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FLOWERS: The Rainbow vs. the Watermelon

I love monster movies. My preference runs towards giant predators crashing into each other like the Jurassic Park franchise, the many iterations of King Kong, and my favorite: Godzilla. You can imagine how excited I was when Hollywood decided to bring together two of my favorite creatures in “Kong v. Godzilla” (or vice versa).

Both of the villains, the hairy ape and the scaly lizard, have their own established personalities, so it’s difficult to pick sides. I love and hate both of them equally.

But in the end, you have to choose in order to keep the drama interesting. If you don’t care whether Kong gets his head sliced off by Godzilla’s tail, or whether Godzilla ends up with that tail wrapped around his throat by Kong, you might as well watch the “Real Housewives of New Jersey.”

Unless, compared to King Kong and Godzilla, you find them too fake.

But guess what? This past weekend, I finally found one of those “Kong v. Godzilla” situations where I really couldn’t pick a team. They were both so equally obnoxious that I didn’t really care who ended up getting stomped.

I’m talking about that delicious moment when the Pride Parade came face to face with the Free Palestine crowd. The rainbow met the watermelon. And it wasn’t pretty.

Under normal circumstances, I’d have to say that I’d give a teensy-weensy advantage to the Pride celebrants. I live near the old gayborhood where prismatic colors abound and alternative lifestyles are the default position. But I can usually just go about my daily business as a straight, White cisgender minority who is most notable because I don’t color my hair from a Crayola crayon box.

This weekend, that all changed, as it usually does during Pride Month. Starting early in the day on Sunday, I started hearing drums banging and banshees screaming things that sounded vaguely like obscenities. It went on for hours, and made sitting in my condo to watch the Everlasting Word Network’s celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi nearly impossible.

To be honest, I didn’t really try and watch the Feast of Corpus Christi because I was out in Rose Tree celebrating Italian National Day. That was a delightful event, with food and music and solidarity. It was exactly the way pride in heritage should be celebrated.

Then I came home to the aforementioned drum banging, and nearly-naked women (I think they were women) and all sorts of bacchanalia. Yes, I should have remembered the things that went down in prior years, but I’m getting older and I try and block out the more nightmarish aspects of my existence.

The maraschino cherry on top of the rainbow parfait was when I tried to enter the street where my condo is located, and a phalanx of police officers blocked my way. They were there, ostensibly, to keep the peace. In my case, they were there to keep me away from my front door because, as the annoyed cop who demanded my ID kept saying, “We don’t know that you really live here.” I will not go into details about the eye-rolling, exasperated sighs, modest Italian hand gestures and pleading that went down from my side. Suffice it to say that he “did me a favor” and let me follow a pair of women with exposed buttocks down the street and into the building.

That was my experience with Godzilla.

It was only a bit later that I heard that the Pride Parade had come into contact with a bunch of Free Palestine protestors, who were trying to block their progress down Locust Street. As we all know, Free Palestine protestors support Hamas, even though they try and tell us that they do not. Their message, far from being anti-Israel, is actually antisemitic. Their attacks on Jewish students are widespread, uninformed, and seem to carry few consequences in this DEI climate.

Kong entered the picture.

From video of the incident, it looks as if the Pride folk were trying to be nice and reason with the Hamas supporters, but it didn’t go well. I had the same thought I have when I see signs like “Queers for Palestine:” Why not “Chickens for KFC?” The Pride folk really need to educate themselves on what happens on the roofs of three-story buildings in fundamentalist countries that embrace Islamic jihad.

But I digress. This clash of the titans, so to speak, reminded me of the moment when Godzilla saw Kong coming at him from the other end of an urban landscape, only this time around, I didn’t really care which creature ended up vanquished and which one lived to film another sequel.

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About 100 Attend Doylestown Rally for Israel

Around 100 people rallied for Israel outside the courthouse in Doylestown Sunday, many waving Israeli and American flags.

Ellen Cox, with the Doylestown Republican Club, was one of the organizers and spoke to the crowd.

“There are thousands of children in Israel who lost their mothers and countless mothers who’re waiting for their children to come home,” said Cox, acknowledging that it was Mother’s Day. “This nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and we will not be silenced.” Both Jews and Christians are “under attack,” she said.  Just under the surface, there is “horrific antisemitism.”

“The latest trend is in college campuses all over the United States,” she said. “Jewish kids are afraid to attend classes.” Those who are protesting for Palestinians “are cowards who are hitting soft targets of colleges and graduations. They’re so brave. I think we should send them to fight in Gaza. Guess what? No green pup tents. No organic and vegan food and no Wi-fi. They are cowards.”

“It’s now here in CBSD [Central Bucks School District],” she said. “We condemn it. It is not OK.” Jewish people “are our friends, our coworkers.”

 

“We need to stand with them or we—you—will be next. We don’t want our Jewish family and friends and neighbors to feel scared and alone,” said Cox.

