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Point: Protesters Are Adamant — Eliminate Israel

(For a different point of view see: Counterpoint: Students’ Struggle for Justice in Gaza Must be Protected at All Costs)

The protesters taking over college campuses are not antisemitic, so we’re told, they want to destroy the only Jewish state. They just want all of the Jews to go  … somewhere else. They chant for the creation of Palestine from the river to the sea, an explicit call for the end of Israel.

Would Jews be welcome in the Palestinian state? Consider the only Jews in Gaza are Israeli soldiers trying to free Israeli captives.

They’re not antisemitic; they just have an affinity for all the organizations that have spent decades explicitly calling for the murder of Jews and carrying out those crimes whenever possible. They proudly wear headbands of Hamas and fly Hezbollah flags, and, yet we still pretend not to know who they are and what they want. They are terrorist wannabes at best, and they want what all Islamic extremists want: dead Jews.

For the Daily Wire last week, Kassy Akiva reported, “One of the most vocal student activists leading the anti-Israel Gaza Solidarity Encampment at Columbia University, Khymani James, openly stated in a livestream of an official university inquiry in January that ‘Zionists don’t deserve to live.’” Only because of the following uproar did Columbia take action, booting James from the university.

And yet, the day after Akiva’s report was published, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praised the encampment during a visit, gushing, “The leadership you have is just so fantastic.”

Ocasio-Cortez, a founding member of the Squad, a group of legislators with a long problematic history of antisemitism themselves, isn’t the only one wholeheartedly supporting the protests. Rep. Ilhan Omar joined the protests after her daughter was suspended for her involvement and called some Jewish students “pro-genocide,” drawing a deserved rebuke from the Anti-Defimation League.

The protests aren’t just in response to how Israel has handled its operations in Gaza. Their love of terror was immediately evident before Israel launched its response to the attacks of October 7. It’s not about what Israel has done or what they have alleged it has done. It’s that the Jewish state dares to exist. The Jerusalem Post reported in October, before any Gaza operation began:

“A tenured professor at New York’s Columbia University authored an article praising Hamas’ attack on Israeli civilians last Saturday, less than a day after the attacks took place. What can motorized paragliders do in the face of one of the most formidable militaries in the world?” asked Joseph Massad, who has taught Modern Arab Politics at Columbia since 1999, in his article for the website Electronic Intifada. “Apparently much in the hands of an innovative Palestinian resistance.”

The protests taking over America’s college campuses can’t be more explicit. And their love for terror organizations is reciprocated. Sami Al-Arian, convicted financier of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, tweeted his support of his wife, Nahla, who had set up camp at Columbia’s encampment. She knows who her friends are.

In an email recently, Columbia’s president, Minouche Shafik, told the campus community that the pro-Hamas camp and the environment on campus have become intolerable to Jewish students and others. Many Jewish students, at the behest of their rabbi who sent a WhatsApp message to observant students on campus, have already fled. Shafik went on to explain that antisemitic language and actions, not to mention calls for violence, have no place on campus.

This had to be said because this is the environment that these protests have created. They are antisemitic at their core, and they need to be dismantled immediately.

These protests and encampments have shown that there is a large and growing fifth column of terrorist sympathizers in our most elite institutions from coast to coast.

Pro-Hamas Protesters Met By Jewish Counter-Protesters in Newtown

Chants of “Free, free Palestine” and similar slogans rang out in Newtown Wednesday evening as about 35 pro-Hamas protesters rallied and then marched with Palestinian flags waving.

More than 100 Jewish counter-protesters also turned out, with Israeli and American flags. They chanted, “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”

Since the Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel by Iran-backed Hamas terrorists, pro-Palestinian demonstrators have marched in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and other U.S. cities. The Jewish community has also rallied in support of Israel.

Hamas terrorists killed more than 1,200 people, including women, the elderly, and children. They also took some 240 hostages. As of Jan. 13, Hamas was holding 132 hostages in its network of tunnels beneath Gaza. Six of them are U.S. citizens.

