“Airstrikes on a densely populated neighborhood in Gaza this week show Israel is waging a broader and more ferocious war against Hamas, an approach that aims to destroy the Palestinian militant group but has sparked an international backlash,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The repeated strikes on the Jabalia neighborhood—a refugee camp that has turned into a warren of permanent homes and apartment buildings—come amid a three-week-long air campaign by Israel that is the most intense in its history and rivals any aerial bombardment this century, military analysts say.”
Associated Press: The US has strongly backed Israel’s war against Hamas. The allies don’t seem to know what comes next.
“As U.N. officials say hospitals in Gaza are running dangerously low on fuel, Hamas is maintaining a stockpile of more than 200,000 gallons of fuel for the rockets it fires into Israel and the generators that provide clean air and electricity to its network of underground tunnels, according to U.S. officials,” NBC News reports.
President Biden said Israel and Hamas militants ought to “pause” fighting in order to allow time to free hostages being held in the Gaza Strip, but stopped short of supporting a full cease-fire, Bloomberg reports.
CNN: Inside the painstaking negotiations to agree on a deal allowing foreigners to leave Gaza.
Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad was interviewed by MEMRI TV:
HAMAD: We will repeat the October 7 massacre time and again — one million times if we need to — until we end the occupation.
REPORTER: Occupation of Gaza?
HAMAD: No, all of Israel.
Bill Kristol: “Hamas is an immediate manifestation of barbarism, and China is a true long-term challenge. But right now, the most urgent threat to the United States and a decent world order is Putin.”
“One hopes—one trusts—that in the twenty-first century, the arc of history will bend toward justice. But one must acknowledge that so far, the arc of the twenty-first century has bent toward Putin.”
Wall Street Journal: “Calculating that Hamas had never directly threatened the U.S. and burdened with other spying priorities, Washington ceded the responsibility to Israel, confident that its aggressive security services would detect any threat, the U.S. officials said. It should have been ‘a well-placed bet,’ said one senior counterterrorism official.”
“Joe Biden and top aides have discussed the likelihood that Benjamin Netanyahu’s political days are numbered — and the president has conveyed that sentiment to the Israeli prime minister in a recent conversation,” Politico reports.
“Biden has gone so far as to suggest to Netanyahu that he should think about lessons he would share with his eventual successor.”
Edward Luce: Lawyers are taught never to ask a witness a question to which they do not know the answer. That logic also applies to wartime alliances. Joe Biden has hitched his fortunes to a man — Benjamin Netanyahu — who is co-creator of the ghastly dilemma with which Israel is now faced. The problem with Biden’s bearhug strategy is that he has no veto on the Israeli prime minister’s actions. The tool Biden wields is influence. Everything about Netanyahu suggests that behind-the-scenes suasion is not a method that works.”
“Were it not for Israel’s discredited leader, Biden’s strategy would be reasonable. Israel feels wounded and threatened; public hectoring by its chief supporter in Washington would only deepen that sense of isolation; that in turn would raise the likelihood that Israel would take blind measures that would further damage its security. Unfortunately that is happening anyway. Biden’s well-intentioned case is already being belied by Israel’s actions.”
“President Joe Biden was met with protests organized by local Muslim leaders when he arrived in Minneapolis on Wednesday for a series of events, the latest sign that Muslim American voters may turn against the president after having supported him in 2020,” NBC News reports.
“The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country’s largest Muslim advocacy group, organized three separate protests at various locations Biden visited Wednesday, including the airport, a farm in rural Northfield and downtown Minneapolis.”
Foreign Policy: “As Blinken shuttled between Middle Eastern capitals, a growing storm of dissent was brewing in the diplomatic corps back home, where many U.S. diplomats were privately angered, shocked, and despondent by what they perceived as a de facto blank check from Washington for Israel to launch a massive military operation in Gaza at an immense humanitarian cost for the besieged Palestinian civilians in Gaza.”
“That anger became a groundswell of opposition to Biden’s initial approach to the war among the ranks of U.S. national security officials, putting top Biden administration officials on the defensive both abroad and at home.”
Ivanka Trump filed an appeal Wednesday in an attempt to get out of testifying in her father’s ongoing civil fraud trial, Axios reports.
“A banking expert testified Wednesday that Donald Trump and his company benefited more than $168 million by obtaining favorable loan terms on transactions where the former president personally guaranteed the loans,” CNN reports.
Donald Trump’s attorney Alina Habba said the idea of the former president going to jail for violating his gag orders is “not even something we think about,” The Messenger reports.
Said Habba: “It’s not even something we think about, to be honest, because this is all political. It’s really, not — there’s no criminal acts that he’s done. There’s no civil wrongs that he’s done, unless making money for banks is a civil wrong all of a sudden.”
“Melania Trump appeared alongside her husband for the first time in seven months Tuesday night for a Halloween party at Mar-a-Lago,” the Daily Beast reports.
