An In-Depth Analysis of the Forces Driving the Israeli Arab Riots of May 2021

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) The May 2021 war with Hamas in Gaza was accompanied by violent Arab riots in a large number of mixed Israeli cities and Arab population centers. They were the most widespread disturbances of this type since the founding of Israel. Five Jerusalem Center experts discuss the factors that led to this wave of violence. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser: While many Israeli Arabs did not participate in the violent riots, only a few spoke out against them. The rioting exposed the potential for further, perhaps even more serious, flare-ups. Changes are being made in the preparations and training of Israel's security forces to deal with future riots. Nadav Shragai: A study of dozens of statements from Muslim clerics and Arab youth who took part in the riots suggests that the catalysts included "defense of the al-Aqsa mosque," a preoccupation with the "Nakba" (the "disaster" of the establishment of the State of Israel), and the hope of exercising the "right of return" to places where Arabs lived before 1948. At the same time, there is a large Arab public in Israel that sees itself as Israeli and feels a connection to the state. Yoni Ben Menachem: Israeli security officials see the outbreak of violence by Israeli Arabs as a response to incitement choreographed by Hamas, Hizbullah, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards sitting in a Beirut command center. Hamas' political power has strengthened, and its ambitions to gradually take over all of "Palestine from the River to the Sea" have increased. Its objective is to bring about a violent civilian insurgence that will weaken Israel from within. Pinhas Inbari: The tension around the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem originated with demonstrators from elsewhere in Israel. Also, the tensions around Damascus Gate and the Temple Mount are largely because of young members of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement from the Arab "Triangle" region of Israel who came to Jerusalem to riot. The absence of Israeli governance in the Bedouin sector has emboldened them to play by tribal rules and to disconnect from Israel. Lt.-Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi: Mansour Abbas, leader of Israel's Islamic Party (Ra'am), says he draws inspiration from the Prophet Muhammad, who guided believers to adhere to an element of moderation that does not immediately resort to the use of force, and to adopt a multi-stage strategy that provides supreme priority to strengthening the Muslim community. In the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, the Prophet forged a temporary alliance with non-Muslim communities at a time when the Muslim community was weak, while expecting to overcome and subjugate them in the future. The Treaty was also a reference point for PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat in 1993 in one of his most important policy speeches.

2022-02-10 00:00:00

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