JON SCOTT: You have seen protests around the world over the violence in Gaza, but demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and New York billed as anti-war rallies look a lot more like anti-Israel rallies in this exclusive video by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
The protesters are chanting pro-HAMAS slogans – one man wearing a shirt that reads "Holocaust: it is time to the ovens again."
Steve Emerson is Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Why don't we see more of this video, Steve?
STEVEN EMERSON: You know, it's a good question. We had crews shooting in five cities and then we found some other stuff on YouTube and these rallies, as you point out, are not just anti-Israeli, but they're pro-terrorist – calling for Israel's destruction, calling for HAMAS and Hizballah to beat the Jews – for the Jews to be annihilated using a taunt that has been chanted at them for a thousand years.
I find it absolutely strange and disturbing that the mainstream networks are not reporting on this as they have reported on the casualties in Gaza. This is a very important development in the United States insofar as these are American protesters promoting Hizballah, HAMAS, and even al Qaeda.
SCOTT: Well it is a free country, obviously, and they can promote whatever they want I suppose, up to a point. My question is: is there any evidence of outside interference from the Iranians for instance?
EMERSON: No, I don't think there is. And as you point out, it's free speech. You can't yell fire in a crowed theater, but you can certainly yell "death to America," and some of them have. But the fact is that if this was a Nazi rally, there would be major coverage by all of the networks. Instead, one paper in L.A. referred to these rallies as mere protest rallies. They're hate rallies, and I think it shows the agenda of those that are promoting HAMAS and wanting to see the Israelis not just end the assault, but actually eviscerated.
SCOTT: Are they big enough to be something worrisome? I mean, are they more than just a few dozen people?
EMERSON: Well there were hundreds of people that were at the Washington rally and in New York, there were hundreds of people as well. Now not all of them were chanting death to Jews and death to Israel, but a fair number of them were. And it is troublesome that those people exist in the United States just as it's troublesome that neo-Nazis exist in the United States. Again, it's legal, it's protected speech, but you really have to worry about what they could possibly do if they wanted to carry out violence.
SCOTT: Are the authorities keeping an eye on some of these groups?
EMERSON: Well, to a certain extent, again, they're really not allowed to keep files on groups that merely hide behind the first amendment. They are – it's free speech, and they haven't crossed it. There was one episode we had where, actually, protesters in Washington, D.C. rushed a counter-demonstration and beat and pummeled a counter-demonstrator. We don't know whether that protester was ever arrested.
SCOTT: Well there are Americans who feel that the Israeli response has been disproportionate to the launching of rockets from HAMAS from the Gaza Strip and so forth. Are these protests more than that?
EMERSON: Yeah, I think it's a fair game to prot – to take a side and say we're against the Israeli assault on Gaza. I mean I personally think that Israel has absorbed five thousand rockets for the last five years and had to do something to stop it.
And these images in Gaza are horrific, but that's war. The bombing of Dresden was war, the bombing of Serbia was war, but we never see the images in Dresden, or we never saw the images in Serbia of the casualties.
Now, I think there are innocent protesters that are saying "we are against Israeli policy," but the majority of what we filmed in the three cities – or the four cities – were violently inspired protests. That is, their statements were violent insofar as they call for Israel's destruction or "going back to the ovens" referring to the Holocaust.
SCOTT: Steve Emerson from the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
EMERSON: You're welcome.