A pro-Palestinian rally promoted by the NYC chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has sparked controversy and condemnation from elected Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
On Sunday, the DSA organized a protest in Times Square, which then moved down to Bryant Park near the Israeli Consulate. Demonstrators at the rally could be seen burning and stomping on an Israeli flag, as well as taunting Israel supporters with a swastika. Signs with anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian sentiments were also prominently displayed.
The DSA blamed Israel for the conflict between Israel and Hamas, stating on social media that “Today’s events are a direct result of Israel’s apartheid regime – a regime that receives billions in funding from the United States.” However, elected Democrats have distanced themselves from the rhetoric and actions at the rally.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the DSA, initially told Politico “It should not be hard to shut down hatred and antisemitism where we see it. That is a core tenet of solidarity.” She also added that the “bigotry and callousness” expressed at the rally were unacceptable and did not speak for the thousands of New Yorkers who can reject violence from both sides.
New York state Rep. Zohran Mamdani, who was also supported by DSA and was a keynote speaker at their national convention, spoke out against the rhetoric at the rally, stating that his support for Palestinian liberation should not be “confused for a celebration of the loss of civilian life.” He also condemned the killing of civilians and the rhetoric used at the rally.
New York Gov. Hochul also condemned the planned rally, calling it “abhorrent and morally repugnant.” She encouraged people to stand with Israel and declared that the conflict should not be celebrated or supported.
Meanwhile, the conflict between Israel and Hamas has escalated in recent days. On Saturday, Hamas launched thousands of missiles into Israel, killing at least 700 people and wounding thousands more. Israel has declared war against the Iran-backed group, launching airstrikes on their positions in the densely populated Gaza Strip.
The death toll has now surpassed 1,600 on both sides, and both Palestinian supporters and Israeli officials are urging for an end to the violence. However, many Palestinian supporters feel that their suffering is not amplified in the media compared to the coverage of Israeli victims.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with President Biden about the situation, stating that a ground operation in Gaza is necessary to stop the attacks by Hamas. He also warned that Israel will “exact a price” that will be remembered by their enemies for decades to come.
As tensions continue to rise and casualties mount on both sides, it is clear that the conflict between Israel and Palestine is far from over. Elected officials and activists are calling for an end to the violence and a peaceful resolution to the decades-long conflict.