WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel and the United States agree on how the Israel-Hamas war started — with the terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre. They agree on how it should end — with the removal of Hamas from power in the Gaza Strip.
But there are differences over how to get there, which are becoming more pronounced. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden openly criticized Israel’s conduct in the war.
“Israel’s security can rest on the United States, but right now it has more than the United States,” Biden said at a fundraiser at a Washington hotel convened by Lee “Rosy” Rosenberg, a major donor to Democrats and pro-Israel causes.
“It has the European Union, it has Europe, it has most of the world,” he said. “But they’re starting to lose that support by indiscriminate bombing that takes place.”
Over 18,000 Gazans have been killed so far in the fighting, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, and over 1,200 Israelis were killed on Oct. 7. Close to 250 people were taken hostage by Hamas, and over 100 Israeli soldiers have been killed in combat.
There are even greater differences between Israel and the United States over what happens the day after the war ends. Does Israel stay in the Gaza Strip? If so, for how long? And who takes its place?
“Yes, there is disagreement about ‘the day after Hamas’ and I hope that we will reach agreement here as well,” Netanyahu said Tuesday in a statement, describing what he called an “intensive dialogue” he had just completed with Biden.
Netanyahu made clear what the differences are: Biden has pushed for the Palestinian Authority — which governs Palestinian population centers in the West Bank — to take control of Gaza. Netanyahu rejected that idea, referencing the Oslo Accords, the 1993 agreement that created the P.A., which is led by the Fatah Party.
“I will not allow Israel to repeat the mistake of Oslo,” Netanyahu said. He referenced longstanding Israeli complaints about the P.A.: that it glorifies violence against Israelis and pays stipends to convicted Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prison.
“After the great sacrifice of our civilians and our soldiers, I will not allow the entry into Gaza of those who educate for terrorism, support terrorism and finance terrorism,” he said. “Gaza will be neither Hamastan nor Fatahstan.”
Netanyahu has said Israel will retain security control of the Gaza Strip after the war, though he has not elaborated on who will govern its day-to-day affairs or how long the Israeli security presence would last. That’s frustrating the Biden administration, said David Makovsky, a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank, which has ties with the Israeli and U.S. governments.
“The Americans want to know, like, OK, you have a military strategy. I get that. And maybe a very reasonable one, but tell me how it leads to political outcomes? The outcome is no Hamas. Okay. That’s good. That’s necessary. But is it sufficient?’”
Here’s a look at the outcomes the United States, Israel and other actors are talking about.
Will the Palestinian Authority govern Gaza?
The Biden administration, for several weeks after Hamas’ massacre, talked about bringing the Palestinian Authority into the Gaza Strip.
“We must also work on the affirmative elements to get to a sustained peace,” Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State, said in Tokyo during a summit of the G7 industrial giants on Nov. 8. “These must include the Palestinian people’s voices and aspirations at the center of post-crisis governance in Gaza. It must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.”
Netanyahu has emphatically counted out any P.A. role in the Gaza Strip, pointing to its continued payments to the families of jailed and killed terrorists and what he says is continued incitement in its textbooks and media.
That may explain why Blinken has been more circumspect in recent statements, in which he has envisioned the establishment of an independent Palestinian state uniting Gaza and the West Bank but hasn’t named the Palestinian Authority.
“When the major military operation is over, this is not over, because we have to have a durable, sustainable peace, and we have to make sure that we’re on the path to a durable, sustainable peace,” Blinken said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “From our perspective, I think from the perspective of many around the world, that has to lead to a Palestinian state.”
Netanyahu is not the only obstacle to such an outcome. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, is not too eager to be seen as assuming control of the Gaza Strip on the heels of an Israeli invasion. Polls show that Abbas, who hasn’t run in (or won) an election in nearly two decades, has low approval ratings among Palestinians.
“I will not return on top of an Israeli tank,” the Associated Press quoted Abbas as telling his confidants last month.
