Pro-Palestinians Protest Outside Brooklyn College As Israel Reels From Worst Terror Attack in its History

A pro-Palestinian protestor in front of Brooklyn College

By Matis Glenn

With a heavy security presence deployed by the NYPD, around 50 people showed up to a pro-Palestinian protest on the streets of Midwood Thursday afternoon, following a call to protest from an extremist students’ group which hailed Hamas’ terror attacks on Israel this week as a “historic win.”

The protest, which according to New York City Councilmembers Kalman Yeger and Inna Vernikov was organized by a group called National Students for Justice in Palestine, took place on Bedford Avenue between Avenues I and H, sandwiched between Brooklyn College’s campus buildings. The group disseminated a pamphlet on social media calling for a national “Day of Resistance” on Thursday in support of Palestinians across college campuses. The demonstration was called for 12:00 p.m., but only a handful of people came at that time; most had arrived by 12:20 p.m.

The group does not appear to acknowledge the sovereignty of the United States and Canada, instead referring to them both as “Occupied Turtle Island,” and the “so-called United States and Canada.”

In material posted to social media calling for the protests, the National Students for Justice in Palestine referred to the attacks of Hamas terrorists on Israeli civilians as a “historic win for the Palestinian resistance: across land, air, and sea,” mentioning the number of Palestinians killed in response to the attacks, but omitting any mention of the brutal murders of Israeli civilians, including women, children and infants. It also called on supporters to “honor the martyrs of Palestine.”

No violent incidents were reported at Thursday’s demonstration.

Similar protests have been held in recent days following Hamas’ unprecedented attack on Israel, which has left over 1,200 Israelis dead and thousands more injured. One such protest was held in Times Square hours after Israel was attacked, and was promoted by the New York branch of the Democratic Socialists of America organization. Members of the group include many elected officials, though none of them appeared at the demonstration. Two of the group’s members, Rep. Alexandria Ocassio Cortez and New York State Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani criticized the protest in Times Square.

While the Brooklyn College rally was originally planned to be held on campus, college President Michelle Anderson on Wednesday announced that the protest would be off of school grounds, on the street, following fierce backlash from local elected officials.

“A group of students acting on their own called for a rally tomorrow to be held on our campus,” Anderson said in a statement. “That rally has now been moved off campus to the sidewalks of Bedford Ave., a public space that Brooklyn College does not control.” Anderson also permitted students who do not feel safe to not attend classes Thursday.

On Tuesday, Anderson released a statement condemning Hamas and supporting the victims of the terror attacks. “We condemn the violent attack by Hamas on Israel and its diverse peoples. We mourn innocent lives lost across the region and the suffering that so many are now experiencing, as civilians will bear the brunt of the violence,” the statement read.

Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez said that CUNY has increased a security presence at the college, and issued a statement condemning Hamas’ terror attacks. “We want to be clear that we don’t condone the activities of any internal organizations that are sponsoring rallies to celebrate or support Hamas’ cowardly actions,” Matos Rodríguez said in a statement.

A counter-protest from a pro-Israel crowd was held on the same street, closer to Avenue I. One of the attendees, Dovid Taub, told Hamodia, “If you’re supporting this, you’re supporting terrorism.” He added that the reason why some are justifying Hamas’ actions is because of bias against Israel. “It’s disgusting that they’re getting some leeway…most countries are denouncing Hamas’ actions, but not all, and it’s only because they’re Palestinians. If any other country were to commit the atrocities being perpetrated by Hamas, there would be completely universal condemnation.”

Many of the anti-Israel protestors donned head and face coverings, and draped themselves in Palestinian flags.

Slogans were shouted by the group, including “long live the intifada,” and “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free.” The “river” refers to the Jordan River, and the “sea” is a reference to the Mediterranean Sea. The phrase is understood to be a denial of Israel’s right to exist, since the land between those two bodies of water encompasses Israel’s entire landscape.

At least one student protestor wished to distance himself from Hamas. He told CBS News that he was there to support Palestinians, but did not support Hamas.

One student asked this reporter why Brooklyn College permitted students who don’t feel safe to not attend school on the day of the protest, while students are not given the same opportunity when pro-Israel demonstrations take place. When asked by this reporter if they believed that Jewish students should feel safe when a protest calling for Intifada, in the wake of the deadliest massacre of Jews in the history of the State of Israel, is held supporting Palestinians, which can be seen as supporting the terrorist attacks perpetrated, the student replied that they should feel safe. When asked if the student was aware of the amount of antisemitic incidents, including assaults, perpetrated on Jewish students at CUNY campuses citywide, often accompanied by anti-Israel rhetoric, the student replied that he was unaware.

Another protestor, whose face was covered, walked behind this reporter, who was identifiably Jewish but bore no Israeli symbols, and touched his shoulders while whispering something in Arabic. A different protestor, when asked if he wanted to comment on the protest, replied “keep your distance.”

One student said that Israelis invaded a Palestinian country 100 years ago, but that same “country” was founded in 1947. When asked to name one of its kings, presidents, or government bodies, he replied that he did not know of any.

While interviewing another student, an older woman urged the student to cover his face while talking with Hamodia.

Not all of those who appeared at the protest were students.

A teacher at neighboring Midwood High School spoke with Hamodia and said that he is Jewish, and on the side of the Palestinians. When asked if what Hamas has done was justified, and if there are any limits on what Palestinians can do to achieve their goals, he responded “No, there’s no limit, because it’s not about what’s right and wrong. It’s not what you’re looking at; you’re looking at a reaction that makes perfect sense.”

He went on to compare Hamas’ terror attacks on civilians to Jews who joined the partisans to fight Nazi soldiers during World War II. He referred to Palestinian protestors who shot rocks with sling shots at police as “peaceful,” and repeated false claims about Israelis killing such protestors en masse.

A student who overheard the interview with the high school teacher was asked what he thought of the situation, and he said “I’m pretty much with him.”

That student went on to say, “I think the premise that’s being painted here is that your resistance isn’t resistance if you’re killing civilians, but that premise is damaged because no one wants the loss of civilians.”

This reporter responded “then why did they target civilians?”

Yeger blasted the protest as a display of “violently terroristic” hatred of Jews, and said that CUNY is unsafe for Jewish people.

“Today, our neighborhood witnessed several dozen vile individuals who find it acceptable to align themselves in thought and action with Hamas,” Yeger told Hamodia. “I won’t repeat the chants and shouts I heard, but I heard enough to know that their hatred for the Jewish people is violently terroristic.  That’s why Councilwoman Inna Vernikov and I urged the CUNY Chancellor to close CUNY campuses for the remainder of the week.  Sadly, the Chancellor’s refusal to do so jeopardizes the physical and mental health of decent CUNY students and faculty, in favor of Hamas supporters who chose to terrorize Jews today. CUNY continues to remain an unabated bastion of antisemitism, entirely unsafe for Jews.”

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