She read from a 1790 letter George Washington sent to the Jewish congregation in Newport, R.I., telling its members they were welcome in the newly-founded nation.

“May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants,” Washington wrote. “While everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree.”

Rabbi Mendel Prus, director of Chabad of Doylestown, thanked the group for coming to support Israel. Israel contributes technology “to make the world a better place,” he said. “And a more peaceful place.” It’s contributed military advances to the U.S. and intelligence to “make the world a safer place.”

He then spoke of the Biblical history of the Jews in Israel from the time of Abraham.

Richard Tems said, “I am a Jew. I am an American. I am an Army veteran. I am the son of Holocaust survivors. We will not bend. We will not surrender. We will not comply.”

He noted that all the Jews left Gaza nearly two decades ago and billions [of dollars] poured in to help the inhabitants make “an idyllic homeland.” The residents voted in Hamas to lead them and Hamas spent the money on miles of underground tunnels and “thousands of rockets to fire into Israel” and mansions in Qatar for Hamas leaders.

On Oct. 7, Hamas invaded Israel and attacked farming communes and a music festival near the border. They raped, tortured, mutilated and incinerated  thousands defenseless men, women, children and small infants.”

Tems said, “[President] Biden, on the day he delivered a speech to remember the Holocaust, cut off military supplies to Israel. He told Israel he forbade them to secure the final Hamas stronghold in Rafah.”

Cox introduced Steve Mekanik, who is running for state representaive in District 29.

“It’s not about me today. It’s about Israel. We’re here for the support of Israel,” Mekanik told DVJournal.

Huntingdon Valley resident Monique Hofkin attended the rally because she is concerned about antisemitism at colleges and also in schools.  She noted the U.S. Department of Education is investigating Central Bucks for antisemitism. And there was also a teacher at Baldi Middle School in northeast Philadelphia, who crossed Israel off a list of countries and substituted Palestine.  There’s “systemic antisemitism [in the schools] and we aren’t going to allow it to continue,” she said.

Mara Witsen was wearing a sweatshirt with the images of the hostages Hamas is holding.  The five American hostages are Keith Sieel, Omer Neutra, Sagui Dekel-Chen, Dan Alexander, and Hersh Goldberg-Polin.

Jack Potok of Warrington noted that while the pro-Israel group carried both American and Israeli flags, “where on campus have you seen an American flag, except being burned on the ground? They’re not just anti-Israel, they’re anti-West.”

The Israeli army is the only army in the world that tells civilians to leave before it attacks, warning civilians with flyers, phone calls, and knock-knock (warnings) on their roofs,” he said.

Philadelphia resident Malcolm Ratson added that historically, armies kill 30 civilians to one soldier. The IDF has a 1 to 1 ratio in Gaza. “That’s how stringent the Israelis are,” he said.

A small group of pro-Palestinian counter-protesters came as the pro-Israel rally was winding down, and stood in a traffic island across from the pro-Israel rally and began chanting slogans: “Free, free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

People at the pro-Israel rally began singing “Am Israel Chai,” dancing and  chanting “Free Palestine from Hamas,” and “Islamist terror will not be a threat to our democracy.”

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Police Take Down Pro-Palestinian Encampment at Penn

In the early morning on Friday, police in riot gear showed up on the University of Pennsylvania campus, gave pro-Palestinian protesters two minutes to leave their tent encampment, then began making arrests.

University officials had asked protesters to leave for days as pressure from students, alums, professors, and others in the Penn community grew. Last week, more than 3,000 people signed a petition asking Penn officials to remove the protesters.

On Thursday, Gov. Josh Shapiro, who had served as state attorney general before running for governor, spoke out strongly against the protest.

He called the encampment “unstable” and “untenable.”

“It is past time for the university to act to address this, to disband the encampment,” said Shapiro. “And to restore order and safety on campus. Universities need to work with their own police departments or within the framework of their local police departments in order to make sure students are safe on campus.”

Shapiro’s remarks apparently gave Penn officials the impetus they needed after more than two weeks to move in and break up the encampment.

The protestors demanded information on the university’s investments and that it divest from any companies doing business with Israel.

For about two weeks, Bala Cynwyd resident Beth Samberg and friends have been going to the encampment at 4 a.m. with air horns to wake up the protesters.  There is an encampment at her son’s university, but it is too far away for her to try to intervene, so she’s been going to Penn.

Samberg, who is “proudly Jewish,” said her son, 19, feels threatened by the pro-Palestinian protesters. “We brought him home a week early because of the encampment,” she said. “The [university] administration would not guarantee the safety of the Jewish kids.”

“I am not there to engage or escalate,” said Samberg about her early morning visits to the former Penn encampment. “I am only there to irritate.”

Now that the encampment is cleared, Samberg fears the protesters will return to Penn since she doesn’t have any confidence that progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner will charge them. But if they do, she will continue to wake them up at 4 a.m.

“And at the encampment itself, there were more non-Penn affiliated individuals than Penn students, she added.

