Protests worldwide increase at Israel’s assault on Gaza

As the death toll from the Israeli assault on Gaze rises to horrifying levels, with bombing attacks on even hospitals and refugee camps, protests against those policies have also increased, both in the US and around the world. Many of the critical voices in the US have been Jewish.

Even before 7 October, support for Israel among American Jews – who constitute the world’s second largest Jewish population after Israel – was shifting. One poll showed that while most Jews see caring about Israel as important to their Jewish identity, more than half disapprove of the country’s rightwing government. Another found that a quarter of American Jews agree Israel is an “apartheid state”, and one-fifth of those under 40 do not think the Jewish state has a right to exist.

These shifts have come with a surge in Jewish organizing on the left, with groups like IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace, which have long condemned Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, at the forefront of calls for a ceasefire and an end to US support of Israel’s war on Gaza. Since the war started, Jewish activists have shut down New York’s Grand Central station and been arrested for actions like occupying the halls of Congress and rallying in front of the home of the Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, who is also Jewish.

Young people have been the most critical. In response, apologists for the Israeli actions, spearheaded by a group known as StandWithUs, have targeted the campus protests, urging university authorities to crack down on the protests.

IN FRONT OF Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library, seven infant-sized bundles of white cloth rested on the steps, splattered with red paint. Behind the swaddles, plywood boards read “10,600 lives slaughtered,” “4,412 children,” and “let Gaza live,” alongside images of Palestinian flags and olive trees.

This was the scene where Columbia students gathered last Thursday for a “peaceful protest art installation” and demonstration organized by the campus chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine. Hundreds of students demanded that Columbia publicly call for a ceasefire in Gaza, divest its endowment from corporations complicit in Israeli apartheid, and end its academic programs in Tel Aviv.

The next day, Gerald Rosberg, chair of the Special Committee on Campus Safety, announced Columbia had suspended its chapters of JVP and SJP through the end of the semester, citing an “unauthorized event” that “included threatening rhetoric and intimidation.” The announcement quickly drew widespread criticism, including from hundreds of Jewish faculty who denounced the “vague allegations” that served as grounds for the suspensions.

Earlier this month, StandWithUs sent an open letter to thousands of universities addressed to the general counsel and vice president of student affairs, outlining actions colleges could take to ensure compliance with Title VI. The group’s recommendations include requiring student identification cards at protests, monitoring university communication channels for “biased statements about Israel,” and investigating student groups for ties to Hamas. The group has also sent a surge of direct letters urging administrators to clamp down on specific Palestine solidarity campus events.

According to Dylan Saba, a staff attorney at Palestine Legal, the groups tend to target “pretty mundane examples of pro-Palestine expression … because that’s precisely what these organizations are trying to get rid of.” But as Israel’s military assault over the past month has become “increasingly indefensible for the pro-Israel forces,” it’s spurred a new wave of Title VI threats.

“That’s what’s motivating the strategy to try to raise the stakes of Palestinian expression and organizing by getting universities to try to crack down on it,” said Saba. “If you can’t win the debate because the facts aren’t in your favor, it’s pretty sensible to try to stop it altogether.”

Meanwhile, many members of the Jewish community are resisting these groups’ efforts to conflate Judaism and Zionism, noting that their faith inspires resistance to injustice, not blanket support for a regime. 

“A lot of institutions across the country, and also at the university, have pushed this idea of a hegemonic Jewish community that all shares the same political beliefs,” said Rafi Ash, a Brown University sophomore who was one of 20 Jewish students arrested during a November sit-in at an administrative building organized by BrownU Jews for Ceasefire Now. “We all have been kind of disturbed by the ways in which a Jewish identity has been twisted in a way that makes it political.”

The American Civil Liberties Union has begun to take legal action over the First Amendment rights of Palestinian solidarity protesters.

“We are in touch with many, many, many student groups across the country, and we are seeing a pattern of heightened scrutiny and suppression,” said Saba. “Fortunately, despite the mass suppressive effort, students are continuing to organize, continuing to speak out, and are refusing to be silenced. We’re seeing one of the largest upsurges in pro-Palestine organizing and demonstration that we’ve ever seen.”

There has been increasing international condemnation as well, especially in Latin America.

Bolivia’s move comes after the former president Evo Morales called for his country to sever ties with Israel because of the “horrific situation facing the Palestinian people”. Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, earlier this month, Morales demanded Israel be classified as a “terrorist state” and for the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and “his accomplices” be denounced to the international criminal court for genocide and war crimes.

Bolivia previously broke off relations with Israel in 2009 after the county’s invasion of the Gaza Strip but re-established ties in 2020 under the rightwing president Jeanine Áñez.

That is not all.

