At Michigan Quds Day rally, protesters chant ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Death to America’

Speakers call to bring down ‘entire system of the United States’ over support for Israel, call Israel Nazis, ISIS, fascists and racists; Dearborn mayor pans ‘hateful rhetoric’

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

Anti-Israel activist Tarek Bazzi speaks in front of a Palestinian flag at an al-Quds Day rally in Dearborn, Michigan, April 5, 2024. (MEMRI screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Anti-Israel activist Tarek Bazzi speaks in front of a Palestinian flag at an al-Quds Day rally in Dearborn, Michigan, April 5, 2024. (MEMRI screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters chanted “Death to America” and Death to Israel” as an activist spoke about bringing down “the entire system of the United States” at an al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day rally in Dearborn, Michigan, on Friday.

Speakers Tarek Bazzi and Michigan Imam Usama Abdulghani, associated with the Hadi Institute, a Muslim community center in the city, compared Israel to “Nazis” and the Islamic State, while praising Iran’s former supreme leader and leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Ruhollah Khomeini, at the event marking Quds Day, when Tehran and its allies stage marches in support of the Palestinians.

Dearborn, which has America’s highest per-capita population of Arab Americans, has witnessed major pro-Palestinian rallies since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, sparked by the terror group’s October 7 massacre. The city is represented on Capitol Hill by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American elected to Congress, who has fronted progressive Democratic calls for a ceasefire.

In his speech, circulated by Arabic media watchdog MEMRI, Bazzi justified the focus on the US at such rallies because of their funding “for all of the atrocities that we just heard about” in the Gaza Strip.

“This is why Imam Khomeini, who declared the International Al-Quds Day, this is why he would say to pour all of your chants and all of your shouts upon the head of America,” Bazzi said. “Malcolm X said, and I quote: ‘We live in one of the rottenest countries that has ever existed on this Earth,'” he continued, quoting the late civil rights leader.

“It’s not Genocide Joe that has to go, it is the entire system that has to go. Any system that would allow such atrocities and devilry to happen and would support it – such a system does not deserve to exist on God’s earth,” he stated, referencing US President Joe Biden, who has received the nickname among pro-Palestinian activists for his support of Israel in the face of the October 7 Hamas assault and the subsequent war.

He called chants of “Death to Israel… the most logical chant shouted across the world today” due to the war.

Israel strongly denies its military campaign amounts to genocide, and maintains that Hamas, which rules the Strip, purposely situated military assets within residential areas and is, therefore, to blame for the high level of destruction and death in the crowded enclave.

In his address, Abdulghani praised Khomeini for recognizing “that Israel is an evil settler colonialist project. He realized it was a cancer, and he established” al-Quds Day.

“Israel before this, brothers and sisters, was a sacred cow. Nobody could criticize Israel. Everybody was terrified of being antisemitic. Everybody was afraid of them, but now the people of conscience very openly will criticize Israel. They recognize Israel for what it is. Israel is ISIS, they are Nazis, they are fascists, they are racists. The people of the world now know this,” he said.

At the end of the clip, Bazzi encourages a child to lead chants of “Free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” viewed by many as a call to eliminate the Jewish state and replace it with a Palestinian state.

Dearborn’s Mayor Abdullah Hammoud slammed the “inflammatory and violent statements made at the gathering,” in a post on X on Monday.

“Over the weekend, video emerged of a rally in Dearborn where some attendees were chanting statements that were unacceptable and contrary to the heart of this city,” he wrote.

“Dearborn is a city of proud Americans; the hateful rhetoric heard on Friday does not reflect the opinion of the members of this community. The Dearborn community stands for peace and justice for all people. We are proud to call this city and this country home,” he said.

Hammoud has recently found himself at odds with MEMRI after the institute’s executive director published a Wall Street Journal op-ed dubbing Dearborn America’s “jihad capital” due to the apparent prevalence of such rhetoric, which led the mayor to beef up security in the city and elicited condemnation from Biden.

Antisemitic rhetoric, including support for Hamas’s October 7 massacre, has also been prevalent. The founder and executive director of the Council on American–Islamic Relations said in November that he was “happy” to see the terrorist group perpetrate its attack.

Hamas-led terrorists invaded southern Israel on October 7 and massacred some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and kidnapped over 250, sparking the Israel-Hamas war. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 33,000 people in the Strip have been killed in the fighting so far, a figure that cannot be independently verified and includes some 13,000 Hamas gunmen Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel says it also killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7. Some 260 IDF soldiers have been killed in Gaza.

Reuters and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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