BROOKLYN, N.Y. – As Israel celebrated its 71st anniversary as an independent state last month, a group called Within Our Lifetime-United for Palestine, an offshoot of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), organized a rally in Brooklyn to that spouted virulent anti-Semitic tropes by a city official, offered repeated calls for Israel's elimination and a calls for "resistance" – tantamount to terrorism – against the State of Israel.
Protesters gathered near 72nd St. and 5th Ave. in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn for "Nakba 71: The Great Return March Continues." Nakba means "catastrophe," which is how Palestinian advocates tar Israel's creation.
In this exclusive video report, the Investigative Project on Terrorism shows how the language used by anti-Semites has become normalized and as speakers traded in explicit anti-Semitic tirades and perpetuated lies about Israel and Jews, all in an effort to recast how events played out 71 years ago and demand a different outcome.
"New York City, you will see, Palestine will be free," they chanted. "New York City, you will learn, refugees will return."
Gilding the lily at this affair were demonstrably anti-Semitic and anti-Christian comments made by Brooklyn Assemblyman Ralph Perfetto, who attacked Christians who support Israel: "And as far as the evangelicals, who are sending more money over than AIPAC. Forget about it! You're waiting for rapture and for Jesus Christ to come back, well this Christian doesn't want him to come back. So, stop sending your money there." The crowd cheered to hear a Christian – and a Brooklyn assemblyman, no less – make such a sacrilegious comment about his own faith.
Perfetto then topped himself by admitting that anti-Semitism in America is driven by opposition to a Jewish state in Israel, a link that anti-Zionists often deny: "It's my opinion, but I believe the rise in anti-Semitism in this country is because of what is happening there, not because of the Jewish people in this country, but because of what is happening over there. And, unfortunately, the Jewish people in this country are suffering for it."
To be clear, Perfetto admits that people upset with Israel, a foreign country, are acting out their frustrations on American Jews. He doesn't urge anti-Semites to stop this behavior. He seems to find this quite reasonable.
Israel's independence took place legally through a United Nations vote and was solidified with a victorious war it didn't start. Those who deny that history and perpetuate the notion that Jews do not have a right to their homeland—i.e. anti-Zionism, a particular endemic issue on the Left – is clear anti-Semitism.
Protesters called for a "Great Return" of Palestinian refugees to Israel – of which, originally about 700,000 either deserted or were expelled from their homes in 1948. What the lamenters either do not know or chose to forget is that Palestinians produced that unfortunate outcome, with the encouragement of Arab League countries. They created a united front which refused to accept two separate United Nations resolutions and instead launched a war to drive the Jews from the land. They just didn't plan on losing.
Israel was granted independence by a United Nations vote on Nov. 29, 1947. Resolution 181, Partition Plan for Palestine, passed in the wake of the horrors of the Holocaust and the genocide of millions of Jews whose survivors were in need of a homeland and safe haven.
Jews were assigned areas of land in Palestine that included Tel Aviv and the Negev, among other places. Arabs living in Palestine at that time were given their own state, as well, which included Jaffa and the regions now known as the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. While Jews danced in the streets at the triumphant U.N. vote in favor of a homeland, Arabs rejected the notion of living side by side with a Jewish state and launched a holy war. The war expanded to include fighters from Arab League countries Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq once Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948.
The United Nations attempted to assuage Arabs' deadly tantrums in December 1948 with Resolution 194, which said that "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."
The resolution was adopted by 35 member countries of the U.N., but by none of the Arab League countries – Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen – all of which were parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The conflict continued until Arabs' official defeat in March 1949.
The Brooklyn protesters chose to forget or not learn the rest of the story, and showed that rejectionism remains alive and well among many Palestinians and their supporters. "We don't want no two states," they repeatedly chanted. "We want '48!"
Denying Jews their right to their ancestral homeland meets the definition of anti-Semitism. Rally speakers didn't rein in their anti-Semitism there, however. Rafael Miranda, of the International League of Peoples' Struggle, justified all violence and terrorism executed by Palestinians: "I want to say that our fight for freedom is not terrorism. No matter how we fight it is never terrorism. It is not terrorism to fight by whatever means necessary. And so I want to stand today to say that resistance is justified when people are occupied."
The anti-Semitic rally masquerading as a victims' support group let down its façade with the previously mentioned chant – "we don't want no two states, we want '48" – as well as this chilling call in Arabic for terrorism against Jews: "The door of the Aqsa mosque is made of iron and nobody can open this door but our martyrs."