Ever since the Hamas assault against Israel on October 7, cities and universities throughout the nation (and beyond) have erupted in what most of the media insists on calling "pro-Palestine rallies." But they really are at best "anti-Israel rallies." Many of them are outright "pro-Hamas" rallies.
One would expect speakers at "pro-Palestine" rallies to make the case for a Palestinian state. They might echo the terms of United Nations Resolution 181, which in 1947 envisioned a Palestinian and Israeli state living side-by-side as peaceful neighbors. Or they might echo Bill Clinton's attempts at Camp David in 2000 to forge a Palestinian state on Gaza and 97% of the so-called "West Bank."
On the other hand, speakers who make the case for eliminating the Jewish state, and chant "from the river to the sea" are making the Hamas case for a single state called "Palestine" in which any Jews who were allowed to remain would be part of a persecuted minority.
"Pro-Palestinian" demonstrators would wave signs painted with messages like "Two-State Solution Now" or "Palestinians Deserve a State."
Demonstrators who call for "Intifada," wave signs accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing and genocide, and justify the slaughter of Israeli civilians as a form of "resistance" are indistinguishable from the average Hamas protesters at Palestinian colleges.
Genuinely "pro-Palestinian" thinkers would reach for the soaring rhetoric of Martin Luther King Jr., the tactics of Mahatma Gandhi, and the principles of Henry David Thoreau.
The images and videos from the post-October 7 protests are nothing like the protests led by King, Gandhi or Thoreau. Rather, they are one part Frantz Fanon, who justified violence to achieve his goals and popularized the phrase, "By Any Means Necessary," one part Hamas, and one part Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.
For instance, on October 10, "pro-Palestine" demonstrators outside the iconic Sydney Opera House in Australia chanted "F—k the Jews," and "Gas the Jews." They also chanted "Allahu Akbar."
Not to be outdone, in London, where antisemitic hate crimes are up 1,350% according to police, "pro-Palestine" protestors chanted, "Oh Jews, the army of Muhammad is coming."
At MIT and the George Washington University, clever "pro-Palestine" protestors found a way to marry Nazi and Palestinian rhetoric with the chant, "There is only one solution – intifada, revolution."
At Saturday's "Flood Brooklyn for Gaza" protest in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (which the NYPD advised Jews to avoid), 7,000 of them gathered, "openly cheering Hamas terrorists' barbaric attacks on Israel – and justifying the murders of innocent mothers and babies," according to the New York Post.
It's impossible to examine the photo and video evidence taken at the "pro-Palestine" rallies and conclude that they are anything other than pro-Hamas, anti-Israel rallies, brimming with a carnival atmosphere not unlike the Nürnberg rallies of the 1930s. The very resemblance so shocked German chancellor Olaf Scholz that he proclaimed himself personally, "deeply outraged by the way in which antisemitic hatred and inhuman agitation have been breaking out since that fateful October 7, on the internet, in social media around the world, and shamefully also here in Germany."
It's a pity most of the American media doesn't share his outrage.
The New York Times published an article on October 10 about the Democrat Socialists of America's rally that even embarassed "squad" members Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Jamaal Bowman so much that they distanced themselves from it, but Nicholas Fandos and Jonah E. Bromwich still described it as a "pro-Palestine rally." They ran the picture below of protestors carrying signs that read "FROM LEBANON TO PALESTINE RESISTANCE IS JUSTIFIED" and a large banner requiring at least 7 people to carry reading "SUPPORT PALESTINIAN RESISTANCE" with the caption "Pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched toward the United Nations on Monday. A pro-Palestinian rally on Sunday led to fierce political backlash."
The Chicago Tribune website has a photo gallery of images from the recent "pro-Palestine" protests in the city. In one picture (shown below) protestors are carrying signs reading "FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA PALESTINE WILL BE FREE," but the caption reads "A pro-Palestine protest moves north on Michigan Ave, on October 21, 2023."
On October 25, "pro-Palestinian" protesters did their best to imitate a lynch mob at a small college in Manhattan called The Cooper Union, where they turned on a handful of Jewish students who had to be locked into a library for their safety. The New York Times blithely describes the "pro-Palestinian protesters pounding on one side of locked library doors and Jewish students on the other," but adds that "There was no indication that the protesters intended to harm the Jewish students." The video suggests otherwise.
How different these protests and their media coverage are from those of the Civil Rights era. What would Martin Luther King Jr. make of them?
King said very little about the Palestinians, but he understood the conflict. He said that, "Neither Israel nor its neighbors can live in peace without an underlying basis of economic and social development." But he also said that, "any talk of driving the Jews into the Mediterranean, as we have heard over the last few weeks or last several years, is not only unrealistic talk but is suicidal talk for the whole world and I think it is also terribly immoral."
So listen up all you tools at ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, Reuters, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Associated Press, VOA, NPR, Al Jazeera, and especially the New York Times – spare us the euphemistic garbage about "pro-Palestine" rallies in your reporting.
When you see people calling for a new generation of Palestinian leaders to make bold decisions and face the reality that the previous generations of leaders have rejected, then you can call them "pro-Palestine" rallies.
When you see people cursing Yasser Arafat for his five decades of tricking Palestinians into wasting their lives in pursuit of a fantasy, then you can call them "pro-Palestine" rallies.
When you see people protesting Hamas, PIJ, the PFLP, and all the other professional terrorist organizations for turning children into soldiers, then you can call them "pro-Palestine" rallies.
Of course, I may be reading the situation incorrectly. It may be that in the year 2023, "pro-Palestine" really does mean pro-murder, pro-rape, and pro-infanticide. Maybe to attend a "pro-Palestinian" rally requires one to approve of kidnapping children and old women, of defiling corpses and burning people alive. And maybe "by any means necessary" is more than a radical chic slogan.
A.J. Caschetta is a principal lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Ginsburg/Milstein Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum.