update deskAntisemitism

‘Shut It Down for Palestine’ protests planned for cities across America on Nov. 9

Jewish communal officials say there is no known, direct or credible threat of violence towards Jews, though they note that the general atmosphere remains highly charged.

Anti-Israel protesters in London on Oct. 14, 2023. Credit: Koca Vehbi/Shutterstock.
Anti-Israel protesters in London on Oct. 14, 2023. Credit: Koca Vehbi/Shutterstock.

Noting what they say is the success of mass rallies in London and Canada, pro-Palestinian groups have designated Nov. 9 as “Shut It Down for Palestine” day, urging people worldwide to walk out and protest, while Jewish leadership advises the public to remain vigilant.

“As some recent anti-Israel protests have included extreme language such as ‘Globalize the Intifada’ and calls to reclaim Israel ‘by any means necessary,’ and others have devolved into violence, including the fatal attack this week on a pro-Israel protester in California, there’s serious cause for concern that ‘Shut It Down’ events could lead to harassment or assault of Jewish or other bystanders,” a spokesperson for the Anti-Defamation League told JNS.

Protests are set for New York, Philadelphia, San Diego and Los Angeles, along with Columbia, S.C.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Fort Collins, Colo. Among the sponsors are the Palestinian Youth Movement, National Students for Justice in Palestine and ANSWER Coalition. Others include the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Jewish Voices for Peace.

“Our demands for an immediate ceasefire, cutting all aid to Israel and lifting the siege on Gaza have broader support than ever,” the organizers of “Shut It Down for Palestine” wrote on social media. “We must keep building momentum and increase the pressure with more marches, walk-outs, sit-ins and other forms of direct action directed at the political offices, businesses and workplaces that fund, invest and collaborate with Israeli genocide and occupation.”

Though Jewish communal officials say there is no known, direct or credible threat of violence towards Jews, they do note that the general atmosphere remains highly charged.

“On campus, anti-Israel activity often leads to a hostile environment for Jewish students,” said the ADL spokesperson. “As always, it will be important for the Jewish community and campus security to remain alert and vigilant. ADL strongly advises against engaging with protestors. Pro-Israel students may consider organizing a counter-protest or unity event if it is safe to do so.”

According to the Secure Community Network, more than 770 incidents of antisemitism, including harassment, intimidation and violence, were reported in October—a nearly 200% increase from October 2022.

“As in previous calls for violence, protests against Israel and targeted actions against the Jewish community, the Secure Community Network recommends against letting fear or threats dictate our ability to live Jewish lives,” said Michael Masters, CEO and national director of SCN. “We encourage Jewish institutions to remain open and operational, absent information provided by law enforcement and public safety partners.”

He said it’s important to understand that the “threat dynamic” in North America is “heightened and fluid.”

“Individuals may be motivated to violence with little to no warning,” he said. “We always urge vigilance and preparation, and recommend all members of the community choose de-escalation rather than engaging with oppositional protesters, and to contact their security directors or local federations in the event of any developing incidents.”

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