Good Monday morning.
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we report on criticism that the Washington Post and BBC are facing over their coverage of the Israel-Hamas war, and talk to Yad Vashem head Dani Dayan about his recent meetings about campus antisemitism with American students, faculty and administrators. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Leon Kass, Aaron Sibarium and Abigail Idan.
It started over the weekend: words scrawled on the “KIDNAPPED” flyers with faces of hostages that have come to be ubiquitous in Israeli stores, on trees and benches and along Tel Aviv’s promenade.
“FREED,” read one. “She is home,” read another, scribbled above the face of one of the 39 Israeli hostages — all women, children and the elderly — released after seven weeks in captivity in Gaza in exchange for dozens of Palestinians, most of whom are serving sentences for violent attacks against Israelis, Jewish Insider’s Executive Editor Melissa Weiss writes.
The agreement brokered by American, Qatari and Egyptian officials — which also included a humanitarian pause to allow food, fuel and medical supplies into the Gaza Strip — was hampered by setbacks that delayed the first group’s release by a day and at one point threatened to upend the entire process.
Among those released on Sunday night was Abigail Idan, a 4-year-old American citizen who was kidnapped along with her neighbors after she witnessed her parents’ murders; her family has said that her father, a Ynet photographer, was carrying Abigail when he was shot and killed by a Hamas terrorist at the family’s home in Kfar Aza. Her two siblings, who also witnessed their parents’ killings, survived the attack by hiding in a closet.
Abigail’s release marked a major victory for the Biden administration after senior White House officials highlighted her case publicly and privately in recent weeks. A senior Biden administration official told JI’s Gabby Deutch that President Joe Biden mentioned Abigail in most of his diplomatic conversations on the hostage crisis.
Abigail’s case also raises questions about the remaining Americans who are believed to be held hostage in Gaza. “We are unable to confirm the whereabouts or status for many of the 10 unaccounted for Americans,” the official told JI. “For Abigail, we had a general understanding that she was being held in the northern part of Gaza with the neighbors from her kibbutz.”
Released alongside Abigail were Dafna and Ela Elykim, whose mother, Maayan Zin, penned a plea in the Washington Post earlier this month begging to be allowed to see her children, and Hagar Broduch and her three children; her husband Avichai traveled to the U.S. to call for his family’s release. A dual Russian-Israeli citizen released last night had reportedly escaped his captors after an Israeli airstrike on the building where he was being held, but was handed back to Hamas after being discovered days later.
The final round of hostage and prisoner releases, slated for this evening in Israel, hit a snag this morning, with both Israeli and Palestinian officials raising concerns about the lists of names they were provided. Israeli officials, for their part, have said that Hamas has already violated one of the deal’s key tenants — that children would be released with their mothers — after 13-year-old Hila Rotem was released without her mother, Raya, who remains in Gaza.
“Hamas is exploiting Israelis’ love of life to extract every possible advantage from the current four-day lull in the IDF’s war on its Gaza killing machine,” The Times of Israel’s David Horovitz wrote over the weekend.
The IDF has detailed the preparations for each set of hostage releases: noise-canceling headphones to drown out helicopter noise, stuffed animals and toys to welcome the children back. And the soldiers — nearly all of whom are women — interacting with the newly released hostages were given specific guidance to avoid answering questions about the fates of relatives of the hostages, many of whom are only now learning that a parent or sibling did not survive the attack. It’s one of the myriad traumas the released hostages will have to navigate in the weeks ahead.
Today’s slated release of hostages and prisoners is the final round agreed to last week. Biden has said he would like to see the pause extended, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday that Israel had already agreed to elongate the pause as long as Hamas continues to release hostages. The New York Times reported earlier today that Hamas had agreed to the extension.
“The ball is really in Hamas’ court,” Sullivan said on CNN yesterday. “If Hamas wants to see an extension of the pause in fighting, it can continue to release hostages. If it chooses not to release hostages, then the end of the pause is its responsibility, not Israel’s, because it is holding these hostages completely illegitimately and against all bounds of human decency or the laws of war.”
