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March for Israel

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) join hands at Israel rally. (March for Israel stream)

On Tuesday, thousands gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C to show support for Israel.

It’s tough to call the event a protest, as there’s not much more to demand if you’re pro-Israel. The most powerful country on earth already gives you billions in military aid every year and they’re preparing to give you even more. They’ve done virtually nothing to impede the slaughter in Gaza, where more than 11,200 Palestinians have been killed so far.

The Twitter account for the Consulate General of Israel in New York declared that 290,000 people attended the event and posted a photo that is quite obviously a lot less than 290,000 people.

Researcher Talia Jane took the time to create a detailed thread breaking down the dimensions of overhead photographs and D.C. streets to reach an informed conclusion. Her estimate? About 25,000 people. So, the Consulate General of Israel in New York was only off by 265,000.

Of that 25,000 it’s unclear how many were paid to attend. Pro-Israel organizations made a number of social media posts offering $250 “microgrants” to students who agreed to be bussed to Washington. Nice work if you can get it. Fox News might want to pursue this story as we’ve finally found proof of U.S. protesters getting paid for their efforts.

One of the first speakers at the rally was CNN contributor Van Jones. Jones has to have one of the funniest political trajectories of this generation. You might recall he resigned from the Obama administration after Republicans began making an issue over his brief stint with a Maoist organization in the early 90s.

It’s unclear who Jones thought he was addressing, but his rudimentary calls for peace did not go over well. “My heart breaks for all the Israeli children, ” he said. “I pray that every single hostage is released,” he told the crowd. “I also pray that Hamas ends its reign of terror.” He received loud cheers for these sentiments, but then he made mistake.

“I pray for peace,” he continued. “No more rockets from Gaza and no more bombs falling down on the people of Gaza.”

The “no more bombs” part was a bridge too far. The boos began raining down, and some people started chanting, “No ceasefire!” Clearly rattled, Jones attempted to say something about confronting Islamophobia and antisemitism, but stumbled and accidentally said, “Let’s take a stand against Muslim.” Yikes!

The flub was notable enough for Jones to issue a correction on Twitter. “Let’s stand against anti-Jewish bigotry here,” he wrote. “Let’s stand against anti-Muslim bigotry here. Let’s stand against hate here. But the chanting crowd threw me off — and I misspoke. We need to stand WITH Muslims, and Jews, and everyone who is under threat.”

Again, unclear what he thought he was getting himself into.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) all gave speeches before literally joining hands and chanting, “We stand with Israel!” Who says bipartisanship is dead?

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) live-tweeted the proceedings but remained suspiciously silent during Pastor John Hagee’s speech. It would take too long to run through every infamous thing this man has said, so let’s just cover the ones that might be relevant to, say, the Anti-Defamation League:

Of course, Hagee also believes that The Bible calls on Christians to support Israel because one day Jesus will come back, the rapture will occur, The Antichrist will reveal himself, dead Christians will return to life, and believers will ascend into heaven. None of this works out especially well for Muslims or Jews. A campus organizer with the pro-Israel group StandWithUs estimated that there were at least a few thousand Christian Zionists at the rally.

ADL CEO Johnathan Greenblatt ostensibly runs a civil rights group committed to combatting extremism. He has spent the past month all over cable news, where he consistently aims to conflate antisemitism with anti-Zionism and stir up fear about Americans’ increasing sympathy for Palestinians. He was on MSNBC on the day of the rally and had nothing to say about the antisemitic pastor, but he did call on the IRS and FBI to investigate campus pro-Palestine groups. The next morning, he was on MSNBC again, where he celebrated the fact that Trump fans attended the rally. “I saw people with MAGA hats and people with pride flags,” he told the Morning Joe crew. “I mean, where else in America today could you see something like that?”

When co-host Mika Brzezinski said tens of thousands of people showed up in D.C., Greenblatt pushed back. “It wasn’t tens of thousands, Mika,” he insisted. “It was hundreds of thousands of people on the Mall. I heard upwards of 300,000.”

