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George Washington University Students Hold ‘Jewish Pride’ Rally as Pro-Hamas Encampment Remains on Campus

“Show Your Jewish Pride” rally at George Washington University G Street Park on May 2, 2024. Photo: Dion J. Pierre

Washington, DC — George Washington University (GW) was the stage of two dueling demonstrations on Thursday as Jewish students held a rally just a block away from the school’s pro-Hamas encampment, an illegal occupation of school property which has become an emblem of surging campus antisemitism in America.

“When Jewish students across the country are harassed — yelled at, spat on, concerned, and blocked from the very places they have a right to be — we respond with songs of hope and humanity, as a community,” GW senior Sabrina Soffer told a crowd of hundreds that gathered in blistering heat. “This is our defiance. We respond to slurs by mobs wishing our existence away by flying our flags high — tapestries of our past and present, our people and purpose.”

The rally, titled “Show Your Jewish Pride,” was a student-led initiative organized by a consortium of student groups, including GW for Israel (GWI), Students Supporting Israel (SSI), and the Jewish Students Association (JSA). Soffer, their principal leader and organizer, has appeared all over national media to spread awareness of rising antisemitism, and, last year, she delivered a soaring speech before hundreds of thousands of people at the March for Israel in Washington, DC.

Nearly a dozen speakers addressed the crowd on Thursday as Israeli and American flags rippled in the wind. One of them, Leat Corinne Unger, drove to Washington from New York to advocate the release of the more than 100 Israeli hostages still held captive in Gaza by the Hamas terrorist group. One of them is her cousin, Omer Shem Tov, who was abducted while attending the Nova Music Festival in Israel on Oct. 7.

“He is my cousin. He was 20 when he was kidnapped. He celebrated his 21st birthday three weeks into captivity, and it’s been 209 days since we last heard from him,” Unger told The Algemeiner during an interview. “It’s a nightmare that has lasted for 209 days. I hope that everyone will remember that we’re all fighting numerous battles on many fronts, but the most important priority is to bring our brothers and sisters home. I don’t think we can be whole, healed, and proud until they’re home. Even after Omer gets home, if there is anyone who is still there, I’m going to be fighting for them.”

Unger added that Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel upended her life.

“It changed me and put everything into perspective,” she continued. “I’m no longer a speech pathologist. I’m no longer a learning specialist. I’m no longer a director of a school. I’m now a full fledged advocate of my people.”

Since Oct. 7, antisemitic incidents have reached record levels around the world, including in the US and Europe.

Another speaker on Thursday, pro-Israel activist and social media influencer Lizzy Savetsky, told The Algemeiner that showing solidarity with Jewish students has become her life’s mission.

“I think this is the most important work that I could be doing right now,” she said. “Fighting antisemitism is overwhelming. It’s a global issue, but what we’re seeing on college campuses right now and the lack of protection and the lack of advocacy for Jewish students is shocking and extremely disturbing. So I just want to be there for them and let them know they’re not alone. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be a Jewish student on campus right now.”

Following the event, Savetsky resolved to walk through GW’s pro-Hamas encampment and invited The Algemeiner to join her. Wearing a t-shirt that said “Shalom” — which means “peace” in Hebrew and is often used as a greeting — she was promptly noticed by two protesters who proceeded to follow her every step while lodging accusations of anti-Palestinian racism. Others soon noticed her presence, and the mass of students and faculty erupted into chants of “Zionist go home!”

Savetsky was accompanied by Lauren Kagen, a social media director for the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC).

“What was most shocking was the presence of faculty,” Savetsky told The Algemeiner after the encounter. “This is supposed to be an educational institution, and how can Jewish students feel safe attending their classes when their professors are out there protesting against them? But I am so proud of our people and who we are. Our love will prevail over their hate, and seeing all of that just encourages me to keep on fighting.”

The Metropolitan Police Department has declined to help George Washington University remove the pro-Hamas encampment from campus, according to numerous reports. Republican lawmakers have called for the students to be arrested.

