Plus, my interview with Haviv Gur.

I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum on the news of the day — then “my take.”

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Today's read: 11 minutes.

Today, we're breaking down the latest on the war in Gaza. Plus, my interview with Haviv Gur and a reader question about replacing Biden or Trump.

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The interview.

YouTube comments are usually a place to find complaints, anger, and division. But on our latest video — my interview with Haviv Gur — I’ve been humbled to find overwhelmingly positive feedback. 

"Wow. This interview blew me away. It is food for thought delivered with a degree of depth I've only occasionally come close to seeing a handful of times. I'll have to follow Haviv Gur now," one commenter said.

"Haviv is a remarkably knowledgeable speaker. I’ve never listened to a podcast of this length but I learned so much about the history of this conflict it was worth every minute. Thanks for making this happen for Tangle readers!" another wrote.

"Not often I make it through that long of a video, but it was worth it and seemed like less than half the time. Such good perspective and thought. I will be thinking this one over for quite a while!" another said.

You can watch it below:

Quick hits.

  1. Lawmakers in Louisiana passed legislation criminalizing the possession of certain abortion pills without a prescription, with a punishment of up to 10 years in prison. (The bill)
  2. At least 21 people were killed by tornadoes and severe storms that swept across Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. (The storms)
  3. The Libertarian Party nominated Chase Oliver as their presidential candidate over the weekend, rejecting appeals from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Donald Trump to not nominate a candidate. (The pick)
  4. President Trump told donors that if he is re-elected he will deport pro-Palestinian protesters and end demonstrations happening on college campuses across the country. (The promise)
  5. A bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation arrived in Taiwan following the inauguration of President Lai Ching-te and in spite of warnings from China. (The visit)

Today's topic.

The latest in the Israel-Hamas war. On Monday, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged a "tragic mistake" after a strike in Rafah killed at least 45 Palestinians sheltering in a tent camp, according to local officials. Israel initially claimed the strike hit a Hamas installation and killed two senior militants, though it announced an investigation into the incident shortly after news broke about the civilian death toll.

“Despite our utmost efforts not to harm innocent civilians, last night, there was a tragic mistake,” Netanyahu said in an address to Israel’s parliament. “We are investigating the incident and will obtain a conclusion because this is our policy.”

Roughly three weeks ago, Israeli forces began their long-anticipated offensive in the city of Rafah in Southern Gaza. Israel is pursuing the remaining Hamas battalions that have been sheltering in the city while attempting to free or recover Israeli hostages whom it believes are being held in the Rafah region. Since the fighting began, roughly 800,000 Palestinians have fled Rafah, some through corridors Israel has organized.

Shortly after the strike, the White House said it was assessing whether the act violated President Joe Biden's "red line" on Israel’s military operation. Biden has threatened to suspend weapons deliveries if Israel enters civilian population centers in Rafah.

Separately, Egypt said one of its soldiers had been killed during an exchange of gunfire with the  Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the Rafah area. On Monday, the IDF and Egyptian Armed Forces each released statements saying they are investigating the shooting.

The latest incidents follow a series of notable events in the war. Last week, International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan announced he had requested arrest warrants for war crimes and crimes against humanity for Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and the leaders of Hamas. Khan accused Netanyahu and Gallant of starving civilians as a weapon of war and “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population.” He charged Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh with war crimes including “the killing of hundreds of Israeli civilians” on Oct. 7 and the taking of at least 245 hostages.

Then, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nations' top court, issued a dramatic ruling ordering Israel to "immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah" in support of an application from South Africa. Israel rejected the court's ruling, which has no enforcement mechanism, and said its military offensive was in accordance with international law.

Over the weekend, Hamas also said it had fired rockets into Tel Aviv and central Israel, the first time in nearly four months the group has fired into the area. Meanwhile, organized attacks by Israeli settlers on humanitarian aid coming from the West Bank to Gaza have escalated, with some extremists ransacking trucks and beating Palestinian drivers.

