Sprinkles from the Left

Many commentators on the Left recognize the unpleasant situation the U.S. finds itself in, placing blame on President Biden for neglecting relations with both Israel and Palestine, and not making a more concerted effort to broker peace.

  • Many also solely criticize Israel, accusing PM Benjamin Netanyahu of using the violence to stay in power and calling for diplomatic efforts to introduce accountability and ensure better treatment of the Palestinians.

“The Israeli government was on the verge of changing hands (to a coalition led by opposition party leaders Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid) when Hamas effectively threw Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a lifeline. It is hard enough to make a deal with a government you know will be in place for the foreseeable future; it is much harder to negotiate a tricky cease-fire with one that appears to finally be on the way out.

Moreover, the Palestinian Authority is less relevant, more corrupt and less effective than ever before — and in no position to reel in Hamas fighters or Israeli Arabs battling in the streets. As veteran Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross recently told me, Hamas has “an opportunity to upstage” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by firing rockets at Jerusalem, becoming “the symbol of resistance” among Palestinians. But “with more than 360,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem,” Ross notes, “firing rockets at the city has as much of a chance to kill Palestinians as anyone, so we are again reminded that Hamas is not about Palestinian well-being but leading resistance regardless of the cost to Palestinians and especially those living in Gaza.”

To make matters worse, the violence in Israel proper in towns with mixed Israeli-Arab populations (as opposed to missiles fired from Hamas-controled Gaza) does not appear to be under any sort of unified control….

In other words, finding people on the Palestinian side with the authority to de-escalate the violence is problematic, to say the least.

The real action, one suspects, will be in conversations with the Egyptians, Tunisians and other governments with an interest in preventing a regional war…

But do not expect a quick resolution. Multiple parties in the region must spend considerable time and effort to figure out who can best reel in the Palestinians, stanch the violent assault on civilians, return order to the streets and impress on Netanyahu that an extended battle would be disastrous for Israel and for him — not another opportunity to save his political skin.”

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

“Just last month, Human Rights Watch declared that the threshold of apartheid had been crossed, at least in the areas of Israel and Palestine ‘where Israeli authorities exercise control.’ To many, Israel is now an apartheid state in the mold of 1980s South Africa… Now, as the Israeli government prepares to evict several hundred Palestinian residents from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, Palestinian activists and their supporters are crying out for justice…

Successive U.S. administrations have gotten far by showing unwavering loyalty to our Israeli allies. With global opinion largely united in outrage over these latest abuses, the Biden administration has the chance to carve out a new path, based on the human rights commitments it claims to uphold.”

Jacob Silverman, New Republic

“As hard-line Israeli settlers prepared a provocative parade through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, Israeli security forces turned their guns on peaceful Palestinian protesters and worshipers performing Ramadan prayers at the Aqsa mosque, injuring hundreds in yet another brutal crackdown. Videos circulating on social media in recent days have shown Israeli police officers throwing stun grenades and shooting rubber bullets at Palestinians inside the mosque, attacking Palestinian worshippers with tear gas bombs, and viciously beating a Palestinian man in the mosque compound. On Monday, Israeli strikes in Gaza killed twenty Palestinians, including ten children…

What is happening in Jerusalem, then, are not “clashes” between Israelis and Palestinians, as mainstream outlets would have you to believe. What is happening is the brutal daily reality of an occupying power, emboldened by unconditional US support and international apathy, exercising its military might against a stateless people living under its control, stripped of their basic human and civil rights. What is happening is a Netanyahu administration seemingly emboldened by the deafening silence from Washington, where the Biden administration has yet to take a clear stance on the ongoing violation of Palestinian rights.”

Seraj Assi, author of The History and Politics of the Bedouin (published in The Jacobin)

“It’s [redacted] disappointing how little President Joe Biden has had to say on the subject so far, or done in making an effort to least assert pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose administration’s efforts to evict Palestinians families from East Jerusalem appear to have touched off the latest wave of violence.”

