Several progressive U.S. congresspeople condemn Jerusalem evictions– as State Dep’t blames both sides for violence

Israel’s push to evict Palestinians from their houses in East Jerusalem, and its crackdown on Palestinian protests of the evictions, have been getting international attention in a largely negative light. And several U.S. congresspeople are condemning the evictions as illegal and calling on the U.S. government to restrict U.S. aid over the human rights violations.

The congresspeople are responding to the progressive Democratic Party base, which is expressing anger about the evictions and Israeli violence.

While the State Department has equivocated and expressed mere concern. And Israel lobby organizations are largely silent.

Here’s a quick wrapup of U.S. responses.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib is as strong as you can be, on the Israel lobby and the inhumanity our country pays for.

Too many are silent or dismissive as our U.S. tax dollars continue to be used for this kind of inhumanity. I am tired of people functioning from a place of fear rather than doing what’s right because of the bullying by pro-Israel lobbyists. This is apartheid, plain and simple.

Tlaib retweets an Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) tweet completely rejecting the State Department’s cautious statement (more below) saying it urges both sides to deescalate. IMEU:

There is only one military occupation throwing stun grenades into crowds of Palestinian men, women, children, and the elderly who are gathered to break their fast. You can’t “both sides” this.

Tlaib is organizing a petition campaign against the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah.

Rep. Ilhan Omar laments the media’s indifference to religious persecution:

This is happening as Muslims pray tarawih & tahajud in Palestine. Families who pray all night during Ramadan, the mosque is like home. Palestinians deserve to find refuge in a mosque and peace in Ramadan. Where is the media coverage?

[free speech icon] up against Israeli occupation terror.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is uncharacteristically emphatic on the issue:

The forced removal of long-time Palestinian residents in Sheikh Jarrah is abhorrent and unacceptable. The Administration should make clear to the Israeli government that these evictions are illegal and must stop immediately.

Foundation for Middle East Peace has a list of other congresspeople who are outspoken on the Sheikh Jarrah evictions. They include Marc Pocan, Marie Newman, Cori Bush, Betty McCollum, Debbie Dingell, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Cori Bush:

I know what it’s like to be brutalized for simply advocating for my own humanity. I stand in strong solidarity with our Palestinian siblings mobilizing to #SaveSheikhJarrah. @SecBlinken, I’m calling on you to condemn these attacks immediately.”

Dingell:

The violence and forced displacement of Palestinians in #SheikhJarrah is deeply disturbing and morally wrong.

Pocan is very pointed:

The Israeli police violence against Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah is completely unacceptable. The Israeli military is forcing hundreds of Palestinians out of their homes. US taxpayer dollars should not fund annexation of Palestinian land or destruction of Palestinian homes.” 

McCollum is as usual, brilliantly on target:

Police violence against Palestinians in #SheikhJarrah who only want to remain in the homes they’ve lived in for generations is state-sponsored persecution. NO U.S. taxpayer dollars should support the annexation of Palestinian land or destruction of Palestinian homes. #HR2590

Rep. Andre Carson, Indiana also says he is “extremely dismayed” by the evictions.

Here is the State Department’s cautious statement that blames both sides for the escalation of violence.

We call on Israeli and Palestinian officials to act decisively to deescalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence. It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric…

The statement expresses deep concern about the evictions, saying they must be avoided; but stops short of opposing them with any force:

We are also deeply concerned about the potential eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods of Jerusalem, many of whom have lived in their homes for generations. As we have consistently said, it is critical to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace. This includes evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions, and acts of terrorism.

Khaled Elgindy of Brookings slams the statement:

Standard bothsidesism. Palestinian officials, who aren’t even allowed in Jerusalem, are supposed to help deescalate what Israeli forces and extremist settlers have been actively escalating.

The progressive base knows what it thinks, the Democratic Party keeps moving left on the issue. The grassroots organizers Roots Action:

The United States has become the de facto enabler of Israeli expansion in occupied territories, making it complicit in the crimes perpetrated against Palestinians

While Move On has retweeted IMEU’s reports on the crackdown and said:

We are dismayed by the cruelty inflicted upon Palestinians, both inside the Al Aqsa mosque and in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Israeli forces used stun grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas on worshippers in one of the holiest Muslim sites during Ramadan.

The liberal Zionist group J Street knows which way the wind is blowing. It retweets Andre Carson’s tweet and wants a strong U.S. stance on the “illegal” evictions.

It is critical that the Biden administration proactively and publicly make clear to the Israeli government that the evictions in #SheikhJarrah are illegal under international law, have dangerous ramifications for Jerusalem and the wider region, and should be stopped immediately.

Democratic Majority for Israel is of course backing Israel to the hilt, though its propaganda is not directly on the Sheikh Jarrah protests: “Balancing security & freedom is difficult. In Israel today, a bus search stopped 3 armed terrorists from carrying out an attack against civilians. Lives were saved, & headlines avoided…”

The Israel lobby group AIPAC is also ignoring the attacks on the protesters and focusing on Hamas and Hezbollah and Israel’s new deals with Arab nations.

Some other comments. Bruce Wolman on Reuters/Guardian’s coverage:

What bullshit from @Reuters repeated here by @guardian. These aren’t evictions. They are house appropriations. Israeli Supreme Court is not adjudicating a dispute, it is legalizing theft. These aren’t clashes. They are victims defending against theft.

Russell Khater on an Israel lobbyist on twitter defending Israel’s actions:

Bullshit, Abramowitz. It’s reflexive Israeli apologists like you who go out of your way to obscure the facts. This is Ethnic Cleansing, enabled by the state of Israel. Unambiguously. And you know it.

Vali Nasr has an insight about the Abraham Accords — the Sheikh Jarrah protests are sure to embarrass those Arab dealmakers.

If you ever wondered what the downside of Arab Accords could be for Arab states who signed on it is that they cannot exercise restraint on Israel but will have to answer for images such as this [Israeli raid on peaceful worshipers in Al Aqsa mosque compound]

Our publisher Scott Roth also notes the geopolitics:

Probably time for Jordan to suspend ties to Israel.

And he is incisive on Al Aqsa violence by Israeli forces:

If Palestinians were behaving this way towards Israeli Jews it would be the biggest story in the mainstream media. AND Israel would be slaughtering Palestinians. What’s happening now isn’t even a lead story on the evening news.

And by the way, WPKN did a phone interview Thursday with Rasha Budeiri about the evictions:

May 6th, 202, a special about Sheikh Jarrah, the neighborhood of East Jerusalem where Palestinians are facing imminent evictions, approved by Israeli courts.  Once again, Palestinians of Sheikh Jarrah are resisting efforts to remove them from their longtime homes and once again they are being met with violence and repression from Israeli authorities and settlers.  Although the Palestinian struggle is part of a broader struggle again escalating Israeli policies of Palestinian dispossession in Jerusalem and beyond, tonight we bring you an up close and personal view of these much broader dynamics in this interview with Rasha Budeiri, who speaks to us  via Zoom from Ottawa about her parents and her grandparents’ home in Sheikh Jarrah.

Thanks to Dave Reed and James North.

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