Colombia’s leftwing president, Gustavo Petro, recently likened Israel’s actions to those of Adolf Hitler’s Nazis, drawing a rebuke from Israel’s foreign ministry, which accused him of putting Jewish lives in danger and encouraging “the horrific acts of Hamas terrorists” with his “hostile and antisemitic statements”.

The Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, last week criticised what he called “the insanity of the prime minister of Israel [in] wanting to destroy the Gaza Strip but forgetting that there aren’t just Hamas soldiers there but also women and children who are the big victims of this war”.

“Just because Hamas committed a terrorist act against Israel, it doesn’t mean Israel has to kill millions of innocent people,” Lula added in another interview.

On Tuesday evening, after reports that dozens had been killed by Israeli airstrikes at a refugee camp in northern Gaza, Lula tweeted: “For the first time, we are witnessing a war in which the majority of the dead are children … Stop! For the love of God, stop!”

Chile’s president, Gabriel Boric, announced he had recalled his country’s ambassador in Tel Aviv to discuss the “unacceptable violations of international humanitarian law” he said Israel was committing in the Gaza Strip. Boric said the more than 8,000 civilian victims of Israel’s offensive – most of them women and children – demonstrated that the military operation represented the “collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza”.

Kurt Hackbarth explains why Latin America has been in the forefront.

Rather than an innate attraction to terrorism, as this clumsy bombast would have one believe, sympathy for the Palestinian cause in Latin America can be explained by two fundamental reasons: a historical sympathy for oppressed and colonized peoples, along with Israel’s own history in the region as a proxy for US interests.

Israel has supported a laundry list of the worst names in recent Latin American history, including Rafael Trujillo, Augusto Pinochet, Luis García Meza, Efraín Ríos Montt, Anastasio Somoza, and Jorge Rafael Videla. In effect, it has acted as a convenient wrap-around for inconvenient restrictions, as when it trained, armed, and provided intelligence to the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile — in the process, becoming its largest arms supplier — during a time of US embargo. It also kept the arms flowing to Nicaragua and El Salvador during similar embargoes there, and in the case of Honduras during the military regimes of the ’70s, provided advanced American weaponry despite US laws banning third-country transfers of military equipment.

It provided “counterinsurgency” training to Costa Rican police at a time when that was also banned in the United States, provided arms and other materiel to the military junta in Argentina despite the fact that a substantial number of its victims were Jewish, assisted in the “Palestiniazation” of the Maya population in Guatemala, and armed both the army and right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia. With memories of dictatorships and state-sponsored massacres still fresh in the region, these interventions are not easily forgotten.

For at a critical moment in the history of this century, it is Latin America — and not the United Nations, European Union, or any other international organization that purports to act in the interests of peace — that is taking the humanitarian lead on the world stage.

The US is increasingly isolated because of its refusal to take effective steps to stop the widespread killing of Palestinians, even though it is the one country that has sufficient clout to do something.


  1. raven says

    I can see why Jews, American or not, don’t support the Netanyahu government. Hamas had a powerful ally for their attack, called the Israeli Netanyahu government and the Israeli Defense Forces.

    There was massive incompetence by the Intelligence, IDF, and Israeli government for months before the attack until,…5 minutes ago.

    The surveillance forces warned the IDF for weeks before that something was up and an attack was likely. They were ignored, told to shut up, and threatened to be court martialed.

    The Netanyahu government was busy destroying the Israeli democracy, persecuting the secular Jewish groups in Israel, and pushing around Palestinian civilians. And not paying enough attention to basic security for the country.

    Surveillance soldiers charge sexism a factor in their Oct. 7 warnings being ignored
    Time of Israel
    19 November 2023, 12:37 pm

    Senior commanders refused to heed the warnings of the young female surveillance soldiers tasked with watching the Gaza border in the weeks before the brutal Hamas massacre on October 7, and the soldiers believe sexism was a factor in their being ignored, according to a Friday report.

    Rather than hide its plans for the attack, the Hamas terror group was training in plain sight. Soldiers in the Border Defense Corps who raised the alarm told the Haaretz daily (Hebrew) they believe sexism played a part in the fact that they were not heeded.
    She said the soldiers sent a warning up the chain of command that Hamas was training for an attack, but they were ignored.

  2. raven says

    The US is increasingly isolated because of its refusal to take effective steps to stop the widespread killing of Palestinians, even though it is the one country that has sufficient clout to do something.

    That is arguable.

    I don’t think the Israeli government cares all that much about what the US government thinks.

    I remember when they attacked and almost sank the US Liberty naval ship off the coast of Egypt. “The attack killed 34 and injured 171 Americans,…”
    We never did anything about this despite the high casualty toll.
    And Israel never explained why they attacked a US ship in international waters.

    My impression is that in public the US is supporting Israel while in private, they are desperately trying to get the Israeli government to keep the Palestinian civilian death toll down.

