It should surprise no one that the New York chapter of Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, used recent rioting on Jerusalem's Temple Mount as an opportunity to spew lies, support terrorism, and advocate for more violence against Israel.
"But we say unapologetically and boldly: Hamas are freedom fighters! PFLP are freedom Fighters! Islamic Jihad are freedom fighters! Fatah armed forces are freedom fighters! All of our people in Palestine are freedom fighters," Lamis Deek, an attorney and Al-Awda's New York representative exclaimed Saturday.
Al-Awda has a history of embracing terrorism and calling for the destruction of the state of Israel. It has co-sponsored rallies in which crowds chanted "Smash the settler Zionist state," "We don't want two states. We want '48," and "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free."
The organization was an original member of the Global Palestinian Right of Return Coalition (GPRRC), the Jerusalem Post reported in 2019. The coalition is part of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), which coordinates global activities aimed at isolating Israel economically and politically. A BNC branch includes representatives from terrorist groups, including Hamas, the PFLP and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Saturday's Al-Awda rally followed skirmishes between Palestinians and Israeli forces on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, home today to the Al Aqsa Mosque. The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, but Muslims still have access to the mosque.
Israeli police entered the mosque last week after Palestinian militants reportedly gathered rocks and other projectiles to throw at Jewish worshipers. This violence comes amid a spate of recent terrorist attacks that left 14 Israelis dead.
The Al-Awda rally made a clear statement that the group and its supporters see such killing of civilians as "resistance" worth hailing. It aimed to "defend" Al Aqsa, Palestinian cities and "every inch of Palestine."
"Since 2022, more than 30 Palestinians were martyred for simply being Palestinian & resisting for their liberation," Al-Awda wrote in a Facebook post promoting its Brooklyn rally. "Just as Palestinians resist back home, we must show solidarity & resist with them."
The ubiquitous "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" chant – which envisions a Palestinian state covering all of Israel – was among other extremist chants and calls heard at the rally.
When Deek draws cheers for calling Hamas and Islamic Jihad "freedom fighters," she and her audience embrace two organizations with written charters demanding Israel's annihilation and creating a theocratic state in its place.
"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad," the Hamas charter says. "Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."
Palestinian Islamic Jihad vows to create "a state of terror, instability and panic in the souls of Zionists, and especially the groups of settlers, and force them to leave their houses."
On Saturday, Deek promised to create her own panic.
"We also know that in these neighborhoods, on our streets, and on our campuses are the agents of genocide, are the agents of apartheid," she said. "And we come to say today and moving forward, we will go to them at every corner, in every university, in every place they exist. We will terminate the corridor of war crimes from New York to Palestine."
Deek has a history of championing violence and terrorism.
She raised money for the pro-Hamas group Viva Palestina, saying that when Palestinians chose Hamas, "what they chose was one united Palestinian state on all of the 1948 territories from the north to the very south. That is what Palestinians chose. And in supporting Palestinian choice we are saying we support their right to liberation from violent colonialism."
Deek also expressed "All love and power" to convicted PFLP terrorist Rasmieh Odeh. Odeh led a 1969 bombing inside a Jerusalem supermarket that killed two college students. Deek's comment came as Odeh was deported from the United States after being convicted of lying about her terrorist past on immigration applications.
Deek's radical ideology has helped her become a popular speaker with other Islamist organizations.
At an American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) rally last May, Deek portrayed Israel as a global threat and "threat to all of us on the streets." As long as Israel exists, "we risk the resurrection of apartheid in South Africa, we risk the resurrection of colonization in Algeria."
Deek is also a former Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) New York attorney and board member. Last month, she sent "All love and support to the magnificent" Zahra Billoo, CAIR's San Francisco chapter chief, after anti-Semitic remarks by Billoo led to her removal as a keynote speaker at San Mateo County's RISE 2022 women's leadership conference.
Deek's outward praise for terrorist organizations fits into a broader pattern of strident and vitriolic hatred towards Israel. As we have pointed out, this is not about criticizing an Israeli policy or action. Praising designated terrorist organizations that seek to destroy a country as freedom fighters exposes the depth of that hatred and radicalization, and does nothing to champion freedom and equality for Palestinians.
But it's not about freedom and equality for Palestinians. It's about eliminating an entire nation.
Research Analyst Teri Blumenfeld contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2022. Investigative Project on Terrorism. All rights reserved.