Anti-Israel groups have held at least thirty-five rallies in cities across the U.S. since July 1, 2020, ostensibly to express their opposition to the potential annexation by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of parts of the West Bank, which had been expected to be announced as early as July 1. Although many of the protestors limited their messaging to expressions of support for Palestinians and criticisms of Israeli policy, a large number of these events featured classic antisemitic tropes or hostile language demonizing Zionism, the movement for Jewish self-determination and statehood – an ideologically diverse movement supported by the vast majority of American Jews and Americans in general.
Most of these rallies were described by their organizers as being part of a “Day of Rage,” a term coined by anti-Israel activists around the world including in the Palestinian territories. Others simply were billed as anti-annexation events. About half the rallies included messaging that bizarrely blamed Israel for the militarization of American police and for racist police brutality in the United States. Several specifically attempted to implicate Israel in the murder of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by Minneapolis police, although no evidence has been provided to substantiate this charge.
Some of the more hateful expressions at the rallies included:
- The July 1 rally in Brooklyn, New York, was noteworthy for its antisemitic elements and its references to terrorism. Activist Dequi Kioni Sadiki said that “European Jews…occupy, slaughter, and continue to force millions of Palestinians on to their killing fields called refugee [camps]…” At one point some in the crowd chanted in Arabic, “Death to America, Death to Israel.” Another chant was, “Genocide in 48, We don’t want your two states.” A flag of the terrorist group PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) was carried by one demonstrator. One of the speakers glowingly described her interaction with convicted PFLP terrorist Leila Khaled. Another speaker said, “"We don't want a fake Palestinian state that they give us while Israel still exists. The land that Israel exists on is still stolen. '48 lands are still stolen. Yaffa, Haifa, and Tel Aviv, originally named Tel Rabia, was still stolen. We don't want to go back to our homes just in Gaza and the West Bank. We want all of it!"
- At the July 1 rally in Worth, Illinois, Imam Tariq El-Amin of American Muslims for Palestine said that “Zionist knees are on our necks.” At the same rally, Reverend Donald Wagner, National Program director of Friends of Sabeel-North America, said, “Zionism is at the root of everything. The racist ideology and colonialism of Zionism is what is stealing the land, it is what's murdering Palestinians.”
- At the July 3 rally in Atlanta Georgia, a sign read, “Israel is a garbage country that’s only loved by garbage ppl [sic]. It was founded on ethnic cleansing apartheid and colonialism. Its flag is a symbol of white supremacy.”
- At the July 3 rally in North Bergen, New Jersey, the Executive Director of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, Dr. Selaedin Maksut, said that “In order to defeat this evil that is Zionism, we must realize that the foot on the necks of the Black and Brown people of this nation is the same foot and the same knee that is choking the Palestinian people. Zionism is racism, and the same powers that oppress the ones here in America are the same powers that oppress the Palestinian people.” Another unidentified speaker who claimed to work for American Muslims for Palestine unambiguously said that their opposition to Israel focuses not only on the occupied territories: “We know that when you say no to annexation, no to occupation, we’re talking about all of historic Palestine. We’re talking about the entire West Bank, we’re talking about all the land. All the land from which our people were driven out.”
Some of the rallies consisted of car caravans which took routes that were deliberately designed to pass in front of offices of Jewish organizations, including regional offices of ADL, as well as Israeli consulates. Attendance ranged from under 20 in places like Philadelphia, Baltimore, Toledo, and Albuquerque, to up to 100-300 in Brooklyn, Chicago, Boston, San Diego, and Washington, D.C.
Anti-Israel groups which convened the rallies included Students for Justice in Palestine, Al Awda, Samidoun, Jewish Voice for Peace, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Palestinian Youth Movement, American Muslims for Palestine, and Friends of Sabeel North America.
The far-left group Workers World also played an organizing role in some of the rallies. Some of the rallies were attended by other left-wing activist groups such as Union del Barrio-Los Angeles, CODEPINK, the Asian Solidarity Collective, the Red Nation, Alianza Por Puerto Rico, the ANSWER Coalition, and Socialist Alternative. A fringe, anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect known as Neturei Karta was a visible presence at several of the rallies.
In addition to expressions of support for Palestinians, anti-racist activism was a secondary theme at a number of the rallies. Many participants condemned systemic racism in the United States; one rally, convened in San Diego on July 1, was endorsed by a Black Lives Matter group unaffiliated with the official Black Lives Matter organization. We are not aware of any other Black Lives Matter groups sponsoring or endorsing any other Day of Rage rallies.