The Washington Post accused of anti-Israel bias in its war coverage
The Washington Post has faced mounting scrutiny in recent days from Jewish leaders and foreign policy experts for its coverage of the Israel-Hamas war, raising questions over the paper’s editorial direction as it continues to report aggressively on the evolving conflict. Two weekend Post headlines, for instance, drew particularly harsh criticism for characterizing as “captives” the Palestinian prisoners now being released by Israel in a negotiated exchange for hostages held by Hamas and other terror groups, fueling accusations of editorial bias, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
ADL alarm: “Describing children and elderly people kidnapped from their homes as ‘captives’ is an editorial choice,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a sharply worded post on X, formerly Twitter, on Saturday, sharing a screenshot of a web headline alluding to a so-called “exchange of captives” between Israel and Hamas. “Describing inmates who committed crimes as ‘captives’ is explicit, indefensible bias,” Greenblatt added, tagging the Post in his message. “Absolutely shameful.”
Satloff statements: In a recent essay, Robert Satloff, the executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy criticized the framing — and the ambiguous sourcing — of a front-page story on premature Palestinian infants separated from their mothers during Israel’s war in Gaza, which made no mention of Hamas’ abduction of babies and toddlers. The triple-bylined story relied on mostly anonymous sourcing; there was only one named source, of a Palestinian mother, in the entire piece. The story didn’t name the hospital where premature babies from Gaza were receiving treatment in Israel because, the report wrote, “staff members fear reprisals from Israeli authorities.”
Bonus: News guild leaders of The Wall Street Journal and New York Timesare pushing back against calls to its parent NewsGuild to release a statement backing a cease-fire.
across the pond
The BBC faces complaints, criticism over Israel-Hamas war coverage
In the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre in Israel, the venerable British Broadcasting Corporation refused to refer to the group as terrorists, despite the government’s designation. During the bombing of the Al Ahli Arab Hospital 10 days later, the BBC, like other news outlets, was quick to blame the IDF for the blast. Earlier this month, a BBC newsreader misquoted a Reuters report, this time about the IDF’s operation at the al-Shifa hospital. All of the recent missteps are casting a harsh light on Britain’s official and well-respected broadcaster, especially as it concerns its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Lianne Kolirin reports for Jewish Insider.
War of words: The BBC prides itself on its impartiality, but its refusal to refer to Hamas as terrorists, despite the fact that the group has been proscribed as such by the British government, has angered many. The move was justified in a lengthy piece by John Simpson, the BBC’s world affairs editor, who described the term terrorism as a “loaded word.” “It’s simply not the BBC’s job to tell people who to support and who to condemn — who are the good guys and who are the bad guys,” Simpson wrote. The refusal was described by Grant Shapps, the country’s defense secretary, as “verging on disgraceful,” while he called on the BBC to “locate its moral compass.”
Leadership level: Israeli President Isaac Herzog raised the coverage with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Sunak’s visit to Israel following the attacks last month. “We feel that the way the BBC characterizes Hamas is a distortion of the facts,” he told Sunak. Following a forceful written complaint, the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) met with the BBC’s director general, Tim Davey, and some of his senior team. In a statement issued by the BoD following that meeting on Oct. 20, the BoD said: “The BBC was left in no doubt as to the strength of feeling in the Jewish community.”
Elsewhere: More than 100,000 were estimated to have turned out in London on Sunday for a rally organized by the Campaign Against Antisemitism.
Dani Dayan’s new focus for Yad Vashem: Fighting today’s antisemitism
Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, was established in 1953 by the Israeli government with the aim of documenting, researching, educating and commemorating a singular mass event: the Holocaust. Following Hamas’ massacre in southern Israel on Oct. 7 and the subsequent war in Gaza, however, the world-renowned institution’s chairman, Dani Dayan, tells Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash he believes it is time to “change the paradigm.” He sees a new role for Yad Vashem tackling the rampant rise in antisemitism and anti-Zionism, believing that the core of the issue lies in the administrative offices of Ivy League – and other – college campuses.
