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An Israeli air raid in Gaza City killed at least seven Palestinians early Saturday in the deadliest single strike since the battle with Gaza's militant Hamas rulers erupted earlier this week. The latest outburst of violence began in Jerusalem and has spread across the region, with Jewish-Arab clashes and rioting in mixed cities of Israel. There were also widespread Palestinian protests Friday in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces shot and killed 11 people.
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The violence in Gaza and Jerusalem has made the conclusion to the Muslim holy month a somber event for many Muslim worshipers hold morning Eid al-Fitr prayers in Astoria Park, Queens, New York. Photograph: Ismail Ferdous/The Guardian The sound of the call to prayer resonated through Astoria Park in Queens, New York, on an Eid that saw sunny weather and an opportunity for human connection after a year spent apart during the pandemic. The conclusion to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is usually marked with a celebratory breakfast, new clothes, and a chorus of “Eid Mubaraks” and “Alhamdulillahs.” Plastic yard signs that read “Happy Eid” covered the park grounds. Men and women proceeded to their respective sections and laid out small prayer rugs on the grass to warm up for the big event with a short prayer. Children ran around as their parents tried their best to concentrate on their spiritual devotion. But for Palestinian American Muslims and their allies it was a somber event that left them riddled with guilt. The violence “back home” in their motherland doesn’t inspire celebration. For many, it lights a fire instead. Anas Shuaib. Photograph: Ismail Ferdous/The Guardian “I’m here for two reasons: the Eid prayer obviously and second, unfortunately, today all over Palestine – in Gaza, the West Bank – we have people getting lynched,” said Anas Shuaib. He added: “I’m a peaceful person. I want peace on both sides but peace doesn’t come at the price of people’s rights. When these things happen and the Palestinian people respond, I don’t feel bad when the Israeli government cries crocodile tears. They don’t care and the American government is behind them.” Violence erupted in Gaza and Jerusalem over Israeli settlers’ forced displacements of Palestinians living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Israeli police stormed al-Aqsa mosque – the third holiest site in Islam – during the final nights of Ramadan. The Palestinian militant organization, Hamas, fired rockets into Israel in retaliation – triggering an attack by the Israeli army. The conflict has also seen bouts of communal violence in Israel between Jewish and Arab citizens in mixed towns. More than 120 people have died including at least 31 children, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Despite the disproportionate amount of deaths being Palestinian, Joe Biden said “Israel has a right to defend itself”, provoking ire from Palestinian Americans and some progressive US lawmakers. Among the angry in Astoria park were local politicians. Tiffany Cabán, a candidate for New York city council, is a progressive who has earned endorsements from leftwing stalwarts of the national Democratic party, such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Standing inconspicuously under the shade of a tent in black headscarf, Cabán said it was important to show up for the Eid celebration. “I have learned so much from our beautiful and rich Muslim community here. We have stood together in so many fights. I’m just sending so much love and solidarity to Palestinian families. I urge folks to stand in solidarity,” she said. Left: Tiffany Cabán. Right: Muslim greetings each other after morning Eid al-Fitr prayers. Photographs by Ismail Ferdous/The Guardian Left: Tiffany Cabán. Right: Muslim greetings each other after morning Eid al-Fitr prayers. Photographs by Ismail Ferdous/The Guardian The speech before the prayer, led by Zohran Kwame Mamdani, the Astoria assembly person, garnered enthusiastic praise. In lieu of applause, “Takbir Allahuakbar” could be heard from every corner of the outdoor venue. “We know our freedom, our joy, our struggle – is incomplete without the struggle of every other Muslim in the entire world. That goes from Palestine to Kashmir to the Uyghurs in China to our brothers and our sisters in Syria – to every single person across this entire globe. In the last few days when I have spoken up for our family in Palestine, I have been called many things but I’m so proud to be here today,” he said. Mamdani, a hip-hop artist turned politician, is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. He is also a vocal supporter of the boycott, divest from, and place sanctions against Israel movement, which urges a cultural and economic boycott of Israel in a similar fashion to the campaign against apartheid South Africa. Mamdani said the reaction to the current outbreak of violence felt different to previous such events, especially