A spokesperson for Krasner said his office is not involved.

“They were given Civil Violation Notices (CVNs) by Philly police and released,” said Krasner spokesman Dustin Slaughter.

Penn’s interim president, J. Larry Jameson, issued this statement, which says in part, “This decision is viewpoint neutral and affirmed by our policies. There are times when our abiding commitment to open expression requires balancing free speech with our responsibility to safety, security, and continuing the operations of the University. This is one of those times and why we have acted. Open expression and peaceful protest are welcome on our campus, but vandalism, trespassing, disruption, and threatening language and actions are not.”

The Jewish Federation of Philadelphia issued a statement saying it “commends the University of Pennsylvania for taking decisive action to disband the pro-Palestinian encampment on University of Pennsylvania’s campus this morning. While free speech and critical thinking are essential tenets both on and off college campuses, it had become increasingly clear over the past two weeks that the encampment fostered an atmosphere of intimidation and harassment, particularly towards Jews on campus.

“At a time when antisemitism is at an all-time high, institutions of higher education have a responsibility to ensure that the safety and well-being of Jewish students and faculty is protected. We thank Governor Shapiro, Mayor Parker, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the University of Pennsylvania Police Department for their help in resolving this issue so campus safety and inclusion can be prioritized.”

Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) told Fox News anti-Israel activists should protest Hamas instead.

“It’s actually working against peace in Gaza, and Hamas is convinced that they’ve won the PR war and they keep seeing all these kinds of protests across the nation on these campuses. And it’s not helpful, but it’s actually — it works against peace, I think,” Fetterman said.

Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) did not immediately respond when asked to comment.

Casey’s Republican opponent Dave McCormick, who told DVJournal that he opposed the university encampments, posted to social media Friday, “Good. The encampment should have been disbanded weeks ago.”

The Philadelphia Antidefamation League posted to X, “Now is the time for policy breakers to be held accountable. As we’ve said, we support and defend free speech; but free speech is not a free license to violate time, place and manner restrictions, harass peers, interfere with the education rights of other students on campus.”

Manuel Bonder, a spokesman for Shapiro, told DVJournal, “As Gov. Shapiro has made clear multiple times, all Pennsylvanians have a right to peacefully protest and make their voices heard. The governor has also made clear that universities have a legal responsibility to keep their students safe and free from discrimination.

“Unfortunately, the situation at Penn reached an untenable point – and as the university stated publicly, the encampment was in violation of university policy, campus was being disrupted, and threatening, discriminatory speech and behavior were increasing. After Penn’s weeks-long efforts to engage protestors were met with further escalation, today, the University of Pennsylvania’s leadership made the right decision to dismantle the encampment.

“We thank the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Police Department, and University of Pennsylvania Police Department for their professional work to resolve the situation quickly and peacefully,” Bonder added.

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Are Soros-Funded Campus Protest Groups Colluding with Progressive Prosecutors?

(This article first appeared in Broad + Liberty.)

Many locations where organizations linked to George Soros have funded a national wave of anti-Israel protests on college campuses which directly correlate to prosecutors whose elections were also funded by Soros. This week, Philadelphia joined this unfortunate group with encampments appearing at the University of Pennsylvania.

Soros-funded prosecutors have dropped or refused charges against protesters who have been arrested for a myriad of offenses related to the antisemitic occupations on American college campuses. The correlation in funding between groups committing intimidation, harassment, and assaults toward Jews and the elected law enforcement officials refusing to prosecute them raises uncomfortable questions of conflict and corruption.

As noted in a new report from New York Post, the National Students for Justice for Palestine organization is funded by a number of nonprofits that themselves are funded by Soros and others. At three colleges, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), a Soros-funded group, pays “fellows” who start protests on campus. The Post reports that the USCPR pays up to $7,800 to community-based fellows and between $2,880 and $3,660 for campus-based “fellows” who are expected to spend eight hours per week organizing “campaigns led by Palestinian organizations,” and are trained to “rise up, to revolution.”

Since 2017, the USCPR has received at least $300,000 from Soros’ Open Society Foundations. The group has also received $355,000 in funds from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund since 2019.

 

Picture courtesy @LELDF on X

 

Coincidentally, the United States has 70 prosecutors in office whose elections were funded by Soros-established nonprofit groups, down from 82 after twelve left office in 2022. A map from the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund shows the prosecutors scattered across the country. This includes Travis County Attorney Delia Garza, who dismissed all 57 cases resulting from arrests at unlawful Anti-Israel protests at the University of Texas at Austin last week. In a Texas Tribune report, Garza said that “law enforcement lacked probable cause in the 57 cases she dismissed.”

“Legal concerns were raised by defense counsel,” Diana Melendez, a spokesperson for the Travis County Attorney’s Office, said in a Thursday statement. “The Court affirmed and ordered the release of those individuals.”

