Carinne Luck, a former J Street chief of staff and vice-president for field and campaigns, who is part of #IfNotNow, said it is “not a direct response to or turning away from J Street,” but #IfNotNow’s existence “does speak to the lack of spaces in our community to take these actions and speak with this kind of voice.”
The rising tensions between the supporters of Israel’s use of military force and the dissenters has led to an unprecedented polarization in the American Jewish community as Operation Protective Edge continues without a permanent cease fire, much less visible prospects for the moribund peace process.
While #IfNotNow’s actions and protests thus far have been tiny—numbering in the hundreds—they are reflective of a burgeoning discontent with institutional Jewish reaction to the current Gaza conflict. That institutional reaction, these dissenters charge, not only unquestioningly supports the official Israeli narrative that Hamas left Israel no choice but to attack—and no choice but to target locations packed with civilians—but fails to acknowledge and address the ongoing violence and repression inherent in the occupation.
The U.S. Defense Department says a military assessment team has determined a humanitarian crisis involving thousands of Yazidis fleeing Sunni extremists in northern Iraq is less grave than previously feared. U.S. officials credit airdrops and airstrikes for making a costly and risky evacuation mission less likely.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said a team of less than 20 U.S. military personnel, accompanied by officials of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), conducted an assessment of the situation on Mount Sinjar early Wednesday. Kirby said the team did not engage in combat operations and all personnel returned safety to Erbil.
Returning from Asia Wednesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the team determined international airdrops, U.S. airstrikes on Islamic State (IS/ISIL) targets and efforts by the Kurdish peshmerga fighters allowed thousands of Yazidis trapped on the mountain to evacuate.
As a three-day cease-fire in the Gaza Strip held Monday, Israeli negotiators returned to Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials and indirect discussions with Palestinian militants about a permanent truce and long-term arrangements.
There were reports in Israeli and Palestinian news media that Israel was willing to offer concessions to Hamas militants that would slightly ease some of the economic and border restrictions in Gaza, but the reports could not be confirmed.
Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Nader Edriss, 22, at his funeral in the West Bank town of Hebron. Edriss was wounded by the Israeli army at a protest against the Israeli offensive in Gaza, and died from his injuries at Hebron’s Mizan hospital.
Banks and shops reopened in Gaza, allowing people to cautiously resume their routines. Many used the promise of a safe morning to return to the neighborhoods they had fled weeks ago, checking on the state of their homes and property, while medical teams searched for bodies in the rubble of destroyed buildings.
Israel and the Hamas militant group accepted an Egyptian cease-fire proposal Sunday, clearing the way for the resumption of talks on a long-term truce to end a month of heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip that has taken nearly 2,000 lives.
The announcement marked the second time in less than a week that the bitter enemies had agreed to Egyptian mediation. A similar three-day truce last week collapsed in renewed violence over the weekend.
The truce took effect at midnight (2101 GMT), preceded by heavy rocket fire toward Israel. In Cairo, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said the cease-fire would allow humanitarian aid into battered Gaza neighborhoods and the reopening of indirect talks on a more lasting and comprehensive deal.
After two days of American airstrikes against Sunni extremists threatening the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Kurdish forces on Sunday took advantage of a pause to carry out counterattacks in crucial border towns.
Kurdish officials said they had retaken the town of Gwer and were on the verge of seizing Mahkmour, where American military planes first struck the positions of fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, on Friday.
Both towns are about 20 miles from Erbil, the Kurdish regional capital, and advances by ISIS fighters there had briefly panicked residents here.
The absurdity runs deep: America is using American military equipment to bomb other pieces of American military equipment halfway around the world. The reason the American military equipment got there in the first place was because, in 2003, the US had to use its military to rebuild the Iraqi army, which it just finished destroying with the American military. The American weapons the US gave the Iraqi army totally failed at making Iraq secure and have become tools of terror used by an offshoot of al-Qaeda to terrorize the Iraqis that the US supposedly liberated a decade ago. And so now the US has to use American weaponry to destroy the American weaponry it gave Iraqis to make Iraqis safer, in order to make Iraqis safer.
