Video and text from Danielle Avel. This comes from New York on July 25th, when Hamas supporters walked through the predominantly Jewish Diamond District to taunt business owners.
The anti-Israel protesters marched through the streets, stopping traffic while screaming “Free, free Palestine! Free, free Gaza!” These seemingly innocuous slogans were mixed with darker ones such as:
“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” i.e., from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, ‘Palestine’ will replace Israel. “Intifada, intifada!” which is a call for violence against Israelis to replace Israel with “Palestine.” Eventually the anti-Israel hooligans reached the normally quiet Diamond District on 47th Street between 5th and 6th avenues. The district came into existence in the 1920s and grew dramatically in the 1940s as Orthodox Jews in the diamond business fled the Nazis. The demonstrators chose this street in particular, of course, to disrupt Jewish-owned businesses:
The “Free Palestine” pack made its way through scaffolding and construction zones, periodically stopping to do a “mic check,” but also with the effect of bringing their voices into unison again. During one “mic check,” jewelry store owners began emerging from their shops to see the commotion, causing a frenzy among the demonstrators. One of them, a woman, broke the chants and maniacally shouted “intifada, intifada!” And then something striking happened.
Amidst the raucous shouts of “Free, free Palestine!” a different call emerged. A pro-Israel crowd appeared, clapping and chanting “Is-ra-el, Is-ra-el!” Some business owners closed their stores to join, supporters flooded the sidewalk, and the street filled with chants celebrating Israel. The “Free Palestine” zealots looked dazed and confused, their voices out of unison, a couple of stray “Allahu Akbars” honked out as a last resort.
As Zionists filled the street, they called out “Ha-mas ter-ror-ists!” A full-throated celebration of the Israel Defense Forces then broke out with an “I-D-F!” chant. The spontaneous display of pride in Israel ended with the crowd of now hundreds singing songs celebrating Israel.
So, anti-Israel fanatics started the day with a vitriolic “direct action” to disrupt Jewish-owned businesses. But they inadvertently inspired a memorable, moving, and spontaneous display of celebration of the Middle East’s only true democracy. It was a true New York moment – one everyone in the Diamond District that afternoon will always remember.