“The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s indictment for allegedly mishandling national security secrets suggested at a hearing Wednesday that she might push back the planned trial timeline, as courts wrestle with the growing complexity of juggling four separate criminal cases and an ongoing civil trial against the former president,” the Washington Post reports.
“Judge Aileen M. Cannon listened to prosecutors argue for keeping the schedule she set earlier this year, which includes a trial in May 2024, while lawyers for the former president insisted they needed more time to prepare.”
The judge said she would rule on the schedule “as soon as possible.”
Donald Trump for the first time visited a SCIF to view the classified evidence Special Counsel Jack Smith has amassed against him.
The Congressional Budget Office said the cost of the House’s Israel aid bill is not offset and will add $12.5 billion to the deficit in the next decade.
Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) dismissed the CBO score for his Israel aid package showing it added to the federal budget deficit: “Only in Washington when you cut spending do they call it an increase in the deficit.”
“The Republican-controlled House on Thursday approved legislation to send roughly $14 billion in emergency aid to Israel and cut about the same amount from the Internal Revenue Service, in a deeply divided vote on a measure that Senate leaders say they won’t take up and President Biden has already threatened to veto,” the Washington Post reports.
“The legislation passed by a 226-196 vote, with 12 Democrats joining most Republicans to back it.”
House Republican leadership is growing skeptical that it can pass the legislative branch spending bill and may pull it from consideration, Punchbowl News reports. Apparently not much has changed in the last four weeks.
“Speaker Mike Johnson told Senate Republicans he supports funding Ukraine and wants to fund the government through Jan. 15,” Politico reports.
“North Korea has likely supplied several types of missiles to Russia to support its war in Ukraine, along with its widely reported shipments of ammunition and shells,” ABC News reports.
“Democrats are clashing anew over border security funding — just as the Biden administration is seeking a new infusion of it as part of a $106 billion Israel-Ukraine aid package,” Politico reports.
“It’s happening within the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Hill’s leading voice for Latino lawmakers that includes roughly three dozen House members. CHC chair Rep. Nannette Barragán (D-CA) acknowledged that her group had requested border funding to be kept out of the administration’s massive emergency spending pitch.”
“The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged at a 22-year high but kept the door open to potentially raising them later to keep slowing inflation,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Officials described recent economic activity as strong and highlighted how a run-up in long-term interest rates could weigh on economic activity, according to a statement released after their two-day meeting.”
Wall Street Journal: “So if the economy is so good, why are Americans so gloomy? Confidence readings are depressed. Some 69% of respondents to a Journal survey in August said the country is headed in the wrong direction. President Biden’s approval ratings are mired around or below 40%, and approval for his handling of the economy is even lower.”
“The most popular explanation for this dichotomy is that good feelings about jobs are more than offset by high inflation. There is a lot of evidence for this, but it is still not an entirely satisfying answer.”
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) “will lead a push to confirm a slate of military nominees Wednesday evening in a direct challenge to fellow GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville and his blockade on promotions in the armed forces, marking a new turn in the monthslong Senate impasse,” Politico reports.
“Sullivan plans to seek the quick confirmation of a tranche of senior officers by unanimous consent.”
“Sullivan’s intervention is the most significant confrontation to Tuberville so far within the GOP, reflecting that more Republicans are turning against Tuberville and ready to challenge him publicly.”
“Republican senators pushed to confirm more than 60 military nominees Wednesday evening in a direct challenge to fellow GOP member Tommy Tuberville and his blockade on promotions — but the Alabama senator is refusing to budge,” Politico reports.
“The move led by Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska marks the most significant confrontation to Tuberville so far within the GOP as more Republicans turn against the former college football coach and show they’re ready to resist him publicly.”
“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told Democrats during their lunch on Tuesday that he will file cloture on three key military nominees, which have been delayed for months due to Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold,” CNN reports.
“Specifically, he will file cloture on the officers nominated to be chief of Naval Operations, Air Force chief of staff, and, notably, the vice commandant of the Marine Corps.”
“A motion to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) from the House failed Wednesday evening, with New York Republicans taking the helm in an attempt to remove him over his public false statements and ongoing federal criminal case,” the Washington Post reports.
“Five New York Republicans [were] behind the push [to] remove Rep. George Santos (R-NY) from the chamber,” Politico reports.
After the House voted not to expel him, Rep. George Santos (R-NY) posted a triumphant tweet with the caption: “If you come for me, you best not miss.” Moments later he deleted it.
The Daily Beast obtained a lengthy internal handbook for aides to Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) which demonstrates her thirst for the spotlight.
“Beyond drafting press releases, website posts, and tweets, staffers on the communications team were told they needed to book Mace on a national TV outlet between one and three times per day—a staggering nine times per week, at a minimum, according to former staffers who had seen past handbooks—and on local TV channels at least six times per week.”
“The most recent version of the handbook is notable in how much more detailed it is in explaining communications roles compared to legislative or constituent-oriented ones.”
Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) compared Palestinians facing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza to Nazis during World War II.