Finally, on May 16, Israel announced it had found the bodies of four Israeli hostages kidnapped on October 7: Itzhak Gelerenter, Amit Buskila, Ron Benjamin, and Shani Louk. Their bodies were reportedly discovered inside a Hamas tunnel that was hidden beneath a home.

Today, we're going to take a look at some opinions from the latest in the war, with views from the left and right, and opinions from Israeli and Palestinian writers. Then, my take.

What the left is saying.

  • The left is horrified by the strike on civilians in Rafah, suggesting the U.S. has aided Israel in committing war crimes. 
  • Others say Israel’s international standing is crumbling.

In Jacobin, Seraj Assi called the strike on the Rafah camp “yet another heinous war crime.”

“The Rafah tents massacre comes days after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to halt its military offensive there, and shortly after the International Criminal Court (ICC) said it was applying for arrest warrants for Israeli leaders. Effectively in response, Israel has bombarded Rafah with unprecedented brutality,” Assi wrote. “In a flagrant violation of international norms and humanitarian laws, Israel continues to act with total impunity in Gaza, enjoying Western complicity, and emboldened by US unconditional military and diplomatic support.”

“For over eight months, Palestinians in Gaza have been sharing live videos of their daily executions, pleading with the world to stop the carnage. But the Western political class has remained silent, piping up only to offer platitudes about human rights and international law, while refusing to rein in Israel’s unhinged barbarity,” Assi said. “Every day a new threshold of evil is crossed, and just when we thought we couldn’t see anything more heinous, Israel has plumbed greater depths of savagery.”

The Economist wrote about a week of “diplomatic blows” for Israel.

“It has been a week of diplomatic disasters for Israel. It began on Monday with Karim Khan, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, requesting arrest warrants for Israel’s prime minister and defence minister. And it ended on Friday with the International Court of Justice ordering Israel to limit its military offensive in Rafah. In the span of five days, the world’s top two courts issued harsh reprimands for the Jewish state,” the writers said. “There is no chance that Binyamin Netanyahu… will heed the court’s order and scale back the offensive in Rafah. Though Israel is a member of the ICJ, it could simply announce that it will ignore the decree: the court has no enforcement powers.”

“Israel has a choice: it can stop the fighting in Rafah, or improve conditions in the rest of Gaza. America seems determined to help it do the latter,” the writers added. “The ICJ’s order is vaguely worded and cannot be enforced. The ICC will probably never get Mr Netanyahu in the dock. The decision to recognise Palestine by three European states (Ireland, Norway and Spain) is a symbolic one. Put them together, though, and they show an isolated country almost entirely reliant on America for support.”

What the right is saying.

  • The right criticizes the ICC and ICJ for their decisions in the past week.
  • Others say Israel must ignore international disapproval and finish its operation in Rafah.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board argued “the International Court of Justice is detached from reality on Rafah.”

“Because Hamas isn’t party to the ICJ trial, the ruling demands nothing of it, while seeming to tell Israel unilaterally to stop fighting in the terrorists’ last stronghold,” the board said. “What about the Israelis held hostage in Rafah? The ICJ knows that Hamas refuses to release them, which the ruling calls ‘deeply troubling.’ Well, thanks, but the judges effectively ask Israel to abandon the hostages. Like most rulings from The Hague, this one will be ignored.”

“The inversion of international law is something to behold: Hamas slaughters Israeli civilians and hides behind its own so that Israel stands accused. The ICJ’s presiding judge is Lebanon’s Nawaf Salam, whose bias is outrageous. He has denounced Israel for decades and is active in Lebanese politics, having twice been a candidate for prime minister since joining the bench in The Hague. The transparent nature of the ICJ ruling has the benefit of making it easier to dismiss.”

In Townhall, Jonathan Feldstein said Israel is “standing alone among the nations of the world.”

