as if she had first simply wandered away from her home and then died of natural causes.
        Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly's post on Twitter made it sound as though Silver died peacefully in her sleep rather than being brutalized and desecrated to the point where she was literally unrecognizable. This was not simply a "loss," this was a woman who was slaughtered for no other reason than that she was Jewish.
        As antisemites and Hamas supporters seek to sow confusion and denial about the attacks and their aftermath, it's more important than ever to get the language right and call things what they are. Murders aren't mere deaths. Terrorists aren't simply militants, let alone resisters. To be pro-Hamas is inexcusably antisemitic. Hamas murdered Vivian Silver in cold blood. (National Post-Canada)
  • For a Post-Hamas Peace Process, the Palestinians Must Change the Narrative - Rabbi Yitz Greenberg
    Hamas' October 7 pogrom severely wounded the shrinking hope for a Palestinian state. Restarting the Israel-Palestinian peace program can't happen until (and unless) we can convince the Palestinians to change their narrative and decide to live with a Jewish state.
        Zionism's key teaching was that every people is entitled to the dignity of self-government. Therefore, just as the Jews created a Jewish state, I hoped that the Palestinians would fulfill their dreams for self-determination. The Hamas atrocity dramatizes why now, a majority of Israelis believe that the Palestinians are not fit or are too dangerous to have their own state.
        The main reason that the Palestinians are stateless is that they premised their statehood on destroying the Jewish state. The historical record shows that Palestinian policies are the main obstacle to Palestinian statehood and that the Palestinians are responsible for their own failure to achieve sovereignty. Palestinian nationalism is embedded in a policy of terrorism and a denial of the Jewish state's right to exist. Hamas' charter states that its goal is not only to wipe out Israel but also to kill all Jews.
        The writer, a leading Jewish thinker, has written extensively on post-Holocaust Jewish religious thought, Jewish-Christian relations, pluralism, and the ethics of Jewish power. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • If Hamas Really Cared about Palestinian Lives, It Would Surrender - Charles Lane
    Why aren't more people demanding that Hamas surrender? Hamas, a terrorist organization, lacks political and legal substance. It won an election in Gaza after Israel left in 2005 and subsequently established a dictatorship through violence. Its war aim is not democracy or civil rights for Palestinians, but to destroy Israel and establish an Islamist state - an objective as patently illegitimate as Putin's bid to erase Ukraine.
        At this point, Hamas' war is not only unjust but also pretty clearly doomed. Down in their subterranean headquarters, the organization's leaders must be aware their forces are being hit hard by an overwhelmingly superior Israeli military waging what it considers a fight for survival. There has been no full-scale revolt among Israeli Arabs or West Bank Palestinians, which Hamas leaders called for on Oct. 7. Iran and Hizbullah do not seem inclined to ride to Hamas' rescue.
        In short, the quickest, most appropriate way to save Palestinian lives would be for Hamas to surrender. After all, it has no prospect of meaningful victory. Hamas does not surrender because it believes, fervently, that Israel has no right to exist and that armed "resistance," even at the terrible human cost currently being paid by both Israelis and Palestinians, is justified. (Washington Post)