Reconsidering: “Until now, we thought this is not our problem, we are experts on pre-Holocaust antisemitism through to the Shoah and not necessarily modern antisemitism because it is not retroactively relevant to the Shoah,” Dayan, using the Hebrew word for Holocaust, told JI in an interview. “But now, with the current situation and the magnitude of rampant antisemitism, I think that forces us to put our weight and our prestige on this issue too,” he said.
Feeling the ground: Dayan, Israel’s former consul general in New York, returned last week from a trip to the U.S., where he met with presidents, provosts and deans from Ivy League and other colleges on the East Coast, including Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, New York University and Queens College – campuses that over the past two months have seen a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents, including physical harassment, of Jewish students.
Bright spot: Dayan said he “found an amazing, amazing group of young Jewish students and young Jewish leaders in all the campuses I visited. If this is the next generation of American Jewish leadership, then we have a reason to be optimistic,” he told JI. “But that is where I conclude the good news. Based on what they [Jewish students] described to me and the feelings I detected, I can sum it up with one word: ostracized,” said Dayan. “I sensed a deep feeling of ostracization from the rest of the student community.”
JFNA poll shows most American Jews plan to donate to war-related causes in Israel
The majority of American Jews plan to donate money to benefit Israelis affected by the ongoing war in Israel, according to a survey commissioned by the Jewish Federations of North America, which was shared exclusively with eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.
Survey says: The poll, which was conducted by Benenson Strategy Group from Oct. 29-Nov. 1, found that of the 57% of American Jews who said they “probably will” or “definitely will” give to a cause related to the war, 78% said they would specifically give to organizations supporting Israelis and 12% said they would give to support both Israelis and Palestinians. Most said they would donate more than they did in response to other disasters.
Most meaningful: When asked which causes would be “most meaningful” to support, most respondents — 62% of Jews and 55% of the general population — said emergency medical services and health care. In addition, 45% of Jewish respondents said providing supplies to Israeli troops; 41% said supporting the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Fund for the Victims of Terror; 34% said providing the basic needs for frontline communities; and 28% said providing trauma relief and psychosocial support.
One Nation, Indivisible: In The Wall Street Journal, Shalem College Dean Leon Kass suggests that Israel, in part because of the widespread adherence to Jewish life, is the “moral capital” of the Western world. “In my neighborhood in Washington, people have dogs; in my neighborhood in Jerusalem, people have children. Extended families are strong, tradition alive and rich. Most Israelis, religious or secular, have Shabbat dinner with their parents. The holy tongue is the vernacular; the calendar orders sacred time; ancestral ghosts walk the land; popular music expresses spiritual longings in biblical idiom. National service is the norm. Memorial Day is marked with ceremonies in every neighborhood and with a national minute of silence, as people and cars stop in place to pay respect for the fallen soldiers to whom we owe our freedom. As the past several weeks have shown, Israeli national solidarity runs deep. Thousands have organized to provide for those in need. Haredi men are volunteering for the army; secular soldiers are requesting tzitzit. Hamas’s barbarism revealed one nation, indivisible: an island of cultural and moral sanity in a world gone mad.” [WSJ]
Reservists Reporting: The Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe and Alex Horton spotlight the Israeli-Americans who traveled to Israel to fight in the war against Hamas after the Oct. 7 terror attacks. “About 10,000 people living in the United States have reported for Israeli military duty after receiving draft notices, part of a larger mobilization of 360,000 troops, Israeli officials told The Washington Post. At least eight U.S. citizens have been killed while serving in Israeli security forces since the war began, according to the State Department. The rush of U.S. citizens willing to take up arms for Israel resembles, in ways, the early days of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, whose government appealed to Americans and other foreign nationals to help repel the incursion now nearing the start of its third year. But there are differences, too. In this case, most of the Americans who have joined the war effort have served previously in the Israel Defense Forces or remain IDF reservists. Historically, about 1,200 Americans serve in the IDF at a given time, according to a study published last year by the journal Sociological Forum. Many are, or become, dual citizens.” [WashPost]