“The ICJ made no demands on, or recognition of, any culpability for Hamas and its terrorist and genocidal agenda and actions, for its massacre of 1200 people in one day on October 7, to release the hostages they still hold in captivity illegally, or censured Hamas for unspeakable sexual crimes,” Feldstein wrote. “Earlier the same week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor announced intentions to issue arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Galant… Few nations have responded to call out the injustice of this kangaroo court, its overreach and lack of jurisdiction, the unimaginable comparison between Israel and Hamas, or the very antisemitic nature of its prosecutor and the ICC itself.”

“Not to be left on the sideline, the same week, Ireland, Norway, and Spain colluded to become the latest countries to recognize a fictitious ‘State of Palestine,’ a punitive act against Israel and a gift to the terrorists. If Hamas celebrates, you know it’s immoral. These nations made their policy clear: that if you massacre enough Jews, we will appease you and recognize your independence without having to negotiate with Israel, or renounce terror against Israel. This is now the state policy of these three morally bankrupt nations.”

What Israeli and Palestinian writers are saying.

  • Israeli writers still support the ongoing military efforts but say the country’s leaders must also be held accountable for their failures.
  • Writers in Gaza implore the U.S. and other world leaders to halt Israel’s Rafah operation.

The Jerusalem Post editorial board wrote “Israel's government has failed and must do more.”

“November’s hostage deal feels like a distant memory in terms of this war. We are now almost in June, and Israel says around 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of at least 39 more, while 17 bodies of hostages have been recovered. The numbers reflect the stark reality that efforts to bring all hostages home have not been successful enough, and the situation remains dire,” the board said. “For 232 days, the hostages have been in captivity. That’s 232 days that Israel’s military has failed to bring them all home.”

“The operation that Israel launched earlier this month has been limited for the time being. If Israel wants to succeed in its stated goal of bringing home the hostages, perhaps it is time to consider doing more,” the board wrote. “The political and military leadership of Israel needs to consider what would make the Rafah operation a success… Israel’s government has failed the hostages and their families. Israel’s military has failed the hostages and their families. At some point, they need to be held responsible.”

In The Nation, Ahmed Abu Artema said “Gazans don’t need Biden’s PR stunts. We need him to end this horror.”

“I am now back in Khan Younis, though still without a home. The city is completely destroyed. I see displaced families fleeing anew, wandering with uncertainty, as there’s no safe place in Gaza from Israel’s campaign of genocide. Most have no source of income, since the economy has completely collapsed,” Artema wrote. “All services have collapsed; garbage is piled up and streams of sewage are everywhere, foreshadowing environmental disasters and outbreaks of deadly epidemics… The most frequently asked question: When will this nightmare end?”

“We don’t need empty words of concern or cynical PR stunts like air drops or floating piers. We need the international community–and the Biden administration in particular–to impose a cease-fire on Israel and to stop the invasion of Rafah and the destruction of Gaza. We need the world to take a stand against the policies of collective punishment on civilians, through repeated displacement, endless massacres, widespread destruction, and denying people access to food and other basic necessities of life.”

My take.

Reminder: "My take" is a section where I give myself space to share my own personal opinion. If you have feedback, criticism, or compliments, don't unsubscribe. Write in by replying to this email, or leave a comment.

  • On the one hand, I have a strong and very simple reaction that I want to see the Palestinian suffering come to an end.
  • On the other hand, I’m torn over what the best strategy is for the long-term safety of Palestinians and Israelis.
  • It’s important for Palestinians to have a more diplomatic leader in place, but I worry that the ends aren’t justified by the means.

As this conflict has gone on, I've started to reconcile the two different ways that I’ve been processing it.

My straightforward reaction to stories like this most recent strike, as well as the images depicting current life in Gaza, is an overwhelming urge to see the war end. Learning of life on the ground — collapsed services, dead children, starving civilians — is pure agony. When I read firsthand accounts of conditions in Gaza, like the one published by Ahmed Abu Artema (under “What Palestinian writers are saying”), I'm not sure how anyone could feel anything besides horror (regardless of how you view Artema's politics). Feeling empathy for those suffering is simple, and there's a real case that Israel leaving Gaza and ending its military operation will — at least in a significant way — end that suffering.

