As metro Detroit’s Arab and Jewish communities continue to mourn the hundreds of civilian deaths reported following Saturday’s surprise attack by Hamas in southern Israel, both communities are rallying around its members in support.
It was a packed house at the Ford Performing Arts Center in Dearborn last night as hundreds attended an event in support of Palestinians in response to the growing casualties from Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip.
The night before, members of the Jewish community gathered at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield — along with several elected officials — in a show of support for Israel following Hamas’ brutal and unprecedented attack on Israeli civilians — the country’s worst single-day attack in at least 50 years.
Tensions remain high within both communities as frustrations mount regarding the lens in which both sides are viewing the recent attacks, as well as the mainstream media’s coverage that followed.
“Most of the media is really one-sided, unfortunately,” said Detroit resident Abraham Obaid, who attended Tuesday’s rally in Dearborn. “And they make the oppressed look like they are the oppressor.”
That sentiment was echoed by speakers throughout the evening who say Palestinians living in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank have suffered greatly under Israel’s control, long before Saturday’s attack put a global spotlight on the ongoing conflict.
In the Jewish community, many are disturbed by the media’s and some political leaders’ hesitancy to refer to Saturday’s mass murder as a terrorist attack, as well as by some members of metro Detroit’s Arab American community’s refusal to denounce Hamas or acknowledge the group’s role in the suffering of both Israeli and Palestinian people.
“We want to hear that the way Hamas acted is not the way Muslims should act, whatever your politics are,” Rabbi Asher Lopatin, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee, told Detroit Today on Tuesday. “To say that we feel for the deaths of Palestinians and Israelis without singling out what Hamas did and is doing — with kidnapping kids, babies in cages — it’s very painful, very hurtful.”
Lopatin is referring specifically to comments made by Detroit U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib — the only Palestinian American in Congress — who came under fire this week for not explicitly condemning the Palestinian militant group in the wake of the attack.
The United Nations Human Rights Council says it has documented war crimes – including the killing of civilians by both Hamas and the Israeli Government since fighting started on Saturday.