The P.A. itself is seen as corrupt and weakened by decades of cooperating with Israeli security measures in the parts of the West Bank it governs. Some major West Bank cities, such as Jenin, are home to large concentrations of militant groups.
But a paper published this week by Israel Policy Forum scholars Michael Koplow and Shira Efron says the end of the war is an opportunity for Israel to expand its relationship with the P.A. — and demand that it undergo reforms that address Israel’s concerns. IPF has long advocated for a two-state solution.
“Despite hopes to the contrary, no other players in the international community are willing to entertain long-term commitments to Gaza, let alone ruling the Strip, leaving the PA as the only viable option,” Efron and Koplow write.
Will Netanyahu preserve his hardline coalition?
Efron and Koplow added, however, that Netanyahu is rejecting cooperation with the P.A. in Gaza because of pressure from far-right parties in his coalition. Those parties, they said, wield an “absolute veto” over strengthening the P.A.
Regarding Netanyahu’s political interests, Makovsky was blunter.
“He can’t say the word ‘P.A.’ — he can’t say it,” Makovsky said. “If the government seems completely shut down over being able to talk about the day after, that’s a function of the politics.”
On Tuesday, Biden suggested that it was time for Netanyahu to cut off his far-right partners, whom the president has long reviled.
“Bibi’s got a tough decision to make,” he said at the fundraising event, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “This is the most conservative government in Israel’s history,” that “doesn’t want a two-state solution.”
He called for Netanyahu to bring in the center-left opposition and drop the extremists. Netanyahu “has to strengthen and change” the government, he said.
That’s not going to happen as long as the far right is ready to keep Netanyahu in office and shield him from the political consequences of the Oct. 7 attack, said Nimrod Novik, another IPF scholar and a member of the executive committee of Commanders for Israel Security, which also favors a two-state outcome.
“The longer [the war] is, the farther the trauma of Oct. 7,” Novilk said. “The longer it is, the farther the investigations of the responsibility for it all. Maybe people will forget, maybe something good will happen and he’ll get credit for it.”
Jonathan Schanzer, a vice president with the right-leaning Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Netanyahu had every incentive to pursue the war until victory somewhat repairs his legacy shattered by Oct. 7.
“He said ‘everybody will have to give answers’ [about what went wrong] when the war is over,” Schanzer said. “And he’s hoping that he can postpone that discussion until such a time that events on the ground will have swung in his favor.”
Will Israel reoccupy Gaza?
Although Netanyahu has discussed maintaining control of security in Gaza, he has not yet said the word “occupation”: For one thing, it would set off a firestorm at home. Before Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, many Israelis remember weeks of military reserves duty spent occupying the dangerous strip of land, and the costs it incurred in lives and resources.
For another, the Biden administration has said indefinite Israeli occupation of Gaza is not an option.
At the G7 summit in Tokyo last month, Blinken rejected every possible iteration of occupation that has apparently bubbled up under consideration by Netanyahu, according to leaks to the Israeli media. These include resettlement of Israelis in Gaza, military occupation, “buffer zones” that Israel would control along Gaza’s border, a return to blockading the strip — which was the status in place until Oct. 6 — and the removal of a portion of the Palestinians, an action that would bolster charges of ethnic cleansing against Israel.
“The only way to ensure that this crisis never happens again is to begin setting the conditions for durable peace and security, and to frame our diplomatic efforts now with that in mind,” Blinken said. “The United States believes key elements should include no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza — not now, not after the war. No use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism or other violent attacks. No reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends. No attempt to blockade or besiege Gaza. No reduction in the territory of Gaza.”
Many Palestinian commentators have focused their attention on the Gaza death toll over the past two months. But Diana Buttu, a former Palestinian negotiator, wrote in The New York Times on Tuesday that ongoing Israeli occupation of Gaza would be the worst possible option.
“The future of Gaza — like that of the West Bank — is for Palestinians to decide,” she wrote. “That is the essence of self-determination. The international community must not continue to place Israel first, as has been done for decades.”
She added, “Palestinians must live freely, without the faintest sense of an Israeli noose around our necks.”