Garza, Austin’s Soros-funded prosecutor’s contention that the 57 arrests brought to her office by Texas State Troopers, Austin, and UT Police officers directly contradicts the evidence broadcasted in multiple videos broadcasted in social and news media outlets. The arrests occurred during a chaotic demonstration at UT-Austin, where more than 500 students walked out of class to demand that the university divest from manufacturers supplying Israel weapons on its strikes on Gaza.

In a statement to KXAN, a UT spokesperson said that 26 of the arrestees were unaffiliated with the university, which would automatically result in trespassing charges once the protesters refused to leave when ordered by UT police.

Former President of the University of Texas Students for Justice in Palestine, Nidaa Lafi, a fellow for the USCPR was spotted at an anti-Israel encampment Wednesday at the University of Texas at Dallas giving a speech and demanding Israel end its war in Gaza. Lafi was detained in January for blocking the road where President Biden’s motorcade was set to travel for the funeral of the late Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, whom she used to work for.

Arrests were also made on the campuses of USC and UCLA in Los Angeles, where Soros-funded George Gascon serves as the District Attorney.

The center of these unlawful protests is at Columbia University, in Manhattan where Soros-funded Alvin Bragg serves as District Attorney. Over 100 arrests have been made by the NYPD resulting from the Columbia protests, but all have since been released. The Columbia encampment was organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Within Our Lifetime. According to an analysis by the Post, all three of the organizations received money from groups Soros is linked to.

Soros’ Open Society Foundation, the same group responsible for setting up and funding Political Action Committees to fund progressive prosecutors, has given in total over $20 million to the progressive nonprofit the Tides Foundation, which has given money to groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace. As Campus Reform has reported, the Open Society Foundation has given $650,000 to Jewish Voice for Peace, which cited “Israeli apartheid and occupation” as “the source of all this violence.”

A spokesperson for the Open Society Foundation told the New York Post: “Open Society has funded a broad spectrum of US groups that have advocated for the rights of Palestinians and Israelis and for peaceful resolution to the conflict in Israel and the OPT,” the spokesperson said. “This funding is a matter of public record, disclosed on our website, fully compliant with US laws, and is part of our commitment to continuing open debate that is ultimately the only hope for peace in the region.”

If criminal groups and the prosecutors responsible for charging them share funding sources, does that constitute corruption or a clear conflict of interest?

Furthermore, questions can be raised about a two-tiered criminal justice system, especially in light of the Special CounselArizona, and Georgia election interference cases against President Donald Trump and his associates, where tenuous racketeering and conspiracy charges are levied even many years after  the alleged crimes were committed.

“The conflict issue requires an analysis of the closeness of the relationship,” said former federal prosecutor and Chester County DA Thomas Hogan. “I never recused myself from prosecuting an official from my own political party, having prosecuted the close friend of my own campaign finance director. Of course, since I was prosecuting, not declining to prosecute, the dynamics were different.”

Opining on the apparent absence of an investigation or prosecution at a federal level, Hogan continued, “You might think of it as trying to figure out if the DA should recuse themselves [for example], if the child of a major donor is charged with a crime.”

Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine Protesters Face Off at UPenn Sunday

One side chanted, “Rape is not resistance.” The other side responded, “Intifada, the revolution.”

And with that, the debate over U.S. support for Israel and the Jewish nation’s right to exist was laid out on the University of Pennsylvania campus Sunday.

The anti-Israel protests there began Thursday, complete with tents similar to those used by pro-Palestine activists from Cambridge, Mass., to the University of Southern California. In the Delaware Valley, protest encampments have reportedly sprouted at Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore Colleges.

On Friday, UPenn’s interim university President Larry Jameson, told protesters to pack up their tents and leave. The administration also told organizations planning a provocative Passover seder as part of their anti-Israel protest not to hold the event.

But on Sunday, the tents were still up, and the seder went on as planned as the Palestinian activists continued to ignore the administration and disrupt the campus.

In his statement Friday, Jameson took a tough line, declaring that while the university supports peaceful protest, “the encampment itself violates the university’s facilities policies. The harassing and intimidating comments and actions by some of the protesters, which were reported and documented by many in our community, violate Penn’s open expression guidelines and state and federal law, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. All members of our community deserve to access our facilities without fear of harassment or being subjected to discriminatory comments or threats.”

“We will not allow any actions that harass, threaten, or intimidate others,” Jameson added. “We have also said that the safety of our community is paramount, and we will live up to our commitment.”

That commitment remained unfulfilled late Sunday night as the protest continued.

Sunday afternoon, a group of 200 or so supporters of Israel, led by medical school professor Benjamin Abella, gathered in front of the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

(CREDIT: Professor Benjamin Abella via Twitter)

“We hereby implore the university to take action,” Abella said. “Words are not enough.” Among the signs they waved were “No Hamas, No KKK.”

A group of pro-Israel supporters marched toward the pro-Palestine encampment as campus cops looked on. That was when they exchanged chants.

Eyal Yakoby, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania who testified before Congress about the recent wave of antisemitism, believes the university is ignoring the protesters’ threats of violence.