in light of recent condemnations of Israeli policy by prominent human rights groups. “Me calling what’s happening in Israel ‘apartheid’ is not my opinion. It’s me citing the findings of the Human Rights Watch and international NGOs as well as Israeli NGOs. I am unwilling to depart from fact and entertain fiction just for the sake of political calculus. What I am so appreciative of in this moment – a moment of immense pain and struggle and tragedy – is that there is a light of hope.” Muslim worshipers hold morning Eid al-Fitr prayers in Astoria Park. Photograph: Ismail Ferdous/The Guardian After the main event, an Eid prayer, families sprawled across the park and exchanged hugs and greetings. Many headed to the water to meet with friends and spend the remainder of the day enjoying the weather. Others like Diana Salahadin and her mother were headed home. Salahadin said: “I’m a fashion design student. I always incorporate Palestine and the conflict in my designs. I’m feeling good because a lot more people are aware now. It’s about time. I know there’s a lot going on but I’m content with the awareness here. BLM started it. Everyone had enough already. The young generation is especially not afraid to speak. They protest and fight for what they want. They see change happening. Just educate yourself and listen to true stories of Palestinians.” Left: Nader Odeh. Right: Diana Salahaldin with Amal Salameh. Photographs by Ismail Ferdous/The Guardian Left: Nader Odeh. Right: Diana Salahaldin with Amal Salameh. Photographs by Ismail Ferdous/The Guardian Salahadin’s mother, Amal Salameh, recalled the years she spent as a teenager in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, seeing forced and violent displacements of Palestinians from their homes. “I was born in the old city of Jerusalem. I would love to go back. Even though I’m not there, it’s always in my mind. It is very important to me. It is a holy place and I love it so much. It is in my blood, I was studying there in high school at Sheikh Jarrah. It’s my best memories,” she said. She added: “I grew up there with all of my friends. Traveling from my house to Sheikh Jarrah took 20 minutes. Now with the occupation, it takes two hours because of all the checkpoints. It is really sad and so unfair. They take everything. But we’re going to fight for it. In the end Palestine will be free, but you have to fight for it until our blood reaches our knees.” A muslim family near the east river after morning Eid al-Fitr prayers in Astoria Park, Queens. Photograph: Ismail Ferdous/The Guardian
As Liz Cheney’s defiance turns her into one of the movement’s leaders some insist the party was their home long before Trump while others say it’s time to move on Liz Cheney went down swinging, telling reporters: ‘I will do everything I can to ensure the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.’ Photograph: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters Sixteen minutes and out. The purging of Liz Cheney from Republican leadership in the House of Representatives did not even go to a secret ballot. Instead a voice vote was all it took to confirm the party’s capitulation to Donald Trump and his “big lie” about a stolen election. But Cheney went down swinging, vowing to reporters on Capitol Hill: “I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office,” then using a high-profile TV interview to say of would-be challengers for her seat in Wyoming: “Bring it on.” The public defiance instantly turned Cheney into one of the leaders of the “Never Trump” movement of disaffected Republicans. But it also raised strategic questions over the future direction of that movement and whether it can still regain control of the party – or should now abandon it as a lost cause. Some insist that the party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan was their home long before Trump’s populist-fantasist invasion and they will fight to drive him out. Others believe that it is time to abandon ship and their future lies as independents or Democrats or even, perhaps, in a breakaway party. “We’re torn,” said Joe Walsh, a former congressman from Illinois. “I left the Republican party a year ago. Liz Cheney isn’t there yet. [Congressman] Adam Kinzinger, who I know well, isn’t there yet. They want to still try to reform and save the Republican party; I don’t think it can be saved. “So there’s a split in the Never Trump world and most Never Trumpers still agree with Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger: let’s try to reform the party from within. I just don’t think it’s reformable. They still harbour ideas that the Republican party can be wrestled away from Trump; it can’t be.” Liz Cheney speaks to reporters after she was removed from her leadership role at the US Capitol on 12 May. Photograph: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images Walsh, who mounted a long-shot challenge to Trump for the Republican nomination last year, believes that a third party is now the only solution. “We’re at a weird moment in American