June 18, 2024
In-Depth Issues:

UN Expert Panel Says Data Lacking to Determine If Famine Exists in Northern Gaza - Amir Tibon (Ha'aretz)
    The UN Famine Review Committee published a report on Monday which said there is not enough reliable information to endorse a famine classification for northern Gaza.
    The conclusion will help Israel rebut accusations of starving Gaza on the international legal front.

Pro-Palestinian Activists Smash Computers and Windows at Elbit Defense Factory in Britain - Cameron Henderson (Telegraph-UK)
    Seven members of the protest group Palestine Action were arrested for aggravated burglary on Monday after activists filmed themselves breaking into Instro Precision in Sandwich and smashing computers with a crowbar.

Palestinian Arab Children in West Bank Celebrate Muslim Holiday by Brandishing Weapons, Wearing Hamas Headbands (MEMRI-TV)
    In videos posted on Telegram on June 16, 2024, children in Tulkarm are seen celebrating the first day of Eid Al-Adha, the "Festival of Sacrifice," by brandishing weapons and wearing headbands of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Undeterred Houthi Attacks Squeeze International Trade - Colin Demarest (Axios)
    Drone and missile barrages launched by Houthi rebels in Yemen are holding hostage a vital commercial waterway, delaying humanitarian aid and imposing millions of dollars of extra costs.
    U.S. and allied firepower has failed to stem the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden attacks, which are bolstered by an Iranian regime eager to arm its proxies.
    Container shipping through the Red Sea had declined by 90% by February.
    Alternate routes around Africa tack on 11,000 nautical miles, up to two weeks of travel time and $1 million in fuel.
    More than a dozen commercial ships were struck between November and March.
    The Houthis initially said the attacks were in retaliation to Israel's war in Gaza. But many of the targets have had no affiliation with Israel.
    The U.S. Navy has so far expended $1 billion in munitions as it contends with the attacks.

After Oct. 7, Antisemitism in China Reached Shocking Levels - Ayelett Shani (Ha'aretz)
    Yuval Weinreb, an expert on Chinese culture, said in an interview, "Before the [Oct. 7] massacre, China was one of the safest places to say that you're an Israeli. A Jew."
    "The response to every Israeli who spoke Chinese and explained that they're from Israel was always, 'Wow, you're Jewish, you're the smartest in the world.'"
    "That's something the Chinese learn from infancy. They think we have some sort of superpower. There are books that teach people about how smart the Jews are. I call that 'positive antisemitism.'"
    "After Oct. 7, that 'positive' antisemitism became negative antisemitism, and at the most shocking levels imaginable."
    "There were comments like, 'If there are eight million Jews in Israel, we can open a really big soap factory there,' or 'Too bad Hitler didn't finish the job.'"
    "The government will not support this officially, but the fact that they allow anyone who wants to spread these messages to proceed, effectively says it all."
    "The government of China has a clear strategy: the elimination of American global hegemony and creation of a new world order."
    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict... affords them a lot of popularity, without risking a thing."
    "The Muslim and Arab street is with China, and other countries in the global south, which China purports to lead, identify with it."

