January 26, 2024

Where We Stand

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

I know, I know. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming for those of us defending Israel against the rape-apologists and massacre-deniers of October 7th. But every now and then you realize that Israel and the forces of decency are actually doing some effective work. Check out this Harvard CAPS-Harris poll, which clearly shows that 80% of US voters support Israel (ok, 20% support Hamas, which is pretty terrible). Israel has made gains in the demographic it is weakest in: support for Israel has gone up from 50% to 57% among 18-24 year olds. Among young voters who have a little bit of life experience, Israel is doing very well. 70% support among 25-34 year olds, which feels to me like some of the awfulness of what we see in the campuses doesn’t have much stickiness to it. For the older voters, there’s no question at all: 93% of those aged 65 and older support Israel.

Something else I found interesting in the poll is that President Biden gets a 39% approval rating on Israel. This seems low, but I’ve been reading enough analysis to understand that he gets lower marks for inflation and immigration. As one commentator pointed out, you should keep in mind that many are dissatisfied because he isn’t supporting Israel ENOUGH. So in sum, the constant manipulation by Hamas supporters, their awful chants of genocide and shameful attempts to sabotage the American economy and block traffic have backfired. This country does not love terrorism and they don’t share our values.

So. Here we are. With the death of 21 IDF soldiers on Tuesday, Israel suffered its worst loss of life incident since October 7. The troops came under attack in the southern Gaza Strip when an explosion destroyed two buildings with soldiers inside them. The buildings, close to the border with Israel, were being rigged for demolition by IDF troops when Palestinian gunmen fired an RPG at a tank securing the forces. A second blast then occurred in the buildings, possibly as a result of a second RPG, leading to their collapse. The soldiers were destroying structures and Hamas sites as part of the army’s efforts to establish a buffer zone to allow residents of Israeli border communities to return to their homes. See the names of all 21 who fell, as well as the reactions of Israeli leaders here.

While fighting has subsided in much of the Gaza Strip, large battles continue in the city of Khan Younis where many believe that the hostages, as well as senior Hamas leadership, are located. The IDF killed dozens of terrorists in the city during raids on military site, uncovered tunnels, and eliminated terror cells. Earlier today, troops in the area killed numerous terrorists in the area by sniper fire and also destroyed terror infrastructure and weapons.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met yesterday with newly graduating IDF commanders, and discussed reports in the media that victory in Gaza was “not achievable.” In response, he said, “My main expectation is nothing less than total victory. There is no substitute for victory. I hear in the studios, analysts, and all kinds of commentators: ‘It is impossible’ and ‘It is not necessary.’ It is possible and it is necessary, neither do we have a choice. Total victory. These monsters will be thoroughly defeated to the end.…What is important, in my view, is your spirit. Your spirit is the spirit of the people of Israel, of the citizens of Israel. I want you to know that I rely on you and I believe in you…. [E]ach one of you carries on your shoulders the destiny of the people of Israel and the State of Israel.”


The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains low; it has not exceeded ten rockets in over a week. Today, the first rockets were fired in four days. They caused neither damage nor injuries. In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets. According to many reports, in response, the IDF has killed numerous senior Hezbollah and Iranian figures in both Lebanon and Syria. Israel has not confirmed that it was responsible for those attacks. In the Red Sea, the US, the UK, and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen.


For the second straight day, protesters, including relatives of hostages held in Gaza, have gathered at the Kerem Shalom crossing to try to prevent relief trucks from entering the Strip; they are demanding that aid be cut off until the captives are freed.

Conflicting reports suggest that Israel and Hamas could be on the verge of a new deal that would see a staggered release of hostages alongside a break in fighting for two months, as well as a mass release of Palestinian prisoners. However, other reports deny that such a deal is close.

It is believed that 132 hostages remain in Gaza. The IDF, citing intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza and elsewhere, has confirmed the deaths of at least 28 of them,  Hamas has also been holding the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin since 2014, as well as two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who are both thought to be alive after entering the Strip of their own accord in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

International Response

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, Netherlands plans to issue its ruling in open court on Friday at 7 am ET on South Africa’s request that it order Israel to stop its war in Gaza. See more here.

Meanwhile, new evidence has revealed what appears to be a network of several South African organizations and straw-man companies that are deeply involved with funding Hamas activities through the Al-Quds Foundation, an international group that has been both sanctioned by the US and outlawed by Israel. They are using accounts registered in major local South African banks, including Standard Bank, Nedbank, and Absa.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron told Prime Minister Netanyahu that more aid trucks must be able to enter Gaza and that an immediate humanitarian pause is needed to help those who are now trapped in a “desperate situation.” Cameron, who is presently on a visit to the Middle East, during which he has met separately with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, announced that Britain and Qatar are working together to get more aid into Gaza. They are sending an initial joint consignment of tents; they are being flown into Egypt today before traveling by road to Gaza.

Further Reading

Finally, I’m so sorry to tell you of the loss of the wonderful Dmitry Spivakovsky, leader and light of the Jewish community of Cherkassy and a great friend and partner of our community and Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest. My colleague Oksana Galkevich, from JDC Ukraine, wrote this piece in memory of Dmitry and his life and achievements:

It is with deep sorrow that we inform you that today, on January 23, the heart of a bright man, an active and caring director of the Jewish charitable foundation “Hesed Dorot” – Dmytro Marksovych Spivakovsky, has stopped. A man with a great soul, an open and kind heart has passed away at the age of 63. There are not enough words to convey the sadness and pain that each of us feels. It was an honor to work with and learn from Dmytro Marksovych. Without exaggeration, Dmytro Spivakovsky devoted his life to serving people, working as a doctor for many years, he helped more than 12 thousand babies to be born, and later, having become the director of Cherkasy Hesed in 2003, he helped thousands of our clients to have a dignified old age and to reclaim their identity.

Dmytro Marksovych always had a keen sense of justice, he fought for many years to honor the name of Oleksandra Shulezhko – a Righteous Gentile, who during the years of German occupation saved 102 children from death and hunger, among whom 25 were Jewish. Thanks to the efforts of Mr Spivakovsky, a commemorative plaque was installed in Cherkasy and one of the city’s central streets was renamed in honor of Shulezhko. Dmytro Marksovych influenced the decision of the local authorities to allocate a plot of land in the city square, where a memorial sign to the victims of the Holocaust was planned to be erected, but unfortunately, he did not have time to implement this project.

It is difficult to overestimate the efforts made by Dmytro Marksovych to preserve Jewish culture and identity. He knew the history of his people, his country and the city, and he gladly shared this knowledge during the tours of Jewish Cherkasy he conducted for all those who wanted to. JDC Ukraine team expresses our deepest condolences to the family of Dmytro Marksovych and the team of Hesed Dorot on the premature death of a caring manager, a good husband, a loving father and grandfather. You can never be ready for the loss of a loved one, because a part of our soul goes with them. But part of Dmytro Spivakosvky’s kind heart remains with us forever. We share your grief, we are mourning with you, and offering you our support you in this hour of sorrow. May the memory of Dmytro Marksovych be blessed and will forever remain in our hearts.

With deepest condolences, Oksana Galkevych and JDC Ukraine Management Team