“They are in blatant violation of university policy, but we won’t be intimidated,” GW senior Skyler Sieradzky said.

GW has been one of many college campuses to be engulfed in the anti-Israel demonstrations that have swept across the country.

For over two weeks, university students have been amassing in the hundreds at a growing number of schools, taking over sections of campuses by setting up “Gaza Solidarity Encampments” and refusing to leave unless administrators condemn and boycott Israel. Footage of the protests has shown demonstrators chanting in support of Hamas, calling for the destruction of Israel, and even threatening to harm members of the Jewish community on campus. In many cases, activists have also lambasted the US and Western civilization more broadly.

The protests initially erupted across the US but have since spread to university campuses around the world, primarily in the West. The Algemeiner has reported on how in many instances the faculty, rather than the students, have been the key forces driving the demonstrations and keeping university presidents on their heels.

The protests have erupted amid a surge in antisemitism on university campuses. In the months since Oct. 7, anti-Zionist activists inspired by Hamas’ barbarity have bullied and even assaulted Jewish students while demanding that colleges implement a full boycott of Israel — an action that would purge schools of Jews and Zionists, experts have told The Algemeiner. According to the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic incidents on college campus rose 321 percent in 2023, disrupting the academic lives of Jewish students and leaving them uncertain about the fate of the American Jewish community.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Iran’s ‘Supreme Leader’ Welcomes Anti-Israel Campus Protesters to ‘Resistance Front’

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech in Tehran, Iran. Photo: Official Khamenei Website/Handout via REUTERS

Iran’s so-called “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, applauded the anti-Israel protesters who have thrown university campuses across the US into chaos over the past several weeks, declaring them part of a new “branch of the Resistance Front” against the Jewish state.

“Dear university students in the United States of America, this message is an expression of our empathy and solidarity with you,” Khamenei wrote in an open letter published on Thursday. “As the page of history is turning, you are standing on the right side of it.”

Rehashing antisemitic conspiracies of Jewish control, he derided “the global Zionist elite” for speaking against the campus demonstrations.

“The global Zionist elite — who owns most US and European media corporations or influences them through funding and bribery — has labeled this courageous, humane resistance movement as ‘terrorism,’” Khamenei wrote. “You have now formed a branch of the Resistance Front and have begun an honorable struggle in the face of your government’s ruthless pressure — a government which openly supports the usurper and brutal Zionist regime.”

Khamenei also praised students in other countries who have launched anti-Israel demonstrations on campuses, noting the leading role that faculty have played in fostering and supporting the unrest.

“Besides you students from dozens of American universities, there have also been uprisings in others countries among academics and the general public,” he wrote. “The support and solidarity of your professors is a significant and consequential development. This can offer some measure of comfort in the face of your government’s police brutality and the pressures it is exerting on you. I too am among those who empathize with you young people, and value your perseverance.”

Khamenei’s letter came amid an outpouring of praise for the anti-Zionist students by Islamist terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

“While we support the assassination of the infidel Zionists and the beheading of them, we also appreciate and value the movement of Western demonstrators and sit-in students from Western universities, who through their sit-ins and protests expressed their rejection of the genocide taking place in Gaza,” al-Qaeda leadership wrote in a recent communique

Hamas and Hezbollah, both backed by Iran, have also cheered the protests.

“Today’s students are the leaders of the future, and their suppression today means an expensive electoral bill that the Biden administration will pay sooner or later,” Hamas official Izzat Al-Risheq said in a statement last month.

Naim Qassem, the deputy head of Hezbollah, also praised the protesters during an interview with Al-Manar TV earlier this month.

“We appreciate and value this very much. Perhaps in the future, there will be cooperation among the youth of the world — in America, France, Britain, Germany, and all the activists,” he said. “The [campus protests] are important, especially because they will have an impact on US elections. They will have an impact on the American position.”

Earlier this month, when some universities suspended students who had occupied sections of campus and refused to leave unless school officials agreed to condemn and boycott Israel, the Iran-backed Houthi militia, a terrorist organization that has repeatedly violated freedom of the seas by attacking international shipping vessels passing through the Red Sea, offered to admit the disciplined students as transfers to Sanaa University, an institution it administers.