Will Israel’s Arab partners play a role in Gaza’s future?
Blinken has shuttled between Arab capitals for weeks seeking buy-in for the postwar scenario. But in public comments after meeting foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia,and Turkey, as well as a Palestinian Authority senior official, he was vague about what that scenario involves — beyond expressing hope for a Palestinian state.
Behind the scenes, reports have said, he has been more explicit, seeking pledges of funding for whatever form the government of Gaza takes after the war. He has also weighed asking Arab countries to commit troops to Gaza to help maintain the peace.
Arab states, which have been calling for a ceasefire, have not bitten at that offer, for myriad reasons: They, like Israel, distrust Abbas, who has gained a reputation for corruption and fecklessness. And while four Arab states have normalized relations with Israel in recent years, they are not ready to join with it in a military effort to keep Gaza calm.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the United Arab Emirates, which has cultivated increasingly close ties with Israel in recent years, said it would help with the reconstruction of Gaza only if there’s progress toward a two-state solution.
“We need to see a viable two-state solution plan, a road map that is serious before we talk about the next day and rebuilding the infrastructure of Gaza,” said the Emirati ambassador to the United Nations, Lana Nusseibeh.
In their paper, Efron and Koplow propose a U.S.-led rehabilitation of Gaza that melds Arab buy-in with reconstituting the Palestinian Authority in the territory. Preparing for that future, they wrote, needs to begin even as the fighting is ongoing.
“Stabilizing Gaza, resuming necessary services, rebuilding infrastructure, and preventing the return of Hamas — assuming that Israel is successful in removing it from effective power — will require a concerted effort from multiple stakeholders: Israel, the Palestinians, Middle Eastern countries, the international community, and particularly the United States,” said the paper.
Ghaith al-Omari, a former adviser to Palestinian officials and a fellow at the Washington Institute, told the Washington Post last week that bringing in the P.A. was a prerequisite to getting other Arab countries to play a role in postwar Gaza.
Arab nations, “to even be able to engage with us, they need that framing, the two-state solution framing and the transitional framing,” he told the Post. “Because this way they can always claim, ‘We’re doing this to support the Palestinians.’”
The post The debate over what should happen in Gaza after the war, explained appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
‘Despicable’: Harvard Denounces Nazi-Esque Image Shared by Anti-Zionist Faculty Group
Harvard University denounced an antisemitic image depicting a Jew lynching an African American and an Arab which was released by a faculty anti-Zionist group on social media.
“The university is aware of social media posts today containing deeply offensive antisemitic tropes and messages from organizations whose membership includes Harvard affiliates,” the university said, speaking from its Instagram account. “Such despicable messages have no place in the Harvard community. We condemn these posts in the strongest possible terms.”
Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine (FSJP), a group which describes itself as a “collective” committed to falsely accusing Israel of genocide and dispossession — terms one finds on the fringes of the extreme right — initiated this latest controversy. The image it shared shows a left-hand tattooed with a Star of David containing a dollar sign at its center dangling a Black man and an Arab man from a noose. In its posterior, an arm belonging to an unknown person of color wields a machete that says, “Liberation Movement.”
“African people have a profound understanding of apartheid and occupation,” says a graphic in which the image appears. “The historical roots of solidarity between Black liberation movements and Palestinian liberation began in the late 1960s. This period was marked by a heightened awareness among Black organizations in the United States.”
It continued, “The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC] linked Zionism to an imperial project while the Black Panther Party aligned itself with the Palestinian resistance, framing both struggles as part of a unified front against racism, Zionism, and imperialism.”
On Monday, Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine — whose 112 founding members include professors Walter Johnson, Jennifer Brody, Diane Moore, Charlie Prodger, Leslie Fernandez, Khameer Kidia, and Duncan Kennedy — apologized for sharing the image and suggested that it was unaware of its own social media activity.
