BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Palestinians and their supporters took to the streets in Manhattan on Friday, in response to Hamas’s call for a global Day of Jihad.
The march started at Baruch College and headed to Times Square, where the Palestinians were met by a smaller group of Jewish counterprotesters. They then made their way to East Midtown, heading toward the Israeli Consulate.
Police penned in the marchers along Second Avenue near the consulate, not letting them cross 42nd Street. At the head of the march, a fiery young woman sporting a black headscarf angrily shouted into an electric bullhorn about “Zionists” as she peered up at the building a half-block to the north.
She led the crowd in chants of “Free! Free Palestine!” “No justice! No peace!” and also “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”
The latter is a common protest slogan at Palestinian protests, but according to the Anti-Defamation League, “negates” Israel’s right to exist.
(Video by The Village Sun)
According to the ADL, “Demanding justice for Palestinians, or calling for a Palestinian state should not also mean negating Israel’s existence. This chant can be understood as a call for a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, territory that includes the State of Israel, implying the dismantling of the Jewish state. Indeed, this rallying cry has long been used by the anti-Israel terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine], which seek Israel’s destruction through violent means.”
The Village Sun asked protesters their thoughts on the horrific Hamas terrorist attack in southern Israel a week ago, which intentionally targeted civilians — killing more than 1,300 people. More than 260 carefree young revelers partying at a Supernova Sukkot holiday rave were slaughtered. At least 150 Israelis — from babies to grandmothers — have been taken hostage.
The savagery of the attacks has shocked the world.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli’s prime minister, was quoted as saying, “We saw boys and girls bound, who were shot in the head. Men and women burned alive. Young women who were raped and slaughtered. Soldiers who were beheaded.”
However, marchers interviewed at Friday’s protest responded in terms of equivalency — that Palestinians, too, are suffering violence due to Israel. They referred to the bombing of Gaza — the first part of Israel’s response to the terrorist attack.
A young woman from New Jersey wearing a keffiyeh as a face mask said she has sympathy for all victims of violence but that Palestinians are being oppressed — with Israel now cutting off vital services, including water and food deliveries, to Gaza in retaliation. She charged that their side of the story isn’t being told because the U.S. media is “controlled by Israelis.”
The reporter countered that many in the media actually seem to support the Palestinian cause and that — just as our country is politically divided, in general — so, too, the media is “divided” on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Another young woman, wearing a red head scarf, when asked her thoughts on Hamas’s savage and chilling attack, paused and gave careful thought before responding.
“I have sympathy for any living person who lost their life,” she said. “Every innocent life lost is wrong.”
She said she is a physician — a cardiologist.
“Every day I save lives,” the woman said. “I don’t look at the race or ethnicity of the people I treat.”
She also pointedly criticized the amount of U.S. military aid that Israel gets — more than $3 billion in 2021, which she figured is equivalent to $9 million a day. However, Israel, the region’s only democratic nation, is vastly outnumbered in terms of population by its Arab neighbors, with some of the countries openly hostile to the Jewish state’s very right to exist.
Like the first woman, she declined to give her name. Neither woman wanted to be photographed, either.
At one point, a man on an electric bullhorn started melodically chanting “Allahu akbar!” (“God is great”) in what sounded like the Islamic call to prayer, but it was only brief.
Around 6:15 p.m., the marchers headed off west along 42nd Street.
According to the New York Post, around 60 people were arrested Friday in connection with the protests, most of them given summonses for disorderly conduct and released.
Q. Sakamaki, who took some of the photos for this article, and who is sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, noted he has interviewed Mahmoud Al-Zahar — a co-founder of Hamas and its No. 2 leader in Gaza — several times, most recently in 2014. The award-winning, international conflict-zone photographer admitted he was stunned at the brutality of the Hamas attack.
“I was shocked,” he said, “in terms of [murdering] children…purposely. I think he’s never doing this level of violence.
“Both sides must follow international law,” Sakamaki stressed, “or many people [will be] killed — thousands, thousands of civilians.”
The Day of Jihad caused at least one Downtown residential building to take precautions.
The property manager for Georgetown Plaza, the high-rise “condop” building at Eighth Street and Broadway, sent a notice to residents early Thursday evening, saying management would “lock down” the place, if needed.
“We wanted to inform you of our plans to secure the building from any civil unrest that arises from the protests that are being called for tomorrow,” the message said.
“If the building becomes aware of any potential activity in the neighborhood, we will be locking down the building at all entrances and closing the garage doors until the activity has subsided. We have also arranged for extra staff to be on hand in the event that any issues arise from events that may occur in the neighborhood.
“While we hope that nothing occurs, we want to be prepared in the case of an emergency.”
The Middle Eastern crisis also prompted the East Village’s Middle Collegiate Church to postpone a “Reckoning With Peter Stuyvesant” event planned for Sunday at the Stuyvesant statue in Peter Stuyvesant Park, in Gramercy. The protest was to have called out the New Amsterdam director-general’s leading role in colonial slavery.
“Love drives our decision to postpone the action we had planned for Sunday in Stuyvesant Park,” Reverend Jacqui Lewis and the Middle Church Reparations Task Force wrote in a message to their e-mail list.
“Love for our neighbor is why our hearts are cracked wide open as we watch the conflict, terror and war in the Middle East. We pray for peace and safety for our Jewish and Palestinian neighbors in the region.
“In solidarity for all in this time of crisis, we are postponing the action we had planned for Sunday in Stuyvesant Park. We will, instead, after worship, spend time listening to the cries of the brokenhearted; learning what we can about the connections between past events and current trauma; and asking the God of Love to hear all of our prayers for peace.
“We stand on the side of love, liberation and justice. We stand against the violence Peter Stuyvesant enacted on African, Indigenous and Jewish people. We stand against violence in all forms that humans who are in pain enact on one another.”