No one shouted "Go Back to the Oven" at the pro-Hamas rallies held in Atlanta in the last few days, but the sentiment was echoed in the messages their organizers promoted. Islamic fundamentalists spouted their hatred at the gatherings far-Left activists called to protest Israel's self-defense. The unholy alliance met at the CNN Center January 3rd and at the Israeli consulate the previous Tuesday, where CAIR members and Communists blocked traffic, endorsed the annihilation of Israel, dressed in terrorist garb, extolled those plotting a new Holocaust, and equated Jewish self-defense with Nazi genocide.
The tone should be no surprise considering who organized these events. The organizational force behind both was the Atlanta chapter of the International Action Center (IAC). An e-mail from the IAC indicated that Emory Advocates for Justice in Palestine, Athens for Justice in Palestine, and other "peace and justice organizations" would be involved. On site, I discovered these "peace and justice organizations" included the once-laudable Amnesty International – alongside, the International Socialist Organization and the Revolutionary Communist Party. (The RCP publication Revolution were also represented.)
- The International Action Center, the main organizer behind the massive "antiwar" demonstrations before the war with Iraq, was founded by Ramsey Clark as a front for the Marxist Workers World Party. IAC is a beehive of radical causes including prosecuting American soldiers for "war crimes" during the Korean War, spreading "the truth" about North Korea, freeing cop-killers Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier, and insisting "no one in the world…has a worse human rights record than the United States."
- Revolution is the publication of the Revolutionary Communist Party, a Maoist sect founded by Bob Avakian. The RCP maintains an office in Atlanta, and this is hardly the its first collaboration with Muslim extremists; "In the summer of 1983, the organization set up terrorist training camps in Colorado, drawing people from the Iranian Student Association." The RCP remains dedicated to "the seizure of power right within the U.S. itself…as part of the world proletarian revolution." The current issue of Revolution features a front page headline screaming, "Stop the Israeli Massacre in Gaza!" (Emphasis in original.) Author Larry Everest accuses Israel of committing a "war crime" and condemns its "despicable display of Nazi-like threat" by dropping pamphlets asking Gaza civilians to evacuate the bombing area.
- Emory Advocates for Justice in Palestine (EAJP) maintains a website that describes all of Israel, from 1948, as "colonization." In November, EAJP hosted a lecture by Hassan El-Najjar. In an op-ed for Al Jazeera entitled "Towards a Clear Definition of Terrorism," the professor cited a number of "terrorist" acts, including "attacks on Muslim mosques after September 11, 2001" – but not 9/11 itself. He added, "It is inaccurate to use the term [terrorism] in describing resistance to foreign invaders and foreign occupation forces, such as the case of Palestinians fighting Israeli occupation forces to liberate themselves from foreign military rule." In another, he shed more light on his view: "[The] September 11 attacks happened as a reaction to the American foreign policy in the Middle East." By the first anniversary of 9/11, he brought himself to write that killing civilians during "air attacks" – he still could not call it terrorism – was not justified, "no matter how much the perpetrator was victimized." Not alone, EAJP brought in a representative of the Palestinian Solidarity Movement two months earlier. Its "Resources" page further radicalizes its members, directing eager readers to the publications Electronic Intifada and Al Jazeera.
- Athens for Justice in Palestine (AJP) has co-sponsored many of EAJP's outings, as well as a 2005 speech by Jeff Halper, an American anthropology professor who heads the "Free Gaza Movement," which attempted to deliver 3.5 tons of "medical supplies" to Hamas-controlled Gaza on December 30. The AJP website features YouTube footage of its members gathered outside the CNN center chanting, "U.S./Israel, you can't hide; we charge you with genocide!" AJP, too, links to Electronic Intifada, the Palestinian Solidarity Movement, and the radical Indymedia.org.
- The International Socialist Organization, a Trotskyite organization, calls for "militant workers" to wage a perpetual revolution against the bourgeoisie. It justifies Islamic violence, whether 9/11 hijackers against the United States or Palestinian suicide bombers, writing these innocents were "not born wanting to become suicide bombers. But their lifetimes of humiliation…made them open to terrorism as a means to avenge their oppression."
