Violence in The Middle East: Clashes are taking place between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: Violence in The Middle East
The Middle East is a mess right now. “Weeks of violent clashes in East Jerusalem have ignited the heaviest fighting in years between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip,” Rami Ayyub reports for Reuters. “At the core of the violence that has left dozens dead are tensions between Israelis and Palestinians over Jerusalem, which contains sites sacred to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.” It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment this tinderbox ignited, but tensions have been simmering for a while. First, there’s the general frustration and sorrow that comes with navigating the pandemic. The crisis in the Middle East isn’t the only hot zone right now. Look at Colombia, for example. People around the world are at a breaking point. Secondly, a long-running legal case that could evict Palestinian families to accommdate Israeli settlers is a constant source of friction. Additionally, over the past month, at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, nightly skirmishes between Palestinians and Israeli police unfolded after barriers prevented the former from gathering at the walled Old City’s Damascus Gate. This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg in a conflict that has reared its ugly head for many years. For historical context, this explainer video is helpful. For more current context, this was one of the better ones we could find. In regards to reactions, here’s what both sides are saying:
On The Right
Conservative outlets and pro-Israel authors outline Biden’s missteps and question why Israel is not allowed to defend itself. Right-leaning commentators are not happy with left-leaning logic as it relates to the region, especially from members of “The Squad.”
Return to The Abraham Accords: In Newsweek, Bruce Abramson and Jeff Ballabon write, “These attacks on Jerusalem are different.” The reason why is that “For decades, mounting evidence demonstrated that appeasing terrorists did not work,” but “until recently, there was no hard data showing that calm and coexistence were possible.” This changed, however, when the Trump administration “put experts to shame” with a new approach. The writers state the Abraham Accords “ushered in the first true, warm peace agreement since the dawn of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Now, however, “The Biden administration has retreated towards the discredited ‘experts,’ their disproven assumptions, and their long-failing approaches to the region.” Unsurprisingly, Abramson and Ballabon discuss pre-existing Iranian aggression towards US interests, growing brutality in the Yemeni civil war, and home-grown Islamist terror attacks (such as the recent King Soopers massacre in Colorado). Ultimately, the writers say, “The current wave of pretextual attacks against Israel are merely par for the course,” believing “It’s not too late for the Biden team to undo its catastrophic error” and help steer the ship in a more peaceful direction.
Israel is Allowed to Defend Itself: Brendan O’Neill of Spiked asks, “Why do [anti-Israel campaigners] treat Israel so differently to every other nation on Earth? Why is it child-killing bloodlust when Israel takes military action but not when Turkey or India do?” Zooming out, O’Neill says, “The judgment and treatment of Israel by a double standard is one of the most disturbing facets of global politics in the 21st century. Israel is now the only country on Earth that is expected to allow itself to be attacked.” At the end of the day, he says, “No other nation would be expected not to respond” or “sit back and do nothing as its citizens are pelted with rocks or rockets.” Ultimately, O’Neill claims “There is nothing positive in contemporary Israel-bashing. In its naivety, it assists the rise of Hamas. In its arrogance it empowers the West to determine the fate of the Middle East. All of this stores up more conflict and hatred for the future.”
Squad Rhetoric is Dangerous: Lastly, in National Review, David Harsanyi chronicles Tweets from four congresswomen – Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. Harsanyi believes these “Squad” members are “rooting for Hamas” and “openly spreading blood libel.” In fact, he says, “If you listen to them, you’d think Israelis go around killing Palestinian children for kicks. It’s odious. They’re Jew haters, and there’s no reason to pretend otherwise.” At the end of the day, Harsanyi says “One can be critical of Israel, just [like being] critical of Germany or Brazil. Israel is an imperfect democratic state, after all.” With that said, “Those who want to deny the Jewish people their homeland, or the ability to defend themselves, are, functionally speaking, peddling the most virulent strain of anti-Semitism. And the fact is that [Squad members like] Tlaib wants what Hamas wants: an Arab state from the river to sea.”