  3. says

    Israel has supported a laundry list of the worst names in recent Latin American history, including Rafael Trujillo, Augusto Pinochet, Luis García Meza, Efraín Ríos Montt, Anastasio Somoza, and Jorge Rafael Videla.

    This is something on which our “news” media have been consistently silent. Can anyone cite an article describing all this in more detail?

  4. Dunc says

    I don’t think the Israeli government cares all that much about what the US government thinks.

    The Israeli military relies heavily on US armaments and equipment, largely bought with US money. If the US wanted to make its opinions count, they are very well able to.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Raging Bee @ # 3 -- Start with Israel as an Extension of American Empire by Jeff Halper (first published in CounterPunch in 2005); see also Why the US supports Israel by Stephen Zunes (Foreign Policy in Focus, 2002).

    raven’s quotations @ # 1 apparently come from and (not rendered in html because I don’t know how many links our esteemed host’s filter allows).

  6. JM says

    Vice GPS attacks over middle east are becoming common
    Related matter, GPS spoofing is becoming a problem over middle east. Israel is doing much of the recent jamming but attacks predate the current conflict. Commercial GPS and control systems are not designed to deal with intentional jamming and spoofing. On some planes when the GPS goes down the entire guidance system fails. Some planes have had to resort to asking ground control where they are. Eventually a plane is going to wander into hostile air space or just vanish entirely.

  7. friedfish2718 says

    On this planet there are many, many ethnic groups with no sovereign land. Each and every Arab country, non-Arab Muslim country has many ethnic groups lorded over by one particular group. Look at Syria: civil war. Look at Lebanon: civil war. Look at Libya: civil war. Look at Turkey: civil war against the Kurds. Etc., etc., etc..

    If every ethnic group exercises their right (god given right?) to their own sovereign land, there will be no end of wars on this Planet. But then human history is mostly a recollection of wars.

    There is nothing special about the Palestinians, an invented group designated by Arab and Muslim countries to be used as cannon fodder in the war of the Extermination of Israel. The Palestinians are late immigrants whose tribal affiliations are all derived from surrounding countries whose boundaries are themselves artificialities created by colonial powers (Turkey, England, France).

    Before 1948, Golda Meir, late Prime Minister of Israel, carried a Palestinian passport. Yes, many of Israel’s founders were Palestinian. Palestinian Jews.

    But, but, but Jews are not an ethnic group! They do NOT deserve a nation! Well, the Jews identify themselves as a people yearning for a nation. The Jews fought and won and thus earned the nation of Israel through War. Life is unfair. History is unfair. Look at the bloody USA: it was founded by White Bigoted Racist Men who were SLAVE OWNERS (the horror!!!)!!! G-D DAMMIT!!! JIHAD against Big and Small Satans!!!

    Pre-1967, Gaza was controlled by Egypt. Pre-1967, Judea and Samaria was controlled by Jordan. Why Egypt and Jordan -- both Arab Muslim countries -- did NOT grant the Palestinian Arabs their autonomous, sovereign State/Province? Where is this much celebrated inter-Arab love? There could have been East Palestine and West Palestine. Just like the original Pakistan: East and West Pakistan. Like the palestinians, there is no Pakistani people; PAKI (in Pakistan) is an acronym.

    The cannon fodder Palestinian Muslims were OK being occupied by Egypt and Jordan. The cannon fodder Palestinian Muslims are not OK being occupied by Israel.

    But, but, but the Palestinian Muslims DESERVES a State and the right of Return!!! Well, no. As refugees Palestinian Muslims are nothing special. Millions of refugees were displaced from their homelands in Europe after WW2. Millions of refugees were displaced from their homelands in South Asia when India/Pakistan were granted independence. In the USA, millions of Native Americans were displaced from their homelands. Where are the sons of Geronimo waging JIHAD against the racist, bigoted, evil, capitalist White occupiers? The list of permanently displaced refugees is very long. History is unfair. History is most tragic.

    If there is an occupier, it is not Israel but the House of Hashim in Jordan. Jordan is the Palestinian State. The Hashemites are from the Arabian Peninsula (now Saudi Arabia) and were “given” Jordan after they were defeated by the House of Saud. The Palestinian Arabs did fight the House of Hashem and on Black September, the PLO was kicked out. Palestinians are second-class citizens in their own country Jordan.

    Times have changed. Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Sudan, Algeria have pressing domestic problems to attend; fighting Israel is not going to feed the peoples of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Sudan, Algeria, etc.. Meanwhile Israel is building itself to be an ever growing asset to other nations in the world. Israel can help feed the peoples of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Sudan, Algeria, etc.. Israel has visa-free agreements with 156 nations; Palestine has visa-free agreements with 37 nations. The Trump Doctrine: Peace through Business not through War. The Abraham Accords. Hamas and the PA may not be able to wash off the stench of gunpowder. A stench unwelcome on the Train of Progress.