“While people dismiss the violent nature of these protests, chanting globalize the intifada literally is a call to violence. A university’s core mission is to educate students. When protests are blasting air horns in the middle of the school day, how are students supposed to focus? Penn, along with other universities, needs to decide whether their mission is to educate or to be ground-zero for violent protests.”

Andrew Goretsky, the Philadelphia Regional Director of the Antidefamation League, said, “What we are seeing at Penn and on campuses across the country are not peaceful protests. They are efforts to harass, intimidate, and interfere with the operation of the university — depriving students of their education. The Penn administration needs to make it abundantly clear that anyone interfering with classes or harassing or threatening students will be subject to campus discipline or, where appropriate, face legal consequences.”

Police had arrested nearly 900 pro-Palestinian protesters at campuses across the U.S. as of Sunday evening. The disorder has become so problematic that the University of Southern California (USC) has canceled its graduation ceremony.

Jamie Walker, a Jewish parent from Bucks County, said, “It’s absolutely terrifying that these protests are happening at these universities. As a Jewish parent, I am scared to send my kids to college. It’s blatant antisemitism taking place. All of these young adults are actively supporting terrorist organizations. They are overwhelmingly uninformed about the groups they are supporting.”

“It’s scary to think that universities in Pennsylvania are allowing this to occur,” said Walker. “What’s even scarier is these young adults are the future leaders of America. Colleges need to rethink their curriculum. They are failing society.”

Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate and Republican Dave McCormick decried the campus protests at a campaign event Thursday.

“How can it be that our children on the best campuses at the best colleges in our country don’t understand the difference between right and wrong? Can’t see the difference between good and evil? How can that be? And then you watch those three college presidents testify? And you say, ‘Oh, that’s how it happened.’ The lack of leadership. The lack of moral clarity.”

Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) did not reply when asked to comment.

However, some Philadelphia Democrats are defending the protesters.

State Reps. Tarik Khan, Rick Krajewski, and Chris Rabb joined Philadelphia state Sen. Nikil Saval and city councilors Kendra Brooks, Nicolas O’Rourke, Jamie Gauthier and other activists issued a statement  saying they support the “peaceful protest.”

“We are grateful for the students’ leadership and urge our universities and our city to hear their call,” they said.

Critics of the campus protests and their antisemitic and anti-American messaging say the issue is bigger than the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Noting that a communist newspaper was distributed at the Penn protest and protesters carried a hammer and sickle communist flag, Yakoby tweeted, “This is what was distributed at the UPenn demonstration today. This is not just a Jewish problem. It is an American problem, a freedom problem.”

 

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67 Arrested as Global Anti-Israel Protests Hit Philly Monday

Dozens of anti-Israel protesters were arrested in Philadelphia on Monday, part of a global protest movement designed to shut down economic chokepoints in support of the Palestinian cause.

“[Twenty-six] protesters in slow-moving vehicles entered I-95 north near Penns Landing and I-95 South near Allegheny Avenue,” reported the Pennsylvania State Police. “The protest groups slowly proceeded towards Center City, snarling traffic in both directions.”

Police removed all protesters from their vehicles, citing them for disorderly conduct. More than 20 vehicles were towed. Most of the suspects are from the Delaware Valley, but state police said individuals from State College and Pittsburgh took part, as did some people from Pittsford, N.Y.

Another 41 protesters were arrested after they blocked the intersection of Market and Schuylkill near the IRS building in downtown Philadelphia. Helicopter footage showed the demonstrators sat down in crosswalks after walking on the road with signs, banners, and Palestinian flags. Some of the signs said that U.S. tax dollars were “funding genocide,” while another called Israel “the Temporary entity” and “the entity from dust.”

 

 

Philadelphia police said the protesters were charged with obstructing the highway.

The global protests were spearheaded by the group A15 Action, which proposed a “multi-city economic blockade” to show solidarity with Palestine.

A15 Action’s main message was to “open up new fronts against the Zionist war machine…[to] end the Zionist project now,” according to a video the group posted on social media.

The plan was to “disrupt global logistical hubs” across the world by targeting infrastructure, including shipping terminals, highways, and bridges. A15 hoped to damage the economy and slow the flow of capital that helps fund military aid to Israel.

“Not another penny, not another dollar, we won’t pay for Pentagon slaughter!” protesters in Philadelphia shouted.

The Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay warned its members last week that a possible “blockade” by anti-Israel activists could shut down their businesses on Monday. But a Port of Philadelphia spokesperson told DVJournal none of the demonstrations reached its facility.

While the A15 protesters said their primary targets were corporations that they claim help fund the Israeli economy, most of the actions impacted ordinary people.

Some demonstrators stood outside the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan, while others blocked the Brooklyn Bridge during rush hour. The Golden Gate Bridge was blocked during San Francisco’s morning rush hour, and Interstate 880 was closed for hours in Oakland. In Chicago, 40 protesters blocked entry into an O’Hare Airport terminal before police arrested them.