“It has come to our attention that a post featuring antiquated cartoons which used offensive antisemitic tropes was linked to our account,” the group said. “We removed the content as soon as it came to our attention. We apologize for the hurt that these images have caused and do not condone them in any way.”
Two other student groups have apologized for sharing the image, according to The Harvard Crimson. In a joint statement, the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and the African and American Resistance Organization said “our mutual goals for liberation will always include the Jewish community — and we regret inadvertently including an image that played upon antisemitic tropes.”
The past four months have been described by critics of Harvard as a low-point in the history of the school, America’s oldest and, arguably, most prestigious institution of higher education. Since the October 7 massacre by Hamas, Harvard has been accused of fostering a culture of racial grievance and antisemitism, while important donors have suspended funding for programs. Its first Black president, Claudine Gay, resigned in disgrace last month after being outed as a serial plagiarist. Her tenure was the shortest in the school’s history.
As scenes of Hamas terrorists abducting children and desecrating dead bodies circulated worldwide, 31 student groups at Harvard, led by the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) issued a statement blaming Israel for the attack and accusing the Jewish state of operating an “open air prison” in Gaza, despite that the Israeli military withdrew from the territory in 2005. In the weeks that followed, anti-Zionists stormed the campus screaming “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “globalize the intifada,” terrorizing Jewish students and preventing some from attending class.
In November, a mob of anti-Zionists — including Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — followed, surrounded, and intimidated a Jewish student. “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crush of people screamed in a call-and-response chant into the ears of the student who —as seen in the footage — was forced to duck and dash the crowd to free himself from the cluster of bodies that encircled him.
The university is currently being investigated by the US House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce. It was recently subpoenaed by the body after weeks of allegedly obstructing the inquiry.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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The Red Cross Has Abandoned Israeli Hostages and Its Pretense of Neutrality
The Red Cross has once again failed the Jewish people by choosing to appease its enemies rather than help those in need.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in its mission statement, claims to be “an impartial, neutral, and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance.”
The actions of the Red Cross since October 7, however, show that it does not consider the lives and dignity of all victims to be equal. Instead, the Red Cross has fallen in line with those who refuse to condemn Hamas and ignore the atrocities perpetrated against Israelis.
This isn’t the first time that the Red Cross has ignored the suffering of Jewish people to avoid offending those who seek to eliminate the Jewish people. The Red Cross has received three Nobel Peace Prizes, including one in 1944 for its services in World War II, but decades later, we know the whole truth.
Documents released after the war revealed that the Red Cross was well aware of the Nazis’ genocide of the Jews and chose to remain silent. The Red Cross defended itself by claiming that if it had disclosed what it knew, “it would have lost its ability to inspect prisoner-of-war camps on both sides of the front.” Although the Red Cross has apologized for its inaction in confronting the Holocaust, the bias the ICRC has shown against Israel makes that apology ring hollow.
Magen David Adom, Israel’s official emergency service, was founded in 1930 and ratified as a National Red Cross Society by the Knesset in 1950. However, the Red Cross refused to allow Magen David Adom entry to the international organization because the latter wanted to use the Star of David as its symbol in place of a red cross. Even though Muslim Red Cross organizations use a red crescent as their symbol, Israel is singled out for refusal. Only after 76 years of life-saving work was Magen David Adom finally accepted by the ICRC in 2006.
The Red Cross has conducted itself similarly since Hamas took Israeli hostages. The Red Cross gained much acclaim for bringing Israeli hostages home after they were released. However, the Red Cross played no part in the negotiations that led to the release, and made no effort to visit the hostages while they were imprisoned.
This is in stark contrast to past hostage crises. During the Iranian hostage crisis, the Red Cross visited the occupied US embassy in Tehran. When 72 Japanese hostages were kidnapped by guerrilla forces in Peru in 1996, the Red Cross provided food and medical assistance. When New York Times reporter David Rohde was held by the Taliban in 2008, the Red Cross delivered him a letter from his wife. When more than 240 hostages were taken from Israel, however, the Red Cross did nothing.
