Discover more from The Jackal
Everything I Am Reading about Israel
And a quick thank you for a President Biden.
This is a special edition of the Jackal that will serve as a long list of “should-reads.”1 I’ll explain why I’m doing this - instead of writing something myself - by quoting this great piece from Ben Wittes:
The reason I don’t write about Israeli-Palestinian matters much is that the more time I have spent with them, the less I think I have anything useful to say on the subject. The process of spending time with the actual conflict has humbled me to the point that I am these days much more interested in asking questions than I am in making pronouncements. I am much more interested in conveying information than I am in telling people what I think—when I even know what I think, which is increasingly infrequent.
I’ll also say up front that while we should have long, deep conversations about Israel’s immoral treatment of Palestine; the prospect of a peaceful, two-State solution; and an end to violence, there is no dispute that Hamas is an organization of pure evil. They are terrorists and I hope Israel flattens them into the ground.
This interview with Dennis Ross will give you great background on how this happened, and it is from the early days of the conflict.
Kim Ghattas sees the shadows of Iran and Hezbollah in the attacks.
An impressive line-up of reporters gives details on why Hamas chose to attack Israel now.
Anne Applebaum is indispensable.
This Twitter thread is sobering, and could very well be true.
Jim Geraghty rounds up the House members who flunked the moral test.
An unbelievable first-hand account of the initial attacks.
Marina Medvin details Israel’s public alert system.
Zack Beauchamp puts a nail in Benjamin Netanyahu’s coffin: His policy of repressing Palestinians has not made Israelis safer.
A false news story about billions of dollars in aid was widely circulated on Twitter, with no repercussions. Great website!
Jen Griffin debunks a repeated talking point from her own network: That Iran used $6 billion in unfrozen assets to help plan the attack (although this didn’t stop her colleagues from repeating it later on that day).
Danielle Pletka can drive me nuts sometimes, but this is good.
That said, I would not 100% say Iran backed Hamas in this attack. There are conflicting reports, so it is best to wait and see.
This Spencer Ackerman piece really made me think.
This was Israel’s biggest intelligence failure in history. U.S. officials are asking questions.
Frank Luntz does not think Bibi will survive the intelligence failure that happened on his watch.
If you want an explainer for the Palestinian case, this Forward piece does it soberly, and remarkably well.
There is a humanitarian crisis already happening in Gaza.
I wanted to add a final thing, which was a link to Joe Biden’s speech from earlier today. Pretty fantastic, and it was praised by people on the Right and the Left. From the jump, he strikes the right tone.
It is during times of crisis like this that I am especially glad that he is President and not Donald Trump. I have been more than critical of Biden’s past foreign policy missteps, but here the Administration has done remarkably well. While Fox News was pretending that they don’t know what a “lid” means, the U.S. made a plan with France, Germany, Italy, and the U.K., to send more aid to Israel.
The Biden Administration is also nudging Israel and Saudi Arabia towards a détente, which would be a huge accomplishment. And, of course, there are risks to the Biden Administration strengthening its military ties with Israel, which has quietly been going on since the end of last year.
I am queasy just thinking about what Trump’s response would have been during this crisis. Would he have been able to get through a public statement without mentioning his election loss? Would he have started talking about how whales are scared of wind turbines? It brings me to two points:
There are a lot of talking points about the seized assets of Iran, to the tune of $6 billion. “Money is fungible,” is usually the line, and even if Iran is barred from using any of its seized assets for anything other than humanitarian causes, eventually they will find a way to siphon money towards more terror. Fine, but is Intelligence fungible too? Trump infamously shared secret Israeli intelligence with Russia (an Israeli official called it their “worst fears” coming true), who is partners with Iran, who fund Hamas. I don’t make the rules, but if we are doing fungibility game theory, then I think this one is in play.
Nicholas Grossman has this amazing piece on how Trump’s policy towards Israel brought us to this moment. Although they last for 4-8 years, a U.S. Presidency can have ripple effects for decades. We are only now seeing some of the disasters that follow when you give a game show host the reins to the world’s most powerful country. It is a job for grown-ups.
And this all comes to a head with this recent piece from The Washington Post: Jack Smith says he will eventually reveal why Trump was hoarding classified documents at Mar-A-Lago and Bedminster, i.e., he had a motive.
Was Trump giving classified intelligence to our enemies? Everything I have read and observed about the way Jack Smith has performed his investigation tells me no, but that is going to eat away at me for a while.
I was up in the mountains this weekend and on my final night, spiked a fever of 104. I am on the mend from whatever it was (not COVID, flu, or RSV!), but it has made the week already feel long. I will try to do another Jackal on Friday but there are really no breaks between here and Thanksgiving.
To the front.
If you are joining us for the first time, we say “should-reads” here because “must-reads” is too pushy.