Israel Is Not a Colonial State. If Anything, It's the Reverse - Naomi Greenaway (Telegraph-UK)
    The distorted narrative painting Israel as a country of "colonizers" is a tawdry falsehood.
    Given that many Israelis were driven out of surrounding Middle Eastern countries and many others were survivors of the Holocaust, branding them "colonial" is laughable.
    My own grandfather was nine when, in 1935, his parents managed to get him out of Mashhad in Iran - a city where being Jewish was punishable by death.
    Following pogroms in Mashhad a century earlier, those who weren't murdered or didn't manage to escape were forced to convert to Islam.
    At home, his family preserved their identity and traditions. My grandfather would tell me about their underground synagogues, clandestine matzah baking on Passover, and secret Shabbat observance.
    In Baghdad, my husband's grandfather wasn't having a great time either. After Iraqi independence, Jews were no longer allowed to hold public office, their houses were regularly looted.
    Riots saw them murdered and abducted. Most of the Jews fled, leaving everything they possessed behind.
    If you can spot a colonialist in this story so far, please do stop me.
    Some 850,000 Jews were driven out of their homes in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Tunisia, Iran and Libya. The Holocaust survivors also don't fit the colonial bill.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Key Democrats Approve Major Arms Sale to Israel - John Hudson
    Two key Democratic holdouts in the House and Senate signed off on a major arms sale to Israel, including 50 F-15 fighter jets, after facing intense pressure from the Biden administration, three U.S. officials said. This spring, Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (NY), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, publicly vowed to hold up the arms package unless he received assurances from the administration about how the warplanes and munitions would be used in Gaza.
        After months of holding up the arms sale, Meeks and Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, signed off on the transaction several weeks ago. (Washington Post)
  • Vice President Harris: "We Cannot Look Away" from Hamas's Sexual Violence on Oct. 7 - Will Weissert
    U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday hosted a White House event on conflict-related sexual violence. Harris said that after Hamas's Oct. 7 attack, "I saw images of bloody Israeli women abducted. Then it came to light that Hamas committed rape and gang rape at the Nova music festival. And women's bodies were found naked from the waist down, hands tied behind their back and shot in the head."
        Harris said she heard stories from former Israeli hostages about what they "witnessed and heard in captivity....We cannot look away. And we will not be silent." A UN report released in March found "reasonable grounds" to believe Hamas committed rape, "sexualized torture," and other cruel and inhumane treatment of women during its Oct. 7 attack. (AP)
        See also Video: VP Harris Speaks at White House Screening of Documentary on Hamas and Sexual Violence (PBS News)
        See also Israeli Woman Awes White House in Chilling Hamas Testimony - Erez Linn
    A White House conference on sexual assault during conflict hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris featured Amit Soussana, a former Israeli captive released from Hamas captivity, as a key speaker. She said, "It is difficult for me to speak about what I endured, but remaining silent is even more challenging. The sexual abuse I suffered should never happen to anyone; there is no justification for it."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Aid Trucks Pile Up Inside Gaza Despite Pause in Fighting - Dov Lieber
    More than 1,000 truckloads of aid were piled up at the Gazan side of the Kerem Shalom Israeli border crossing on Monday, a day after Israel implemented a humanitarian pause in fighting to help increase the flow of aid into Gaza. UN officials say that people are looting trucks when they reach Gaza, making it unsafe for their employees to deliver aid.
        Israel says it isn't keeping aid from flowing into Gaza and has alleged that the UN hasn't increased its capacity enough to be able to distribute the aid. The Kerem Shalom crossing has become the key conduit for aid into Gaza after Israel took control of the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza in May. Since then, Egypt has prohibited the use of the Rafah crossing until the border is returned to Palestinian control, despite U.S. efforts to negotiate its reopening. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Continues to Advance in Rafah - Elisha Ben Kimon
    The IDF has been fighting in the southern Gaza city of Rafah for 40 days, advancing slowly amid many booby-trapped houses, concealed passageways, and surveillance cameras. The IDF estimates it has 70% control of the area. So far, at least 550 terrorists have been eliminated and rocket fire from Rafah toward Israel has significantly decreased. More than 200 tunnel shafts and 35 tunnels, some extending into Egypt, have been discovered. During subterranean combat in the NPK neighborhood, a Hamas stronghold, forces killed dozens of terrorists and discovered explosive devices.
        The fighting is progressing in planned phases, executed by the IDF according to a detailed strategy. Commanders reject claims that the IDF is bogged down in Rafah, asserting they have all the necessary resources to defeat Hamas battalions in the city, which will take a few more weeks. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Defense Industries Working on Anti-Drone Defense - Yossi Yehoshua
    More than 150 hostile drone aircraft have been intercepted by Israel's air defense forces since the beginning of the war, but many others managed to hit their target - causing heavy damage and casualties. The Defense Ministry is working on a better technological operational solution for intercepting these aircraft.
        Improvements have been introduced in Iron Dome, which is already operating in the area, that enable additional detection capabilities to identify suspicious aerial targets in Israeli skies. But using Iron Dome is expensive.
        To defend the Galilee, the IDF is looking to deploy advanced cannons with new means of detection. Israel believes Hizbullah has thousands of UAVs, as do Iran and Iraqi militias. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Why Israel Will Never Back Down - Josh Feldman
    Hamas terrorists murdered 61 of the 950 residents of Kibbutz Kfar Aza and kidnapped 19. Kfar Aza is just 60 miles from the center of Israel. The implications of this fact seem to be lost on those in the West who are bewildered by Israel's refusal to end its war against Hamas.
        Israel's founders understood that Jewish powerlessness was no longer viable. After nearly 2,000 years of exile and persecution, Israel promised to radically alter the Jewish condition: Jews could now defend themselves; they would determine their own destiny.
        As Israeli philosopher Micah Goodman has written, the horrors of the Oct. 7 massacre awakened Israelis to "the fragility of Israel's existence." While much of the world has moved on from the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust, Israelis have not. When, post-Oct. 7, Israelis describe Hamas as an intolerable threat, they mean it. Israelis understand that their ability to defeat Hamas will determine whether or not Israel has a future in the region.
        The Jewish state can secure its existence in the Middle East only if the forces that wish to destroy it are deterred. But if Israel loses the war in Gaza, Goodman explained, "the Middle East loses its fear" of Israel. In other words, "if there is no victory, there is no survival." And no amount of international pressure or outrage can convince Israelis to sacrifice their very existence.
