News Roundup for May 11, 2021

May 11, 2021

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J Street in the News

After Raid on Aqsa Mosque, Rockets From Gaza and Israeli Airstrikes, New York Times
“Weeks of simmering tensions in Jerusalem between Palestinian protesters, the police and right-wing Israelis suddenly veered into military conflict on Monday, as a local skirmish in the decades-long battle for control of the city escalated into rocket fire and airstrikes in Gaza. […] J Street, a Washington-based liberal advocacy group, called on the Biden administration ‘to make clear publicly that Israeli efforts to evict and displace Palestinian families in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are completely unacceptable.’”

Israel’s actions in East Jerusalem are a human rights test for Biden, Vox
“J Street, an Israel-focused liberal advocacy group, released a Monday statement urging the Biden administration ‘to make clear publicly that Israeli efforts to evict and displace Palestinian families in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are completely unacceptable to the United States, as is the continued use of intimidation and violent, excessive force against Palestinian protesters and worshipers — especially during Ramadan.’”

The Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel, The Hill
“Outrage is rising among Democrats over events in the Middle East — and it’s aimed at Israel. […] Logan Bayroff, vice president for communications at the left-leaning J Street Group, told this column that Republicans were turning the old struggle between Israel and the Palestinians ‘into another culture-war political issue to frame any sympathy for Palestinian rights as if it is sympathetic to terrorism.’ Bayroff was at pains to point out that his own organization supports Israeli security and condemns any violent actions against it, including the rockets and incendiary balloons recently fired by Hamas. But, he added, ‘I do think there has been a shift overall among Democrats, saying, “We support Israel’s security and we also strongly support Palestinian rights. And we oppose Israeli actions that cut against that, whether that is settlement expansions, or evictions and demolitions, or aggressive policing tactics.”‘”

J Street Calls for Immediate, Strong American Engagement in Response to Escalation in Jerusalem and Beyond,
“J Street is deeply concerned by the escalating situation in Jerusalem and beyond. The violence of recent days has deep roots in the ongoing, incendiary efforts of Israeli settler groups to evict hundreds of Palestinians from the East Jerusalem homes that they have lived in for decades and more broadly to stake exclusive control over Jerusalem for Israel. Sadly, the current crisis has been inflamed by the use of aggressive, violent tactics by the Israeli police against Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. At Al-Aqsa, some Palestinians responded by throwing stones they had apparently stockpiled.”

Top News and Analysis

After Jerusalem erupts, deadly strikes and clashes spread across Israel and the Palestinian territories, Washington Post
A day of upheaval at the holy sites of this contested city quickly widened into a night of warlike violence in communities across the country early Tuesday, with hundreds of rockets from the Gaza Strip causing injuries in Israeli neighborhoods and retaliatory airstrikes killing at least 22 Gazans, according to officials there. Clashes also broke out in the West Bank between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, as well as between Jewish residents, Israeli police and Arab citizens in Arab-Israeli towns and mixed Jewish-Arab towns, leading to hundreds of arrests and at least one Palestinian fatality.

What has caused Jerusalem’s worst violence in years?, The Guardian
Jerusalem has experienced its worst unrest in years, with hundreds of Palestinian protesters wounded in clashes with Israeli police. More than 20 people have been killed in Gaza following fighting between militants and Israel, violence has surged into the occupied West Bank and Arab communities inside Israel have held demonstrations.

American officials call for ‘calm’ in Israel. But the U.S. is part of the problem., Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “The Biden administration has made little secret of its desire to avoid a deep entanglement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But some analysts argue that the support of successive U.S. administrations for Israel — through billions of dollars in military aid, acquiescence to Israel’s steady expansion of settlements in the West Bank and the shielding of Israel from censure in international forums — brought the conflict to this point. ‘US is not a bystander in the conflict; it is part and parcel of the asymmetry of power that unfairly hurts one side in favor of the other, while making peace more remote,’ tweeted Shibley Telhami of the Brookings Institution.”


UN council meets on Jerusalem violence, considers statement, AP
The U.N. Security Council held emergency consultations Monday on escalating violence in east Jerusalem and was considering a proposed statement calling on Israel to cease evictions and calling for “restraint” and respect for “the historic status quo at the holy sites.” Ireland’s U.N. Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, who joined in calling for the emergency meeting, said “the Security Council should urgently speak out, and we hope that it will be able to do so today.”

U.S. Condemns ‘Unacceptable’ Gaza Rocket Fire, Urges Steps to ‘Promote Calm in Jerusalem’, Haaretz
The United States on Monday strongly condemned the rocket fire from Gaza toward Israel, describing it as an ‘unacceptable escalation.’ State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the U.S. recognized Israel’s right to defend itself, adding that the U.S. is deeply concerned about the situation on a broader level. ‘The United States will remain fully engaged to promote calm in Jerusalem, and we welcome the steps the Israeli government has taken in recent days aimed at avoiding provocations, including the decision to avoid competitions during the Jerusalem Day commemoration and the delay in a decision regarding the Sheikh Jarrah evictions,’ Price said.

