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America Wants to Help, But Is Undermining the War Effort

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make statements to the media inside The Kirya, which houses the Israeli Ministry of Defense, after their meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct. 12, 2023. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool via REUTERS – “We’re determined to help Israel ensure that Oct. 7 never happens again,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated last week.

It was not the first time he made this promise. Similar statements were made during his four solidarity visits to Israel since the Oct. 7 massacre. However, concurrently with his statement, under American pressure, the Israeli war cabinet was forced to discuss an increase in fuel deliveries to the Gaza Strip, essentially supplying oxygen to Hamas terrorists fighting our soldiers through terror tunnels.

Soon after Blinken’s declaration, a spokesperson for the State Department announced that the United States would oppose the creation of a buffer zone in the Gaza Strip, thus adding more constraints on Israel’s actions, particularly the options at its disposal when it comes to protecting towns near the border.

There were also US statements that the duration of the war is not unlimited, along with pressure on Israel before the renewal of hostilities in southern Gaza to reduce the intensity of the fighting and increase humanitarian aid.

There is no room to doubt President Joe Biden’s and his officials’ commitment. The administration’s support for Israel is unwavering and deserves much praise. The US has accepted Israel’s right to destroy the military and governance capabilities of Hamas and has provided substantial and vital assistance. But at the same time, the US has been imposing limitations that prevent Israel from achieving these goals without heavy losses.

Moreover, the limitations imposed by the US will undoubtedly prolong the conflict, which is something Washington doesn’t want. The best way to ensure a quick and effective military operation with minimal risk to the uninvolved population is to temporarily relocate this population outside the combat zones. However, there are also objections to this.

The increased pressure on Israel may be related to Biden’s domestic travails ahead of the 2024 elections. It may stem from differences between how Washington sees Gaza and the reality on the ground.

Nevertheless, Israel cannot compromise on achieving its goals while minimizing the burden on its fighters—regardless of how long it takes. This is the message Israel has to drive home when US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan visits in the coming days.

Those who insist on getting answers from the Israeli government over what happens “the day after” are doing so despite knowing full well that there are no good options in Gaza. If there were, they would have presumably been implemented during one of the many opportunities to do so over the years.

There is no obligation to debate between bad alternatives in public during the war itself. Attention should be solely directed towards victory, maintaining internal unity and minimizing the necessary involvement in issues that could stir controversy, whether internally or with our friends overseas.

The way Israel sees it, the question of “the day after” in Gaza is secondary to the more critical goal of the war: reestablishing the deterrence that was shattered on Oct. 7. The endgame of the war must be shaped primarily according to this criterion.

The toppling of the Hamas government, the destruction of its military capabilities, the killing or neutralization of most of its commanders and military units, along with the devastation resulting from all these will serve as pieces of the desired endgame puzzle.

Of course, Israel must not forget the hostages and should not leave them for “the day after.” Israel’s moral obligation towards the hostages and their families requires leaving an open channel for negotiations (preferably through Egypt, not Qatar, whose chief interest is to ensure Hamas survives). It must ensure that a sword is swiftly placed on the necks of Hamas leaders until they understand that the hostages are their responsibility and they must release them.

As the fighting continues, the IDF and the Shin Bet security agency continue to crack down on terrorists in Judea and Samaria. Israel’s political leaders must decide whether to allow Palestinian workers from Judea and Samaria to return to work in Israel, which has been prevented since Oct. 7 except for a relatively small number of positions defined as critical even at this time.

The main argument for allowing them back into Israel is the fear that economic hardship, frustration and unemployment will push them to act against Israel. Another consideration is the impact on the Israeli economy, particularly housing construction. Against these considerations stands the concern over attacks they may perpetrate because they have been inspired by Hamas in Gaza or because they want to avenge the deaths there, especially in light of the images and propaganda broadcast continuously on Al Jazeera.

The successful counterterrorism operations in Judea and Samaria, followed by a not insignificant number of casualties, also add motivation for revenge. The security establishment is fully preoccupied with the fighting in Gaza and the intelligence efforts in Judea and Samaria. Its ability to track terrorist elements and neutralize them in advance is not guaranteed, as we have seen recently in the attacks at the Gush Etzion junction and in Jerusalem.

Today, the public in Israel is vigilant and shows a high degree of awareness regarding any Palestinian in Israel. This contributes to efforts at detection and neutralization. It will not be the same if tens of thousands of Palestinians are allowed into Israel. Another consideration, although not mentioned in setting policy, is the perception of the price Israel exacts.