Editorial Board, Baltimore Sun

Sprinkles from the Right

Commentators on the Right are unanimously voicing support for Israel, saying the country has a right to defend itself from an escalation of force by Hamas, who were the first to launch missiles.

  • Some commentators on the Right agree with President Biden’s actions thus far – affirming Israel’s right to self-defense – while others criticized Biden for not doing enough to signal the U.S.’ unwavering support for its ally in the Middle East.
  • Many focused on the Sheikh Jarrah evictions, a situation they characterized as enforcement of common property laws and a misguided reason for outrage against Israel.

“As the latest war between Hamas and Israel enters its second week, the narrative is following a familiar script. Hamas fires rockets at Israeli cities, Israel retaliates by bombing the source of the rockets in Gaza, Hamas plays up the civilian casualties, and the world leans on Israel to stop defending itself…

The truth to keep in mind is that this conflict was started by Hamas and another radical outfit, Islamic Jihad. They are attempting to kill Israeli civilians with rockets supplied by Iran, or manufactured in Gaza with parts supplied by Iran. Hamas’s rocket arsenal is larger and more sophisticated than ever, and the Israel Defense Forces said that as of Sunday the Islamists had fired some 3,000 rockets into Israel. The miracle is that more Israelis haven’t died, and that’s due in large part to Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system.

Once Hamas starts one of these rocket offensives, Israel has an obligation to its own people to degrade the threat…

This is a political and military judgment for the Israeli government to make. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers are well aware that the diplomatic costs rise each day that bombing continues. But they can hardly stop as long as the rockets keep coming.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Arab families jumped in [to the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood] when Jews were forcibly driven from their homes in 1948. When Israel returned in 1967, these families might have expected to be evicted — but were not. Those to whom Jordan had given titles found that Israel would respect those titles. Those who had no title found that Israel respected their leases, so long as they themselves abided by the terms of the leases. What then happens when some of the leases are up, some of the tenants refuse to pay rent, or some of the properties are occupied not by tenants but by squatters? That is what’s before Israel’s Supreme Court…

Now, some of those Arab families have been living in the neighborhood for over 70 years — but without title to the land or apartments. Jordan, which ruled East Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967, did give out titles to many properties — but not these. The legal owners are now seeking to assert their rights to this property… [Israel’s courts] have consistently applied standard property law, as would courts in any Western country, and consistently found that the rights of ownership have not been obliterated just because people moved into these homes when the Jews who lived in them were driven out.”

Elliott Abrams, National Review

“For many Americans, the violent clash between Israel and Hamas sparks an understandable sense of having seen it all before. While it’s true there is a long, bloody history between the combatants, the current fighting is unique in ways that make the endgame especially crucial for the Jewish state and the entire region.

The most obvious change is that Hamas increased its rocket capacity, both in numbers and range. In previous battles, the relative handful of explosives launched from Gaza were a threat only to Israelis near the border.

This time, more than 2,000 rockets and mortars have been fired, and Israeli officials are surprised at how far some can travel. While the explosives are unguided and many are destroyed by Iron Dome batteries, the sheer number has at times overwhelmed the defense system, making all of Israel more vulnerable…

[The] main event is the Iranian connection and the willingness of Hamas to fire indiscriminately on civilian areas, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. That combination justifies Israel’s ferocious response and its effort to wipe out the terrorist group’s leadership.”

Michael Goodwin, NY Post

“[Let] no one be fooled about the biggest reason for the violence: Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas wants to divert attention from his decision to postpone elections again as he serves the 17th year of a four-year term to which he was elected in 2005. He fears defeat at the hands of Hamas or more militant members of his own Fatah Party.

Distracting Palestinians from the misrule and corruption of their leaders by fomenting hate against Jews is an old trick but a useful one. Hamas’ firing of rockets into Israel, including toward Jerusalem, and launching incendiary balloons in the south is its way of competing with Abbas.

When Americans fall for these tactics by condemning Israel, they aren’t promoting a two-state solution (which Abbas and Hamas have proven they don’t want in any case). They’re just validating rejectionism, and so making any possibility of peace even more remote.”

Jonathan Tobin, NY Post