In Vietnam, protesters targeted products on grocery store shelves, covering some with stickers reading “This Product Supports Genocide” accompanied by an image of the Israel flag covered in blood.

The protests happened two days after Israel was attacked by Iran in one of the largest direct attacks on the Jewish state.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia condemned the demonstrations as antisemitic.

“This protest is yet another example of the danger and fear that the Jewish people continue to endure on a global scale and on our local doorsteps,” a spokesperson told DVJournal.

DelVal’s Dean Signs Letter Urging Biden to Cut Off Military Aid to Israel

Montgomery County Democratic Congresswoman Madeleine Dean joined some of the loudest anti-Israel voices in Congress in a public letter urging President Joe Biden to cut off U.S. military support to Israel in the midst of a war with the terror group Hamas.

The April 5 letter was signed by 40 Democrats, including prominent pro-Palestine progressives like Reps. Summer Lee (D-Pa.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

The letter, also signed by former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), mentions the accidental Israeli strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers.

“If this strike is found to have violated U.S. or international law, we urge you to continue withholding these transfers until those responsible are held accountable. We also urge you to withhold these transfers if Israel fails to sufficiently mitigate harm to innocent civilians in Gaza, including aid workers, and if it fails to facilitate – or arbitrarily denies or restricts – the transport and delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza,” the letter states.

It’s not the first controversial Democratic letter targeting Israel since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack.

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) drew heat in November when she signed a controversial letter calling for a ceasefire and condemning Israel’s military and accusing it of “grave violations against children.” The letter was penned by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), among other Democrats, and did not call for the release of Israeli hostages, who include women, children, the elderly, and Americans. After hearing from constituents with a hostage family member, Scanlon then condemned Hamas and called for the hostages’ release.

Calling for an end of military aid to Israel, one of America’s closest allies is the latest sign that the Democratic Party is abandoning its longtime history of supporting the Jewish nation.

The day before the letter was signed, Biden announced Israel must submit “without delay” to an “immediate ceasefire” with Hamas, even as the terror group holds more than 100 hostages and continues to attack Israel. And, Biden’s Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, Israel is at risk of becoming indistinguishable from Hamas if it continues to fight in Gaza.

It’s language American presidential administrations of the past would never have used. But many Democrats agree, including here in Pennsylvania.

While Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) did not sign the April 5 letter, she’s called for a ceasefire in the war between Hamas terrorists and Israel, changing her initial support for the Jewish nation.

“I’ve long been calling for a negotiated, mutual ceasefire. But the urgency of getting the remaining hostages home, and getting aid to Palestinian civilians, makes it essential that a halt to this war happen now,” Wild posted on X.

Another Delaware Valley Democrat, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, issued a press release saying she supports “Israel’s right to protect its citizens and sovereignty against the atrocities perpetrated by Hamas.” However, since the airstrike that killed the aid workers, she said she was “outraged and heartbroken by the deaths of more than 30,000 people in Israel and Gaza since Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7 and was shocked to read about the Israeli airstrike in Gaza that claimed the lives of seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen. My heart is with the families and loved ones of those who were killed in this senseless act of violence; indeed, my heart remains with each and every family and loved one who has been affected since Oct. 7.” She demanded that Israel “can and must do better.” But one Pennsylvania Democrat who continues to call out Hamas’ terrorism and defend Israel is Sen. John Fetterman (D).

“In this war against Hamas—no conditions for Israel,” Fetterman posted on X. And instead of blaming Israel for civilian deaths, Fetterman pointed out it is Hamas that launched the war and used innocents as human shields.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking… it’s a war, and it’s absolutely terrible,” Fetterman said. “What is going on? Hamas is hiding behind civilians. Israel has the right to defend themselves and destroy Hamas.”

 

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Outpouring of Support for Main Line Synagogue Hit By Antisemitic Vandalism

What began as two acts of antisemitic vandalism led to a supportive community gathering at Temple Beth Hillel/Beth El in Wynnewood Monday evening.

About 1,000 people, some carrying Israeli flags or “United against Antisemitism” signs, packed the sanctuary and overflowed into a nearby room.

“We are not worried that bad things are going to happen,” said Rabbi Ethan Witkovsky. “Our biggest concern is that bad things are going to happen and that no one else will care. As we look around at this room, we know that is not the case.”

Christian and Muslim clergy came to support the Jewish congregation, as well as elected officials.

“We truly live our motto of ‘Our house, your home,’” said TBHBE President Josh Kohn. Since he got a phone call telling him about the swastika painted on their sign, he’s had dozens of phone calls. “We’ve all experienced a wide range of emotions. Many of us are angry. Many of us are sad. Many are confused and frustrated at the kind of world we live in…Many of us are scared, as well, worried that minor physical damage could lead to much more.”

On a recent visit to Israel, he discovered that the Israelis he talked to were optimistic. One survivor of the brutal Hamas Oct. 7 attack told him, “We will dance again.”