        If Israelis feel they are being forced to choose between international opprobrium and death, they'll choose the former without thinking twice. Perhaps more than any other nation, Israelis understand that nobody else can be trusted to secure the Jewish state's existence. Israelis have learned to believe their enemies' threats, and not to rely on their friends' promises.
        In 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush promised Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that should Israel pull out of Gaza, "the United States will lead efforts...[to] prevent the areas from which Israel has withdrawn from posing a threat." That promise was not kept. (The Hill)
  • It's Time to Start Using the Term "Palestinian Civilian" Correctly - Arsen Ostrovsky and John Spencer
    The four Israeli hostages rescued from Gaza last week were held captive by Palestinian civilians in their home in central Gaza - including a journalist with bylines in Al Jazeera and his physician father. This is a perfect opportunity for a long-overdue conversation about the use of the phrase "Palestinian civilian."
      Let's get something straight from the outset: When you take hostages, you risk death. The moral and legal responsibility for any casualties resulting from the operation to free the hostages rests fully with Hamas and those holding hostages captive.
        If you are a journalist or physician holding hostages, you are no longer a "civilian." The Geneva Convention makes it unequivocally clear that civilians lose that protection when they take direct part in the hostilities. In other words, when you hold hostages captive, you become a legitimate military target.
        Lawmakers, journalists and diplomats are blindly accepting reported casualty figures from the Gaza Health Ministry, which is no more than a propaganda arm of Hamas. A group that murders, massacres, rapes, beheads, and abducts people, and has a relentless history of fabricating stories, inflating casualties, and using their own civilians as human shields, is not exactly the world's most trustworthy source.
        As long as the press and world leaders continue to push false narratives and unsubstantiated casualty figures, they are only enabling and empowering Hamas and perpetuating the violence and suffering they claim to seek to end.
        Arsen Ostrovsky, a human rights attorney, is CEO of the International Legal Forum and senior fellow at the Misgav Institute for National Security. John Spencer is chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point.  (Newsweek)
  • The International Criminal Court Betrays the Legacy of Nuremberg - Daniel Z. Feldman
    The mandate of the International Criminal Court is "the continuation of the Nuremberg trials," according to its first president, Philippe Kirsch. President Harry Truman credited the Nuremberg trials with "the blazing of a new trail in international justice" that "will be long remembered" for serving "faithfully and well the cause of civilization and world peace." The actions of today's ICC are the exact opposite and threaten to undo Nuremberg's legacy.
        The ICC's arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas military leader in Gaza, equate the attacker and defender in the context of war. This fallacy was itself highlighted at Nuremberg in the Einsatzgruppen Trial of the Nazis' paramilitary death squads. One defendant at that trial, a commander named Otto Ohlendorf, insisted that the murder, under his supervision, of tens of thousands of innocent Jews was no different from the death of civilians from Allied bombs.
        The judges rejected the argument: "A city is bombed for tactical purposes....It inevitably happens that nonmilitary persons are killed...an unavoidable corollary of battle action...that is entirely different, both in fact and in law, from an armed force...dragging out the men, women and children and shooting them."
        The Nazis committed their acts so that millions would die; the Allies killed the people they did so that millions more wouldn't die. The opposite purposes of the Nazis and the Allies are clear.
        Today, unaccountable terrorists - the new death squads - can massacre and kidnap babies, women and the elderly and hide behind innocents, and accountable governments are powerless to defend against such tactics without taking steps that inflict unwanted casualties. Legal strategies that erase the distinction between the two sides invert Nuremberg's accomplishment. It isn't just the legacy of Nuremberg that is at stake; it is the defense of civilization.
        The writer teaches Talmud, ethics and public policy at Yeshiva University.  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Sanctioning Tzav 9 Shows Biden Administration's Detachment from Reality - Editorial
    Targets of U.S. sanctions include Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, Syria - and Tzav 9? ("Order 9" - IDF reservists are called up in emergencies with a Tzav 8.) The Biden Administration imposed sanctions on Friday on this obscure group of activists for attacking humanitarian aid convoys destined for Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Tzav 9 says the aid should be stopped because it ends up in the hands of Hamas - a view shared by a majority of Israelis.
        The group defended itself, saying, "The effort to prevent a rightful democratic nonviolent protest in order to keep supplying Hamas with aid during the war goes against any American and liberal values. Much of the aid transferred to Gaza falls directly into the hands of the terrorist organization Hamas, which massacred, murdered, and raped hundreds of women, elderly, and children (including American citizens), rather than going to the Gazan civilians."
        Over the months, hostages' relatives have also appeared at the border crossings into Gaza in attempts to block humanitarian aid from entering in an attempt to protest against the failure to secure the release of their loved ones and the lack of aid reaching them. The sanctioning of Israeli groups protesting any help given to Hamas while Israelis remain in captivity shows the detachment from reality in the Biden administration.
        Nobody should be higher up on the U.S. list of groups exacerbating humanitarian crises right now than Hamas or Hizbullah. Certainly not Tzav 9. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has criticized Tzav 9 for "completely and utterly unacceptable behavior." After nearly nine months of innocent Israeli citizens being held hostage in the apartments of Gazan civilians and nine months of Israel's North suffering daily bombardment from Hizbullah terrorists, Israel has a different definition of what is "completely and utterly unacceptable behavior."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Campaign to Delegitimize the Very Idea of Antisemitism - David Suissa
    Izabella Tabarovsky, a Senior Program Associate at the Wilson Center in Washington, writes, "Over the last few years there's been a campaign going on to disarm, distort and discredit the very term antisemitism." Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) mobs forced Rutgers to withdraw a statement condemning antisemitism. Rutgers promised to be more "sensitive & balanced" in the future.
        Why has the term become such a growing threat to progressives? It disrupts their oppressor/oppressed narrative. Jews are stereotyped as white, Western and the ultimate exemplars of oppressive white privilege. Bad guys must never be allowed to be victims. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)

