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Anti-Israel Activists Applaud Houthi Violence

Anti-Israel Activists Applaud Houthi Violence

Houthi Militants (Photo Credit/AP)

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In the aftermath of October 7, 2023, and the start of the Israel-Hamas war, some anti-Israel activists have boldly expressed support for terrorism against the State of Israel and Jews, which at first manifested in explicitly supporting Hamas. More recently, these activists and leftist groups have also expressed admiration for another group they consider allies in the fight against U.S. imperialism and Zionism: the Houthis.

The Houthis, an Iranian-regime backed U.S.-designated terrorist group in Yemen, have been targeting international cargo ships in the Red Sea and shooting missiles towards Southern Israel since mid-October in connection to the current Israel-Hamas war. Also known as “Ansar Allah,” or “supporters of God,” the Houthis have a history of antisemitic, anti-Israel and anti-American ideology. Most notably, in 2003 they adopted the slogan, “God is great, death to the U.S., death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam.” 

Since December 2023, various anti-Israel organizations and activists have praised the Houthis and their missile attacks on Israel. Support for the Houthis has increased since mid-January 2024, after the US and UK launched an initial retaliatory air strike against the Houthis. At protests, in published statements and in viral social media content, elements of the anti-Israel movement have expressed full-throated support for Houthi attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea with supposed-Israel connections.

Statements of Support for the Houthis

A range of anti-Israel organizations and individuals have expressed support for the Houthis in published statements, alleging that their actions are admirable demonstrations of solidarity with Palestinians.

Prominent anti-Zionist groups such as the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) and Within Our Lifetime (WOL) have made their support for the Houthis clear. In January, the New York-based WOL published a statement commending “the brave people of Yemen” and stated that the Houthis’ “actions are just and exemplary and must be defended if we are to defend the people of Palestine.” Earlier in December, PYM similarly declared, “Yemen is showing the entire world what principled solidarity can look like — indeed, what it must look like, if the Zionist regime is to be defeated,” adding, “the Palestinian people salute Yemen and the Yemeni people for their efforts.”

Various fringe-left groups, which have been vocal in their expressions of anti-Zionism and support for terrorism since October 7, have also expressed similar views on the Houthis in recent weeks. For example, the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), a leading organizer of anti-Israel protests since October 7, has issued multiple statements in support of the Houthis, including one on January 18 titled “Who Are the Real Terrorists? The U.S. Government or Ansar Allah (‘The Houthis’)?” The lengthy statement denounced U.S. support for Israel and bombing of Houthi forces, declaring: “This is a true David vs. Goliath story: Yemen, itself just emerging from a brutal imperialist war, facing off against the mightiest militaries on earth, in solidarity with the people of Palestine.”

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG), long involved in anti-Israel activism, released a statement on January 16 referring to the Houthis’ "principled actions in solidarity with the people of Palestine.”  

The Workers World Party (WWP), a US-based communist group that frequently promotes anti-Israel events and rhetoric, published a statement on January 11 calling on supporters to “defend Yemen’s right to resistance” and quoting Houthi official Ali Al-Qahoum.

Various anti-Zionist student groups have shared similar support for the Houthis. On January 11, the CUNY Jewish Law Student Association commented on X that the Houthis’ actions “have demonstrated what true solidarity looks like in practice” while “the Zionist  terror machine continues to flounder in the face of courageous Palestinian resistance.” In December, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) student group MIT Coalition Against Apartheid published a statement on Instagram praising how, “in the face of genocide, Yemenis have defied the silence of the world to the Gaza genocide perpetrated by Israel and funded by the US.”

Pro-Houthi Rhetoric at Anti-Israel Protests

Throughout January, speakers and attendees at anti-Israel rallies, including protests organized by prominent anti-Zionist groups and events on college campuses, expressed their view that Houthi attacks on cargo ships are laudatory acts of solidary with Palestinians. For example, the chants, “Yemen, Yemen, make us proud; turn another ship around!” and “Gaza called, Yemen answered; all Israeli boats are canceled!” have rung out at protests across the country, including the January 13 National March on Washington for Gaza and other high-profile protests. Other examples include:

  • January 17, Colorado Springs, CO:
    • At a protest organized by the Colorado Springs People’s Coalition and the local Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) chapter in front of the Colorado Springs City Hall, a speaker praised the Houthis: “There is a group of people in Yemen, the Houthis, that have taken exception to Israel’s horrific actions against the Palestinian people…The Yemeni people should be applauded and appreciated for their actions to interrupt the ongoing genocide in the occupation of the Palestinian people.”
  • January 15, Pittsburgh, PA:
    • At a protest on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, an anti-Israel activist affiliated with the local PSL chapter that organized the protest praised the Houthis for “doing the best they can to stop the ongoing genocide in Gaza.” The speaker also dismissed the notion that the Houthis are terrorists: “The US positions itself as this moral compass for the world, and we see that today as they inflict punishment on so-called ‘rebel’ or so-called ‘terrorist’ groups in Yemen, but the US nor the UK is in any position to say what is or isn’t moral.”
  • January 13, Temple Terrace, FL:
    • A speaker affiliated with the Tampa chapter of the left-wing Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) spoke in support of the actions of both the Houthis and Hamas. He commented that, “if Yemen is guilty of anything, it is standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their fight for liberation...These [Houthi] attacks are speaking to the US-Israeli occupation forces and its corporate supporters in the only language they understand, which is money. These attacks effectively heighten pressure on Israel and provide an opportunity for the Palestinian resistance to mount counter offensives to free their land and their people.”
  • January 12, New York, NY:
    • Anti-Israel activist Nerdeen Kiswani, the co-founder of the group Within Our Lifetime (WOL) and a frequent protest leader, spoke at a protest in Manhattan: “[The US government’s] biggest fear is Arab solidarity. Their biggest fear is Arabs waking up and realizing that Zionism has no place on our lands and that we have the right to fight it and that we must stand together to do so. Yemen is exhibiting solidarity and they want to crush it because they know if the rest of the Arab nations woke up like Yemen has, Palestine could be free tomorrow.”
  • January 11, Washington, DC:
    • During a protest in front of the White House, ANSWER Coalition National Director Brian Becker said that when “the US and the UK — the main colonial powers in the Middle East, who carried out earlier holocausts against the Arab people — are bombing Yemen, we have a justified right to say ‘no, the Yemenis are not engaged in terrorism, they are trying to stop a genocide. They are trying to stop terrorism.’”

Viral Social Media Content: Yemeni “Pirate King”/“Timhouthi Chalamet”

Support for Houthis has also manifested as viral online content, demonstrating the potential cultural impact of ostensibly apolitical posts and memes.  

Hasan Piker, a popular Turkish-American streamer who has justified the atrocities of October 7 and has more than three million combined subscribers on Twitch and YouTube, recently hosted on his social media platforms a Yemeni TikTok influencer  who goes by the name “Rashid al-Haddad" and refers to himself as “Pirate King.”

While al-Haddad's relationship with the Houthi movement is unclear, he has defended the Houthis’ actions, expressed support for terrorism against the State of Israel and shared propaganda from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Al-Haddad posted a video of himself which shows him behind a cargo ship captured by the Houthis in 2023. While the original TikTok has since been taken down, the video was reposted on X (formerly known as Twitter) on January 15, 2024, and has been viewed 20 million times.

Anti-Israel Activists Applaud Houthi Violence

 

Remi Kanazi, a popular anti-Israel activist and a member of the advisory board of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), quote-tweeted this post with the caption “Dude looking into the camera like he’s filming a cologne commercial on the Red Sea. Liberation is imminent.”