The synagogue hosted the Overbrook Presbyterian Church in the wake of a fire and the pastor, the Rev. Adam Hearlson, spoke.

“We are here as neighbors, as people bound by the common commandment to love your neighbor…We stand with you in this time,” he said.  “We have a common cause of peace and love and joy, to sing together, to live together.”

Witkovsky said the swastika was meant to “make us afraid.”

“The swastika may have been painted on our property, but it hurts the entire community. It hurts to see the symbol, which, for many of us, has existed only on old photos from a horrible time…We worry, maybe those times are upon us again,” said Witkovsky.  There is a feeling “in the pit of our stomachs” that “something is happening to the Jewish people in our country.”

“Antisemitic acts have been increasing across our country for years. We worry we’re no longer welcome in this land,” he said. But after two generations “of the most peace and prosperity our people have known anywhere, we worry that this swastika, sprayed on a banner, means we’re doomed to go back to a world of swastikas again.”

“We can’t allow the terrible thing this stands for back into our world,” said Witkovsky. But the world is now different from that of “those grainy photographs.” Jews no longer fear the government, and “non-Jews around us have reached out,” he said.

He urged the audience to “fight hatred in all of its forms wherever it’s found.”

“Know you have an ally in us, and we’re thankful to have an ally in you,” he said.

“To the Jews who are here in the room, what is different from past eras of antisemitism? Today, ultimately, each person here, by dint of being alive in this time and this place, each of you has more power and agency in your lives than the rabbis of the past ever imagined was possible,” said Witkovsky. “Each of us has a phenomenal ability to stand up for ourselves, thank God. And we bear the responsibility of that power, to stand up when someone says something, when someone paints something, when someone does something.”

“There is antisemitism around us, to be sure, and it seems to be getting worse or bolder,” he said. “But it is up to us to use the resources we have to stand up for ourselves and each other.”

Ranita Thomas, a TBHBE vice president, told DVJournal she believes there has always been antisemitism, but Oct. 7 and the ensuing war against Hamas have allowed “people to be overt.”

“People are using Oct. 7 as permission to be more antisemitic,” she said. “A lot  of people who have jumped on the Free Palestine bandwagon are truly antisemitic. They feel it’s justified to say what they’re saying now.”

Vandalized sign at Temple Beth Hillel/Beth El.

Adam Ehrlich, also a TBHBE vice president, told DVJournal, “I think it feels more visceral. It feels like large parts of the world are against us. If something like this (terror attack) happened anywhere else, the world would be rallying around a lot more.”

Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia President Michael Balaban attended the gathering at TBHBE.

The federation “strongly condemns the disturbing antisemitic vandalism that occurred at Temple Beth Hillel – Beth El (Sunday). As antisemitism continues to rise nationally and locally, we must work together as a community to make it clear that hate has no place here. We stand with Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El as they address this vandalism while continuing their critical work to unify the Wynnewood Jewish community through prayer, inclusion, and love.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro on X: This is the second message I’ve written like this in as many days. It’s two too many. Antisemitism and the vandalism of a house of worship of any kind have no place in this Commonwealth. I’ve spoken to Rabbi Witkovsky and told him we stand with his wonderful congregation and against hate. PSP is coordinating with our law enforcement partners to apprehend the person(s) responsible. These acts of hate will never change the fact that no matter what you look like, where you come from, who you love, or who you do and don’t pray to, you belong here in Pennsylvania.”

Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) said on X: “Sickened to see this hateful desecration of a synagogue — and on Easter no less. Antisemitism has no place in Montco or this country. No one should be using nazi symbols in 2024. We must find the people responsible and hold them accountable for this dangerous display of hate.”

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Haverford College Students Host ‘Israel Apartheid Month’ Events

Imagine you’re a Jewish student at a small, exclusive college on the Main Line, where other students are hosting a seminar blaming Israel for allegedly using COVID “as a tool for settler colonialism in Palestine.”

That’s what’s happening at Haverford College this week, part of the school’s “Israel Apartheid Month.”

The Jewish Federation is among those decrying the meeting, which is espousing antisemitic tropes that harken back to Medieval times when “blood libel” was a common antisemitic myth and used to justify pogroms (attacks) against Jews.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia called on Haverford College officials to condemn the student-organized campus event entitled “COVID in Times of Genocide: How Israel uses COVID as a Tool for Settler Colonialism in Palestine.”

“The event’s title dangerously and inaccurately implies that Israel spread coronavirus to advance its global control, repackaging a centuries-old antisemitic trope that Jews take advantage of global crises as a means for their own gain and advancement. In this case, the event’s narrative takes on a new form of the antisemitic blood libel trope, accusing Jews of committing ritual murder and perpetuating the harmful stereotype of Jews as evil and conniving,” the federation said.

“Higher education institutions have a responsibility to establish college campuses as a space for free speech and critical thinking. However, it must be rooted in academic integrity rather than disinformation.

