Palestinian rights advocates on Friday condemned recent reports of attacks on Jewish people, saying antisemitic violence is counter to the fight for freedom for Palestinians.
Groups including If Not Now and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) as well as individual Palestinian activists spoke out after video surfaced showing a group of men in accosting diners in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The video emerged amid reports of other attacks.
“These isolated incidents don’t represent the Palestinian rights movement, which is grounded in values of freedom and justice, not hate and bigotry,” said If Not Now, which is led by Jewish Americans who oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine. “The safety of Jews and Palestinians must be achieved together.”
In Los Angeles, according to the New York Times, a witness to the incident said a group of men ran from their vehicles toward a crowded sushi restaurant and asked the diners, “Who’s Jewish?” In a separate attack in the city this week, the drivers of at least two cars chased down an Orthodox Jewish man while shouting antisemitic slurs.
The New York Police Department is investigating an assault on a Jewish man in Times Square Thursday evening, and synagogues in Illinois and Arizona were also vandalized in recent days.
Amnesty International strongly rejected the notion that attacks on Jewish people and places of worship are being perpetrated “in the name of protesting the actions of the Israeli government.”
“Antisemitism is hatred,” said executive director Paul O’Brien. “It attacks the very notion of universal human rights, and we must hold accountable—in our personal interactions, in our workplaces, in our communities, and in our activism—those who commit, encourage or acquiesce in such abuse, whenever and wherever it is inflicted.”
“Amnesty’s research, campaigns, advocacy, and statements pertaining to Israel are focused on the actions of the Israeli government—they are not, and never will be, a condemnation of Judaism or the Jewish people,” O’Brien added.
Rebecca Vilkomerson, former executive director of JVP, noted that Palestinians who demand freedom from the Israeli occupation “have consistently spoken out against antisemitism and continue to say clearly, even as they fight for their very survival, that antisemitism is antithetical to their values.”
A number of Palestinians spoke out against the attacks on social media and emphasized that violence against Jewish people in the U.S.—purportedly on behalf of people under attack in the occupied West Bank and Gaza—does nothing to help Palestinians’ fight for freedom.
“Antisemitism in the Palestine activism scene in the West almost never comes from Palestinians, almost always comes from non-Palestinian activists,” said Yair Wallach, senior lecturer in Israeli studies at SOAS University of London. “We should acknowledge the heavy burden this places on Palestinians, especially in this moment.”
Suzanne Schneider of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research also described how antisemitic violence harms the Palestinian cause while endangering Jewish people—many of whom are critical of Israeli policies—noting that the recent attacks are “already being used to try to shut down public discussion of Palestine.”
“Stand with Palestine and reject antisemitism,” said Schneider.
Progressive members of Congress who oppose Israeli’s policies and U.S. financial support for the Israeli military also condemned the attacks.
Antisemitism, said Sophie Ellman-Golan, director of strategic communications for Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, impedes “the momentum of the movement for Palestinian liberation.”
“Think about who benefits from pitting the causes of Palestinian freedom and Jewish safety against each other,” Ellman-Golan said. “Think about who and how many more people benefit from the solidarity between these causes.”
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