Report links New York City attacks on Jews to activist group Within Our Lifetime

Group activists have committed “some of the most horrific anti-Jewish violence that New York City has seen over the last three years,” said Mitchell Silber of Community Security Initiative.

A rally by the group Within Our Lifetime, United for Palestine. Source: Facebook.
A rally by the group Within Our Lifetime, United for Palestine. Source: Facebook.

In the days before the assault of Joseph Borgen on May 20, 2021, Waseem Awawdeh, who was recently sentenced to 18 months, attended two events held by the organization Within Our Lifetime.

Awawdeh went to a WOL “emergency rally to defend Palestine” two days beforehand and three days before that, he was part of a WOL nakba rally (the Arabic term meaning “catastrophe,” referring to the establishment of the modern-day State of Israel) in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. He is one of seven anti-Israel activists who attended Within Our Lifetime rallies and awaits trial or has been convicted, according to a new Canary Mission report.

At the May 18 rally Awawdeh attended, a mob attacked two pro-Israel activists. One member of the mob later posted an Instagram video of the assault with the caption “Every punch felt better than the last,” per the report.

The 52-page report “reveals a pattern of violent rhetoric and incitement perpetrated by WOL’s leadership and the resulting violent attacks on NYC’s Jews by some of the organization’s top activists,” Canary Mission stated in a release.

The report contains 26 mini-profiles of the group’s leading activists, who led anti-Israel protests in New York City in 2021 and 2022, and an index addresses 12 more activists.

Most of the violent, antisemitic rhetoric associated with the group traces back to its founder and leader, Nerdeen Kiswani, according to the report. Canary Mission says group leaders frequently incite violence, and that eight acts of violence occurred during or shortly following Within Our Lifetime rallies where violent rhetoric and antisemitic chants were heard.

Within Our Lifetime’s description of itself as pro-Palestinian is a “benign interpretation” for a group that talks about globalizing the intifada, Mitchell Silber, executive director of  Community Security Initiative, a joint UJA-Federation and JCRC-NY program, told JNS.

“That was a multi-year, terrorist campaign that killed Israeli civilians, and their motto is ‘globalize it,’” Silber said. “That’s a call for violence here in New York, and frankly, globally.”

Silber often sees the group protesting when Israel goes to war with terrorist groups, like Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

“On the fringes of their protest activity, they whip up their activists into such a frenzy that some of the activists associated with the group have been responsible for some of the most horrific anti-Jewish violence that New York City has seen over the last three years,” Silber said.

Vandalism of property, physical incidents at events

Anti-Israel activist Nerdeen Kiswani. Courtesy of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Gideon Taylor, chief executive officer of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, told JNS that the JCRC is concerned about rising antisemitism and hate in the state.

“We’re working hard to monitor and combat that hate through CSI,” he said.

Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, told JNS that antisemitic rhetoric often precedes violence against Jews.

“Whether in 1930s Germany or today on the streets of New York, we have seen vandalism of Jewish-owned property and even physical attacks against Jews after public events which spread anti-Jewish hate and conspiracy theories,” she said.

“Within Our Lifetime has glorified terrorists, supported violence and called for the elimination of Israel, and now there is evidence that its members have engaged in physical violence against Jews,” she added. 

Rothstein urged law enforcement to monitor the group’s events to “prevent them from spilling over into violence and hate crimes against the Jewish community.”

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