On Wednesday, both groups rallied at opposite ends of the Newtown Shopping Center and began walking through Newtown. There was a heavy police presence, and some streets shut down temporarily as marchers passed through.

Montgomery County resident Aisha Chughtai came to the Palestinian protest and said she’s been active with the Liberation Center in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.

“It’s important for us to go to every county, every street, and every locale,” said Chughtai when asked why the group had come to Newtown. “We’re based in Philadelphia and have been organizing many protests (in the area). They’re popping up regularly.”

The fact that people came out despite the cold weather “shows how much they’re affected,” said Chughtai. However, she said some of the protesters she expected did not show up because they went to Newtown Square in Delaware County instead of Newtown in Bucks County.

Philadelphian Timon Kamran led chants and gave a speech.

Pro-Hamas Palestinian protesters in Newtown.

He accused Israelis of “genocide” and the Biden administration of being complacent and sending taxpayers’ money to Israel. He blamed the U.S. government for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and claimed that Jesus was Palestinian. Despite his anti-Israeli rhetoric, he contended that he and the protesters were not antisemitic.

Bucks County resident Luba Gutman took part in the counter-protest and said she was surprised to see the pro-Hamas protesters in Newtown.

“It’s very shocking and very disappointing,” Gutman said. Her family emigrated from Ukraine when she was a child, and she never expected to “see such hate” in America. She speculated that the protesters came to Newtown because it has a large Jewish population and supports three synagogues.

A man said he came to show his support for Israel and the hostages.

Jewish counter-protesters.

Jewish counter-protesters also demonstrated outside the Lubavitch Center on State Street as the pro-Hamas protesters walked by. Lubavitch Center Rabbi Aryeh Weinstein told DVJournal the center did not request those counter-protesters presence, but they were part of a “grassroots counter-protest.”

There was no violence; “only voices were used,” he said. “Peaceful chanting.”

“There were no incidents. We were happy about that. We were concerned.”

He added that many protesters came from out of the area and out of state to “spread propaganda.”

“I hope it becomes clear to them that whatever happens in Newtown will be met by double or triple the response,” Weinstein said.

Asked to comment, Michael Balaban, the president & CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, said, “The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia upholds and respects free speech and the right to peacefully protest. However, as we have seen with other pro-Palestine protests in the Philadelphia area, these protests can often spread dangerous misinformation about Israel and utilize harmful language that can incite hatred against Jews and Jewish-owned businesses. As we have said many times before, any attempts to scapegoat or isolate Jews are unacceptable and need to be denounced immediately.”

Newtown Police Chief John Hearn posted on Facebook that his department worked to ensure a “peaceful resolution.”

“The protest and march, which was organized privately by a local resident and shared via social media, aimed to raise awareness and express community concerns regarding the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza,” said Hearn. “The police department, after receiving notification through other means, deployed a comprehensive strategy to identify the organizer and facilitate a peaceful gathering, ensuring the protection of First Amendment rights while maintaining public safety in Newtown.”

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SILVERSTEIN: Hamas Can’t Kill Middle Eastern Pacts With Israel

Hamas may have attacked Israel to dislodge Arabic support for expanding the Abraham Accords. But much of the global community has rallied around Israel, while the Middle Eastern partners to the pact have vowed to prevent an escalation.

Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords on September 15, 2000. It’s not a peace treaty, as those countries have never had hostilities. Indeed, they have long had informal trade ties. The entente expands those business ties and incorporates a security protocol as well.

International commerce is the cornerstone of world peace, opening diplomatic relations among nations and business interests. In the case of the UAE and Israel, billions of dollars are trading hands, cementing a lasting bond.

And now Saudi Arabia is ready to sign on. Oman, Morocco, and Kuwait could eventually follow suit. Together, they provide a defensive force against Iran, threatening regional stability.

“These countries have so many common interests,” said Bruce Gurfein, chief executive of the Dubai-based investment fund Connect LLC. “They started dating, and now their relationship is public.”