“Haverford College and institutions of all sizes have a responsibility first and foremost to protect the safety of their students. This event and the tension on campus that has led to Jewish students and faculty being vulnerable and victimized constitutes a failure of leadership.

“There should be no tolerance for student events that permit dangerous antisemitic tropes and threaten the safety of Jewish students and faculty, particularly when antisemitism is at an all-time high on college campuses following the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel,” the nonprofit said.

“We urge Haverford College to take immediate action to show its Jewish students and community members that there is zero tolerance for the spread of misinformation and hate on its campus.”

College officials justified allowing students to hold their event.

“At a time of wide-ranging responses to current global matters, our campus is navigating the complexities of learning in community, articulating political and social points of view, and strengthening the relational bonds that allow learning and expression to happen in a safe environment,” said Chris Mills, a Haverford spokesman.

“Haverford supports its community members’ rights to expressive freedom, including around political matters. The ability to challenge ideas and understand conflicting views is foundational to our academic mission. We also expect that even the most well-intentioned individuals will make mistakes in these arenas, and even–and especially–in those moments, we aim to provide learning opportunities that will lead to greater empathy, mutual understanding, and constructive citizenship in a world that is struggling to reach peaceful solutions to conflict,” said Mills.

Jason Holtzman, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, told DVJournal, “At a semi-prestigious university you would think that students would be smarter than this. But going into conspiratorial, libelous rhetoric is very dangerous and disturbing.”

The students “should have more critical thinking skills than to buy into conspiratorial claims like this. It’s really dangerous.”

Rav Shai Cherry, senior rabbi at Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, said, “Can’t we expect more from our elite college students than to traffic in a regurgitated blood libel? Is there no commitment to honesty or accuracy in political protests in the age of TikTok?”

“It’s pure insanity,” Holtzman added. “I can’t believe the college would allow this event to go on when antisemitism is at an all-time high on college campuses.”

Haverford is not the only area campus where some students apparently are embracing antisemitism in the wake of the Oct. 7 terror attacks on Israel. The president of the University of Pennsylvania resigned after trying to defend that institution’s policies before Congress.

Haverford College, founded in 1833 by Quakers, has about 1,400 undergraduate students.

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Narberth Rallies for Nana’s Kitchen After Anti-Israel Graffiti Hit

When the Jewish owners of Nana’s Kitchen in Narberth found their building had been hit with graffiti reading “Free Gaza,” it was angering and disturbing. But the reaction from the community since then?

“It was amazing,” said Lee Senderowitsch.

“I think it was the silver lining of the whole really terrible situation. Seeing graffiti on a Jewish-owned restaurant, I think, triggers many, if not all, Jewish people and human beings in general. And yet, the response to the hate was a lot of outpouring of support and love that made us feel really good,” she said.

“We are backed up and that we’re part of a really strong and powerful and beautiful Jewish community.”

Around 300 people came and stood outside the restaurant on Sunday to demonstrate against antisemitism and offer the owners their support.

“We saw different people from Orthodox, Conservative and Reform or secular and non-Jewish people — all standing together against hate,” said Senderowitsch. “And that was very powerful.”

Eitan Horn

After her mother saw the graffiti on Thursday and reported it to the police, she could not scrub it off. The borough’s public works department came out to help, and the Narberth police are investigating.

Unfortunately, a camera did not show the culprit or culprits, said Senderowitsch, one of Gladys Fink Senderowitsch’s four daughters. They help with the family-run business. Their father, Maxi Senderowitsch, died seven years ago, she said.

The family lived in Argentina, immigrated to Israel, then came to the U.S. about 20 years ago.

The graffiti hit Senderowitsch’s family even harder because their adopted relatives, Brothers Yair Horn, 44, and Eitan Horn, 37,  are among the hostages kidnapped and held by Hamas in Gaza after the Oct. 7 terror attack.

“They are very dear to us,” said Senderowitsch.

Yair Horn

There are about 100 hostages, including five Americans, currently being held by Hamas.

The Senderowitsch family learned the brothers were still alive in November when some of the other hostages who were held with them were released. But since then, there has been no word.

“We really do want to use the spotlight to speak about them,” said Sendrowitsch. “If we feel the way we feel from this vandalism, it puts it in perspective as to how our people in Israel are feeling with the hostages and the families of those who perished.”

Nana’s is a kosher vegetarian restaurant, she said.

“Our goal is to be inclusive,” she said. They provide food to various Jewish schools in the area, and one of their kitchens at a school serves meat. They serve a combination of “homey” Israeli and Argentinian food.

The Jewish Federation of Philadelphia has been working with the family and local legislators to raise awareness for the hostages, the organization said on its Facebook page. “Please patronize Nana’s Kitchen in Narberth or visit to support this family and fight back against this vile act of antisemitism.”

Senderowitsch said, “Our hearts are very full, and at the same time, we feel so very sad and heartbroken.”

Anyone with information about the vandals is asked to contact Sgt. Michael Vernacchio at [email protected].

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