As the war between Hamas terrorist forces in Gaza and the sovereign state
of Israel escalated last week, the tensions of the Middle East conflict exploded
in streets New York City on Thursday evening, November 15th as demonstrators
assembled to express their antipathy towards the Jewish state and to support
Israel's right to self defense.
Chanting, "Netanyahu you will learn, refugees will return" and "Not another
nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel's crimes", about 600 people
representing a panoply of pro-Hamas organizations including Adalah-NY, Al-Awda
NY, American Muslims for Palestine, and Students for Justice in Palestine
gathered outside the Israeli Consulate on New York's east side in a rancorous
demonstration directed at Israel.
"The criminal and racist Zionist regime must stop their airstrikes on
innocent Palestinian civilians" said Hussein Yacub, a junior at Columbia
University and a member of Students for Justice in Palestine. "I am here today,
just like these hundreds of supporters of Palestine, to tell the world that the
illegitimate Zionist occupying force is to blame for these hostilities. If the
Zionist aggressors would lift the blockade from Gaza and allow basic essentials
to be brought to the Palestinian residents of Gaza, we all wouldn't be here
They are intentionally starving our people, denying them basic healthcare,
education and other services."
Holding aloft signs saying, "Stop Israeli Genocide in Gaza" and "End All US
Aid to the Racist State of Israel", the demonstrators called for the United
Nations Security Council to issue resolutions condemning Israel for launching
air strikes in Gaza and the end of "the constant endorsements and support of the
United States and its Western allies for Israeli war crimes and
In response to incessant Hamas rocket strikes on Israel's southern region
that began on November 9th, and sent close to 1 million citizens into bomb
shelters, the Israeli government sent a strong signal of defiance to Hamas on
Wednesday, November 14th, when they conducted a pinpoint airstrike on a Gaza
street that killed Ahmed al-Jabari, a top ranking and highly influential Hamas
military commander. Following the targeted assassination of al-Jabari, Gabi
Siboni, a colonel in the reserves who leads the military and strategic affairs
program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv said,
"Deterrence has to be maintained. It was only a question of time until this
Clearly provoked by al-Jabari's assassination, Hamas' military wing then
issued a veiled threat saying that Israel "had opened the gates of hell" and
promised fierce retribution.
"Ahmed al-Jabari was a hero to the Palestinian people; a righteous fighter
for justice and freedom, and his blood will be revenged," said Sarah Ibrahimi, a
member of American Muslims for Palestine. Organizers of the demonstration led
their followers in the chant, "There is only one solution; Revolution,
Revolution" and "From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free".
Several Jewish supporters of Hamas also joined the demonstration including
Maya Wind, an Israeli who refused to serve in the military and spent a few weeks
in detention and forty days in military prison for her refusal. She held a sign
saying, "Israelis Against the Gaza Massacre" and called for Jewish character of
the State of Israel to be replaced with a bi-national democracy in which
"Palestinians have equal rights". Joining her were members of the notoriously
anti-Zionist Chareidi movement, Neturei Karta who the concept of a modern
independent Jewish state was prohibited by Torah law.
Across the street from the anti-Israel contingent, over 100 pro-Israel
counter protestors staged a passionate demonstration of support for "Israel's
right to defend herself". Led by renowned Jewish activist, Rabbi Avi Weiss of
the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, protestors displayed huge Israeli flags and
carried posters saying, "Israel Wants Peace, Hamas Wants Terror" and "Am Yisroel
Chai" (the people of Israel live). "The most fundamental obligation of any
country is to protect its citizens and that's exactly what Israel is doing,'
declared Rabbi Weiss. He added that, "We, the Jewish people, do not celebrate
when our enemies are defeated. The Israel Defense Forces are the most moral army
in the world and we are exceptionally proud of each and every one of
Hoping that a ceasefire agreement can be reached between Hamas and Israel,
Rabbi Weiss said that he would not like to see an Israeli ground offensive
because of "the heavy casualties that could be incurred". Referencing his
grandchildren who live in Israel, Rabbi Weiss said, "each time I speak with
them, I end the call by saying, "Hashem Yishmoor" (G-d should guard you) and let
me tell you, chevra, that it is only through the power of Hashem that we have
survived the persecutions throughout the ages and it will only be through Hashem
that we will survive this onslaught of Hamas rockets as well."
Dr. Marvin Belsky, a retired physician from the Upper West Side and
spokesperson for the Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam (HRCARI) said,
"America is being defended on the front line by Israel. When Israel defeats such
pernicious organizations such as Hamas who represent an existential threat not
only to themselves but to America as well, then Israel is thusly defending the
cherished American values of peace, liberty, justice, democracy and freedom and
should have unanimous international support."
"Global Jihad must be defeated" intoned Manhattan resident Linda Rivera, a
non-Jewish supporter of Israel. "I am here as a defender of freedom and human
rights and the State of Israel that champions these concepts," she said.
Speaking of a possible Israel ground assault in Gaza, Ms. Rivera said, "I wish
that the Israeli army would just go into Gaza without any apologies and cut the
electrical grid and water supply and clean out these terrorist miscreants once
and for all. If the Israeli army shows weakness or any kind of hesitation at
this juncture, then they are emboldening our enemies. They will come back again
like a malignant cancer if we don't cut them out permanently."
Prior to the conclusion of the demonstration, the pro-Israel demonstrators
sang songs of peace and were led in the recitation of Psalm 121 which speaks of
King David's complete faith and trust in the G-d of Israel. "I raise my eyes to
the mountains, from whence will come my help? My help is from Hashem (G-d), make
of heaven and earth."
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