history where, because the Republican party has become a cult, there’s an opportunity to start something new. I think eventually that’s where everybody’s going to get to.” On Thursday a coalition of more than 150 anti-Trump Republicans started a “political movement” urging the party to turn its back on extremism and lies. Members of A Call for American Renewal include lawyer George Conway, husband of former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, and Anthony Scaramucci, ex-White House communications director, as well as 27 former members of the House. The group stopped short of proposing a new party – for now. Co-organiser Evan McMullin, who ran for president as an independent in Utah in 2016, said: “We definitely don’t rule it out but our preference is to reform the Republican party, not necessarily from within. I think most of us believe that the only way to reform the Republican party at this point is to act independently of it. “It means that we will support good Republicans who are upholding the rule of law and defending and promoting truth and the constitution, but we’ll also support viable independents where they exist. If we have to support a unifying Democrat in order to defeat an extremist Republican, we’re going to do that. If it’s Senator Mark Kelly in Arizona running for re-election against extremist Kelli Ward, then we’re going to be for Captain Mark Kelly.” McMullin, a former CIA operations officer, added: “I think in this next cycle we’ll have people who will run under our banner, people who are in office now, people who are capable of mounting credible campaigns for public office. We will invite all to associate with our principles regardless of their party registration and to run as a part of this effort.” Adam Kinzinger during a House foreign affairs committee hearing. Photograph: Reuters Other initiatives in the Never Trump universe include the Lincoln Project, Principles First, the Republican Accountability Project and the Bulwark website. Kinzinger, who with Cheney was among 10 House Republicans to vote for Trump’s impeachment after the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol, launched a group called Country First to recruit and back anti-Trump Republican candidates. Cheney herself now has a platform guaranteed by her family name (her father was George W Bush’s vice-president, Dick Cheney) and looks set to be a more prominent voice than retired senators such as Bob Corker and Jeff Flake. She is reportedly planning more travel and media interviews and a political operation to support candidates who share her contempt for Trump’s false claims of election fraud. Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said: “Liz Cheney has positioned herself to be a prominent spokesperson for the old style Republican but also a very conservative party that does not kneel before an authoritarian, which is what the others are doing. “She deserves the position that she has has just earned. Now, that’s not to say she’s going to be elected president: she’s pretty far to the right. But how can you not admire her for sacrificing the power she has now and maybe her seat?” I think most of us believe that the only way to reform the Republican party at this point is to act independently of it Evan McMullin There are some signs that Trump’s sway over the party is not what it was. His favourability rating among Republicans in December was 91%, with 74% holding a very favourable view, an Economist/YouGov poll found. This month the same survey showed him at 78% favourability, with 58% very favourable. But congressional Republicans appear to have concluded they cannot fight next year’s midterm elections without him. Kevin Madden, a former adviser to Mitt Romney, now a senator for Utah and outspoken Trump critic, is in no doubt that a long haul lies ahead for Never Trumpers. “What is the plan to mobilise and grow that movement and is that best done inside the party or outside the party?” he asked. “What is the calendar of action on that? “Anybody who thinks that this is going to be waged between now and the midterms or now and 2024 is probably being very unrealistic. The more realistic scenario is that, if Liz Cheney is to be believed about her dedication in this respect, today is the first day of what is probably a decades-long battle for the direction of the party.” A breakaway remains unlikely with the odds stacked against anyone trying to shake up America’s two-party system. Competing with Democrats and Republicans’ vast fundraising machines would be daunting. In the first-past-the-post electoral system, a third party would struggle to convince people that their vote would be not be wasted in hundreds of districts. Madden, who became an independent last year and wrote in the name of Lynne Cheney, mother of Liz, on his presidential election ballot, added: “The work of building the infrastructure to compete across 50 different states or 435 different congressional districts? That is a monumental undertaking.”
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