It keeps going: the US is intervening on behalf of Iraqi Kurds, our ally, because their military has old Russian-made weapons, whereas ISIS, which is America’s enemy, has higher-quality American weapons. “[Kurdish forces] are literally outgunned by an ISIS that is fighting with hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. military equipment seized from the Iraqi Army who abandoned it,” Ali Khedery, a former American official in Iraq, told the New York Times.
In our hubristic attempt to remake Iraq in our image we have only succeeded in making it worse. One can only hope we don’t forget this mess like we forgot Vietnam and make the same bloody mistakes in another country all over again, but we probably will.
The 72-hour cease-fire agreed upon by Israel and Hamas ended on Friday morning, when mortar shells and missiles were fired from within the Gaza Strip, towards Israeli towns.
Two Israelis were lightly wounded from a mortar shell In Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, and the IDF Home Front Command ordered the opening of all shelters within an 80 kilometer radius from the Strip.
U.S. military aircraft dropped a second air drop of humanitarian aid to Iraqis under threat from hardline militants in northern Iraq for the second straight night, the Pentagon said on Friday.
Three planes dropped 72 bundles of supplies for the refugees, according to Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby, who spoke from New Delhi. Included in the aid were more than 28,000 meals and more than 1,500 gallons of water. Members of the Yazidi religious minority have been trapped for days by Islamic State militants and fear they will be slaughtered if they leave the mountains.
“This airdrop was conducted from multiple airbases within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility and as with last night, included one C-17 and two C-130 cargo aircraft that together dropped a total of 72 bundles of supplies,” the Pentagon said in a statement released late on Friday.
Gaza militants renewed rocket fire on Israel after a three-day truce expired on Friday and negotiations in Cairo on a new border deal for the coastal strip hit a deadlock.
The Israeli military said at least 10 rockets were fired at Israel after the temporary truce expired. One rocket was intercepted over the city of Ashkelon, while the others hit open areas.
In Jerusalem, government spokesman Mark Regev blamed Gaza militants for breaking the cease-fire.
“The ceasefire is over,” Regev said. “They did that.”
More: Stop the Anti-Semitism When Talking Gaza
By Dean Obeidallah
Criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza is one thing. But anti-Semitism is quite another. Keep it away. Far, far away.
At a crowded Muslim-American event I attended Sunday in North Jersey, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress, spoke about a range of issues. The audience, many of whom have supported Ellison since he was first elected in 2006, cheered many of his comments, but the biggest applause line came when Ellison said: “There’s absolutely no place for anti-Semitism in discussing Israeli policy.”
And that reaction is not atypical in my experience. On Saturday, I attended another large Muslim-American event in Long Island, New York, and that same sentiment was expressed there.
Muslims, like Jews, are a minority faith in America. Consequently, we have endured our share of vicious barbs launched by hate-group leaders, elected officials and even clergy members of other faiths. This has made us keenly aware of the pain of being demonized simply for our faith. That is why Ellison and I and the Muslims I know find it so despicable to see instances of anti-Semitism arise over the conflict in Gaza.
This is especially the case in Europe. While the media have noted that in large part the rallies there opposing the Netanyahu government’s military action in Gaza have been peaceful, there has been an alarming amount of anti-Semitism on display.
“Gas the Jews” and “Death to the Jews” have been heard at some rallies. Firebombs have been thrown at synagogues in France and Germany, and Jewish-owned businesses in Paris have been vandalized. As Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Transatlantic Institute explained to the International Business Times, “If you attack a synagogue, explain to me what this has to do with being concerned about Gaza. You just want to hurt the Jews.” He’s 100 percent correct.
This type of conduct is despicable. Period. There’s no “but” or “let me explain why I said or did that.” It doesn’t matter how much you are angered or heartbroken by the image of children being killed in Gaza. And being of Palestinian heritage, I’ve been very aware of the suffering of Palestinian civilians well before social media has recently made this information instantaneously accessible. So I say this as someone who is very supportive of Palestinian humanity.
Anti-Semitism is morally wrong. It’s just like racism, Islamaphobia, homophobia, or any other type of hate. It can’t be tolerated, defended, or contextualized regardless of the form it manifests.