Gurfein, 47, is originally from New York City with strong Jewish ties to Israel. He has spent the last 28 years facilitating business deals amongst the Middle Eastern nations, noting that the Arabic countries have welcomed him with open arms.

The UAE and Israel have cooperated to deter aggression since 1991, but they are now open about it. As such, they exchange military intelligence and cyber defenses. Energy, too, is a vital component of the pact, potentially having the Israelis buy oil from the UAE. And Israelis love Dubai’s hotels and beaches.

President Joe Biden brought the Saudis on board, who seek security guarantees and to be an international business destination. Already, Israel buys metals and cement from the Saudis, who deploy Israeli cyber technology and drones for civilian use. Meantime, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called the Hamas attack “an act of sheer evil.”

However, the Saudi educational system has ingrained its population with anti-Israeli sentiments. Biden, who seeks to repair U.S.-Saudi relations, explained that step one must include normalizing relations with Israel.

“I hope that Saudia Arabia and Israel take this slowly and make it a long-lasting relationship,” said Gurfein. “Give the people time to get to know each other. Let the business relationships get established.”

The executive asked a taxi driver what he thought of Saudi participation in the Abraham Accords, who responded that he is “officially” obliged to hate Israel. But, “unofficially,” he lamented that hatred of others is not in his blood. No doubt, it will take time to change the broader Saudi mindset.

It’s doable. Consider that Saudi women have traditionally been subservient to men. But women are now permitted to run businesses, and they are responsible for 70 percent of the start-ups in the country — unheard of five years ago.

Egypt and Jordan also have economic links to Israel. Israel exports about $236 million worth of goods to Egypt, while Israel buys agricultural and chemical products from Egypt. Meantime, Israel provides Jordan with 50 million cubic meters of water annually while Jordan exports solar power to Israel.

It’s hard to hate someone after shaking their hand and fulfilling promises.

Are these business and economic ties strong enough to overcome the threat of war? None of the agreements relegates the Palestinian cause and a potential two-state solution where Israel exists peacefully with Palestine. The treaty only enhances that possibility, allowing all sides to voice their concerns at the highest levels. The Palestinians are not an afterthought.

The Abraham Accords could come undone for a variety of reasons. But don’t underestimate the economic and security considerations driving an expansion of the deal — a force that should overpower all political obstacles.

GIORDANO: PA Colleges Are Anti-Israel Indoctrination Camps

If a student from one of Pennslvania’s elite universities knocked on your door and asked for a donation to help pay for their tuition, would you drop a buck in their cup? Or would you slam the door in the face of what we’ve seen on our college campuses in the wake of the murderous Hamas terror attack on Israel? Just days after the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust, and Keystone State college students are attacking Israel? Defending the Palestinians?

The only donation I’d want to give is a free kick to the seat of their pants.

But it doesn’t matter because we are all kicking in to help cover the bills. That’s the plan from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s board of governors that oversees Pennsylvania’s 10 state-owned universities. It voted last week to send Gov. Josh Shapiro a budget request of $623.7 million for the upcoming year, an increase of 6.5 percent. Recently, Penn State submitted a request of $483.4 million for next year, an increase of $120.1 million or a 33 percent.

Obviously, plenty of college students don’t share the insanity we’ve seen from UPenn President Liz Magill. Her embrace of antisemites like Roger Waters onto the campus just days before the Hamas attack and her equivocating response has inspired a massive backlash from the alumni community.

Even more problematic for Magill is that Penn has had arguably the greatest number of donors withdrawing the most financial support from any university or college. Penn gets hundreds of millions of dollars a year in federal funding, and presidential candidate Nikki Haley has called for the withdrawal of federal funding for colleges that don’t strongly oppose antisemitism.

In this environment, horrified taxpayers are being asked to pony up even more for higher education in Pennsylvania?

And it’s not just the Hamas story. Our colleges have been on the attack against common-sense Pennsylvania values for years.

