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Antisemitic protests across US bear striking resemblance to other social justice movements: experts

The anti-Israel movement — put on full display across dozens of college campuses and major American cities in recent weeks amid Israel’s war with Hamas — bears a striking resemblance to certain movements by social justice activists in the United States, experts suggest.

Since the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas terrorists, there has been an outpouring of protests across the world not condemning the terror group but rather the Jewish State, which is still reeling from the murders of more than 1,400 Israelis.

The reasoning behind several of those protests, which have been complex and unpredictable in many cases, boils down to the teachings and activism of “left-wing academics” who have long supported certain racial divides and expect others to do the same, according to observers who’ve watched the issue unfold and offered their perspectives to Fox News Digital.

“The left-wing academics who have been cheering on violent ‘decolonization’ against Jews have been pushing the same hideous rhetoric against ‘whiteness’ for years. Same ideology. Same hatred. Same bloodlust,” said Christopher F. Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal.


The anti-Israel movement bears a striking resemblance to certain movements by social justice activists in the United States, experts suggest. (Getty Images)

Rufo noted that several on the “academic left treat the Hamas fighter as a noble savage who symbolizes revolt against the West and through whom the academic can experience the thrill of violence.

“The fighter is seen as the physical embodiment of the jargon: ‘decolonization,’ ‘resistance,’ ‘power,” he added. “Time to connect the dots and fight it together.”

Similarly, Lisa Daftari, editor-in-chief of The Foreign Desk, said she believes the rise in antisemitism across the country represents the “cross-sectionality” of social justice movements and other groups that place a particular focus on support for left-wing ideas.

College protests israel

A student from American University holds a sign that says “Stand With Gaza” during a campus protest in Washington, D.C., Nov. 1, 2023. (Celal Gunes/Anadolu)

“A significant contributor to the rise of antisemitism, especially among those under 25 and on college campuses, is the cross-sectionality of social justice movements and organizations that are telling young people, ‘If you care about various human rights such as gay rights, trans rights, race issues, then you need to demonize Israel,” she said. “It is now on the social justice ‘checklist’ to condemn Israel.

“Similarly, we are seeing Israel portrayed as a country of White, privileged people, the offspring of Europeans who immigrated there. This is absolutely false,” she added. “Israel is made up of a diverse patchwork of people from all over the world, including those who have been there long before the official founding of the State in 1948. There are Black, brown and White people in Israel coming from Africa, the Middle East, South America and all over.”

Protester attempts to set fire to an Israeli flag

A protester attempts to set fire to an Israeli flag during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Midtown Manhattan Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (Julia Bonavita/Fox News Digital)


Aside from college campuses, the anti-Israel movement has also found its way into the minds of those who hold public office or are seeking elected positions around the country.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Nasr Hussain, a candidate running for the Hamtramck City Council in Michigan, questioned whether the Holocaust served as “advance punishment” for Israel’s “savagery” in the ongoing war. He also likened Israelis to “the Nazis themselves.”

“Was the holocaust God’s advance punishment of the ‘Chosen People’ for the savagery they’re committing today against the innocent Palestinians children and civilians?” Hussain wrote in a post, according to The Detroit News. “A heinous act proving that they’re as savage and cruel as the Nazis themselves, or even worse.”

Anti-Israel protest in D.C.

Protestors gather for a pro-Palestinian demonstration outside the State Department in Washington D.C., Nov. 1, 2023. (Celal Gunes/Anadolu)

Hussain drew immediate backlash from several local Jewish leaders, many of whom pointed out his candidacy in the race and warned that it’s “a real threat.”

Brooke Goldstein, a human rights attorney who serves as the executive director of The Lawfare Project, said she believes those who celebrate “terrorist barbarism” should be prevented from “holding public office of any sort.”

“Racist celebration of terrorist barbarism should be a complete bar to holding public office of any sort, whether it’s on the zoning board of appeals or city council,” she said. “Nasr Hussain’s vile remarks, shamelessly posted for all to see, reflect the worst kind of bigotry and intolerance and speak to the urgent need for Muslim faith leaders across the country to publicly condemn this Jew hatred and stand in solidarity with the Jewish community.

Supporters of Palestinians at Harvard University

Supporters of Palestinians gather at Harvard University to show support for Palestinians in Gaza at a rally in Cambridge, Mass., Oct. 14, 2023. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

“Their silence feeds into the cycle of violence we are currently seeing and cannot be allowed to go unchallenged in a democratic society that values the civil rights of all minority groups,” Goldstein added.

Last month, Pastor Dumisani Washington, a Black activist and the founder of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel (IBSI), called out Black Lives Matter chapters he believed were expressing support for Hamas’ terrorism against Israeli civilians for embodying an “evil beyond description” in an interview with Fox News Digital.


“The price that’s paid for organizations like Black Lives Matter to feign concern about Baltimore, Oakland, Ferguson … to feign concern only to use those people and even the deaths there to then demonize Israel some 6,000 miles away is an evil beyond description,” Washington said. “People are being destroyed for the sake of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. … How are we defending the people of Gaza by celebrating this type of blood and gore?”

BLM Gaza

Palestinians hold a banner at a rally to show support for George Floyd in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip June 4, 2020.  (Said Khatib/AFP via Getty Images)

Rather than express sympathy for the more than 1,400 Israelis murdered by Hamas terrorists, at least two Black Lives Matter groups declared their support for Palestinians. At least 27 American citizens have been killed, an unknown number are in Hamas captivity and others remain unaccounted for. Some 230 children, women and men are believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas, although the number could be greater.

BLM Grassroots published a statement to its Instagram page last month that said, “Black Lives Matter Grassroots stands in solidarity with our Palestinian family who are currently resisting [75] years of settler colonialism and apartheid.”


A mural of George Floyd, a Black man who died after he was handcuffed and pinned down by a White police officer in Minneapolis, was painted in Gaza City following his death in 2020. Originally, the mural only featured Floyd’s face, but the words “Black Lives Matter” were added later to show support for the movement in the United States.

George Floyd mural in Gaza

Palestinians walk past a mural in Gaza City June 16, 2020, of George Floyd, a Black American who died after being restrained by police officers. (Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto)

During a 2021 interview with Vice, Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, used the “racist murder of George Floyd” to make a far-fetched comparison about Israel.

“I want to take this opportunity to remember the racist murder of George Floyd. George Floyd was killed as a result of racist ideology held by some people,” Sinwar said. “The same type of racism that killed George Floyd is being used by Israel against the Palestinians in Jerusalem, the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and in the West Bank.”

Fox News’ Hannah Grossman and Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.

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