After 11 days of fighting, Israel and Hamas agreed to a “mutual and simultaneous” ceasefire on Thursday that began at 2 a.m. Friday Israel time.
Here is the latest on the conflict:
Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said 232 people, including more than 66 children and teens, were killed by Israeli strikes during the fighting. According to the IDF, a least 225 of those killed were members of terror groups. Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, were killed in rocket fire, and hundreds were injured.
Right-wing and centrist Israeli politicians and local officials criticized the Netanyahu government, saying Israel had gained no concessions from Hamas or its supporters. Left-wing politicians welcomed the stop in violence, but lamented the conditions that led to it.
Netanyahu said Israel fulfilled its objective to deal Hamas a “blow it cannot imagine” by destroying the terror tunnel network it built in Gaza.
Speaking from the White House Thursday evening, President Biden reiterated the United States’ support of Israel’s right to defend itself, and thanked Egypt for its work on the ceasefire. He said the U.S. would work with the Palestinian Authority, but not Hamas, to deliver funds to rebuild Gaza.
Biden had faced growing pressure over the past week from his own party to take a tougher approach with Israel and to explicitly call for a cease-fire in the first major foreign policy crisis of his presidency.
New York, New York
Anti-Israel protesters shouted expletives and threw fireworks during a Thursday evening altercation in the Diamond District. The NYPD told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that two commercial fireworks were thrown from a car, and one person, identified as a 55-year-old woman, sustained burn injuries to her lower back.
In two videos posted to Twitter on Thursday, a group of men wearing the colors of the Palestinian flag can be seen yelling “f–king Zionist” and similar expletives while holding a Palestinian flag.
The fight in Diamond District occurred around the same time as a pro-Israel demonstration in nearby Times Square that also attracted pro-Palestinian counter-protesters. More than two dozen people were arrested there, police said Friday.
One video showed a pro-Palestine protester being put in handcuffs after he tried to run after a man who grabbed his Palestinian flag.
Related: Two Israeli Defense Force veterans said they were attacked outside Ess-A-Bagel, the Upper East Side bagel shop, by demonstrators taking part in a nearby pro-Palestinian protest. Snir Dayan, 27, told Fox he was the only one arrested in Tuesday’s scuffle, but was released after 30 minutes.
Despite the fighting in Israel and intense inter-party debate here, the Democratic candidates for NYC mayor have been relatively quiet on the conflict.
That could reflect a generational shift in local politics, writes Andrew Silow-Carroll, the Jewish Week’s editor in chief: “Outside the Orthodox community, there is no real ‘tribal’ issue that would inspire Jewish voters and make them vote any differently than similarly situated gentiles – and candidates know this.”
Israel Nitzan, Israel’s Acting Consul General in New York, lamented the clashes between Jews and Arabs that occurred in mixed Israeli cities during the crisis.
“This is one of the most disappointing and negative developments coming out of this round of violence,” Nitzan said, in a briefing to UJA-Federation of New York shortly after the ceasefire was announced. “But I truly believe that the vast majority of the Israeli population believes in our vision of a shared future for Jews and Arabs in Israel.”
Nitzan acknowledged political divisions among American Jews, but called for expressions of solidarity with Israel: “We can turn Israel into a consensual issue if we can just show that we’re one people, one family, and only then go back to our arguments about the disagreements between community here and in Israel.”
Related: Eric Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation, visited the Israeli city of Lod on Thursday, where, “despite riots between Israeli-Arab and Jewish neighbors who used to live in peace side by side … many more residents are committed to rebuilding trust and shared society and working toward a return to safety,” the organization tweeted.
Republicans in the New York State Senate sought to introduce a legislative resolution Wednesday condemning Palestinian airstrikes against Israel, but Democrats denied the measure claiming the body doesn’t “consider” foreign policy measures, the New York Post reports.
Pro-Israel activists tell the New York Post that powerful Democrats must do more to counter the pro-Palestinian advocacy of progressive politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
In New York magazine, Jonathan Chait explains how conservatives and progressives use unfair tactics to attack each other on Israel.
The Township Council in Teaneck, N.J., postponed an Israeli flag-raising ceremony that had been scheduled before the latest clash between Israel and Hamas. Residents of the town, which has a sizable Orthodox Jewish community, took to Facebook to urge officials to cancel the ceremony, or figure out a new way to honor Teaneck’s Jewish community.
A pro-Palestinian group has planned a “Support Indigenous Palestinians” rally for Saturday at the Teaneck Town Hall.
Haviva Ner-David, the Israeli memoirist and Manhattan native best known as the first woman to be publicly ordained by an Orthodox rabbi, has written a novel. “Hope Valley” tells the story of a friendship between two women, one Jewish Israeli and the other Palestinian, and draws on the author’s familiarity with the Galilee, where she lives.
With New York opening after more than a year of the pandemic, synagogues should lead the way in reminding people that it is safe to return to communal life, writes Rabbi Joshua Davidson of Congregation Emanu-El.
The traditional Jewish blessing over children, found in this week’s Torah portion, is a reminder of how the parent’s role changes in every stage of their children’s lives. “I think of my hopes for how my children will surpass me in exciting ways, and will care for me when I’m elderly, when the roles have really reversed,” writes Rabbi Noah Arnow.
More wisdom: True heroes are people whose spiritual stature matches the gifts that make them famous or influential, writes Rabbi David Wolpe.
People and Places
Rabbi Joel Pitkowsky of Congregation Beth Sholom of Teaneck is the new chair of the board of directors of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. He succeeds Liz Kanter Groskind. “I first became involved with MAZON over 30 years ago, motivated by my Jewish values to reach for the world that should be and imagine how we can live in a country where no one experiences the injustice of hunger,” he said in a statement announcing his appointment. Last month, Craig Newmark Philanthropies announced a $100,000 investment in MAZON to support the national anti-hunger organization’s efforts to remove barriers and increase access to food and nutrition for veterans and military families.
The Israeli-American Council will hold a rally “in response to a wave of antisemitic attacks nationwide and to stand with Israel in its ongoing battle against terrorism” at the World Trade Center memorial on Sunday starting at 11:00 am. The plan is to march from the site to the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in nearby Battery Park. “The World Trade Center is a powerful symbol of America’s resilience and resolve against hatred and terrorism,” said IAC co-founder and CEO Shoham Nicolet.
UJA Westchester and the Young Israel of Scarsdale host a conversation, live from Jerusalem, with Isaac Herzog, chair of The Jewish Agency for Israel. Herzog will provide an update on the crisis in Israel, his recently announced candidacy for the Israeli presidency and ties between Israel and American Jews. Register here. Sunday, 10:00 am.
In 2021 BenYehuda Press published a bilingual edition of “The Canvas and Other Stories” by Salomea Perl, translated by Ruth Murphy. Workers Circle presents an online discussion of these stories and the author, and a bilingual reading of her work. With translator Ruth Murphy and Sheva Zucker, Yiddish scholar and Workers Circle instructor. Register here. Sunday, 1:00 pm.
Friday, May 21, 2021
Sivan 10, 5781
Light Candles at 7:54 pm.
Saturday, May 22
Torah Reading: Naso: Numbers 4:21 – 7:89
Haftarah: Judges 13:2-25
Shabbat Ends 9:01 pm.