Penn State recently had an incident involving Riley Gaines, former University of Florida swimmer and champion of keeping biological men from competing in women’s sports. Gaines was prevented from speaking in a classroom on Penn State’s campus. State Sen. Chis Dush, who represents the district where Penn State is located, witnessed the harassment Gaines faced and told me that he would hold hearings on incidents like this at Penn State and that there could be funding repercussions for the school.

So, in matters like the Gaines incident at Penn State or law firms or other businesses saying they wouldn’t hire students at places like Harvard that signed a document blaming Israel for the attacks by Hamas, I’ve been challenged by some who say withholding funding or blocking students from jobs is just cancel culture.

I asked Allan Dershowitz, Harvard professor and champion of the First Amendment, about this. He told me Harvard would not allow a Ku Klux Klansman on campus, and these Harvard students were endorsing the same kind of hatred. He also said a business has every right to not hire someone endorsing the Nazi-like atrocities committed by Hamas.

The most disturbing part of all this to me personally was the stance of LaSalle University, my alma mater. The school is run by the Christian Brothers, and its Oct. 9 statement conflated the savage attacks by Hamas with Israel’s attempts at self-defense. It said, “Over the weekend, the world witnessed the sudden violence taking place throughout Israel and Gaza. The reports, images, and videos we are seeing in the news and social media are disturbing and anguishing.”

In addition, the LaSalle University Muslim Student Association, on its Instagram account, channeled the student statement at Harvard University and said, “We, the signed student organizations on this letter, hold the Israeli government accountable for the ongoing violence occurring.” They went on to say, “The events occurring are not isolated; for the past two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in open-air prisons. Israeli authorities have threatened to escalate the conflict, resulting in casualties in Gaza. In the days ahead, Palestinians will face the brunt of Israel’s aggression, and the blame solely lies with the apartheid regime.”

Even more outrageous to me, this statement was endorsed by the LaSalle University Student Government Association, the LaSalle University Ambassadors, the Residential Student Association, and even the Powerlifting Club endorsed it. It all raises the question about what is being taught at LaSalle. The university should be clear that the actions of Hamas cannot be justified and link this to the Catholic fabric of the university.

This attack on Israel has outed once again that many colleges and universities are well-funded indoctrination bubbles, and any public or private dollars they get must be scrutinized.

DelVal College Students Among Those Posting Pro-Hamas Messages

Students at area colleges are sending messages supporting the same Palestinian cause championed by the Hamas terrorists who killed more than 1,000 Israelis in Saturday’s horrific attack. It’s a sign, Republicans say, of the far-left extremism that makes up part of the progressive base of the Democratic Party.

While most Pennsylvania elected officials, including Democrats Gov. Josh Shapiro and progressive U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, loudly declared their support for Israel and denounced the violence from the Palestinian terrorists, liberal student groups sent a very different message.

“We…hold the Israeli government accountable for the ongoing violence,” announced student organizations at Philadelphia’s La Salle University. “The events occurring are not isolated; for the past two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in open-air prisons. Israeli authorities have threatened to escalate the conflict, resulting in casualties in Gaza. In the days ahead, Palestinians will face the brunt of Israel’s aggression, and the blame solely lies with the apartheid regime.”

In Delaware County,  Swarthmore College’s Students for Justice in Palestine posted a statement that “honors the martyrs” who murdered Israelis, raped women, and took children hostage.

“Since early Saturday morning, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have valiantly confronted the imperial apparatus that has constricted their livelihoods for the past 75 years. In an unprecedented violation of Zionist intelligence and military rule, the resistance [Hamas terrorists] broke its people out of the open-air prison that is the Gaza Strip.

“Swarthmore Students for Justice in Palestine enshrines the right of the Palestinian people to resist the Zionist regime by any means necessary and honors the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for liberation,” the Swarthmore students posted on social media.

