American Muslim groups plan to boycott a White House virtual Eid celebration scheduled for Sunday evening following President Joe Biden‘s response to the escalating conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
The White House has scheduled the virtual Eid to commemorate the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan for Sunday. But Biden has received significant backlash from Muslim groups, pro-Palestinian activists, and progressive Democrats for his response to the current conflict unfolding between Israel and the Palestinians. On Wednesday, Biden said that Israel has “a right to defend itself,” while condemning Palestinian militant group Hamas.
“CAIR joins other American Muslim organizations in cancelling our plans to take part in President Biden’s Eid celebration. We cannot in good conscience celebrate Eid with the Biden Administration while it literally aids, abets and justifies the Israeli apartheid government’s indiscriminate bombing of innocent men, women and children in Gaza. President Biden has the political power and moral authority to stop these injustices,” Nihad Awad, the national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement emailed to Newsweek on Saturday.
#BreakingNews: CAIR Joins Boycott of White House Eid Celebration in Response to #Biden Administration’s Defense of #Israeli Attacks on #Palestinian Civilianshttps://t.co/JMvqq9whNR#EidMubarak #EID2021 #Gaza #Gaza_Under_Attack #Palestinians #PalestineBleeding #Jerusalem pic.twitter.com/iQMcEgILCv— CAIR National (@CAIRNational) May 15, 2021
Awad remarked that CAIR and the broader American Muslim community is “incredibly disappointed and deeply disturbed” with Biden’s response to the violence.
“If the White House continues along this morally-unconscionable path as more Palestinian children die, the White House risks causing severe damage to President Biden’s relationship with American Muslims and all others who defend civil and human rights,” Awad said.
Earlier this month, CAIR issued a press release urging American Muslims to participate in the virtual Eid event. “CAIR welcomes the Biden-Harris administration continuing the White House tradition of hosting an Eid celebration to recognize the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan,” the organization, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, said in the May 7 statement.
American Muslims for Palestine also announced its organization’s intention to boycott the White House Eid event, launching a petition for others to pledge to boycott it as well.
“The recent statements made by President Biden personally, by White House spokesperson Jen Psaki, and by Department of State spokesperson, Ned Price, regarding the oppression that the Palestinian people are subjected to are outrageous and complicit. The statements not only completely ignore the Israeli assault on Al-Aqsa and the Muslims worshipping inside, the expulsion taking place in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and the ongoing siege of Gaza that has already claimed the lives of hundreds, but also have the audacity to lay the blame on the victims; the Palestinian people,” AMP wrote with the petition.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.
“My expectation and hope is this will be closing down sooner than later,” Biden said at the White House on Wednesday. “Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory.”
On Tuesday, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat and conveyed Biden’s “unwavering support for Israel’s security and for its legitimate right to defend itself and its people,” according to a White House readout of the call.
The latest escalation in violence began as a legal battle over attempts to evict several Palestinian families from buildings in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Israeli officials describe it as a private real estate dispute between Jewish owners and Palestinian tenants or squatters that is being resolved in the Israeli courts. Palestinian leaders and their supporters around the world view the expected evictions as a symbol of the wider Israeli strategy of building Jewish settlements on land Palestinians want for a state.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian militant group, began firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli targets last week. Israel’s military began conducting airstrikes targeting Gaza. Although Israel has said it is targeting militants, many civilians have been killed.
On Saturday, Israeli airstrikes destroyed a building housing operations by The Associated Press, Al Jazeera and other international media outlets.
At least 139 people have been killed in Gaza, while eight have died in Israel, according to the AP.