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November 21, 2012

“Netanyahu, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide!”: A Round-Up of Anti-Israel Protests in the U.S. on November 20

At least ten rallies were held on Tuesday to protest Israel’s operations in Gaza to thwart rocket attacks that target Israeli civilians. Below is a sampling of yesterday’s anti-Israel protests:

Atlanta, GA

A rally was organized by a group called “In Solidarity With Gaza” that drew approximately 150 people. Demonstrators chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,”  “Free, Free Palestine. Long live Palestine!” and “From the beach to the water, Israel is responsible for slaughter!”

A number of protesters held signs that used inflammatory rhetoric, including “Israel, the new Nazis,” “Stop the genocide in Gaza!” “Stop the genocide. Save the children!” and a sign that had a Star of David with a swastika drawn in the center of it. Some of the protesters also used chalk to write messages on the sidewalk near the demonstration, including “Fuck Zionism,” “Arab Holocaust” and “No To Genocide.”

Birmingham, AL

Approximately 30 students on campus got together for an “emergency rally” for Gaza, according to the University of Alabama, Birmingham’s campus newspaper. Students chanted “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry, Palestine will never die,” “Netanyahu, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

The student newspaper also showed photographs of students holding signs that read, “Gaza, declared by UN, as world’s largest open-air prison” and “U.S. Tax $$ funds ethnic cleansing, APARTHEID, and human rights violations.”

Boston, MA

Approximately 1,000 people rallied in Copley Square at a demonstration organized by the Northeastern University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. The demonstrators held signs that said “65+ years of Israeli colonization and ethnic cleansing,” “End Israeli apartheid,” We say NO to Israel’s war crimes,” “US: Stop support for murderous, apartheid Israel. Save the people of Gaza!” and “The massacre goes on! Gaza needs your voice NOW.”

For infor­ma­tion about other anti-Israel protests that have taken place since the start of Oper­a­tion Pil­lar of Defense, please see these pre­vi­ous posts:

“End the Nazi Occupation in Gaza”: A Round-Up of U.S. Anti-Israel Protests on November 19

“Israel should be Ended Once and For All,” “Cru­cify Him, Cru­cify Them…Israel’s Pol­icy:” A Round-Up of Anti-Israel Protests in the U.S., Novem­ber 17–18

Demon­stra­tors at Anti-Israel Ral­lies: “Gaza is the Real Holo­caust,” “Long live the Intifada!”

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November 20, 2012

“End the Nazi Occupation in Gaza”: A Round-Up Of U.S. Anti-Israel Protests On November 19

Close to two dozen anti-Israel rallies took place across the United States on Monday, from Greensboro to Gainesville, Seattle to Santa Cruz. Nearly half of Monday’s demonstrations occurred on university and college campuses, an indication of how student-driven the anti-Israel reaction is to the latest round of violence taking place in the Middle East.

Below is a sampling of yesterday’s anti-Israel protests:

New Brunswick, NJ

At Rutgers University, a state university with more than 50,000 students, a rally organized by Students for Justice in Palestine drew approximately 150 demonstrators to Brower Commons. One of the signs displayed by students read, “It would be my greatest sadness to see Zionists do to Palestinians much of what Nazis did to Jews.” Demonstrators also chanted “Intifada, Intifada” during the evening protest.

At least four representatives of Neturei Karta, an ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist organization, participated in and spoke at the rally. Jewish anti-Zionist groups often view their role as “protecting” the anti-Israel movement from allegations of anti-Semitism. It seemed to work here. Shortly after the protest ended, several students expressed how happy they were to have the Neturei Karta representatives, with one student noting, “I’m tired of being criticized as an anti-Semite for having critical views of Israel, when in fact I have no qualms with our Jewish brothers and sisters, but rather an apartheid nation.”

San Francisco, CA

A rally outside the Israeli Consulate drew activists from Jewish Voice for Peace who held banners and signs that read “The Siege of Gaza Betrays Jewish Values” and “Israelis Against War and Apartheid.”

Chicago, IL

More than 300 demonstrators rallied outside a Federal Building in Chicago and then proceeded to march to Daley Plaza, chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Speakers alleged that Israel is a “terrorist state,” a “brutal killing machine” and that Jerusalem is “occupied.” One young woman held a sign that read, “End the Nazi Occupation in Gaza!” The same sign also showed the Israeli flag with a large red swastika drawn over it and the words “real terrorists.” The rally attracted the support of American Muslims for Palestine, Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, Palestine Solidarity Group, US Palestinian Community Network and Jewish Voice for Peace.

Ithaca, NY

Anti-Israel students at Cornell University squared off against pro-Israel students who were holding a rally to support Israel’s actions and then marched across campus chanting, “Hey Netanyahu, what do you say, how many kids did you kill today?” “Brick by brick, wall by wall, Israel’s apartheid’s got to fall” and “When people are occupied, resistance is justified.” The rally, called “Solidarity from Ithaca to Gaza,” was heavily attended by Jewish anti-Zionists, including representatives of Jewish Voice for Peace-Ithaca who held signs that read, “Jewish Voice for Peace Says Divest From the Occupation” and “I am another Jew opposed to Israeli attacks on civilians.”