Separated by cops, Joint List, Religious Zionism MKs face off in East Jerusalem, Times of Israel
Lawmakers from the majority-Arab Joint List and the ultranationalist Religious Zionism party faced off Sunday in the flashpoint East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah with walls of police officers dispatched to separate between the sides.

Hamas top official, 3 children among 9 reported killed in Israeli retaliatory strikes on Gaza, JTA
Israeli airstrikes killed a Hamas official and eight others, including three children, on Monday night, Palestinian sources said. The Israeli Air Force actions were in retaliation for rockets fired earlier the same day from Gaza into Jerusalem and elsewhere. An Israeli man suffered minor injuries in an attack for which Islamic Jihad took credit.

Riots Spread to Israeli Arab Cities Amid Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah Violence, Haaretz
Israeli police are working to quell protests in the Temple Mount complex and in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah on Monday evening, and clashed with demonstrators at locations throughout the country as tensions rise in Jerusalem. Hundreds of Palestinians are rioting on the Temple Mount, police said, and officers and Border Police are using crowd control measures against them. Palestinians are “throwing massive stones at police forces stationed at the gates of the Temple Mount,” the police statement added. The Palestinian Red Crescent said that 520 Palestinians in all were hurt in clashes with police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and in the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday, 333 of whom were evacuated to the hospital with injuries and rubber bullet wounds.

Blinken calls for ‘practical steps’ in Jerusalem while Jordan calls situation ‘red line’, The National
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday called on all parties to de-escalate tension in Jerusalem and urged practical steps towards that end. “We are very focused on the situation in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. We are very deeply concerned about the rocket attacks that we are seeing now that need to stop and need to stop immediately,” Mr Blinken said before his meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

World leaders urge calm amid growing violence between Israelis, Palestinians, Jerusalem Post
World leaders are appealing for calm amid the growing violence between Palestinians and Israelis, with the most recent tensions coming to a head on Jerusalem Day. The United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom each chimed in to express their disfavor with the ongoing conflict. The past week has seen hundreds of Palestinians, Israeli police officers and civilians injured. The dispute began with an Israeli Central Court ruling on the eviction of four Palestinian families from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, known as Shimon Hatzadik in Hebrew, in favor of Jewish settlers who claim the land as their own.

Opinion and Analysis

Our government abdicates responsibility. Our children pay the price, Times of Israel
Leah Solomon writes, “Our government has abdicated any responsibility for ensuring that my kids, our kids, Israeli Jewish and Palestinian children alike, will not have to grow up in this violent and unjust reality. Across nearly every political party, they have explicitly or tacitly accepted the assumption that we will live by the sword forever, that recurring violence and death are our predetermined fate.”

Why Jerusalem’s Aqsa Mosque Is an Arab-Israeli Fuse, New York Times
Rick Gladstone writes, “The violent confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli security forces at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem this month reflect its significance as part of one of the most contested pieces of religious territory in the Holy Land. Here are some basics on the mosque compound, from its importance over the centuries for three major religions to why it is such a flash point today.”

Jerusalem Day Reminds Me: Israel’s Extremists and Fanatics Are Not My Jewish People, Haaretz
Bradley Burston writes, “Israelis neglected by their government, war vets with PTSD, plus millions of Palestinians under occupation – all of these things are being swept under the rug, while we are being asked to celebrate”

Joe Biden Can’t Duck the Jerusalem Crisis, The New Republic
Jacob Silverman writes, “Israel’s latest Palestinian crackdown cries out to be condemned by this administration. Will he break from the deadly status quo?”

Rivals’ Coalition Talks Mean Netanyahu’s in No Rush to De-escalate Gaza Tensions, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “United Arab List Chairman Mansour Abbas suspends talks with Lapid amid violence in Jerusalem and Gaza, giving Netanyahu an incentive to keep tensions high”

Israel’s top newspapers aren’t concerned with the killing of Palestinian kids, +972 Magazine
Edo Konrad writes, “Many Israelis who flip through Tuesday morning’s newspapers will likely come to the conclusion that Hamas has decided to declare war on Israel, and that like in previous rounds, Israel itself is the victim. Only those who take the time to read — and perhaps do some more research — will discover that according to reports, Israeli forces killed 24 Palestinians, nine of them children, and wounded many more the evening prior. They will also discover that, while terrorizing thousands in southern Israel, no Jewish Israeli was killed yesterday (Hamas rockets launched after the newspapers’ publications have since wounded at least 20 people).”