That statement inspired a response from Dave McCormick, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

“This is despicable. Glorifying Hamas terrorists who have slaughtered innocent women and children as ‘martyrs’ is unacceptable. @swarthmore: Step up, demonstrate leadership, and condemn these disgusting comments immediately,” McCormick tweeted.

Swarthmore officials did not respond to a request for comment.

The anti-Israel response appears to be part of the culture of elite, liberal universities. For example, local supporters of Israel quickly pointed out that UPenn hosted a Palestinian Writers Festival last month featuring several openly antisemitic participants. Among them, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and Noura Erakat, a Rutgers University professor who called Zionism a “bedfellow” to Nazism.

Radio talk show host Dom Giordano said the leadership of those institutions is partially to blame for their students’ attitudes. “I think the position of the La Salle groups that supported this is indefensible. La Salle has a teachable moment to address this or support it with their silence. They should have a forum for faculty and students to discuss.”

La Salle University, a Catholic institution, posted a statement that conflated the violent attack committed by Hamas terrorists with Israel’s self-defensive actions in response.

“Over the weekend, the world witnessed the sudden violence taking place throughout Israel and Gaza. The reports, images, and videos we are seeing in the news and social media are disturbing and anguishing,” the university wrote. “We pray for peace in this part of the world and for those touched by this violence while we mourn the loss of life.”

Those views are hardly exclusive to Pennsylvania institutions.

When 35 Harvard student groups released a letter of solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza (“We hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence”), several high-profile alums reacted in horror.

Former Harvard president Larry Summers, who previously served as U.S. treasury secretary, decried the university’s “neutral” stance in response to the student declaration. “I am sickened. I cannot fathom the administration’s failure to disassociate the university and condemn this statement,” Summers said.

At New York University Law School, the student bar association president released a statement standing with the terrorists.

“I will not condemn Palestinian resistance,” wrote Ryna Workman, who called the terrorist attacks “necessary.” Instead, “I condemn the violence of obfuscating genocide as a ‘complex issue.’”

At the University of Virginia, the Students for Justice in Palestine said, “The events that took place yesterday are a step toward a free Palestine. They reflect the power and resilience of the Palestinian people in the face of 75 years of continued brutal oppression…We stand in solidarity with Palestinian resistance fighters.”

Students at California State University at Long Beach made the most graphic statement with posters portraying a paraglider like the ones used by Hamas terrorists to attack an outdoor concert and kill hundreds.

“We will be rallying and marching in support of the Palestinian liberation and against Zionist occupation in Palestine,” the student group said.

OPINION: 75 Years On, the Dead End of Palestinian Grievance

Nov. 29 will mark 75 years since United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, which endorsed the establishment of neighboring Jewish and Arab states in the Holy Land. 

One of the U.N.’s most significant decisions, it helped restore a sovereign country for Jews in the ancestral land from which they were exiled by the Romans, who renamed the territory Syria Palaestina. 

For Palestinian Arabs, the plan offered something even more groundbreaking: the creation of a Palestinian country for the first time.

But it is only Israelis who will soon celebrate the 75th anniversary of their country’s birth–and its hard-won success. Palestinian leaders will do what they’ve always done: bemoaning the deferral of Palestinian nationalism’s stated primary objective and incriminating Israel in it. 

Often, this incrimination takes the form of delegitimization – by presenting Israel as a foreign, “colonial” entity and by vilifying Israel as evil.

Palestinian advocates frequently promote a map showing Israel’s share of the land expanding from 1948 until today, while Palestinians’ has diminished. The message is clear: Zionist territorial gluttony is boundless – and Palestinians are nothing but dispossessed underdogs.

Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Palestinian activists, now with the help of an automatic U.N. majority maintained by nearly 60 Arab and Muslim governments, have perfected the craft of political polemicizing.

Beyond the decades and centuries omitted from Palestinians’ visual synopsis of Israeli-Palestinian history is all that it obscures even during the period it highlights. 

After all, it was the Zionists who, in 1947, embraced Resolution 181’s two-state vision–even with Jews offered but a small fraction of their small homeland, and no share in its beating heart, Jerusalem. 