Hamas in the Gaza Strip gains points in the battle for hearts and minds in Judea and Samaria because it managed to exact the release of terrorists and because it “stood up” to Israel. But Hamas could lose hearts and minds if Palestinians blame the terrorist organization for harming their livelihoods. It seems that, at this stage, the scale leans towards maintaining the current situation and not letting the workers back into Israel. Caution requires us to avoid unnecessary security risks in the short term.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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Amid Security Fears, Muslim Access to the Temple Mount During Ramadan Will Be Limited

Palestinians walk at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City May 21, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

i24 NewsAs the month of Ramadan approaches, concerns over security have prompted Israeli authorities to implement limitations on Muslim access to the Temple Mount site, and Al-Aqusa Mosque.

The decision, made in accordance with recommendations from the Minister of National Security Ben Gvir, comes amidst opposition from the Minister of Defense Gallant, Shin Bet, and the army.

The restrictions include a cap on the number of individuals permitted to enter the site, with additional sorting based on age. While the details regarding the authorization of Palestinians from East Jerusalem are pending, the implementation of security measures proposed by Itamar Ben Gvir, which would allow security forces to intervene in response to provocative behavior, was rejected.

Under the current plan, only Muslim pilgrims aged 60 or above with permits issued by the Shin Bet will be granted access to the Temple Mount. However, domestic intelligence agencies have expressed reservations, fearing that such restrictions could exacerbate tensions and fuel Hamas’s rhetoric about Israel’s intentions to seize the site and deny Muslims access.

This sentiment was echoed by Walid Al-Huashla, an Arab MP from the Ra’am party, who condemned the decision as dangerous and racist. Al-Huashla warned of the potential consequences of the measures, accusing Prime Minister Netanyahu of capitulating to provocateurs and exacerbating tensions in Jerusalem.

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Unopened Medicine Boxes Bearing Names of Israeli Hostages Found in Hospital Raid

Some of the drugs found at the hospital. Photo: IDF

i24 NewsThe Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Shin Bet forces executed a strategic mission at Nasser Hospital in Gaza, resulting in the arrest of hundreds of terrorists and the discovery of a cache of weapons hidden within the hospital premises.

Prior to entering the hospital complex, the forces engaged in intense battles, including face-to-face combat and repelling rocket fire from within the hospital compound.

The forces apprehended numerous terrorists and terror suspects who had sought refuge within the hospital including individuals linked to the October 7th massacre. These individuals were subsequently transferred to security forces for further investigation.

IDF releases footage of soldiers uncovering unopened boxes of medicine in Al-Nasser Hospital that were meant to be transferred to Israeli hostages – some of which should have been refrigerated but was found sitting out.

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) February 18, 2024

During the operation, a substantial quantity of weapons was seized, with some weapons concealed in a vehicle believed to have been used in previous terrorist attacks. Additionally, a vehicle belonging to Kibbutz Nir Oz, which had apparently been stolen, was recovered from the hospital vicinity.

IDF forces also discovered un-opened boxes of medicine bearing the names of Israeli hostages. The packages were found sealed and undistributed, raising concerns about the previous breached agreement in which Qatar would distribute medicine for the chronically ill hostages.

The medical assistance includes essential treatments such as inhalers for asthma patients, medications for diabetics, insulin injections, glucometers, medications for heart disease and blood pressure, as well as treatments for intestinal infections and thyroid gland imbalances.

During talks, Qatar had committed to providing verifiable proof to Israel that the medications will indeed reach the hostages. However the IDF finding the France-sent boxes with medicine, indicates the never reached the hostages.

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The Myth of British Exceptionalism

Britain’s former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reacts after the general election results of the Islington North constituency were announced at a counting center in Islington, London, Dec. 13, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Hannah McKay.

JNS.orgThat old image of the Jewish family with a packed suitcase at the ready in case they are compelled to suddenly leave their home has returned with a vengeance across Europe.

In France and Germany, home to sizable Jewish communities, the “Should we leave?” debate is raging in earnest. Both of these countries experienced record levels of antisemitic incidents in 2023, most of them occurring after the Hamas pogrom of Oct. 7 in southern Israel. Similar conversations are also being held in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Belgium and Spain—countries with tiny Jewish communities that are nevertheless enduring a painful rise in antisemitism.

What about Britain, though? It’s a pertinent question insofar as there has always been a “British exceptionalism” with regard to the continent. During World War II, the Nazis failed in their quest to conquer the British Isles, in contrast to the rest of Europe. After the defeat of Hitler, the British supported efforts to transform Europe into an economic and political community that eventually became the European Union, even joining it. Yet Britain was never fully at peace with its identity as a European state, and as is well known, the “Brexit” referendum of 2016 resulted in the country’s full-fledged withdrawal from the European Union.

When it comes to antisemitism, however, Britain is very much part of the European rule, not the exception. Again, that’s important because while the British don’t deny that antisemitism is present in their politics and culture, they don’t believe that it’s as venomous as its German or French variations. “It is generally admitted that antisemitism is on the increase, that it has been greatly exacerbated by the war, and that humane and enlightened people are not immune to it. It does not take violent forms (English people are almost invariably gentle and law-abiding),” wrote George Orwell in an essay, “Antisemitism in Britain,” penned towards the war’s close in April 1945.