- "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free";
- "Gaza, Gaza don't you cry, in our hearts, you'll never die"; and
- "Not a penny, not a dime, Israel out of Palestine"
As if to counter the ISO's thesis that Palestinians were not born with the hope of becoming terrorists, many protesters brought along their children, some dressed in Palestinian terrorist gear. Many youngsters could be seen chanting and waving signs and Palestinian flags alongside their family and friends, with protesters of all ages wearing the keffiyeh. One young boy, clad in keffiyeh, waved a Palestinian flag, while the man next to him paraded baby dolls splattered with imitation blood. (How child-friendly.) Others used their own children as examples of the civilians Israel is supposedly targeting – a claim even Palestinian television cannot support. A young girl presented herself as an Israeli target, holding a sign saying, "I am not a terrorist."
In addition to Ahmadinejad, protesters showed love for another political figure: President-elect Barack Obama. The campaign to end "the Israeli Occupation" handed out postcards with the iconic picture of Obama and the slogan, "Yes, we can," with the added plea, "End U.S. military aid to Israel." These postcards featured a pre-typed message, alleging that U.S. money is being used to "enforce its [Israel's] illegal military occupation of and commit human rights abuses in the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip."
Divestment of Israel was a popular theme. A young man wearing an Obama t-shirt and Obama embroidered pullover held a sign that said, "Stop dropping U.S. Bombs! 71% of Americans Oppose Intervention."
They reached at least a few government workers during the protest. Some bus drivers of MARTA – Atlanta's public transportation system – honked in support of their cause, as demonstrators held up "Honk for Gaza" signs.
There was not one condemnation of Hamas in the course of the rally. However, the protesters regularly pilloried CNN. There were signs saying, "CNN – Tell the truth, bombing Gaza is a crime." Individual demonstrators screamed, "Screw you Andersen Cooper!" and "Screw you Wolf Blitzer!" (Wolf Blitzer, a Jew, wrote a book on the Jonathan Pollard spy scandal, Territory of Lies. The New York Times described his depiction of Israeli government officials as "harsh.") The irony that they were protesting the most pro-Palestinian broadcast outlet since Peter Jennings' death was lost of them.
A similar tone held sway at the December 30th rally in front of the Consulate General of Israel. Again, the protest was arranged by the Atlanta branch of the International Action Center. They had a permit from 4:00-5:30 p.m. to demonstrate in front of the Israeli consulate which is in midtown Atlanta. Car traffic was heavy the entire time, and there was a constant flow of people into the demonstration. Women were coming with their young children in strollers and older people wrapped in keffiyehs came and set up chairs.
Representatives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) were on hand, as were Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Georgia Tech and Emory Advocates for Justice in Palestine. CAIR has a lengthy history of association with terrorists, and the Georgia Tech branch of SJP directs its readers to Electronic Intifada, the Palestinian Solidarity Movement, and recommends books written by Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi. At 5:30 p.m. on December 20, police announced the mob must leave the premises, so its members marched into the street – walking against the flow of traffic – shutting down the street entirely, and establishing themselves about a quarter-mile away.
It is important to recognize that Saturday's rally was not a singular event or an isolated incident, but rather part of a sustained and calculated effort on their behalf to influence government policy and public opinion. Many of these people feel empowered with the recent election of Obama and show no signs of backing down, but rather of intensifying their efforts. Similar protests have occurred around the world, but the extreme anti-Israel, anti-Jewish, and anti-American sentiments being expressed in the U.S. to this degree are alarming. These enemies of Israel – and America – are making their message and ultimate goal clear in their vitriolic preaching and advocating of death and destruction. Their actions must serve as a wake-up call and motivate us in our current support for Israel and the United States.
One of the RCP protesters held a sign demanding, "Stop Thinking Like Americans!"
The protesters have long since put that into practice. They clearly think like our enemies.
Orit Sklar is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. Orit has been involved in the conservative movement and the quest for academic freedom both within and beyond Georgia Tech, and is currently co-plaintiff in a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging Georgia Tech's unconstitutional policies.