The Arab side refused and fought repeated wars to eliminate Israel–gradually losing territory in the process.

Arab governments declined to establish a Palestinian state even when they fully controlled the West Bank and Gaza Strip from 1949 until 1967. The Palestine Liberation Organization was founded with a charter plotting Israel’s total destruction.

In 1967, the Arab League declared, “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”

It was Palestinians who in the 1980s launched the first violent “intifada” against Israel and sparked Israeli-Lebanese warfare by attacking Israel from Lebanon.

Fanatic Palestinian groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad – proxies of Iran, which pledges “death to America, death to Israel” – sought to undermine reconciliation with waves of suicide bombings in the 1990s. The atrocities came following the Oslo Accords, which afforded almost all Palestinians self-rule.

At talks at Camp David in 2000, a dovish Israeli government extended an unprecedented offer of Palestinian statehood in nearly all the so-called “occupied territories” – compromising even on Jerusalem and Judaism’s single holiest site, the Temple Mount. 

Palestinians balked–causing then-President Bill Clinton to tell PLO leader Yasser Arafat, “I’m a colossal failure, and you made me one”–and began an even deadlier intifada.

Later, in 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon initiated a complete, unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, including every single Jewish settlement community. Within months, Hamas violently seized the territory and escalated incessant terrorism from it.

In 2008, Sharon’s successor, Ehud Olmert, went even further than the Camp David proposals. 

Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s replacement, declined to accept or even make a counteroffer. 

Instead, Abbas has given speeches maligning Israel as an “apartheid” state and explicitly tried to “internationalize” the conflict by weaponizing U.N. bodies against Israel.

He has also invented a way for Palestinians to have their cake and eat it too, by having the U.N. recognize in 2012 a not-yet-existent “State of Palestine” even as Palestinians evade all the responsibilities of a state by asserting they remain wholly under occupation. 

Palestinian rulers endemically glorify violence against Jews but Abbas insists that Israel–with its two million Arab citizens–is “racist.” 

He also decries the failure of Resolution 181 to deliver Palestinian statehood while continuing to reject the critical other half of the resolution’s program: Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

Abbas claims that Israel’s Jewish identity makes it inherently discriminatory. He has expressed no similar concerns about the dozens of countries whose flag features a crescent or a cross.

In 1947, two years after the Holocaust, desperate but visionary Jews grasped a modest opening for a better future and made something of it, building a thriving, democratic state despite all odds–and peace with multiple Arab and Muslim countries. 

This Nov. 29, the U.N. will mark its annual day of solidarity with Palestinians – the only such day for a particular people–and Palestinian representatives will again rue the lot of their constituency. 

If that lot is to change, Palestinians’ approach must too. Seventy-five years of grievance, aggression, and maximalism have yielded little. 

Over the next 75 years, a path of compromise and cooperation can reap far greater dividends. We’ve seen Israel do it.

But are Palestinian leaders interested?

Philly Officials Draw Ire for Participating in Pro-PLO Event

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney joined members of the City Council, state Sen. Nikil Saval, and state Rep. Danilo Burgos last week to stand beneath Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) flags in celebration of the United Nations international day of solidarity with the Palestinians.

Prior to the rally, which took place on the first day of Chanukah, the Israeli consulate in New York sent Kenney a letter asking him not to attend.

“The Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Zionist Organization of America views it as reprehensible that some Philadelphia politicians sought to undermine the Jewish community earlier this week by participating in an event that garnered support for a movement that is designed to destroy the only Jewish state, Israel. It is reprehensible that the city would host such an official event and shocking and disgraceful that officials who represent all Philadelphians would attend it and participate in it,” the ZOA said in a press release.

Over the years, the PLO, a terrorist organization, has murdered thousands of Israeli Jews and scores of Americans, said Steve Feldman executive director of the ZOA’s Greater Philadelphia Chapter.