I want to be clear that feeling this horror and empathy is my prevailing reaction. Sometimes I can't tell if I'm working backward emotionally from my desire to see the suffering end to justify calling for a ceasefire, or if I'm truly coming to the position logically. But I have a hard time taking in the full depth of the situation Gazans are in — trapped inside this tiny box of war — and not feeling a deep sense of anguish for them.

My other reaction is more complex: A dispassionate weighing of the pros and cons of ending the war. Is it better to destroy Hamas with massive collateral damage, imbuing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians with a hatred of Israel, or to end the war and stop the bloodshed but risk Hamas's revival? How important is Israel's collapsing approval among world powers versus its internal political discord? What will Hamas’s survival or continued governance mean to Iran or Hezbollah? Can Hamas even be destroyed? Can Israel's reputation be restored? If it can't — if Israel is bound to be loathed by Hamas and Palestinians and international leaders and college protesters in the U.S. regardless of what it does next — then should it even weigh those perspectives at all? Why not just act in pure self-interest?

The more I learn, the less confident I am in drawing firm conclusions.

My interview with Israeli analyst Haviv Gur is timely for today's edition. If you are looking for arguments to counter those shared by past Tangle guests like Youseff Munayyer or Daniel Bannoura, I really can't recommend it enough. We spoke before news broke of the strike in Rafah, but Gur makes the strongest argument I've heard yet that this push in Rafah isn't just necessary for Israel but is the best-case scenario for many Palestinians, too, who will otherwise find themselves back under Hamas rule in just a few months. Along with his argument and point of view, Gur also gives a lot of important historical context and commentary about the state of Islam in our interview. Rather than try to briefly summarize those points, I’ll just again suggest that you listen to him make them himself.

But I will emphasize a message Gur shared, in an optimistic tone, toward the end of our interview: Israeli politics are fundamentally reactive to the state of the Palestinian political movement. He suggested that a renewed peace process is going to be possible when (or if) Hamas is no longer the group leading the Palestinians and Israelis feel like they have a partner they can work with who is genuinely interested in pursuing peace.

My biggest fear, and the one I articulated to Gur, is that this reactiveness goes both ways — that Palestinians are reactive to Israeli politics and Israeli action — and that this war is sending them a giant signal that their only option is a continued violent resistance. If Israelis feel more willing to work with Palestinians, how much will that matter if months of horror in Gaza have already created more generations of Palestinians who will never be capable of seeing Israel as anything other than a violent occupier? I’m not certain that will be the outcome here, but it's the one I genuinely worry about most. And this latest strike, plus Israel's continued collapsing support around the world, just makes me worry all the more.

Take the survey: How do you think Israel should pursue its Rafah operation? Let us know!

Disagree? That's okay. My opinion is just one of many. Write in and let us know why, and we'll consider publishing your feedback.


Your questions, answered.

Q: Do you think that either party could easily win the presidential election if they just changed their candidate? How many people are like me and have dislike bordering on disdain for both candidates and would probably vote for anyone else regardless of party affiliation? (I’m not counting 3rd party candidates as that’s nothing more than a protest vote…. Though I may still do that!)

— James from Delray Beach, FL

Tangle: I like this question because my answer has changed from what it would have been if you asked me a few months ago. At the time, I would have said yes — definitely. In February, I wrote favorably about an argument made by Ezra Klein that Joe Biden should step aside at the Democratic convention and allow the DNC to put up another candidate.

And since then, nothing has changed. Which, in a way, is the change. If the Democrats had put forward a recognizable candidate like California Governor Gavin Newsom earlier, then I think he could have won. But now it’s too late for an unannounced candidate from either party to be taken seriously, and the opposition would easily paint the other side as panicking. As much as I appreciate Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson for playing ball in the primary (and sitting for interviews with us), I just don’t think either of them ever had a real shot at the big job.