On The Left
Left-leaning commentators think President Joe Biden has his work cut out for him in regards to navigating this crisis. With respect to the situation on the ground, the left generally thinks Palestinians are not being treated equally under Israeli law and that the US should cut funding to Israel.
Palestinians Are Not Equal Under Israeli Law: In an opinion piece for MSNBC, Hayes Brown takes issue with the pretext for recent events. Referring to the legal case that could evict Palestinian families from their homes to accommodate Israeli settlers, he notes that the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry called this a “real-estate dispute.” To Brown, “Calling the catalyst of all this a ‘real estate dispute’ is a particularly noxious way to diminish what’s actually occurring.” Moreover, “This ‘real-estate dispute,’ as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government calls it, is a microcosm of the wildly unbalanced Israeli-Palestinian situation today,” he writes.” The crux of the matter is that “Israeli and Palestinian civilians aren’t granted equal protection under the law. A Palestinian’s permit to build a home for his family will never be approved without question,” for exaple. Conversely, “An Israeli citizen will never be told to bulldoze his home because it was built on Palestinian land.” This is why “The system is broken,” Brown says, and why the situation has escalated so dramatically.
Biden is Trying, but it’s a Sticky Situation: Meanwhile, in the Washington Post opinion pages, Jennifer Rubin observes that “Biden wants to avoid another Israeli-Palestinian war.” However, “It will be even harder this time,” she writes, partially because “The Palestinian Authority is less relevant, more corrupt, and less effective than ever before.” Thereby, it’s “in no position to reel in Hamas fighters or Israeli Arabs battling in the streets.” Hamas believes “they have ‘an opportunity to upstage’ Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by firing rockets at Jerusalem,” veteran Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross told Rubin. Fundamentally, Hamas wants to brand themselves as “the symbol of resistance” among Palestinians. Rubin also says violence in towns with “mixed Israeli-Arab populations” is spiraling out of control, with slow movement from “Egyptians, Tunisians, and other governments with an interest in preventing a regional war.” Ultimately, “It is not that the Biden administration has not been trying,” she writes. It’s just an extremely sticky situation.
US Must do More for Palestine: Lastly, in The Guardian, Joshua Leifer argues, “US public opinion seems to be swinging in support of Palestinian rights, but it must go further to begin real change.” At issue, Leifer writes, is that “US funds make Israel’s bombardment of Gaza possible.” He asks: “When will they be halted?” Leifer notes that US aid to Israel totals “$3.8bn a year [which] in part, make Israel’s bombardment of Gaza possible.” Leifer notes that “Only a handful of Democratic members of Congress have issued statements condemning Israel’s attempts to displace the Palestinian families.” He links to Squad member statements from Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar. While this is a good start, he says, “US politicians, and Democrats in particular, will not be able to ignore the calls to halt US military assistance to Israel forever.” Ultimately, “The US halting such support to Israel cannot alone end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem or the siege on Gaza. It is, however, a place to start.”
Flag This: Violence in The Middle East
Sometimes, it’s easy to mentally bypass the bickering overseas, but what happens abroad has impacts at home. Most broadly, it affects foreign policy, which can ultimately shape elections and the entire direction of the country. On a granular level, however, this crisis is personal for many. In fact, conflict in the Middle East can mean chaos in Manhattan. Last week, Pro-Palestine and Pro-Israel protesters clashed outside the Israeli consulate. It’s also a reminder that what happens in the US can also happen overseas.
For example, just as the events on January 6th were inspired largely by social media, so too were the early stages of the crisis in the Middle East. In fact, some have called the latest round of fighting the “TikTok Intifada” for the role the social media app played in stirring up violence. As Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman of the Jerusalem Post writes, “Far-right activists took to the streets to protest a series of videos that depicted Arab youth harassing and assaulting ultra-Orthodox Jews.” Shortly after, rockets were fired, which according to some analysts, “were shot partially in a show of solidarity for Palestinians entangled in the clashes that ensued.”
Flag Poll: Violence in The Middle East
It’s time for a seemingly impossible question: How do we bring peace to the Middle East? Comment below to share your thoughts.