The Red Cross responded to a recent lawsuit filed by Israeli hostages, which claims that the Red Cross neglected its duty to visit prisoners of war, by saying: “The more public pressure we seemingly would do, the more they [Hamas] would shut the door.”
The evidence shows that the Red Cross did not try very hard. UN Watch compiled a report showing that the ICRC’s social media posts were heavily biased in favor of Hamas, and refused to acknowledge Hamas’ atrocities and the plight of the Israeli hostages.
When families of the hostages asked the Red Cross to deliver life-saving medications to their family members in captivity, they were scolded and told to “think about the Palestinian side.” by the ICRC.
Since the beginning of the current war, the Red Cross has pumped millions of dollars into Gaza, along with supplies, infrastructure, and medical teams. Hamas, of course, has a long history of shamelessly stealing money and supplies that were intended for civilians, a fact that the ICRC knows, and, unsurprisingly, Hamas has continued to do so during this current war.
The Red Cross has both the leverage and the stature to gain access to the Israeli hostages and even to push for their release. They were even able to leverage the Taliban into granting access to hostages in the past. People listen to the Red Cross. But they also hear the Red Cross’ silence.
When the Red Cross speaks about the Israel-Hamas conflict without mentioning Hamas’ attacks, and its president meets with Hamas’ leader but does not advocate for Israeli hostages, the message is clear.
The Red Cross’ historical and current actions seem to suggest that it does not value Israeli lives as much as other people’s. It is time for the international community to ask the Red Cross why it looks out for all of those in need, except for Jews.
Gregg Roman is director of the Middle East Forum and a former official in the Israeli Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense.
The post The Red Cross Has Abandoned Israeli Hostages and Its Pretense of Neutrality first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
The Media Is Still Swallowing Hamas’ Lies About Israel
While Israel is winning its war to eliminate the existential threat posed by Hamas’ massive tunnel complex/fortress in Gaza, Israel is losing the propaganda battle against a pro-Palestinian narrative demonizing Israel’s conduct of the war. That narrative puts aside Hamas’ horrific crimes against humanity that triggered Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip, and adopts an account that Israel is “indiscriminately killing” Gazans as part of a “genocidal” campaign.
Hamas displays emotional images of Gazans massed in crowded hospital wards, or combing ruins for lost loved ones, and then proclaims to the world that there have been more than 25,000 innocent victims of Israel’s invidious conduct.
To begin with, there is no way to verify any of those numbers, or to tell who among the actual numbers killed are innocent civilians, and who are associated with Hamas and other terror groups. (Remember the hospital bombing at the start of the war, where they claimed 500 casualties, but we later learned from US intelligence analysts that far fewer were killed, and the “attack” was the result of a misfired terrorist rocket).
Furthermore, the issue is not whether Gazans have experienced dreadful suffering. They clearly have. The issue is whom to blame.
Major media outlets have frequently adopted the portrayal of Israel’s conduct in the war as a wanton destruction of Gaza, and the purposeful targeting of civilians.
Unlike Hamas, however, Israel never intentionally targets civilians — nor does it aim for wanton destruction in Gaza.
Any fair assessment of Israel’s military behavior must account for Hamas’ decision to fight in civilian areas, and use civilians and civilian infrastructure as human shields. Hamas’ vast underground fortress is accessed through shafts in or near residential buildings and public structures. Hamas also stores weaponry in civilian structures, and launches rockets and mortars from populated areas.
Experts in urban warfare confirm that the IDF has taken considerable measures to avoid civilian casualties. John Spencer teaches urban warfare at West Point Military Academy. Spencer wrote in Newsweek last week that the IDF, “has implemented more measures to prevent civilian casualties than any other military in history.” He marvels that the IDF has delayed scheduled assaults, furnished copious advance warnings, and provided designated civilian evacuation routes before attacks.
