Blog

Who are the Primary Groups Behind the U.S. Anti-Israel Rallies?

Who are the Primary Groups behind the U.S. Anti-Israel Rallies?

Source: Instagram

Related Content

On October 8, 2023, the day after Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and killed 1,400 Israelis, and kidnapped at least 203 people (including Americans), most of whom were civilians, many anti-Israel activists flocked to rallies across the United States at which speakers and attendees openly celebrated the brutal attacks.  

Since then, activists at anti-Israel rallies have continued to justify and celebrate Hamas’s slaughter of Israelis. Activists have stated that all Israelis are legitimate military targets; that Palestinians have the right to resist by “any means necessary;” that Hamas terrorists are “freedom fighters;” and that Hamas’s terror attacks were part of a laudable process of “decolonization.” 

The primary organizers of these rallies include Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), Within Our Lifetime-United for Palestine (WOL), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), If Not Now (INN) and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Each of these groups has expressed inflammatory rhetoric about Israel and/or Zionism. Many have a history of promoting classic antisemitic themes on social media, at rallies, on webinars and more. Many have also long expressed support for terror against Israel. Here is a closer look at these groups: 

UPDATE: November 8, 2023

Samidoun 

Following Hamas’ terrorist attacks on October 7, the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network released an effusive statement in support of armed “Palestinian resistance,” including explicitly praising Hamas’ invasion of Israeli villages and their kidnapping of residents to use as hostages. They posted an image of individuals carrying weapons and added, in part, “The resistance is rising throughout occupied Palestine, smashing the siege on Gaza…as Palestinian resistance forces fight to advance return and the liberation of Palestine.”  Since then, Samidoun has been a cosponsor of many anti-Israel rallies in the United States. Some Samidoun signs have included images of Palestinian children wielding slingshots while calling for “resistance.” Samidoun’s social media accounts have referred their followers to social media channels featuring pro-Hamas propaganda and violent anti-Israel imagery and promoted a webinar with a Hamas spokesperson. 

Samidoun was founded in late 2011. It describes itself as a solidarity network for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.  A fiscally sponsored project of Alliance for Global Justice, it has remained controversial for its support of those deemed terrorists by Israel.  

Samidoun is an international organization and has several chapters in the U.S. Its organizational activities center on campaigns for the release of Palestinian prisoners, which often include protests, webinars, and other outreach events.  Samidoun is active online, posting original content as well as encouraging engagement with allied organizations such as the now-defunct Jisr Collective, the Boston Mapping Project and the Telegram channel of the Resistance News Network. 

Who are the Primary Groups Behind the U.S. Anti-Israel Rallies?

 

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) 

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is the most prominent and active anti-Israel and anti-Zionist student group in the United States. SJP chapters often applaud or justify terror attacks in Israel; attempt to expel “Zionists” from campus life; protest outside of Hillels (the main Jewish student group on U.S. campuses); disrupt events on campus they deem pro-Israel; and sometimes promote classic antisemitic tropes. In one instance in April 2022, while participating in an SJP protest outside Hillel at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, a student threw a rock at a group of Jewish students (no one was hurt). In June 2022, SJP chapters were among the most enthusiastic proponents of the antisemitic Mapping Project website, which includes a call to “dismantle” and “disrupt” the main Jewish organizations of the Boston area, including a Jewish high school.  

In a statement published after the October 7 invasion, National SJP described Hamas’s massacres of Israelis as “a historic win for Palestinian resistance,” and called for “Not just slogans and rallies, but armed confrontation with the oppressors.” The SJP chapter at the University of Illinois, Chicago, shared a video which shows what appears to be a Hamas terrorist who filmed himself from inside the home of an Israeli family during the attack. Several other SJP chapters have also applauded the Hamas terror attacks. 

SJP’s first chapter was founded at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2001. SJP consists of approximately 200 chapters across the country, mostly concentrated in the Northeast, Midwest and California (some chapters are based in Canada). SJP furthers its aims by organizing lectures and rallies; disseminating materials via its social media accounts and campus newspapers; organizing anti-Israel BDS resolutions and petitions on campuses, and more. 

 

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)  

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is a radical anti-Israel and anti-Zionist activist group that advocates for the boycott of Israel and eradication of Zionism. The spread of JVP’s most inflammatory ideas can help give rise to antisemitism, and sometimes it has espoused classic antisemitic tropes itself. For example, in May 2022 its national account posted a cartoon depicting Israeli soldiers joyously drinking the blood of dead Palestinians. In January 2023, a member of its rabbinical council posted on X: “The U.S. government itself is occupied by Zionist forces,” playing into tropes about Zionists and power.  JVP also alleges that law enforcement missions to Israel organized by Jewish groups help to perpetuate police brutality, a narrative that has metastasized in mainstream left-wing spaces.  

