Anti-Israel Activists Co-opt American Tragedies to Target Israel

This spring and summer, as headlines across the United States have focused on urgent issues like the dangers of gun violence and threats to reproductive care, prominent anti-Israel groups and individuals have sought to tether these American issues to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, doubling down on anti-Zionist tropes and false accusations against the state of Israel.

These groups include Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), both of which have significant influence on many university campuses and activist spaces throughout the U.S., and have, at various times, advocated against the existence of the Jewish state and Zionism.

From the Highland Park and Buffalo mass shootings to the racial tensions surrounding the fatal police shooting of Jayland Walker, an unarmed 25-year-old Black man who was shot to death after attempting to flee a traffic stop in Akron, Ohio, and the second anniversary of the police murder of George Floyd, Israel’s detractors have drawn false parallels between these tragic incidents and the actions of the Jewish state and its treatment of the Palestinian people. These include alleging that Zionism is a form of racism akin to white supremacy, and attempting to paint Israel as a settler colonialist enterprise that targets the Palestinian population.

In the same vein, these activists utilized anti-Zionist rhetoric when commenting on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe vs. Wade, invoking the same demonizing anti-Israel tropes. This includes framing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in reproductive justice terms, as well as asserting that “reproductive justice organizing must be centered in an anti-capitalist, anti-Zionist, and anti-colonial analysis.” Others insisted that “bodily autonomy in the U.S.” is connected to “the fight for Palestinian freedom.” 

Furthermore, anti-Israel activists continued the longstanding practice of falsely accusing Israel of complicity in U.S. police brutality.

The following are some recent examples from these anti-Israel activists’ and groups’ social media posts:

Inflammatory Anti-Zionist Expressions

  • Commenting on the Buffalo shooting, San Francisco State University scholar Rabab Abdulhadi tweeted: “Not conflating contexts but it's impossible not to see parallels in how Zionist settler colonialism kills Indigenous Palestinians & U.S. white supremacist settler colonialism kills Black, Indigenous and other 3rd world/people of color.” (Emphasis added.)

Graphical user interface, text, application, email

Description automatically generated

  • Commenting on the Buffalo shooting, anti-Israel group Adalah Justice Project tweeted: “We must work to end all systems of supremacy that spawn hate and violence. End white supremacy. End antisemitism. End Zionism. Strength to Buffalo tonight.” (Emphasis added.)

Graphical user interface, text, application

Description automatically generated

  • Seattle-based Palestinian feminist collective Falastiniyat Seattle tweeted: “We are here to remind you that your reproductive justice organizing must be centered in an anti-capitalist, anti-Zionist, and anti-colonial analysis. Bodily autonomy is never possible under a capitalist settler-colonial state.” (Emphasis Added.)

  • National Students for Justice in Palestine conflated the overturning of Roe with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an Instagram post: “In Palestine, the Zionist project subjects Palestinians to the worst forms of bodily harm, with Palestinians forced to give birth at check-points and on cold prison floors without access to basic health care infrastructure. Propelled by orientalist and racist perceptions of Arab society, the Zionist project weaponizes bodies as an attack on Palestinian and Arab society, using the lives of Palestinian women and gender non-conforming people as the justification for colonization and ethnic cleansing.