I have a couple other points to make on this, too. First, I’m starting to feel like the emails I get and the reactions I’m seeing to this election are following the four stages of grief. At first, there was a lot of denial that Biden and Trump would win their primaries. Then, anger. Now, I’m seeing a lot of bargaining. Maybe there’ll be someone else? Some of you are farther along and into despair, but most people aren’t there yet. But sooner or later, you’ve got to accept it: A willing* last-second change is just not going to happen (the asterisk here represents the ever-present chance that either candidate has a major health crisis or legal issue that prevents them from continuing their campaigns).

My other thought is that both candidates won their primaries. Handily. They may both be reviled by independents and opposition voters and about a third of their own party, but they each won their respective primaries. And honestly, I think I’ve said something like that to each question about this election I’ve gotten, so I’m also getting the feeling like that point isn’t landing adequately. Again: they won their primaries. These are the candidates we have because they’re the candidates the people who participated in the primary process chose.

So, for everyone feeling so much despair about both our candidates, I sincerely hope you’re pairing it with a commentary or thought about the primary system itself. Otherwise, I’ll remind you: These are the choices we have because these are the candidates the people have chosen.

Want to have a question answered in the newsletter? You can reply to this email (it goes straight to my inbox) or fill out this form.

Under the radar.

Generation Z is boosting the number of teens working for the first time in decades. In the 1980s, nearly 2-in-3 16- to 19-year-olds were working or actively looking for work. That number has been falling ever since, with as little as 33% working or looking for work in 2014. But the percentage has started to climb back up with the current generation, and the share of teens working or looking for work just hit a 14-year high at 38%. Analysts believe the percentage is rising as wages go up for those age groups and families need more help to navigate rising costs. Axios has the story. 


  • 45% and 35%. The respective percentages of Israeli adults who prefer Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu for the prime ministership, according to a May 2024 poll from Maariv. 
  • 80,000. The estimated number of attendees at a rally in Tel Aviv against Netanyahu’s government on Saturday, according to protest organizers.
  • 53%. The percentage of Israelis who think Netanyahu is not doing enough to secure the release of Israeli hostages, according to a May 2024 poll from Kana News. 
  • 125. The estimated number of hostages still being held in Gaza, according to Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office. 
  • 37. The estimated number of hostages still in Gaza but believed to be dead, according to Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office. 
  • 73%. The percentage of U.S. voters who say they are closely following the Israel-Hamas war (up from 66% in April 2024), according to a May 2024 Harvard CAPS/Harris poll. 
  • 79%. The percentage of U.S. voters who say they support Israel over Hamas in the conflict. 
  • 69%. The percentage of U.S. voters who think Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualties in its war against Hamas (up from 67% in April 2024).

The extras.

  • One year ago today we had just written about the Section 230 decision.
  • The most clicked link in Thursday’s newsletter was Nikki Haley saying she’d vote for Trump.
  • The most clicked link in yesterday’s Sunday newsletter was the Tweet of the Week about Anthony Edwards.
  • Thursday’s survey: 1,609 readers, the second-highest number of responders we’ve ever had, answered our survey on the Daniel Perry pardon with 79% in strong opposition. “I love Texas, but am so frustrated by and ashamed of the decisions Governor Abbott and the leadership in our state have been making. I'm tired of the partisan political pandering,” one respondent said.

Have a nice day.

Red sands have been a constant and iconic sight in the Channel Country portion of the Australian Outback in Queensland province. But recent rains and floods have turned portions of the region’s red sands green. Now, the last dry areas of Queensland have officially had their droughts declared over, marking the first time the province has been drought free since 2013. "It's amazing how well the country within this area responds to rain," Queensland resident Monique Betts said. "You'd probably say you're safe for maybe 18 months, especially water wise." ABC News Australia has the story.

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Isaac Saul
I'm a politics reporter who grew up in Bucks County, PA — one of the most politically divided counties in America. I'm trying to fix the way we consume political news.