Muslim advocacy groups say they ‘cannot in good conscience’ join event as US defends Israel amid Gaza attacks.
Prominent Muslim advocacy groups in the United States are boycotting a White House event on Sunday to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, saying the Biden administration “aids, abets and justifies” Israeli air strikes on Palestinians in Gaza.
US President Joe Biden will host a virtual Eid celebration on Sunday to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
But as Israeli air raids continue to pummel the Gaza Strip, killing at least 188 Palestinians and injuring hundreds of others, Muslim advocacy groups say the Biden administration’s recent statements have failed to hold Israel accountable for the escalating violence.
“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,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), in a statement on Saturday.
“President Biden has the political power and moral authority to stop these injustices. We urge him to stand on the side of the victims and not the victimizer,” Awad said.
CAIR had previously urged Muslims across the US to take part in the virtual celebration, describing it as a “special event”.
But criticism of the Biden administration has grown during the past week as the violence in Gaza continues, with progressive US lawmakers, Palestine advocates and rights groups urging the US president to pressure Israel to end its military offensive.
The Israeli military began bombing the Gaza Strip last Monday after Israel’s plan to forcibly displace Palestinian families from occupied East Jerusalem and its attacks on Palestinian worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound spurred widespread protests in Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and inside Israel.
Israeli air raids on Gaza have killed scores, destroyed roads, and flattened buildings, including a tower that housed the offices of Al Jazeera and The Associated Press.
In a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, Biden “reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza”, the White House said in a statement.
“He condemned these indiscriminate attacks against towns and cities across Israel,” the read-out also stated.
Demonstrators protest against ongoing Israeli military violence against Palestinians during a rally at the Washington Monument in Washington, DC, on Saturday [Yuri Gripas/Reuters] Critics have urged the Biden administration to pressure Netanyahu and his government, to which the US provides $3.8bn in military aid annually, to put an end to the military operation.
But the Israeli prime minister on Sunday said the offensive was “continuing in full force” and “will take time”, the Reuters news agency reported. A day earlier, Netanyahu thanked Biden for his “unequivocal support of Israel’s right to defend itself”.
American Muslims for Palestine, a national advocacy group, has called for a boycott of the Biden administration’s Eid event on Sunday, as well.
“A strong rebuke of this callous response by the Biden administration is necessary. We will not allow the White House to exploit our holy Eid celebrations for political gain at the expense of the Palestinian people,” the group said.
Meanwhile, thousands of people protested in cities across the US over the weekend in support of Palestinians and to demand an end to Washington’s unconditional backing of Israel.