Anti-Israel, pro-Hamas activists are hijacking local government agendas across the U.S. to spread false propaganda that defames Israel and pressures politicians to act against the Jewish state, and Jews in much of the world. Activists also are targeting Americans on the streets, defacing Jewish institutions and calling to destroy the Jewish state.
American Hamas Supporters Are Disrupting Local Governments
San Francisco Mayor London Breed recently spoke out against a ceasefire resolution passed by the city’s Board of Supervisors: “While I support the need for community members to be heard, the process at the Board only inflamed division and hurt. People verbally attacked and degraded individual members of the public. Legislators were targeted for attempting to offer their views. These are complex matters over which we have absolutely no jurisdiction.”
American communities are the latest battlefield in the Hamas war against Israel. Palestinian supporters began pushing resolutions condemning Israel in several California cities, and are now expanding across the country, including Dallas and Minneapolis. Armed with talking points and posters, wearing masks and waving Palestinian flags, they repeat many false narratives laden with anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.
Protestors at a meeting made pig noises while a Jewish man spoke about his family members kidnapped by Hamas. The speaker stated that “my kids and I do not feel safe in San Francisco.” Posters on the street are demanding a boycott of “Israeli food and Zionist businesses in SF.” Speakers who mentioned Hamas sex crimes at an Oakland City Council meeting were booed. Palestinian activist disruptions at a meeting in Santa Ana forced the mayor to instruct police to clear out the protestors.
The San Jose mayor indicated that city policy prevents his city from taking positions on foreign affairs. Oakland took a balanced approach, passing a resolution calling for a ceasefire and condemning the Hamas atrocities. However, other councils like Richmond, CA, repeated Hamas talking points libeling the Jewish state. Many so-called Palestinian supporters deny the Hamas 10/7 atrocities, despite GoPro video footage filmed and released by Hamas. Police were forced to escort Jews to their cars following a meeting.
Pro-Hamas protestors desecrate Lincoln Memorial with Free Palestine graffiti and red paint on Dec. 20, 2023. (Screenshot: WION-YouTube)
Local Santa Cruz, CA, Rabbi Paula Marcus stated that members of her congregation were loudly berated in the parking lot after a meeting: “Unfortunately, bringing this to the city council, the outcome is what we expected it would be – fracturing of the community.”
The anti-Israel protests are well organized with busses bringing vocal opponents to local meetings, such as Irvine. The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee based in the West Bank is helping to promote these resolutions. According to The New York Times, Hamas is a member of this committee that believes the 10/7 attacks were “heroic actions.” Many groups also use anti-Zionist Jews as cover for their anti-Jewish positions.
To ensure the safety of city residents and officials, police escorted them to their cars. Activists have doxed local politicians and threatened city officials. U.S. Rep. Kevin Mullin and his family also were targeted. Protestors screamed at him, his wife and young children outside their home. Threats included: “Don’t take your children home tomorrow,” and, “We are going to follow you everywhere.” Another man shouted that Mullin “does not serve the united slaves of Israel.”
Rallies Rock New York and Washington
Pro-Hamas rallies continue in NY and across America. The latest targets were young children being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The infamous anti-Jewish NYU Law School commencement speaker, Nerdeen Kiswani, led chants of: “Make sure they hear you, they’re in the windows: You support genocide too!” She tweeted that the reason for targeting the world-renowned medical center was because a philanthropist who supports Israel previously made a $400 million donation to the hospital. She also stated at the rally that the documented rapes against Israeli girls and women are “lies without proof.”
A few days before, activists illegally blocked NY highways and bridges. African American father Kevin Rivera confronted them because “I could not allow them to hold me hostage. I love this country. I am blessed to be an American. Citizens have the right to peacefully protest so long as we do not break the law.” Video of Kevin went viral after he told protesters he needed to pass the blockade to visit his daughter in Brooklyn.
An anti-Israel mob attempted to breach a White House gate. Demonstrators hurled water bottles at Secret Service agents who evacuated non-essential personnel for their safety. Protests are also taking place at malls and airports, attempting to disrupt the lives of Americans as much as possible. Not even Christmas celebrations were off limits. In contrast, pro-Israel rallies are legally held, speakers advocate for peace and American flags are proudly displayed.
U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres delivered the annual MLK sermon at NY’s Central Synagogue, Jan. 15, 2024.
Heroes Against Double Standards
The San Francisco mayor’s courageous disapproval is not a lone voice. The Santa Cruz City Council voted against a cease-fire call and instead voted for dialogue. Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín views “these resolutions as a threat I cannot ignore, that will not end violence abroad, but they do fan the flames of hatred here at home.” The Santa Cruz Sentinel editorial board echoed his sentiment: “It will have zero effect, other than further dividing the community and playing into a national debate that has too often veered into antisemitism.”