Tallahassee, FL

The Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at Florida State University organized a protest that drew several dozen students. The students held signs that read, “Resist Zionism and Imperialism,” “Support Peace, Defend Gaza” and “Denouncing Israel’s War Crimes is not Anti-Semitic.” One of the leaders of SJP was interviewed by local media and said, “We’re out here because Palestinians are being brutalized, are being bombed, are being killed every single day with American tax dollars and we think that’s inherently wrong.” He also apologized for Palestinian terrorism, saying it is the result of how “miserable and hopeless” the Palestinians feel and predicted that the “extremism” will only end when the situation for Palestinians improves.

For information about other anti-Israel protests that have taken place since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, please see these previous posts:

“Israel should be Ended Once and For All,” “Crucify Him, Crucify Them…Israel’s Policy:” A Round-Up of Anti-Israel Protests in the U.S., November 17–18

Demonstrators at Anti-Israel Rallies: “Gaza is the Real Holocaust,” “Long live the Intifada!”

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November 20, 2012

The Anti-Israel Movement Then and Now: What has Changed Since Operation Cast Lead?

A little more than 1100 days after the end of Operation Cast Lead, Israel has again found it necessary to confront rocket attacks from Gaza aimed at its civilians. On November 14, Israel assassinated Hamas’s military leader and began targeted operations to destroy the ammunition and infrastructure of various Gaza-based terrorist organizations. Now, as was the case in 2008-9, anti-Israel groups across the United States have immediately sprung into action and have organized petitions and demonstrations to protest Israel’s military operations. More than 70 anti-Israel protests have already taken place across the country.

But while the current rallies and demonstrations have thus far contained similarly extreme messages to those held four years ago – including expressions of support for terrorism, accusations of Israeli “genocide” and copious comparisons of Israelis to Nazis – much has changed as well.

What’s Different?

Increased Presence and Organizational Prowess of Jewish Anti-Zionists

Domestic Jewish anti-Zionist groups like Jewish Voice for Peace have become far more organized in the past two or three years and have mobilized in the last few days to respond to Israel’s operation, called Operation Pillar of Defense. While JVP played a marginal role at best during the 2008-9 war (there is evidence of their participation in a total of three anti-Israel protests), JVP has been one of the leading organizers of anti-Israel demonstrations against the current Israeli operations. The group has already helped organize protests in Olympia, Washington; Cincinnati, Ohio; Berkeley, California and Asheville, North Carolina.

The JVP chapter in Boston also planned to protest a pro-Israel rally that took place at a local synagogue on Monday, saying in a press release that the pro-Israel event “claims to be a gathering for peace and the safety of the people and children of Israel, but JVP calls out this event for what it truly is:  a pro-war rally that falsely aims to represent the Jewish community.” The statement also included remarks by a leader of JVP in Boston who said, “We stand here because while we grieve the loss of Israeli life, our hearts are also with the people of Gaza… Not so long ago it was Jewish deaths that were discounted and ignored,” an implicit comparison between the current situation and the Nazi Holocaust. 

A member of JVP’s Rabbinical Council, Brant Rosen, was one of the scheduled speakers at an anti-Israel protest on Monday in Chicago.

In addition to JVP, anti-Israel Jews have appeared at other rallies across the country, including at a protest in Boston where activists held a large banner that read “Jews For Intifada” and in New York where two individuals held signs that read, “Israelis Against the Gaza Massacre.”

 Occupy Wall Street Gets Involved

The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement did not exist during the 2008-9 Gaza War. In the latest conflict, however, the social protest movement, with its built-in organizational structure and messaging capabilities, has proved to be extremely beneficial for the anti-Israel movement. Activists who identify with OWS have participated in several of the anti-Israel rallies that have been taking place, including two events in the Florida area. At one such protest in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, a member of Occupy Fort Lauderdale who attended the protest expressed implicit support for violent resistance against Israel, saying “The oppressed have the right to fight back by any means they have,” in an interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Two days earlier, an anti-Israel rally in Boston was co-sponsored by Occupy Boston (which has previously organized anti-Israel events including a sit-in at the Israeli Consulate last November) and featured a sign that read, “Un-Occupy Palestine.”

A working group affiliated with OWS has also been using its Facebook page to disseminate information about protests taking place internationally and ways to “help” Gaza by joining the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. And the website for the New York continent of OWS has posted a list of all the protests taking place as well.

The involvement of local Occupy groups in anti-Israel activity does not appear to be an official position by the national Occupy Wall Street Movement, however, which has not issued any statement about the latest round of conflict on its Web site or social media pages.

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