“Why any of these individuals would want to support a movement or a cause that has one of its outcomes and agendas to harm another people is troubling?” Feldman asked.

Some are Democratic Socialists whose party is anti-Israel and supports the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel. There are also PLO members who use the chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a call for the destruction of the state of Israel.

Other participants, who are traditional Democrats, might not be aware of the implications.

Burgos counted himself in the latter camp. He said he thought he was just supporting the “Palestinian community here in Philadelphia,” he explained when asked why he participated in the event.

Kenney did not reply to a request for comment from the Delaware Valley Journal. However, he told the Forward that Philadelphia’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) and the Office of City Representative (OCR) have been in discussions with representatives of the local Palestinian community to host an event that recognizes their contributions to the city and region. The Palestinian Day of Solidarity resulted from those conversations and is not a statement on international affairs or the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

“I participated in the event as I have done for countless events recognizing our ethnically and religiously diverse communities,” the mayor said, pointing out that he also attended an event on antisemitism.

Saval, and council members Kendra Brooks, Jamie Gauthier, and Maria Quinoñes Sanchez also declined to respond when contacted by Delaware Valley Journal.

A reporter at the event tweeted that Saval, while speaking at the podium, referenced a “right of return” of Palestinian-Arabs to Israel — which Feldman described as a known demographic ploy to destroy Israel. Saval also mentioned the “occupation” of Palestine, a “demonstrably false canard,” said Feldman. And Saval quoted a poem by Mahmoud Darwish (who was a member of the PLO), and then called out: “Free Palestine.”

“There never was an Arab nor Muslim state in the region called Palestine prior to the amputation of 78 percent of the designated Jewish homeland to create the nation of Jordan,” the ZOA release said.

Gauthier tweeted, “We stand with our Palestinian neighbors. We see you, we value you, and we empathize with your struggle — to resist occupation and oppression, & to be recognized as a people.”

Brooks tweeted, “Today we recognize that our struggles are interconnected and we celebrate the beauty, richness, and diversity of our wonderful city.” On Facebook, she posted: “It is equally important that we advocate for the fair treatment of our Palestinian neighbors at home and abroad so that all people may live with dignity, safety, and sovereignty. We must recognize that the history into the present moment of Palestine is marked by struggle. For decades, Palestinians have faced discrimination, displacement, violence, and occupation.

“As a Black woman, I know that a threat to the rights and dignity of any people is a threat to us all. Because I know that our struggles are intertwined, I know that so too is our fight for liberation. And I know that when we lead with solidarity, we win. To all of our Palestinian friends and neighbors: may we all know freedom and justice in the new year ahead. Thank you for being a part of our beautiful city,” Brooks added.

Kenney may not have mentioned any geopolitical issues, but the picture of him with a backdrop of PLO flags was a victory for PLO propaganda, critics say.

And the fact that elected Philadelphia officials stood under the PLO flag should trouble Jewish residents and business owners, said Feldman, who is also concerned that other Jewish leaders have not rebuked Kenney and the other officials for attending the Palestinian event.

“The acceptance of this by Jewish leaders is very troubling. I have not seen a public statement condemning this by any other Jewish organization or other organizations,” Feldman said. “All decent people should be condemning anybody who calls for ending the Jewish State of Israel and establishing a state of Palestine.”

“People are being taken in, hoodwinked by propaganda and lies,” said Feldman. “The bigger and more outrageous the lie, the more it is repeated.”

Days after the Palestinian event, the city’s director of commerce, Michael Rashid, resigned after allegedly making antisemitic remarks to employees. Rashid said he apologized to Jewish leaders for “inappropriate” comments.

In a statement Sunday, Kenney said, “I’ve accepted Mr. Rashid’s resignation today in light of his inappropriate comments. The work of the Commerce Department is far too crucial—and it’s important that the department stays focused on its mission of supporting Philadelphia’s business community at this critical time as we continue to recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic. The city is committed to ensuring a fair and inclusive working environment where the values of respect and dignity are upheld.”


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