Silence is Golden: New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait writes that individuals in leadership positions should eschew making statements in response to global and political events. “The war between Israel and Hamas has exposed an ideological schism on the left that had been growing beneath the surface for many years. For that reason, some of the bitter conflict that is turning progressive Americans against one another was unavoidable. But a significant proportion of the domestic strife we are currently experiencing is completely avoidable. It is a product of the newfound expectation that institutions will issue statements about national and world events. The solution is to simply stop making such statements. Institutions have been making statements about issues outside their purview for a long time. But the murder of [George] Floyd was a break point. The video was so ghastly, everybody saw it, and it came against the backdrop of a pandemic and a president who had routinely shattered long-standing social norms.” [NYMag]
Campus Climate Conundrum: In Rolling Stone, Columbia University student journalist Rebecca Massel — who herself briefly left campus over safety concerns — looks at how the Israel-Hamas war is affecting Jewish students at universities across the country. “Following the online comments and the harassing emails about my story, I left campus out of safety concerns and only returned after Columbia Public Safety and the Public Safety interim director confirmed that being on campus would not pose a physical risk. My experience at Columbia is not an isolated case. During my reporting about the impact of the conflict on the Columbia community, I had spoken with 54 Jewish students about safety on campus, 33 of whom said they have felt unsafe or targeted, 13 of whom were personally harassed, either in person or online, and 12 of whom have tried to hide their Jewish identity when walking around campus. Most of the 54 students I spoke to felt uncomfortable with their full names being published because they were concerned for their physical safety. This problem extends beyond Columbia. According to a poll published by Hillel International on Nov. 20, more than half of the 300 Jewish college students surveyed reported feeling unsafe on their college campuses and 37 percent said they have felt the need to hide their Jewish identity.” [RollingStone]
Around the Web
Musk Moves: X owner Elon Musk is visiting Israel today for meetings with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as a visit to the southern Israeli communities attacked on Oct. 7; Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said he reached an agreement with Musk’s Starlink that the company can only operate in Israel and the Gaza Strip with approval from his ministry.
Supplemental Aid Bill: In a memo to colleagues, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the Senate will take up an Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan supplemental aid bill next week.
Call for Conditions: Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) joined Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in publicly calling for conditions on supplemental aid to Israel. Both lawmakers have endorsed conditions in the past.
Cease-fire Call: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) called for the temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas to be made permanent; she’s the fifth Jewish House member to call for a cease-fire.
Eye on the Prize: Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) announced he will not seek reelection to the House, focusing all of his energy on a primary challenge to President Joe Biden.
Borough Brouhaha: New York City Mayor Eric Adams denounced an incident at a Queens high school in which an hours-long riot broke out on campus after students learned that a teacher had attended a pro-Israel demonstration.
Rising Star: Politicospotlights Washington Free Beacon reporter Aaron Sibarium, who has broken numerous consequential stories about “woke” excesses in leading institutions, from the Ivy League to the federal government.
Hate Crime Probe: The LAPD is investigating as a hate crime a protest outside the Los Angeles home of AIPAC President Michael Tuchin in which anti-Israel demonstrators set off smoke bombs and spilled red paint outside the residence.
Detained Demonstrators: The NYPD arrested more than 30 people for interrupting the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade by gluing themselves to the street; at the New York Public Library, one person was arrested for defacing the building with graffiti that read “Free Palestine” and red paint made to look like bloody handprints.
Restaurateurs for Israel: TAO Group co-CEOs Jason Strauss and Noah Tepperberg hosted a fundraiser for United Hatzalah at Los Angeles’ Lavo Ristorante that raised $1 million; the event followed the duo’s first effort at New York’s Al Coro raised $1.1 million.
Campus Beat: A University of Southern California professor was suspended for telling students that “Hamas are murderers. That’s all they are. Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are killed.”
Apprehended: Police in Burlington, Vt., arrested a suspect accused of shooting three U.S. students of Palestinian descent in the New England city.
Crypto Settlement: Crypto firm Binance will pay $4.4 billion to settle charges brought against it by the Department of Justice, the Treasury Department and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission over trading violations, most involving Iran and its terror proxies.