After Hamas massacred 1,400 Israelis on October 7, 2023, prominent JVP activist Ariel Koren expressed her view that Hamas’s actions were consistent with “Palestinians’ right to resist.” JVP Executive Director Stefanie Fox and JVP Action political director Beth Miller have both said that the “root cause” of the violence was Israel. 

Jewish Voice for Peace was founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area. Approximately 12 JVP chapters are active on college campuses, where members often work closely with chapters of the anti-Israel student group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) to promote anti-Israel initiatives, messages and events. JVP does not represent the mainstream Jewish community. JVP’s staunch anti-Zionist positions place it squarely in opposition to mainstream American Jews and Jews worldwide, most of whom view a connection with Israel (regardless of their views on specific Israeli policies) as an integral part of their social, cultural or religious Jewish identities. 

 

Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM)  

The Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) is an anti-Zionist activist organization with chapters across the U.S. and Canada that has expressed support for terrorism against Israel and frequently engages in inflammatory rhetoric about Zionism, including calls to stigmatize and ban Zionists from community spaces. In May 2022, the group posted a photo on Instagram promoting a book by U.S.-designated terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). In October 2018, the group dedicated murals in the Bay Area, one of which features both PFLP leader Leila Khaled and USPCN (mentioned below) Chicago founding member Rasmea Odeh (convicted for her role in the murder of two Hebrew University students in 1969). In May 2018, the group issued a statement declaring they “salute our youth in the streets who continue to throw rocks, light Molotov cocktails, burn tires.” They often partner with SJP and JVP. 

Following Hamas’s massacre of Israelis on October 7, a PYM speaker at a rally in Washington, D.C. stated that the “settler colonial project was in greater danger than before and scrambling in the face of the steadfastness of the Palestinians.” At several Washington, D.C. rallies sponsored by PYM, a banner was seen reading, “Zionism is fascism, Colonizers out DC.” At another PYM-sponsored rally, a sign was spotted reading, “Congress is Israeli occupied territory.”  

The Palestinian Youth Movement aims to unite Palestinians in the U.S. and Canada through youth-oriented initiatives and programs. According to their annual report, they have chapters in the Bay Area, New York, and San Diego. On their website, they state that their “vision is to mobilize Palestinian youth, strengthen our role and assume responsibility and accountability to our national struggle.” 

 

USPCN 

USPCN (U.S. Palestinian Community Network) is a radical anti-Israel activist group founded in 2006 that has expressed support for terror against Israel and espoused antisemitic tropes. A Chicago chapter founding member is Rasmea Odeh (mentioned above). The group appears to have maintained ties with her: In May 2020, Odeh was a featured speaker on a USPCN webinar. In an August 2021 post on X, USPCN expressed opposition to Rahm Emanuel’s nomination for Ambassador to Japan due to his “Zionist ideology.” In 2023, USPCN spearheaded a boycott campaign against Jewish-owned food company Sadaf, accusing it of being a “Zionist profiteer” with “sneaky ways.” It also denigrated Mizrahim (Jews of Middle East and North African descent), accusing them of having “forge[d] a false indigenous identity, as a ‘Middle Eastern heritage’ to promote such things as ‘israeli’ falafel or hummus.” 

At a USPCN rally on October 18, a protester held a sign with paraglider imagery, reading, “We will redeem you, oh Palestine.” Paraglider imagery has been popular because some of the Hamas terrorists used paragliders to invade Israel. At the same rally, another prominent sign was seen reading "Zionism racism," with an image of blood and dollar bills in the shape of a snake.   

USPCN has a national office and several chapters across the country, including in California. Local activists run individual chapters. USPCN often partners with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) for events and rallies. USPCN is a fiscally sponsored project of WESPAC. As a fiscally sponsored organization, it is difficult to determine monetary supporters, although public records show that Donor Advised Fund North Star Fund and Sparkplug Foundation have contributed.  

 

American Muslims for Palestine  

American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) is a Chicago-based anti-Israel and anti-Zionist activist organization whose leaders have promoted violence against Israel, the denigration of Zionism and Zionists, and at times, classic antisemitic tropes. In a September 2021 interview with Jordan’s Yarmouk TV, AMP Executive Director Osama Abuirshaid said, “Israel today is a case of a parasite living off the American body.” In February 2018, he embraced the antisemitic Khazar theory, saying, “The Jewish people today are not the descendants – the overwhelming majority – are not of the descendants of the ancient Israelites. They’re not. They’re from the Jews of Khazaria, south of Russia.”  

In December 2016, Abuirshaid  referred to “Zionist figures” who have “double loyalty, where they put the Israeli agenda the Israeli interests ahead of the American agenda.” AMP founder and chairman Hatem Bazian has accused Israel of having a policy of organ harvesting from Palestinians. In 2023, Taher Herzallah (Associate Director of Outreach & Grassroots Organizing) called Holocaust movie Schindler’s List a pro-Israel “propaganda piece.” 