Campus crackdown

In the last installment of The Shift I covered Brandeis University becoming the first school to ban its Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter. It’s only been a week, but a lot has happened on this front since then.

Let’s stick with Brandeis for a second. You’ll recall that the group was informed of their ban out of nowhere via an email from the administration. No vote, no investigation, no prior warning. The school effectively said the group had supported terrorism. The chapter’s president told me the organization isn’t especially active and hadn’t even released a statement on the October 7th attack or publicly mentioned Hamas. On the day they got the news, they were preparing for a campus vigil to honor the thousands of Palestinians who have been killed by Israel so far. It was canceled.

Days later, students organized a protest at the school in response to the move. The university called in the cops and had some of them arrested. Brandeis president Ronald Liebowitz said that the event “devolved into the invocation of hate speech” because people were chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” On the same day that the school banned SJP, Liebowitz published an Op-Ed in the Boston Globe calling on “antisemitic” campus groups to be deactivated. In his mind, this includes any organization that uses the aforementioned chant or calls for an intifada.

Meanwhile, Columbia University suspended its SJP chapter and its Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) for the remainder of the fall term for allegedly violating rules connected to holding campus events.

The school says their big infraction was organizing an “unauthorized” walkout that was followed by a peaceful art installation.

“To Columbia and other institutions too cowardly to stand against genocide and apartheid, history will not reflect kindly on your silencing tactics, or your bullying of students,” read a joint statement put out by the two groups. “These young adults are standing up for what they believe in and trying to make the world a better place—as should we all. No one can stop our hearts from beating for liberation, humanity, and the freedom of Palestine.”

This week, hundreds of students and faculty protested the move in front of Columbia and announced the relaunch of Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD). CUAD is a coalition of over 40 student groups that are demanding the suspension on SJP and JVP be lifted, along with an apology. However, that’s not all they’re asking for. They also want Columbia to divest from Israeli apartheid, a planned campus in Tel Aviv to be canceled, a ceasefire in Gaza, and an end to the suppression of Palestinian activism at the school.

“One of the best kinds of collective action: One group takes action on one demand; targeted by the institution, it broadens the coalition and expands the demand,” tweeted author and professor Corey Robin. “This kind of politics goes against every narrowing instinct and impulse that we’ve come to think of as ‘real politics.'”

“Again, I just can’t tell you how impressed I am by this generation. It’s like they’re systemically unlearning every single thing that this country has tried to teach us over the course of the last 50 years,” he added.

Finally, this week saw George Washington University suspend its SJP chapter for 90 days because the group projected pro-Palestine sentiments on a campus library. “We see this very clearly as being a political response to a growing wave of backlash and repression towards Palestinian organizing, but specifically the Palestinian student movement that’s been happening the past few weeks,” a representative from the group told the school paper.

DNC protest

Last night, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Democratic National Committee’s Washington headquarters to demand a ceasefire, where they were met with police violence. In a press conference today Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) said that 90 protesters were injured.

A variety of people are spreading dangerous disinformation about the event, starting with the cops.

“Tonight 6 officers were treated for injuries – ranging from minor cuts to being pepper sprayed to being punched,” tweeted the U.S. Capitol Police. “One person has been arrested for assault on an officer. We appreciate our officers who kept these illegal & violent protesters back & protected everyone in the area.”

This narrative was echoed by a number of lawmakers from both parties, who also claimed the protesters were terror sympathizers who were trying to break into the building. “All U.S. House buildings locked down while Pro-Hamas rioters trying to storm the offices of the Democratic National Committee,” claimed Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

“Was just evacuated from the #DNC after pro-terrorist, anti-#Israel protestors grew violent, pepper spraying police officers and attempting to break into the building,” Thankful to the police officers who stopped them and for helping me and my colleagues get out safely,” wrote Rep. Brad Sherman. (D-CA). “Apparently, these pro-#Hamas demonstrators want #Republicans to prevail in the next Congressional election.”