    Hamas and the P.A. have lived way past their expiration date. Hamas and the P.A. have become noxious to their own people they are supposed to guide to prosperous and peaceful times. Yes, the palestinian people voted for the PA and Hamas. Time for the palestinian people to clean their own room, like Jordan Peterson recommends. Unfortunately the palestinian people is cursed with a kakistocratic leadership.

    War is very bloody business. War is very serious business. The Palestinian Leadership (Hamas, PA) is a feckless and unserious lot. A moral, responsible leadership prioritizes the welfare of the people over ideology. Hamas et al. are blind to the welfare of their own people for the blind and strict adherence and allegiance to the Islamist Ideology and to the destruction of Israel. Golda Meir is correct: peace will arrive when Arabs love their children more than they hate jewish children. Hamas et al. are feckless. War is not golf; there is no mulligan in War. And yet the feckless UN and EU keep giving mulligans to the Islamists. William Tecumseh Sherman is correct: “War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.” Israel needs to make war as cruel as it can get, more cruel than the sadistic islamists can bear. War is quite a serious business.

    War is very serious business. War happens when peace talks fail, when court procedures fail, when diplomacy fails. War is the Court of Last Recourse. War makes final decision. Yes, Israel earned by blood the lands won by war. The Ancient Romans were correct: si vis pacem para bellum. Wars have been instigated by the Arabs (Palestinian and others) and these instigators refused with very bad grace the consequences of war (sorry Palestinians). The losers cry “International Law! International Law! International Law!” but said losers keep restarting hostilities stating the failure of International Law as casus belli. The Losers are stuck on Stupid.

    General Lee at Appomattox; all around he sees a sea of blue. General Lee did the rational and compassionate thing for his soldiers (and their families and communities): he surrendered. Hamas and the PA should also surrender. The gig is up. Der Krieg ist verloren. Hamas and the PA have no regard for their own people. Hamas and the PA are eager to sacrifice the blood of their own people as a price for their own virtue signaling. War after war has been lost. Intifada after intifada have failed. Hamas and the PA are just dead-enders, imitating the Nazi Werwolfs.

    Since Hamas started the Oct 7, 2023 attacks, it is Hamas’ responsibility (not Israel, not the USA, not the EU, not the UN) to have beforehand shelter, food, fuel, sanitation for the people of Gaza. Is Oct 7, 2023 a case of Hamas premature ejaculation?

    Hamas and the PA need to clean up their act; the Nazis did not use german civilians as shields. In WW2 the Japanese did not use japanese civilians as shields. Suggestion to Hamas and the PA: go ahead and be wicked and evil but at least attempt to be as classy as the Nazis.

  8. Holms says

    On this planet there are many, many ethnic groups with no sovereign land.

    That’s not the issue. The Palestinians that had land had to stand by and watch as it was stolen and perhaps bulldozed in front of them; resistance often means getting shot by IDF soldiers. If Israel had been equal in its treatment of its constituents from the outset there probably would be no crisis, but recall that Israel began with the displacement of 700,000 Palestinians and has never stopped doing so.

    And then there is Gaza, a literal prison for decades with no infrastructure that has not been destroyed or damaged by Israel, deprived even of that most basic of necessities -- water. The median age is something like 18 due to its terrible life expectancy, meaning most have known nothing but war and deprivation.

    As usual your essay falls at the first sentence.

  9. John Morales says

    In the news: [warning — confronting images]

    ‘Wounded child, no surviving family’: The pain of Gaza’s orphans

    (fair use quotation)

    Medics working in the Gaza Strip are using a specific phrase to describe a particular kind of war victim.

    “There’s an acronym that’s unique to the Gaza Strip, it’s WCNSF -- wounded child, no surviving family -- and it’s not used infrequently,” Dr Tanya Haj-Hassan who works with Doctors Without Borders told BBC News.

    The expression captures the horror of the situation for many Gazan children. Their lives change in a second -- their parents, siblings and grandparents are killed, and nothing is the same ever again.

    The war began after Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October killing 1,200 people and taking around 240 others hostage, and Israel launched its military campaign. More than 15,500 people have been killed in the conflict, including about 6,000 children, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.

    Ahmed Shabat is one of those children who was described as a wounded child, with no surviving family, when he arrived injured and crying at the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza. The three-year-old survived an air strike on his home in Beit Hanoun, in mid-November. But his father, mother and older brother were killed.

  10. says

    John @10: On the one hand, this seems to be the least ridiculously ignorant comment the half-baked fish-boy has ever posted here. Which says a lot about his other comments here. OTOH, the whole (still disgracefully incoherent) mess of copypasta reads almost exactly like the comment he posted a few weeks ago, in a different thread on the same subject.

    So it looks like fish-boy strung together a bunch of unconnected snippets (or had it all strung together for him), and can’t think of anything else to do but re-paste the whole mess over and over.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *