At Anti-Israel March in D.C., Explicit Expressions of Support for Terror and Antisemitism

Sign at DC march

Photo: ADL

Hundreds of organizations from across the country marched in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, November 4, 2023. The official published demands of the protest included ceasefire to the Hamas-Israel war, an end of the “siege of Gaza” and the termination of all U.S. aid to Israel. Yet attendees, who numbered in the tens of thousands, went much further and leaned into rhetoric supporting the October 7 Hamas massacre and other acts of terror targeting Israel, calls for the end of Israel, comparisons between Israel’s military actions and the Holocaust and language amplifying antisemitic themes. 

Speakers framed Israel’s war against Hamas as an indiscriminate, deadly onslaught against Palestinian civilians and repeatedly accused Israel of genocide and being illegitimate at its core. They also accused the United States and the Biden Administration of playing a part in the alleged genocide. Notably, rapper Macklemore delivered a short speech in which he accused Israel of genocide. Protestors frequently chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and at least two speakers said that Palestinians have the right to resist Israel by “any means necessary,” which implicitly condones terrorism.  Not all participants were pro-Hamas, and some primarily expressed concern about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but not a single speaker acknowledged the Israeli hostages, or the civilians murdered on October 7. Saturday evening, protesters gathered at the White House gates, chanting anti-Israel slogans. There were also reports of spray paint on monuments and statues throughout the city.

While not all speakers or attendees expressed support for terror, the problematic signage and rhetoric will only serve to heighten   concern among the U.S. Jewish community, on edge in the face of rising antisemitism following the October 7 attacks. As implied and sometimes explicit support for violence against Israelis and the use of language playing into historic tropes become more normalized, it is likely that antisemitic incidents will continue to increase.  

Speakers included representatives from anti-Zionist groups such as Al-Awda, U.S. Campaign for Palestinians Rights, Palestinian Youth Movement, Black Alliance for Peace, CodePink, U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) and more.  

Examples of troubling rhetoric: 

Playing into common antisemitic themes 

One poster at the rally depicted a bloodied President Biden and the text “We know who is pulling the strings but Biden, you have blood on your hands.” Most Jews see such imagery and language as a reference to Jews as puppet masters, dovetailing with classic antisemitic ideas about Jewish control. 

DC march pulling strings

Photo: ADL

Lamis Deek, a leader with the anti-Zionist group Al-Awda, called Israelis a “cult of torturers” who enjoy inflicting pain on children, playing into historic antisemitic conspiracies about a Jewish cabal and the sanctioning of harm against non-Jewish children. She also venerated terror; called to “dismantle every institution of Zionist violence in the world;” and made an inflammatory comment about the Holocaust: 

  • That America's trusted allies is nothing but a cult of torturers. A cult of torturers. What do you call grown men who come from all over the world to torture our children in dungeons in the West Bank?... And we remind the mainstream media that Joseph Goebbels, the genocide propagandist, was to face trial at Nuremberg... We will dismantle every institution of Zionist violence in the world from New York to Palestine.” 

One poster replaced the Jewish Star of David in the Israeli flag with an emoji of feces, suggesting Israel be thrown in the garbage. Accompanying text read: “Keep the world clean,” reminiscent of antisemitic tropes about Jews being dirty. 

Raja Abdulhaq, a New York City-based political organizer and anti-Israel activist, said that an aim of Israel’s “war on Gaza” is to stifle political movements that oppose capitalism, playing into historic themes about Jews and money. He added, “We are the civilized people that are fighting evil.” 

A representative from the Palestinian Feminist Collective said that one of the goals of Zionism is to “rip babies out of the wombs of their mothers,” an accusation that draws parallels with historic antisemitic conspiracies about Jews harming infants. 

Denigrating “Zionism” and “Zionists” 

An attendee carried a poster calling Zionism “a cancer to this planet.” An overwhelming majority of Jews consider Zionism to be an integral part of their Jewish identities (regardless of their views about specific Israeli policies). 

DC march zionism is cancer

Photo: ADL

An attendee carried a sign that read, “Down with Zionism” and an Arabic phrase that translates to “Death to Zionism.” 

DC march down with zionism

Photo: ADL

Another attendee held a sign warning “Zionist[sic] are among us.” 

Support for terror and calls for Israel to be eliminated 

Marte White from the Atlanta chapter of Community Movement Builders emphasized the Palestinians’ right to resist “by any means necessary:” 

  • “…one of our principles is to stand in solidarity with other oppressed people fighting for self-determination, especially Palestinians. The first thing I want to get into here is that Palestinians are showing us what decolonization really looks like. This shit is real. Palestinians have a right to rebel. But that means that they have a right to right to free their land from the river to the sea by any means necessary. And I do mean any means necessary.”  

An attendee held a poster suggesting support for all forms of action against Israel, including terrorism. 

DC march sign fighting back

Photo: ADL 

A representative from the DC Chapter of the Malcolm X Movement stated:  

  • “The Palestinian and Haitian people have a right to defend themselves from genocide by any means necessary. A people's movement of all people oppressed by the United States like our ancestor, Doctor Mathieu Shako said, ‘stiff resistance and straight-ahead resisting occupation and genocide is not terrorism.’” 

A participant carried a poster with the words “Resistance is Justice” and the likeness of PFLP leader and terrorist Leila Khaled

DC march Khaled

Photo: ADL

One poster threatened, “Death to the colonial state of Israel.”  

DC March Death to the Colonial State of Israel

Photo: ADL


A representative from USPCN called to “dismantle” Israel and spoke in a laudatory manner about October 7 (the day of the Hamas massacre). 

Nazi/Holocaust comparisons 

An attendee held a sign alleging that Israel is “exploiting” the Holocaust to “commit another one.” Such an accusation also plays into historic antisemitic accusations about Jewish deviousness.  

DC March sign exploiting Holocaust

Photo: ADL

One sign equated a Jewish Star of David with a swastika, with the words, “Our taxes are killing babies.” 

DC march taxes babies sign

Photo: ADL 

Another sign read “Israel=Nazis” and “History repeats itself,” with the images of a Jewish Star of David and a swastika. 

DC march sign history repeats

Photo: ADL

One sign accused Israel of perpetrating another Holocaust and appeared to question whether Israeli Holocaust survivors are actual Holocaust survivors. 

DC march inflict holocaust

Photo: ADL