Some anti-Zionist student groups have reciprocated the admiration.

Last week, Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) endorsed Hamas, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace Islamic extremism and antisemitism.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has re-formed under multiple names since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, was central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The anti-Zionist student movement’s support for terrorism and anti-American ideologies has been expressed before.

Footage of the protests which erupted on college campuses at the end of spring semester showed demonstrators chanting in support of Hamas and calling for the destruction of Israel. In many cases, they lambasted the US and Western civilization more broadly.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas at Columbia University, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Advocacy Group Attempts to Shore Up Support for Israel Among US Democrats

US President Joe Biden addresses rising levels of antisemitism, during a speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Annual Days of Remembrance ceremony, at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, US, May 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

A pro-Israel advocacy group is attempting to quell fears among US Democratic politicians that expressing support for the Jewish state amid the ongoing war in Gaza will lead to electoral defeat in November. 

Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), a group that advocates for pro-Israel policies within the Democratic Party, circulated a memo this week explaining that the war in Gaza is simply not a top priority for most of the electorate. The memo, first acquired by Axios news website, asserts that “it just isn’t true” that Democratic support for Israel will come at an electoral cost. 

The group argues that a series of misleading polls has caused Democratic elected officials to become more tepid in their support for the Jewish state. 

To bolster its claims, DMFI points to a poll conducted by the New York Times in May which revealed that only 2 percent of voters cite Israel, Palestinians, Hamas, or Gaza as their most important issue. Nonetheless, the Times tried to exaggerate the extent to which voters care about the Israel-Hamas war by highlighting the 5 percent of voters who cite foreign policy as their biggest issue, according to DMFI. However, these 5 percent of voters did not identify if the war in Gaza is their major foreign policy concern.

The group also points out a Harvard-Harris poll from April which showed that Americans overwhelmingly side with Israel in its ongoing war effort. Eighty percent of Americans support Israel and only 20 percent back Hamas, the poll revealed.

DMFI also suggests that Israel’s ongoing military offensive against Hamas has not had a noticeable impact on President Joe Biden’s national standing. According to polling data aggregated by FiveThirtyEight, the president’s approval rating on Oct. 7of last year stood at 39.6 percent, and on April 23 last month, his approval stood at 40 percent. The same poll reveals that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s lead over Joe Biden did not grow over the same time period. 

DMFI president Mark Mellman told Axios that anti-Israel activists represent a small fringe of the American electorate. 

“People sometimes mistake volume for percentage, and the fact that some people are very loud doesn’t make them the majority. … It doesn’t even make them a substantial minority,” Mellman said.

The group’s efforts to reach out to Democrats come on the heels of a high-pressure effort by left-wing groups to force the Democratic establishment to stop supporting Israel. Anti-Israel organizations have organized efforts to encourage voters in Democratic primaries to vote “uncommitted” in lieu of voting for Biden. Moreover, nearly every appearance by Biden in recent months has been marked by the presence of scores of angry anti-Israel protesters

The relationship between Democratic politicians and the Jewish state has significantly soured in the months following Hamas’ Oct. 7 slaughter of over 1,200 people in southern Israel. High-profile Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) have suggested that Israel is committing “genocide” against Palestinian civilians.

Meanwhile, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA) signed onto a letter urging Biden to pause weapons shipments to Israel. Biden vowed to stop arms deliveries to Israel if the Israeli army attempts to dismantle the remaining Hamas battalions within the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, expressing concern about the prospect of civilian casualties during such an offensive.

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Hate crimes in Toronto are predominantly antisemitic—and the numbers continue to rise: TPS security and intelligence commander

Antisemitic hate crimes continue to account for more than any other category of reported hate crimes in Toronto, according to the head of Toronto police intelligence. Superintendent Katherine Stephenson of Toronto Police Service (TPS) confirmed the ongoing spike in hate occurrences during a presentation at Holy Blossom Temple on May 29, where she addressed 350 […]

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