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As the Palestinian minority takes to the streets, Israel experiences its own Black Lives Matter moment

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<p>the <a href=images and reports from Israel, Jerusalem and Gaza these past few days have been shocking. They also surprise those who thought that the 2020 Abraham Chords and subsequent agreements aimed at normalizing relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan would permanently put the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians on the back burner.

As someone who has been write and teach about the Middle East for over 30 years I had no such illusions. The reason is that the so-called “Arab-Israeli conflict” has always concerned the Israelis and the Palestinians. And no matter how many treaties Israel signs with Arab states, it will remain so.

In a phone call on May 12President Joe Biden assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of his “unwavering support for Israel’s security and Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and its people.” Biden was referring to rocket attacks against Israel launched by Hamas, the Islamist group that governs Gaza. Through targeting civilians, Hamas is committing a war crime. In all probability, the same is true Israel, by bombing and bombing Gaza.

Light trails of rockets fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, lighting up the orange night sky

Despite the carnage that the Hamas rocket attacks and Israeli retaliation inflict on Israelis and Gazans, the Biden administration is focused on a side spectacle, not the main event.

This main event is a unprecedented conflict in the streets from Jerusalem, Haifa, Lod and elsewhere. This is what scholars call an “inter-communal conflict”, pitting elements of the Jewish population of Israel against elements of the Palestinian population of Israel. who have had enough and have taken to the streets.

Hamas could not maintain its credibility as a movement if it sat still while the Palestinians in Israel fought the Israeli Jews there. The reality is that Israel is having its Black Lives Matter moment.

As in the United States, a brutalized minority group, confronted with systemic racism and discriminatory acts took to the streets. And, as in the United States, the only way out begins with serious soul-searching on the part of the majority.

But after the wave of Palestinians suicide bombings in the early 2000s that horrified Israelis and hardened their attitudes vis-à-vis the Palestinians, this is unlikely to happen.

A grieving man kneels beside the bodies of three members of his family laid out on stretchers.
Relatives of the Abu Hatab family mourn over the bodies of their family members after an Israeli airstrike struck their home without warning overnight in Gaza City in early May 15, 2021. Mahmoud Hams / AFP / Getty Images

Many reasons, one source

Palestinian anger can be attributed to multiple issues. In April, Israel tried to block access at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for Palestinians living in the West Bank. Israeli police then raided the Muslim holy site, apparently after Palestinians threw stones at them, hurt 330. At the beginning of May, Mahmoud Abbas, the current president of the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, canceled the first Palestinian legislative elections in 15 years. Finally, when the current conflict spread to the West Bank, the Israeli occupation and continued colonization of Palestinian territory were thrown into the mix.

These important problems explain the Palestinian anger. However, the inter-community nature of the ongoing conflagration is due to two other issues.

First, the Jewish settlers attempted to evict eight Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency had settled the families of the neighborhood in the 1950s.

Jewish settlers take legal action in 1972 claiming their right to home where these families lived. They argued that Jews owned Palestinians’ homes before the city was divided in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. By right, they argue, the homes belong to their community.

Jewish neighborhoods housing more than 215,000 encircle the predominantly Palestinian eastern part of Jerusalem, where Sheikh Jarrah is located. For Palestinians, the attempt to deport families is representative of the general policy of Israel to expel them from the city. It’s not just a reminder that in a Jewish state, Palestinians are second-class citizens, but a reconstruction of the central tragedy in Palestinian national memory: the nakba of 1948, when 720,000 Palestinians fled their homes in what would become the State of Israel, becoming refugees.

Three members of the Israeli security forces.  One fires tear gas.

Three members of the Israeli security forces. One fires tear gas.

Growing anti-Arab racism

The second reason for the inter-community nature of the current conflict is the emboldening Israel’s far-right politicians and their followers. Among them are the Kahanists of the last days, the followers of the late Meir Kahane. Kahane was an American rabbi who moved to Israel. Kahane’s anti-Arab racism was so extreme that the The United States has listed the party he founded as a terrorist group. Kahane proposed pay $ 40,000 each to the Palestinian people of Israel to leave Israel. If they refused, Israel should expel them, he argued.

Kahanism and like-minded movements are on the rise in Israel. A Kahanist was recently elected to the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, and Netanyahu wooed his support when the prime minister tried to to form a government in February 2019. Kahanists and other ultranationalist thugs – the “Proud Boys” of Israel – walks through the Israeli-Palestinian neighborhoods chanting “Death to the Arabs” and assault them.

The current crisis started on May 6, 2021. Pro-Palestinian protesters in Sheikh Jarrah had broken the Ramadan fast every night of the holiday, a custom called iftar. This night, Israeli settlers set up a table in front of them. Among the settler group was Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Kahanist deputy. Rocks and other objects began to fly. Then the violence spread.

In the coastal town of Bat Yam, Jewish mob marched through streets to destroy Palestinian businesses, while another crowd attempted to lynch a Palestinian driver. The same scene was replayed in Acre, but this time it was a Palestinian mob assaulting Jew. Another Palestinian mob torched a police station on the ground in the same city. And in a suburb of Tel Aviv, a presumed Palestinian man was pulled out of his car and beaten.

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Lod is a city south of Tel Aviv with a mixed Palestinian and Jewish population. It was not just the site of a Hamas missile strike that killed two Palestinians, where it was heavy fighting took place between Palestinian and Jewish crowds.

The fight has begun after the funeral of a Palestinian killed by a suspected Jewish assailant. It was sometimes so heavy that the Israeli government brought in border guards from the West Bank to quell the unrest. The mayor called what was happening in his town “civil war. “

The mayor also reminded the people of Lod: “The next day we still have to live here together.”

He did not explain how it was to be.

This article is republished from The conversation, a non-profit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: James L. gelvin, University of California, Los Angeles.

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James L. Gelvin does not work, consult, own stock or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has not disclosed any relevant affiliation beyond his academic appointment. .


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