After the Hamas massacre, AMP leaders have promoted troubling rhetoric. At a rally in New Jersey on October 17 organized by American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) New Jersey, AJP Action (American Muslims for Palestine’s 501c4) and Neturei Karta, a speaker asked: “Has anyone here heard the stupid...allegation about the beheading of 40 children? Have you heard of ‘alleged’ massacres in settler communities around Gaza?” 

Established in 2005 by University of California, Berkeley lecturer (and current AMP National Chairman) Hatem Bazian, AMP has seven chapters across the country. AMP’s organizational roots lie in the now-defunct Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), which was once described by the U.S. government as functioning to “disseminate[d] information/propaganda” for Hamas. Though IAP officially dissolved in 2004, many of its leaders continued their activism with AMP, including Rafeeq Jaber, Abdelbaset Hamayel, Kifah Mustapha, Osama Abuirshaid (current AMP Executive Director), Nihad Awad (current Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations) and Raed Tayeh. Bazian, AMP’s current board chair, co-founded the widely known campus-based anti-Israel group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) in 2001. 

 

Within Our Lifetime-United for Palestine (WOL) 

Within Our Lifetime-United for Palestine (WOL) is a radical New York-based anti-Israel organization led by Nerdeen Kiswani that routinely expresses support for violence against Israel. Kiswani has called for all "Zionists" to be vilified and expelled from community spaces, and both she and WOL explicitly call for the complete eradication of Israel, including for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” WOL has also said that Israeli Jews should leave the country (both from the West Bank and in Israel proper). WOL and Kiswani frequently express support for acts of terror perpetrated by U.S.-designated terror groups, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). In February 2023, after Hamas claimed as members all five Palestinians killed in an Israeli military operation in Jericho, WOL shared an image declaring them “freedom fighters” and that WOL was “in rage and mourning.” 

On October 7, WOL posted: “We must defend the Palestinian right to resist zionist [sic] settler violence and support Palestinian resistance in all its forms. By any means necessary. With no exceptions and no fine print.”  

Kiswani and WOL, which was founded in 2015, organize rallies in New York City that have drawn thousands of attendees, including events outside the Israeli consulate and pro-Israel organizations such as the Jewish National Fund (JNF). Kiswani has been platformed by leftist outlets, including Haymarket Books, and became widely known after she delivered a May 2022 commencement speech for CUNY Law in which she excoriated “Zionists” and condemned “normalizing” trips to Israel. 

 

If Not Now 

IfNotNow is one of several Jewish groups that have helped convene anti-Israel rallies in the days following the October 7 Hamas massacre. As opposed to some other groups who have promoted violent Palestinian resistance, IfNotNow has generally focused on the human rights violations that they believe Israel is perpetrating in Gaza and generating pressure for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Their criticism of the Israeli government has been extreme, including calling it a “violent, bloodthirsty regime,” and alleging that it is perpetrating genocide in Gaza. IfNotNow activists have convened or participated in sit-ins in front of the offices of political leaders, including Vice President Kamala Harris, and were one of the co-conveners of the October 18 anti-Israel rally in Washington D.C., where hundreds of demonstrators were arrested after entering the Capitol. The Detroit chapter of IfNotNow shared a flier from an event sponsored by a left-wing group which featured an image of a paraglider – a reference to the Hamas terrorists who infiltrated Israel on such devices on October 7. 

IfNotNow was established in 2014 by young American Jews who felt outraged at what they saw as Israel’s disproportionate response to Hamas rockets fired at Israelis civilians during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge that summer. Historically, the group’s primary focus has been Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, which they see as morally indefensible. They continue to view the American Jewish establishment and mainstream groups as supporting or being complicit in the perpetuation of the occupation. IfNotNow often engages in divisive rhetoric, some of which may be offensive to members of the mainstream Jewish community. On their website, they allege that mainstream Jewish institutions provide a smokescreen for a “powerful coalition...[that] exploit traumatic events of our past and present” to support Israel. In 2023, many of the founders of INN are featured in a film entitled “Israelism,” which was scheduled to be screened on numerous campuses and venues this month and which portrays the mainstream Jewish community as ignorant and awash with anti-Palestinian sentiment. 

 

Party for Socialism and Liberation 

The Party for Socialism and Liberation is a communist party active in the United States. Founded in 2004 after splintering from the Worker's World Party, the PSL is based in San Francisco. They believe “the only solution to the deepening crisis of capitalism is the socialist transformation of society,” and “the socialist government will approach the peoples of the world on the principles of international working-class solidarity. All occupations, military interventions and military proxy wars, agreements and alliances carried out by the previous imperialist government will be ended immediately.”  

They sponsored numerous rallies immediately after the October 7 murders.  

  • At a Denver rally on October 15, 2023, signs that read, “Zionism = Hitler”.  

  • At a Seattle rally on October 13, 2023, a speaker said, “Zionism is not Judaism. Zionism is a bastardization of Jewish values. Zionism goes against every Jewish value that I know of.”  

  • At a Raleigh rally, a rallygoer held a sign that read, “Israel has holoCOSTED us 700+ children”.