The Cost of Kindness to the Cruel in Gaza - Ruth R. Wisse (Wall Street Journal)
  • We need reminding that the liberal who shows compassion to evildoers ends up doing evil to the merciful and good. Hamas's leader, Yahya Sinwar, spent 22 years in Israeli prisons for planning the abduction and killing of two Israeli soldiers and the murder of four Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. While in prison he was diagnosed with and treated for a brain tumor. He was released in the 2011 exchange of 1,027 Palestinian criminals for one Israeli hostage.
  • A political culture of accommodation has made Jews the most liberal and most easily targeted people in the Middle East. The more Israel has tried to encourage Palestinian self-governance, including by withdrawing from Gaza in 2005, the more Palestinian leaders have fomented violence, culminating in Hamas's cruelties.
  • When a peace-loving civilization indulges its would-be destroyers, it creates a moral imbalance that must end in its own destruction. Israel is learning at too high a cost that the hardest part of protecting liberal democracy is stopping the wicked before they massacre the pure and the good.
  • For two centuries, from fascism in Germany to Islamism in Iran, the war against liberal democracy has been waged through wars against the Jews. Israel most resembles the U.S. in its foundational values and entrepreneurial grit, making it America's useful proxy target. Behind every "death to Israel" comes the threat to America.
  • The protesters are responsible for the aggression they endorse, which includes murder, rape and beheading in the service of obliterating the only gateway to democracy in the region. Faculty members and administrators who fail to prosecute those who have broken the law by harassing Jewish students are accomplices to this evil.

    The writer is professor emerita of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard.

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