Loss of Funding: A progressive immigrant rights group in Maryland is under fire — and lost funding from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation — after its executive director alleged Israel was engaging in “ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people” and shared a photo that included the controversial slogan “from the river to the sea.”
Historical Perspective:The New York Times’ Joseph Berger compares the experiences of asylum-seekers in New York to his own family’s experience immigrating to the U.S. in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust.
Bookshelf:Le Monde’s Valentine Faure reviews a new novel that rewrites the extensively researched history of a French woman whose wartime Nazi collaboration was immortalized in a post-war Robert Capa photo of her, head shorn, amid a jeering crowd.
Tilting Rightward: Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party won a plurality of the votes in the country’s election; Wilders will need to recruit other parties to form a governing coalition.
Workers’ Crisis: Israel’s agriculture sector is struggling following the departure of thousands of foreign laborers who worked on Israeli farms in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks.
Marine Moves: The U.S. Navy apprehended armed assailants responsible for hijacking an Israeli-linked tanker off the coast of Yemen; two ballistic missiles were fired at a U.S. ship in the Gulf of Aden soon after.
Missing in the Media: Haaretzreports on how the Oct. 7 terror attacks are being downplayed and outright ignored in the Arab press.
High Marks: The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Jonathan Schanzer and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Aaron David Miller both scored 9/10 in Room Raters ranking system; Maryland congressional candidate Joel Rubin had a perfect score.
Dolphins Deal?: Ken Griffin is in talks to buy a stake in the Miami Dolphins from Stephen Ross, who is also considering selling Griffin stakes in the Hard Rock Stadium and the F1 Miami Grand Prix.
Pic of the Day
People wave flags and cheer as a helicopter with Israeli hostages released by Hamas landed at Schneider Medical Center on Sunday night in Petah Tikva, Israel.
Israeli model and beauty pageant winner, she represented Israel in the 2005 Miss Universe pageant, Elena Ralph turns 40…
Attorney, insurance executive and real estate investor, Brian J. Strum turns 84… Founding partner of TPG Capital (formerly Texas Pacific Group) and its Asian affiliate, Newbridge Capital, he is a co-majority owner of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, David Bonderman turns 81… Literary journalist, literary critic and author of six books, Ronald Rosenbaum turns 77… Principal at ESL Catalyst, Lawrence Greenberg… Economist and university professor at Northwestern University, Charles Frederick Manski turns 75… Treasurer of JCC MetroWest in West Orange, N.J., and director-at-large of the JCC Association of North America, Joyce Goldstein… Former collegiate (Harvard) and professional (Maccabi Tel Aviv) basketball player, he then practiced corporate law at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan in NYC, Louis Grant Silver turns 70… Founder, chairman, and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, Barry Stuart Sternlicht turns 63… CEO of website and blog Time4Coffee, she was previously a television journalist like her father, Ted Koppel, Andrea Koppel turns 60… Mayor of Englewood, N.J., and an immigration attorney, Michael Jay Wildes turns 59… Film director, producer, writer, dancer, author and choreographer, Adam Michael Shankman turns 59… Executive chairman of Hudson’s Bay Company, Canada’s oldest corporation (chartered in 1670) and owner of Saks, Richard Alan Baker turns 58… Film and television actor, known for his 95 episodes as Michael Vaughn on ABC’s “Alias,” Michael S. Vartan turns 55… 1996 graduate of the University of Maryland Dental School, he worked for the U.S. Navy for three years and now practices in Stevenson, Md., Joshua P. Weintraub, DDS… Co-host of seasons two through nine of “Dancing with the Stars” and then a correspondent for “Entertainment Tonight,” Samantha Harris Shapiro turns 50… Former NFL player who appeared in 147 games over ten seasons for the 49ers, Lions and Cowboys, Kyle Kosier turns 45… Executive director for the Alliance for Middle East Peace, Joel Braunold… Multilingual singer, songwriter and actress, she is the national anthem singer for the NHL’s New York Islanders, Nicole Raviv turns 30… DJ Levy… Jewish educator and Los Angeles community activist, Linda Fife…