Incendiary anti-Israel rhetoric and occasional support for terrorism marked Quds (Jerusalem Day) events in eight U.S. cities, held Friday, May 31st and Saturday, June 1st.
The annual day of anti-Israel activism was originally conceived by the leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini. While Quds Day events in Europe and the Middle East draw thousands of people, attendance in the U.S. was relatively sparse.
Quds Day events took place in New York City, Chicago, Houston, Dearborn, Boston, Seattle, Washington, D.C. and Orlando, with the most extreme rallies in New York City, Dearborn and Seattle.
While only a few dozen people attended in New York, the event was marked by troubling rhetoric. One sign read, “Support Palestinian resistance,” and one of the chants was, “Long live the Intifada!” Some forms of resistance and broad elements of the two Intifadas, particularly the Second Intifada, have been characterized by violence.
One speaker in New York proclaimed, “We don’t want no two states, we want ’48,” referring to all of the territory that makes up Israel today. He emphasized that “every inch from the river to the sea is Palestine” and that “Israel does not exist, it has not existed, it does not exist, and it will never exist – there is only Palestine.” Another speaker declared, “There is only one solution,” to which the crowd responded “Intifada, revolution!” Yet another speaker led the following chant: “Five, six, seven, eight, smash the settler Zionist state.”
Members of Neturei Karta, a fringe anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox group, were also in attendance, and a speaker from the group told the crowd about the “atrocities” and “rivers of bloodshed” for which “Zionist oppressors” are responsible.
In Dearborn, support for terrorist organizations was expressed outright. One speaker told the crowd of a few dozen that “Hamas has the right to resist,” “Hezbollah has the right to resist,” and that “Everybody who fights against Israel has the right to resist.” Another speaker said, “Israel is crumbling, less than 25 years to go, according to the calculations of our beloved leader Imam Khamenei” (the current Supreme Leader of Iran), and that “our quarrel is not with the people of America, but with the Satanic government and the Satanic politicians.”
In Seattle, speakers delivered inflammatory rhetoric to a crowd of only a couple dozen attendees. One speaker referred to the “71st anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Palestine” – referring to the entire land of Israel as being under occupation – and that “The horrible and unacceptable crimes that Hitler did to the Jews in the past are exactly what Israelis are now doing to the Palestinians.”
Another speaker referred to the “largest, longest, most comprehensive, premediated [sic] and still continuous ethnic cleansing operation in modern history” by Israel, adding that “Zionists do not believe or practice Torah; instead, they are anti-Torah teachings and anti-God people.” She also discussed the “eventual demise of Zionism.” At the same event, an ultra-Orthodox man, apparently a member of Neturei Karta, held a sign reading, “Torah demands all Palestine be returned to Palestinian sovereignty,” with an illustration of all the land that makes up Israel, the West Bank and Gaza covered in a Palestinian flag.
Such public support for terrorist organizations and the advocating for the eradication of Israel has marked previous Al Quds day events in the U.S. In 2012, for instance, Rabbi Dovid Feldman of Neturei Karta called for the “dismantlement of the entire state of Israel” during a speech in Los Angeles.