Colonel Richard Kemp is a former British infantry battalion commander with 30 years of experience, including rounds of urban combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kemp commends the IDF on its adherence to the laws of armed conflict — in its choice of munitions, proportionality in choosing targets according to strategic gain versus civilian risk, and advance warnings enabling civilians to evacuate. As to the leveling of civilian structures, Kemp points to the nature of Hamas’ current operations — fighters in civilian clothing moving on thoroughfares to collect weapons stashed in civilian buildings in order to carry out ambush attacks. The structures look abandoned, but may well be booby trapped or may house anti-armor weaponry.
Hamas regularly employs the stratagem of distorting and manipulating casualty figures to suit its narrative that Israel is maliciously and unjustifiably killing civilians. Hamas’ casualty counts are consistently inflated and do not distinguish between combatants and civilians. The intended implication is that only civilians have been targeted by the IDF. Mass media regularly buys into this Hamas stratagem by simply reciting Hamas’ asserted casualty figures and not mentioning when people killed are terrorists or affiliated with terror groups.
An article in the Feb. 12 New York Times by Patrick Kingsley and Hiba Yazbeck typifies the media’s willingness to slant reportage in favor of a pro-Hamas narrative. (“Israeli Raid in Rafiah Rescues 2 Hostages and Kills Dozens.”) The article was prompted by an IDF special forces raid into a Hamas stronghold, Rafah, in order to rescue two Israeli men, aged 60 and 70, who had been kidnapped on October 7 from their kibbutz and held captive for 125 days. The Times report devotes no attention to the incredible sophistication of the rescue operation — the intelligence that pinpointed the locus of captivity, the daring dispatch of a special forces unit to the heart of Hamas’ Rafah, and a coordinated execution that extracted the hostages from their heavily armed Hamas captors without unnecessarily harming civilians.
The Times article’s first sentence mentions a rescue raid, and then promptly shifts to an accusation that Israel “launched a wave of attacks that killed dozens of Palestinians…” Like Hamas in its casualty reports, the article makes no distinction between combatant and civilian deaths. There’s no mention of the fact that many of those Palestinian deaths were Hamas combatants killed as the IDF burst in to rescue the hostages, and as the IDF escaped through armed resistance in the city.
The Kingsley/Yazbeck story also glosses over the Hamas war crimes that necessitated the IDF raid. Two-thirds of the way through the article, it notes in passing that the two freed hostages had been held in captivity for over 120 days (but the article does not note that they had been violently wrenched from their kibbutz homes along with their spouses who were later ransomed or that other family members were murdered on October 7). In short, the focus on “dozens of Palestinians killed” in the rescue mission is a parroting of Hamas propaganda that Israel is engaged in malicious killing of innocent Gazan civilians.
While experts like Spencer and Kemp credit Israel with commendable adherence to the norms of warfare, there have been some ostensible IDF deviations from those norms. An IDF spokesman has acknowledged that at least on one occasion, an excessively large bomb was employed that caused unnecessary civilian casualties. In another incident, Israelis were shocked and disturbed when an IDF unit killed 3 bare-chested men advancing toward the unit while waving a white flag. (The victims turned out to be Israeli hostages who had escaped from their Hamas captors). Another report exists of an Israeli soldier shooting and killing a captive Hamas fighter following an interrogation — a clear war crime if confirmed. These possible crimes are being probed by the IDF military police and, if documented, hopefully will be punished. Hamas, by contrast, proudly flaunts its most glaring war crimes by celebrating the intentional massacre of civilians, and by demanding the return of terrorist murderers in exchange for the remaining civilian hostages.
There is no equivalence between the two sides; but the media will never tell you that story.
Norman L. Cantor is Professor of Law Emeritus at Rutgers University Law School where he taught for 35 years. He also served as visiting professor at Columbia, Seton Hall, Tel Aviv University, and Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has published five books, scores of scholarly articles in law journals, and dozens of blog length commentaries in outlets like The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, and The Algemeiner. His personal blog is seekingfairness.wordpress.com. He lives in Tel Aviv and in Hoboken, NJ.
The post The Media Is Still Swallowing Hamas’ Lies About Israel first appeared on Algemeiner.com.