Pro-Palestinians Doth Protest Too Much

Pro-Palestinian protests have a serious credibility problem when they do not denounce Hamas terrorism and target synagogues

This piece first appeared in The Epoch Times Canada on March 16, 2024.

Imagine the following scenario: After the Hamas terrorist attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7 last year, Jews and pro-Israelis around the world launched protests and demonstrations against mosques, Islamic schools, businesses owned by Arabs and/or Muslims, and attacked anyone who looked “Muslim” in the streets.

That did not happen. And no one would support action of this type, right?

So why is it OK for those angry at Israel’s actions in Gaza, which in truth are causing far too many civilian casualties but, yes, would not be happening if the jihadis had not struck first, to carry out demonstrations and attacks against synagogues, Jewish schools, businesses owned by Jews/Israelis and, believe it or not, the Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam?

What does a Holocaust museum have to do with what is happening in Gaza? Or a synagogue for that matter. And if you think protests, shouting, and intimidation are all that are occurring, think again. On March 9, a teen in Zurich stabbed an elderly Jewish Orthodox man, wounding him severely though thankfully not fatally, and called for a “war on Jews.” He also pledged his attack to the ISIS terrorist group.

While these people angry at the civilian deaths in Gaza have a right to express themselves and a charter-guaranteed ability to protest, there is an inconsistency to their actions. They rail against Israel, calling out the appallingly high loss of life among non-combatants, accusing the Netanyahu government of “terrorism” and even “genocide” (ironic given what European Jews suffered during WWII at the hands of the Nazis), but seem oddly quiet when asked about Hamas’s attack on Israel on Oct. 7.  That cowardly act against unarmed Israelis led to 1,200 deaths (the second-largest terrorist attack in history after 9/11, as measured by casualties), the kidnapping of hundreds more, and the rape and sexual mutilation of women.

Is not one act of violence equally deserving of condemnation as the other?

Instead, Hamas is seen as a group of freedom fighters for Palestine—although Hamas could not give a rat’s hindquarters about Palestinians—and their sexual crimes are denied or minimized. This should rightfully be seen as a shameful lack of recognition of what actually happened: Israel’s current presence in Gaza is a direct consequence of Hamas’s attack, but no one wants to say so.

Furthermore, those calling for the boycotting of Jewish businesses and the targeting of synagogues are guilty of the same over-generalization they themselves have given much hue and cry to over the past two decades, a phenomenon they call “Islamophobia” (hatred of Islam, though a phobia is better described as fear, not hatred).

In other words, tired of having to defend their faith from those who think that every Muslim is a terrorist and Islam needs to be banned from Western society, they have resorted to the exact same strategy, although this one has been around a lot longer and goes by the name anti-Semitism. And they wonder why their message is not working!

The actions of the Netanyahu government over many years—settlement policy in the West Bank, denial of Palestinian rights, etc.—are legitimate targets of anger and protest. But the only legitimate way to do so is to aim their efforts at those responsible for such actions, i.e., the Netanyahu government and, by extension, Israeli embassies and consulates (much as those protesting Russian aggression in Ukraine protest outside Russian diplomatic institutions). Not Jewish businesses and synagogues. And it would help if an MP would denounce the defacement of a synagogue on National Holocaust Remembrance Day instead of telling a constituent it’s all Israel’s fault.

A more cynical me would say that this was the plan all along, to pretend this is about Gaza but is really yet another demonstration of anti-Semitism. I do, however, recognize and understand the deep pain felt by what is transpiring in Gaza and the need to do something about it (whether a ceasefire after which Hamas remains in power afterwards is the only solution is debatable). THAT is what the focus should be. Sadly it is not.

You cannot eat your cake and have it too. You cannot complain about Islamophobia and lament that some see Islam as a synonym for terrorism (although it is true that the vast majority of terrorist attacks worldwide are carried out by Muslim jihadis) and then turn around and engage in anti-Semitism, claiming all Jews support Netanyahu and his regime’s acts in Gaza (they most assuredly do not).

My underlying question is a simple one: Do the protesters not see that what they are doing is identical to what others do to them? Is this an example of “an eye for an eye”? As they say, that approach only leads to blindness on both sides.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.