  • Antisemitism

  • The Shock of Facing American Antisemitism - Joel Engel
    There isn't an American Jew I know whose worldview wasn't trampled by the antisemitism that has been displayed in this country with such fervor and pride since the barbaric attacks in Israel on Oct. 7. Millions more Americans than we ever imagined consider us less than human and would like to see us dead.
        Every conversation I've had with American Jews since then has eventually reached the point of trying to describe accurately this sudden and now unrelenting anxiety and unease none of us had felt before, which all of us agree is located deep in our kishkes, suggesting an inherited memory of the Holocaust and all the lesser pogroms that preceded it that we didn't know we were carrying.
        That this is happening in the United States of America - the country where for 250 years Jews have been safer than we were anywhere else throughout history - and may continue to happen and get possibly much worse is a game-changer for us. Jews in this country wonder whether we'll ever feel as comfortable as we always had. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Cancer of Antisemitism Is Spreading. Colleges Must Take the Right Stand. - Lawrence H. Summers
    I am shocked and appalled by what I have seen on university campuses since Oct. 7. Antisemitism is a cancer - a lethal adversary best addressed as rapidly, thoughtfully and aggressively as possible. Harvard and many other elite universities have not been swift in their response.
        It is the responsibility of university leaders - deans, presidents and outside trustees - to assure that universities are sources of moral clarity on the great questions of their time. It is shameful that no honest observer looking at the record of the past few years, and especially at the last month, can suppose that universities' responses to antisemitism have paralleled in vigor or volume the responses to racism or other forms of prejudice.
        Too often, those most directly charged with confronting prejudice - Offices of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - have failed to stand with Israeli and Jewish students confronting antisemitism, the oldest prejudice of them all. Some university DEI officials have themselves taken positions that are widely viewed as antisemitic.
        Moral clarity as a central component of education includes recognizing the difference between wanton acts of terrorism and defensive responses. It means seeing that singling out Israel with calls for its annihilation is Jew-hatred.
        The writer, a former U.S. secretary of the treasury, is a professor at and past president of Harvard University. (Washington Post)

  • Other Issues

  • Outgoing Human Rights Watch Senior Editor Blasts Group's Work on Israel
    Danielle Haas, an outgoing senior editor at Human Rights Watch (HRW), wrote an internal email to 500 HRW employees on Tuesday. "Following the Hamas massacres in Israel on October 7, years of institutional creep culminated in organizational responses that shattered professionalism, abandoned principles of accuracy and fairness, and surrendered its duty to stand for the human rights of all," she wrote.
        "HRW's initial reactions to the Hamas attacks failed to condemn outright the murder, torture, and kidnapping of Israeli men, women, and children. They included the 'context' of 'apartheid' and 'occupation' before blood was even dry on bedroom walls....HRW's initial response was the fruition of years of politicization of its Israel-Palestine work that has frequently violated basic editorial standards related to rigor, balance, and collegiality, when it comes to Israel."
        She pointed to the Israel chapter in HRW's annual global review of human rights, which Haas oversaw for more than a decade, and claimed it "has always been longer than those of rights-abusing goliaths such as Iran and North Korea."  (Times of Israel)

There Should Be More Public Pressure on Hamas - David French (New York Times)
  • There's a certain misguided logic in focusing most peace efforts on Israel. Israel, unlike Hamas, has demonstrated in years past that it will respond to international pressure. This means that protesting Israel feels less futile than protesting Hamas.
  • I have a different view. World pressure, including pressure from diplomats and from the streets, should focus on Hamas. Demand that it end the war by laying down its arms and freeing the hostages.
  • Public demands for a ceasefire advance the interests of the unlawful aggressor by attempting to block Israel's exercise of its inherent right to self-defense. A ceasefire instead leaves the attacking force in place, able to rest, rearm, and attack again.
  • The absence of military resolve in the face of brutal and aggressive war is dangerous. There is no worse way to undermine the world order than to allow aggressors to prevail. While Hamas wants a cease-fire (which is in its direct military interest), it has also vowed not to stop its long war against Israel. It disregards every single international legal rule or norm.
  • When Hamas attacked Israel, it violated rules against aggressive war. When it intentionally slaughtered civilians and then hid among civilians after the attack, it violated the most basic principles of the law of armed conflict. As a result, Israel has a right under international law to defeat Hamas. Hamas bears the legal responsibility for the civilian deaths that result from its own violations of the laws of war.
  • I don't for a moment believe that defeating Hamas and removing it from power solves the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But I do know that placing more pressure on Israel than Hamas to end the conflict and save civilian lives is exactly backward. The international system depends on opposing the aggressor and punishing crimes.
  • Protests that aim their demands more at Israel than Hamas impede justice, erode the international order, and undermine the quest for a real and lasting peace.
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