Quick reminder that 80% of Democratic voters agree with the protesters and believe there should be a ceasefire, but interesting electoral strategy from Sherman.

All this stuff was quickly refuted across social media by video and people who actually attended the event. “I was reporting outside this protest,” tweeted journalist Dave Weigel. “Nobody tried to enter the building. They were trying to block off entrances, but had their backs turned to them.”

There’s no video or photo of cops getting pepper sprayed, but there is an image of a police officer pepper spraying an activist. Apparently, it was one of the same cops who began kicking memorial candles laid out for dead Palestinians. Waleed Shahid posted a video of one cop accidentally hitting another with a bike rack. “So did the police at the DNC protest injure…themselves?” he asked.

The groups who helped organize the protest have put out statements.

Political Director of Jewish Voice for Peace Action Beth Miller: “With every passing minute that President Biden and the Democratic Party refuse to heed the calls of their voters and demand a ceasefire, more Palestinians in Gaza are being killed by Israeli airstrikes and siege. In their homes, schools, hospitals, and mosques, and by starvation, dehydration, and disease. Tonight, hundreds of peaceful anti-war activists came to the DNC to call for an end to bombs and violence in order to save Palestinian and Israeli lives. They were met with brutal assaults by the police. The Democrats need to decide: will they stand on the side of peace and justice, or will they continue to support war and genocide?”

DSA-NYC’s Sumaya Awad: “The Democratic Party just showed exactly how it feels about its voters. The Israeli military just stormed a hospital in Gaza, airstrikes have killed over 4,500 children, and water is running out. Over 80% of Democratic voters are demanding a ceasefire and brought that message of peace to party leadership, who responded by unleashing an incredibly violent police attack on them.”

DSA’s Renée Paradis: “Calling for a ceasefire is not a radical or fringe demand — a supermajority of Americans and an even bigger majority of Democrats want a Ceasefire NOW. It’s the Democratic Party that’s out of step with their own base, in favor of the politics of their big donors, providing full support for Israel’s genocidal actions. Tonight, police lied about the protest being violent, even as they roughed up protestors, sprayed tear gas on the crowd, and literally trampled vigil candles beneath their feet. We know lasting peace can only be achieved through a just end to the occupation, and call upon the federal government–who could stop the war tomorrow with a single phone call–to stop sending military aid to Israel.”

IfNotNow national spokesperson Eva Borgwardt: “Every hour of this horrific bombardment, more Palestinians are killed. Every hour, the lives of the hostages hang in the balance. Every hour increases the risk of a broader regional war, endangering the lives of millions of people across the entire region. We the base of the Democratic Party are here to say if you care about Palestinians, if you care about Israelis, if you care about Jews, if you care about humanity, we need you to call for a ceasefire, a hostage exchange, a deescalation, and to chart a path toward freedom and safety for all. Instead of heeding our call for a ceasefire, police violently attacked nonviolent protesters with pepper spray.”

Odds & Ends

🧑‍⚖️ On Monday the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a lawsuit against U.S. President Joe Biden, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for failure to prevent genocide and complicity in genocide.

“For the last five weeks, President Biden and Secretaries Blinken and Austin have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with an Israeli government that has made clear its intention to destroy the Palestinian population in Gaza. As neighborhood after neighborhood, hospital after hospital, and sheltering displaced Palestinians were bombed, while subject to a total siege and closure that denies 2.2 million people basic necessities for life, they have continued to provide both military and political support for Israel’s unfolding genocidal campaign while imposing no red lines,” said CCR attorney Katherine Gallagher. “The United States has a clear and binding obligation to prevent, not further, genocide. So far, they have failed in both their legal, moral duty and considerable power to end this horror. They must do so.”

🏫 This week the BDS caucus of Harvard Graduate Student Union held an emergency rally to protest the dismissal of a student worker who lost his job after protecting people at a Palestine rally.