At the same time, Orwell conceded that British antisemitism was “ill-natured enough, and in favorable circumstances, it could have political results.” To illustrate this point, he offered a selection of the antisemitic barbs that he had encountered over the previous year. “No, I’ve got no matches for you. I should try the lady down the street. She’s always got matches. One of the Chosen Race, you see,” a grumpy tobacconist informed him. “Well, no one could call me antisemitic, but I do think the way these Jews behave is too absolutely stinking. The way they push their way to the head of queues, and so on. They’re so abominably selfish. I think they’re responsible for a lot of what happens to them,” a “middle-class” woman said. Another woman, described by Orwell as an “intellectual,” refused to look at a book detailing the persecution of Jews in Germany on the grounds that “it will only make me hate them even more,” while a young man—a “near-Communist” in Orwell’s description—confessed that he had never made a secret of his loathing of Jews. “Mind you, I’m not antisemitic, of course,” he added.

I’d wager that were Orwell to tackle the same subject today, he would write a similar essay. The rhetoric he quotes echoes eerily in what we are hearing almost 80 years later, particularly the denial that recycling antisemitic tropes makes one an antisemite, as well as the digs against chosenness—because antisemites have never understood (or don’t want to understand) that Jewish “chosenness” is not about racial or ethnic superiority, but a duty to carry out a specific set of Divine commandments.

Last week, the Community Security Trust (CST), a voluntary security organization serving British Jews, issued its annual report on the state of antisemitism in Britain. The CST has been faithfully issuing these reports since 1984, and over the last few years, it has regularly registered new records for the number of offenses reported. 2023 was the worst year of all; there were a stomach-churning 4,103 incidents reported—an increase of 81% on the previous annual record in 2021, when 2,261 incidents were reported (largely due to that year’s conflict between Israel and Hamas for 11 days in May).

Instructively, the worst month in 2023 was October, in the days immediately following the rapes and other atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists on that black day. Oct. 11 was, in fact, the worst day, with 80 incidents reported. As the CST pointed out, “[T]he speed at which antisemites mobilized in the U.K. on and immediately after Oct. 7 suggests that, initially at least, this increase in anti-Jewish hate was a celebration of the Hamas attack on Israel, rather than anger at Israel’s military response in Gaza.”

Of course, the present situation in the United Kingdom differs from Orwell’s time for two main reasons. Firstly, in 1945, there was no Jewish state, and antisemitism revolved around cruder tropes invoking supposed Jewish rudeness, clannishness, financial power and so forth. (Even so, Britain was also one of the first Western countries to experience antisemitic rioting linked to the Zionist movement and Israel; in 1947, after two British officers in Mandatory Palestine were executed by the Irgun, or “Etzel,” resistance organization, violence targeting Jewish communities broke out across the United Kingdom, thereby establishing the principle that all Jews, everywhere, are to blame for the alleged evils of Zionism.)

Secondly, in 1945 Britain was still largely a white, Christian society. In the interim, it has become far more diverse and is now home to nearly 4 million Muslims who constitute 6.5 percent of the population. Since the late 1980s—when the Iranian regime issued a fatwa calling for the death of the Anglo-Indian author Salman Rushdie, alleged to have slandered Islam in his novel The Satanic Verses—what was once a relatively docile population has become politically animated, with the Palestinian cause pushed front and center.

In the four months that have passed since the Hamas atrocities, with weekly demonstrations in support of Hamas in London and other cities, Muslim voices have been disproportionately loud in the opprobrium being piled not just on Israel, but on those Britons—the country’s Jewish community—most closely associated with the Jewish state. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every Muslim, and many of the worst offenders are non-Muslims on the left. Indeed, the Oct. 7 massacres have enabled the return to politics of a particularly odious individual whom I had forlornly believed had been banished to the garbage can of history; George Galloway, an ally of Hamas and one-time acolyte of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who is standing in the forthcoming parliamentary election in the northern English constituency of Rochdale for an outfit called the “Workers Party of Britain,” whose manifesto combines nationalism and socialism, but which would probably balk at the description “national socialist” in much the same way that some antisemites balk at the description “antisemitic.”

British Jews have weathered a great deal in recent years, especially the five years when the Labour Party, the main opposition, was led by the far-left Parliament member Jeremy Corbyn, who has since been turfed out of the party by his successor Sir Keir Starmer. Having survived that, the belief has spread that they can survive anything. But there’s another question to be asked: Is the effort worth it? Increasingly, and worryingly, growing numbers of British Jews are now answering “no.”

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