Anti-Israel Groups to Protest ZAKA Speech on Oct. 7 Massacre at Teaneck Synagogue

By Matis Glenn

Anti-Israel groups have planned to protest a Monday event at a synagogue in Teaneck, New Jersey, honoring members of the Israeli rescue and burial organization ZAKA, who will relate first-hand accounts of the atrocities they witnessed during the Oct. 7 massacre.

ZAKA volunteers, at great personal risk, sprung into action immediately after the attacks and worked extensively to recover the victims of the massacre, which left 1,200 Israeli men, women and children dead, hundreds captured by Hamas terrorists, and sparked the current war against the terror group in Gaza.

Representatives of the organization will speak at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun on West Englewood Avenue at 8 p.m., and the synagogue will honor Simcha Greiniman, veteran ZAKA volunteer and commander in Modiin.

Posters circulated on social media by organizers Within Our Lifetime (WOL) and American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) called what they deemed ZAKA’s version of events “lies” used by the Israeli government as “fuel” for “genocide” in Gaza.

Excruciating details of Hamas’ atrocities were documented by the perpetrators themselves, with large amounts of video and photos posted to social media in the wake of the attacks. Independent journalists and international intelligence agencies, including from the United States, have corroborated the horrific onslaught, which marked the largest terror attack in Israel since its founding and the most deadly day for Jews worldwide since the Holocaust.

Anti-Israel groups, including AMP and WOL, in an effort to defend Hamas – an organization that calls for genocide of all Jews in its charter and is labeled a terror organization by the United States – have both justified the attacks and attempted to downplay them, while accusing Israel of targeting civilians in Gaza.

In early November of last year, the Virginia Attorney General’s office announced that it was investigating AMP, amid allegations that it “used funds raised for impermissible purposes under state law, including benefitting or providing support to terrorist organizations.”

ABC News reported that in 2000, the parents of 17-year-old David Boim Hy”d, who was killed in 1996 by Hamas terrorists in Israel, sued several Chicago-area nonprofits, including the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), alleging they had provided “material support” to terrorists. IAP was disbanded, but the Virginia lawsuit alleges that AMP has “largely the same core leadership as IAP… holds nearly identical conventions and events with many of the same roster of speakers,” and “continues to espouse Hamas’ ideology and political positions.”

As part of their evidence against AMP, the Boims cited an internet bulletin post from 2005 where members of AMP allegedly said, “[W]e really need to distance ourselves from any well-known IAP figures…. [s]ince this is the transition period,” according to court records.

AMP also coordinates and assists the Students for Justice in Palestine organization, responsible for a large share of anti-Israel protests on campuses nationwide.

The Anti-Defamation League reports that in a 2021 interview with Yarmouk, a Jordanian broadcasting station, AMP Executive Director Osama Abuirshaid said, “Israel today is a case of a parasite living off the American body, ” and in 2018 claimed that Jewish people today are the descendants of Khazar converts, and not from the original Jews, a debunked antisemitic trope.

Within Our Lifetime is an organization founded in New York by Nerdeen Kiswani, who threatened to murder a Jewish student wearing an IDF sweatshirt whom she noticed while giving a speech. She and her organization routinely praise Hamas, and she has publicly called for “death to Zionists.” WOL has also called for “global intifada,” and has organized protests aimed at shutting down New York City bridges and the JFK airport.

Chaverim of Bergen County says that there will be a police presence at Monday’s event.

“Police officials told me that they will continue to ensure the utmost security and safety for all members of the Teaneck community,” Sol Itzkowitz, Coordinator for Bergen County Chaverim told Hamodia.

Anti-Israel protests have become commonplace in Teaneck, with demonstrators arriving every week or so, according to Itzkowitz. On Sunday, protestors blocked Route 4, which connects the George Washington Bridge with New Jersey highways, and is close to Teaneck.

Protestors blocking Route 4 (posted to social media by NJCarsForPalestine)

Community rabbis slammed the protest as a “desecration” and a “brazen attack” on the Jewish community and religious institutions.

“This protest is a violation of all that we hold sacred,” read a letter issued Sunday by the Va’ad Harabanim Rabbinical Council of Bergen County. “First and foremost, it is a desecration of the memory of those who died at the hands of genocidal terrorists, al kiddush Hashem, for the sanctification of the Divine name. Second, it is a brazen attack on every member of the Jewish community, as the twelve hundred kedoshim of October 7th – men, women, and children – were killed simply for being Jewish. Finally, it is yet another attack on our holy spaces of worship, following the outrageous hate march against Keter Torah on March 10th.”

Anti-Israel protestors gathered in front of Congregation Keter Torah to protest an expo on buying real estate in Israel.

Ths rabbinical council and lay leaders requested that police keep the protests far away from the Bnai Yeshurun synagogue, voicing their concern that demonstrators might interfere with people being able to enter the synagogue for both the event and daily prayers.

“We have respectfully requested from the relevant authorities that this antisemitic event be canceled. As we, at present, have been informed that this will not be possible, we will not remain silent. The program will continue in a dignified manner inside the synagogue, and due honor will be given to the kedoshim.

The rabbis called for the counter-demonstration to begin at 6:30 p.m.

“We will remain peaceful at all times, and act only in a manner which sanctifies the Divine name for whose sake the kedoshim made the ultimate sacrifice,” the rabbis declared.

Vi’hi she’amda la ‘avosenu v’lanu, as they rise up against us once more, we have total faith in His powers of redemption. The Jewish people wil never be broken,” the letter concluded.

One community member called the protest a blood libel.

“Tomorrow, we will watch as a modern-day blood libel unfolds in Teaneck, NJ,” Levi Friedbauer, a Chevra Kadisha member who plans on attending Monday’s event told Hamodia. “Several national and prominent organizations are accusing ZAKA of promoting a genocide and war…I hope and pray that the entire town of Teaneck, including our neighbors, the Town Council and Mayor, can unequivocally stand against this blood libel.”

On Monday, the rabbinical council released an update to the community, saying that their pleas to law enforcement that the protest be held at a distance from Bnai Yeshurun were not successful. The letter gave instructions to the Teaneck Jewish community on how, when and where to counter-protest.

Speaking of the counter-demonstration, the rabbis said that the event will include divrei chizuk,
speeches, and tefillah, and cautioned attendees that “It is imperative that all our behavior and conduct at this demonstration reflect the Kiddush Hashem that we seek to create tonight, both inside and outside of the shul.”

“Please DO NOT: Engage the protestors in any way. Separate from the group at any time; when heading to your parked cars at the end of the demonstration, please do so in small groups rather than alone. Please DO: Bring positive messaging and American and Israeli flags. Recognize that the entire Teaneck Jewish community will be judged by your conduct at this event. Seek to be Mekdesh Shem Shamayim at all times.

“In accordance with guidance from the Teaneck Police Department, we advise those joining us to
park on Maitland and Rutland Avenue, and to walk to the shul via Jefferson Street. School buses
from local schools or other parts of Teaneck should please drop off on Warwick Avenue. Please
note that parts of West Englewood Avenue and River Road will likely be closed to traffic.” the letter continued.

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