“The student worker’s attempts to protect participants from an aggressive disruptor at a die-in protest for Palestine were intentionally misrepresented by a viral right-wing defamation campaign, which sought to instead portray him as a threat to the safety of students,” reads a press statement put out by the group. “He was further targeted for his pro-Palestine views, resulting in doxxing and death threats,” Instead of protecting the student from such threats, Harvard University has bowed to external pressure and is dismissing him from his proctorship and residence for protesting genocide and exercising pro-Palestine free speech. This means that he is also losing access to his meal plan and is being evicted from his housing at the College. This is part of a broader pattern of anti-Black racism and the McCarthyite suppression of voices that express solidarity with Palestine and criticize the state of Israel for its system of apartheid, its occupation of Palestinian land, its ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people, and its ongoing genocide.”

✊ More than 700 Jewish activists and allies shut down the Oakland Federal Building demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. 450 people were arrested. The protest was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace. It included Rabbis, children of holocaust survivors, Israelis, and film director/rapper Boots Riley.

🇺🇸 Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) was at the March for Israel draped in an Israel flag. Last week in Washington, a veteran asked him why he hasn’t supported a ceasefire and he told her, “I don’t know. I think you should be protesting Hamas.”

🇮🇱 ‘The Jewish Federation is marching with Christian antisemites out of support for Israel’

💌 ‘A love letter to the students speaking up for Palestine’

🪔 NYC Assemblymember Zohran Kwame Mamdani declined an invitation to Governor Kathy Hochul’s Diwali celebration over her support for Israel’s bombing of Gaza.

“We cannot get to the hopeful world that Diwali symbolizes if we do not stand up for its values,” he said in a statement. “As Americans and New Yorkers, we are not simply bystanders to the genocide in Gaza. We are complicit in it. We cannot remain silent.”

⚖️ Law students at more than 30 universities have formed a coalition called Law Students for a Free Palestine. They’re all participating in a National Day of Action today.

“All of my great-grandparents were Holocaust survivors who lost most if not all of their relatives. I am infuriated to witness Jewish trauma and false accusations of antisemitism be weaponized to fuel a genocide against another people; anti-Zionism is not antisemitism,” said UCLA Law’s Allie Zenwirth in a statement. It is deeply upsetting to me that the IDF, under a banner of Judaism, is committing mass-slaughter of the Palestinians. Not in my name. The atrocities need to end. Now.”

💰 At Slate Alex Sammon reports that AIPAC is expected to spend $100 million trying to unseat progressive critics of Israel in the upcoming elections. A number of politicians shared this story, but one tweet stood out to me more than others.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted, “Criticism of the Israeli gov is virtually nonexistent in US politics, but apparently that’s not enough. Gotta spend *$100 million* to unseat the few who believe in Palestinian human rights & a ceasefire that most Americans already support. The acceptable level of dissent is 0.”

AOC gets to the heart of the issue here. Progressives often criticize AIPAC over how much money they spend or the fact they back Republicans who refused to certify Biden’s win. Those are perfectly valid complaints, but Israel somehow gets left out of the equation at times. AIPAC exists for two reasons: to keep U.S. arms to Israel flowing and to stomp out any criticism of the country that might impede that. Here’s hoping that the current protests are opening up space for progressive Democrats to be completely truthful about the lobbying group.

🇮🇱 ‘Benjamin Netanyahu is using Joe Biden, and it could well cost Biden his presidency’

🚫 ‘BDS is the most effective way to put our solidarity into action – here’s how to win’

☘️ Jewish IfNotNow activists are currently holding a sit-in on the Boston University bridge, demanding a ceasefire. “Every day of war means more death, more starvation, more children losing limbs, more babies becoming orphans It is unbearable, our souls cry out against it,” tweeted the group.

📱 The Guardian took down Osama bin Laden’s 2002 “Letter to America” after it went viral on Tik Tok.

Stay safe out there,

Yumna Patel, Mondoweiss Palestine News Director

Michael Arria, U.S. Correspondent

Articles / Twitter

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