Said Mast: “I think when we look at this as a whole, I would encourage the other side to not so lightly throw around the idea of ‘innocent Palestinian civilians,’ as is frequently said. I don’t think we would so lightly throw around the term ‘innocent Nazi civilians’ during World War II.”
“Donald Trump’s legal battles continue to mount as oral arguments begin on Thursday in Minnesota, where the state’s Supreme Court will decide whether or not the case to prevent him from appearing on the state’s ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment should proceed because of his actions around the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol,” ABC News reports.
“This will be the second time this week that a case challenging Trump’s eligibility for office will be heard in a courtroom.”
A Colorado judge refused a request from lawyers for Donald Trump to throw out a case challenging his eligibility to hold office again, saying she was not yet prepared to decide on what she called “significant legal issues, many of which have never been decided by any court,” the New York Times reports.
The decision by the judge, Sarah Wallace, means the trial will continue through the rest of the week before a final ruling.
Washington Post: “Members of both parties said it could be a challenge for Democrats to turn Johnson into a figure who prompts enough impassioned dislike among voters to make him an effective boogeyman. He rose to the speakership with the lowest profile in recent memory, having been elected to Congress only in 2016.”
Donald Trump’s allies are warning Speaker Mike Johnson through other House Republican lawmakers not to associate with GOP operative Jeff Roe, who is the top strategist for the super PAC backing Ron DeSantis, Punchbowl News reports.
FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that antisemitism in the United States is reaching “historic levels” in the wake of violence in Israel and Gaza, the BBC reports.
Said Wray: “The Jewish community is targeted by terrorists really across the spectrum.”
He added: “This is not a time for panic, but it is a time for vigilance. We shouldn’t stop conducting our daily lives — going to schools, houses of worship, and so forth — but we should be vigilant.”
William Saletan: “I’m Jewish. I believe in Israel, and I’m aghast at what Hamas did to so many innocent people on October 7. I strongly support the use of force against the killers.”
“But as thousands of innocent people die in Gaza—not as targets, but as victims of relentless bombardment in a war they didn’t choose—I can’t accept the bigotry, zealotry, and callousness these candidates are espousing. They aren’t standing up against ruthless religious violence. They’re promoting it.”
“Perhaps not since the Holocaust, which saw the annihilation of about two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish community, have the Jews of Europe lived in an atmosphere of fear so acute that it feels like a fundamental shift in the terms of their existence,” the New York Times reports.
“Across a Europe of daubed Stars of David on apartment buildings, bomb threats to Jewish stores and demonstrations calling for Israel’s eradication, Jews speak of alarm as pro-Palestinian sentiment surges.”
“The House voted to table – or block – a Republican-led resolution on Wednesday to censure Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan over comments critical of Israel and in support of Palestinians,” CNN reports.
“The Interior Department on Tuesday approved a plan to install up to 176 giant wind turbines off the coast of Virginia, clearing the way for what would be the nation’s largest offshore wind farm yet,” the New York Times reports.
“For more than four decades, Iran’s rulers have pledged to destroy Israel. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rarely appears in public without wearing a black-and-white checkered Palestinian kaffiyeh,” the New York Times reports.
“Iranian military commanders gloat over training and arming groups across the region that are enemies of Israel, including Hezbollah and Hamas. And when Hamas conducted the Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel that killed 1,400 people, Iranian officials praised it as a momentous achievement, shattering the Jewish state’s sense of security.”
“Now Iran faces a dilemma, weighing how it and its proxy militias — known as the axis of resistance — should respond to Israel’s invasion of Gaza and the killing of thousands of Palestinians, and whether to bolster its revolutionary credentials at the risk of igniting a broader regional war.”
“Joe Biden is expected to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a summit in San Francisco in November for ‘constructive’ talks,” The Guardian reports.
“Saudi Arabia assured the Biden administration that the kingdom is still interested in pursuing an agreement that would normalize relations with Israel after the war in Gaza ends,” Axios reports.
“The world economy is lumbering from one shock to another as two brutal wars, stubborn inflation and high borrowing costs pockmark the post-pandemic recovery. The next source of turbulence in the polycrisis era: a packed 2024 election calendar,” Bloomberg reports.
“Starting with Taiwan in January and running through the US presidential election in November, the year will bring 40 national elections—a busy lineup even in calmer political times. Bloomberg Economics calculates that voters in countries representing 41% of the world’s population and 42% of its gross domestic product have a chance to elect new leaders next year.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CNN that no number of civilian deaths in Gaza would cause him to question Israel’s goal of eradicating Hamas.
Said Graham: “If somebody asked us after World War II, is there a limit to what you would do to make sure that Japan and Germany don’t conquer the world? Is there any limit to what Israel should do to the people who are trying to slaughter the Jews? The answer is no.”
The U.S. and dozens of other countries plan to sign a joint statement agreeing that their governments will not pay hackers in ransomware attack, Semafor reports.