March 28, 2024

What To Do

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

I’m extremely pleased that The House Committee on Education and the Workforce is investigating Rutgers University’s response to antisemitism and its failure to protect Jewish students. They, like we, have grave concerns regarding the inadequacy of Rutgers’ response to antisemitism on its campuses. This is the same committee that met (memorably) with the Presidents of MIT, Penn, and Harvard. You can read the Committee’s full letter – really worth reading – here, and a press release here.

Speaking of Jew-hate, here’s the important thing for you to do right now. Take two minutes to contact your State Senators to advocate for these two bills, one which adopts the IHRA definition of antisemitism, the other which provides accountability for institutions that receive state funding. Click here. Once you find your district (based on your county)  you’ll immediately be directed to your state legislators and their contact form.  For subject matter at the top, click on either Civil Rights or Civil Action. Then it’s just filling out your contact information, cutting and pasting the letter we provided, personalizing it to your senator and signing your name. Easy. For additional credit, please forward to two or more NJ friends.  It should take no more than three or four minutes of your time, tops. At this moment in history, it is vitally important that these bills be passed.  In order for that to happen, our state legislators MUST hear from us. Must must must.

We’re aware of the very troubling and misguided statement issued by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy yesterday. Our Jewish Federations of New Jersey have worked collaboratively with other partners to ensure an appropriate response, which you can read here. It is more critical than ever that the 600,000 plus Jews in New Jersey speak with a united voice and message.

Israel. Ready? Three Israelis, including a 13-year-old boy, were wounded when terrorists shot at a bus in the Jordan Valley earlier today. A manhunt is underway for the terrorist. At the beginning of the war, the Israel Air Force (IAF) froze its annual training program and all resources and attention were directed to the war effort. In the past few weeks, the IAF has gradually returned to training. The new program will focus on increasing the IAF’s readiness for war in the northern arena and other arenas during prolonged combat. The training will include long-range strikes, flying deep into enemy territory, and surprise exercises will be held for various units. The program will not impede operational activity in the war in Gaza. Listen to the interrogation of a terrorist whose job is to produce missiles, as he admits to hiding in Shifa hospital for three months. The government continues to debate possible new legislation regarding the ultra-Orthodox draft exemption. War minister and National Unity party leader Benny Gantz has said that he would quit the government if the bill passes in the Knesset. See the latest here.


In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets, triggering significant Israeli retaliations. Yesterday a direct hit from a Hezbollah rocket killed a young Druze Israeli factory worker in the mostly-evacuated city of Kiryat Shmona. In response, Israel attacked terrorist cells in southern Lebanon killing at least nine Hezbollah members. In the north, since October 7: 18 Israelis have been killed, At least 247 Hezbollah fighters have been killed, more than 2,800 projectiles have been fired at Israel from Lebanon and Syria, The IDF has hit 4,500 Hezbollah sites.

61,800 Israelis have been evacuated from along the Lebanese border, from 42 communities. None have yet been allowed to return, Although at least 3,000 remained from the outset, either because they refused to leave their homes, or as they were exempted from evacuation as critical workers. Read this story

The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains negligible on most days, due to Hamas’ significantly diminished capabilities.

In the Red Sea, the US, the UK, and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen. Similarly, the US military continues to strike at pro-Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq.

International responses

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Jerusalem yesterday with a bipartisan US Congressional delegation, including former board chair of Jewish Federations, Representative Kathy Manning (D-NC). During their meeting, Netanyahu said, “Our goal is to destroy the military and governing capabilities of Hamas in Gaza. Hamas has to be eliminated. Not as an idea. Nazism wasn’t destroyed as an idea in World War Two, but Nazis do not govern Germany.”

A French court has handed out a four-month suspended sentence to a former city council member from the Lyon area for calling Hamas’s October 7 onslaught an “act of resistance.”

Earlier this week, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during the month of Ramadan and the unconditional and immediate release of all hostages. The United States abstained from using its veto, allowing passage of the first resolution since the start of the war that called for an immediate ceasefire. In response to the U.S. abstention, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he would no longer send a delegation to Washington DC to discuss a potential ground invasion in Rafah, although the delegation may travel next week instead.

  • UN Resolution 2728 was adopted by a vote of 14 in favor to none, with the U.S. abstaining. The resolution included an immediate ceasefire during Ramadan, a call for the release of the hostages, and the expansion of humanitarian assistance into Gaza.
  • While not exercising its veto right, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield placed blame on Hamas for the ongoing conflict and for standing in the way of peace; she explained that the absence of condemnation of Hamas is the reason the US did not vote in favor of the resolution. She also referred to the resolution as non-binding, although under international law, UN Security Council resolutions do obligate adherence by all parties.
  • Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant responded to the UN’s ceasefire call, saying, Israel “has no moral right to stop the war in Gaza until we return all the hostages to their homes. If we don’t reach a clear and absolute victory in Gaza, it could bring a war in the north closer.”
  • War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz said, “The Security Council’s decision has no operational significance for us.” He added, “The special relationship between Israel and the United States is an anchor in Israel’s security and foreign relations, and the direct dialogue with the American administration is an essential asset that must not be given up even when there are challenges and disputes.”
  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that failure to implement the resolution would be “unforgivable.”
  • In an official press briefing, US National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby said that the cancellation of the visit of Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi to Washington is “disappointing,” but he emphasized that the United States non-vote at the Security Council “does not represent a shift in [US] policy” in supporting Israel’s war against Hamas.
  • Just a few hours after the UN vote, Hamas rejected the most recent hostage deal that would have seen 40 hostages released in return for some 700-800 Palestinian prisoners. Hamas claimed that it will not waver from its original demands for a full ceasefire and complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip, conditions that, according to Israel, are “delusional.”

According to Israeli Foreign Minister Katz, the UN resolution emboldened Hamas to reject the deal on the table, claiming that Hamas will not need to make any concessions due to the amount of international pressure on Israel to halt its military campaign. The U.S. administration countered Israel’s position stating that Hamas’ rejection of the deal came before the UN vote.

Further Reading

Amit Soussana is the first former hostage to publicly say she was sexually abused in captivity. A UN report has said it found “clear and convincing information” that some hostages suffered “conflict-related sexual violence.” Read Amit’s exclusive story from the New York Times.

Rescued Gaza hostage says Hamas ‘treated him like a dog’

Newsweek: Israel Has Created a New Standard for Urban Warfare. Why Will No One Admit It?

Read about the international law aspects of press access during times of armed conflict in this article by active-duty army judge, Major Emily Bobenrieth.

David Horovitz: Silver linings in an ongoing nightmare

Surprise! Hamas has thousands more fighters than Israel initially thought

Jewish Federations have collectively raised just shy of $800 million and allocated more than $400 million for humanitarian needs and economic support in Israel since October 7. For an updated list of allocations, click here. And thank you for your ongoing support.