Staunch supporter of Israel, progressive U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres delivered the annual MLK sermon at NY’s Central Synagogue. American Jews worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as civil rights pioneers. Before his assassination, King stated: “We must see Israel’s right to exist. We must also see that Israel is there and any talk of driving the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea, as we have heard over the years, is not only unrealistic talk, but it is suicidal talk for the whole world and I think also it is terribly immoral.”
1. Most ceasefire calls ignore reality and deny facts
Ceasefire calls often rest on distorted narratives, exaggerations and outright lies. While genuine concerns for civilian safety exist, many activists exploit these calls to manipulate public opinion and international reactions. Bias is built into many resolutions that only demand that Israel stops while disregarding the ceasefire in place on Oct. 6, ignoring the Oct. 7 atrocities and without demanding that the hostages be released. American Jews and Israelis want a ceasefire, but only when the Hamas threat is eliminated. If Hamas ceases its attacks and recognizes Israel’s right to exist, the war will immediately end. But if Israel lays down its arms, it will be destroyed.
2. City council resolutions are intended to pressure Congress to act against Israel
The local anti-Israel resolutions are strategically aimed at influencing the U.S. House and Senate to limit or end Israel’s campaign to return the hostages and destroy Hamas. It is essential to understand the motivations behind these resolutions and counter them. Pro-Israel activists want to end the suffering of Israelis and Palestinians – both victims at the hands of Hamas. City councils should devote their energies to local policies rather than being manipulated to harm America’s ally, Israel.
3. Hamas activist tactics are un-American and divisive
The acts of violence, intimidation and threats against Americans – Jews and non-Jews – are inconsistent with fundamental American values. The actions being taken by Hamas activists at rallies are counter to the principles of democracy and peace at the root of the nation’s identity. Some mayors and Jewish community leaders have accurately recognized that the resolutions are meant to divide local communities and make American Jews feel unwelcome and unsafe.
4. Hamas supporters care more about winning than the truth
Anti-Israel activists have no shame in routinely using baseless lies and false propaganda to advance their agenda and achieve their goals. Americans acting as Hamas surrogates resort to misinformation and manipulation to garner support for their cause. This tactic not only distorts the actual narrative but also is used to target American Jews and their allies. Supporters of Israel must do the opposite: promote dialogue based on facts to contribute to an informed perspective on critical issues.
5. Double standards against Israel continue to multiply
Protestors are flooding the streets in Muslim countries, the U.S. and other Western nations. Yet, they have rarely held protests for far larger conflicts, not involving Jews. More than 85,000 Yemeni children starved to death in a war started by the Iran-backed Houthis. Syria used banned chemical weapons on hundreds of thousands of its own citizens. Where are the protesters against China’s genocide of Uyghur Muslims, Myanmar’s genocide of Rohingya Muslims and Iran’s oppression of its citizens? It seems if Israelis and Jews cannot somehow be blamed, the world merely yawns and looks away.
Attend city council meetings to make your voice heard
Active civic participation helps encourage changes in your local community. Attending meetings is crucial – your voice to both dispel the lies and libels being repeated while also bolstering and supporting those brave officials who stand up to the militants’ demands. Check out the ADL Toolkit for Responding to Extremist Disruptions at Public Meetings for recommended actions.
‘Gaza is modern, beautiful and developed’
Roi Yanovsky is an Israeli journalist and IDF reservist. He recently shared his insights about reality in Gaza. His comments were translated, with excerpts appearing below. Read his full account in English.
Hamas’s strongest weapon is lies and propaganda.
Gaza is seen as a backward area, the ‘most densely populated in the world’ which has been under Israeli ‘siege’ for years. There is no bigger lie than this. Gaza is a modern, beautiful, developed city, with large modern houses, wide boulevards, public spaces, a promenade by the sea and parks.
There is absolutely no shortage of wealth in Gaza. In general, most of the houses I’ve been in were much bigger than the apartment I live in in Tel Aviv. The houses are bursting with goods and food from all countries of the Middle East, latest furniture and electronics. There are also luxurious mansions.
The most common item in the houses of Gaza: a map of Palestine with no mention of Israel or Israeli towns. This is found in almost every home, in every school and in every public institution, the goal of erasing the State of Israel is almost everywhere.
In all the neighborhoods we were in, there are ready-made Hamas combat complexes – weapons, tunnels, charges, launching complexes, all inside residential houses.
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This content is developed by The Focus Project in partnership with Mercaz USA. The Focus Project distributes weekly news and talking points on timely issues concerning Israel and the Jewish people, including antisemitism, anti-Zionism and the delegitimization of Israel. It represents a consensus view across a spectrum of major American Jewish organizations. Mercaz USA recognizes and respects the diversity of views on these issues among its readers and the community at large.