US Democrats lash socialist organization for backing rally supporting Hamas attack

Democratic Socialists of America castigated by US Congress members, NY leadership after supporting protest; dozens of Harvard student groups blame Israel for terror onslaught

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

US pro-Palestinian activists during a protest in support of the terror attack against Israel, in New York City, October 8, 2023. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
US pro-Palestinian activists during a protest in support of the terror attack against Israel, in New York City, October 8, 2023. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

NEW YORK — The progressive Democratic Socialists of America organization was harshly condemned by other US Democrats on Sunday for backing a New York City rally in support of Saturday’s Palestinian terror onslaught against Israelis.

Organizers billed the rally as supporting the Palestinian “right to resist,” shortly after Gaza terrorists slaughtered many hundreds of Israeli civilians in a surprise attack.

The New York branch of the Democratic Socialists of America advertised the event and expressed “solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to resist.”

The protest was derided by New York democratic leaders, including Governor Kathy Hochul, Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, US Senator Chuck Schumer, US Rep. Richie Torres, and New York City Comptroller Brad Lander.

Other New York State leaders, including US Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Attorney General Tish James, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries condemned the terror assault or expressed support for Israel. Hochul on Monday raised the Israeli flag over her official residence in Albany.

In response to criticism, the national chapter of DSA doubled down, saying the Hamas attack was “not unprovoked,” adding: “Take to the streets to join a protest.”

“Why does [DSA] support Hamas when it murders Israeli civilians? Why do people only excuse terror when it targets Israel?” the American Jewish Committee said.

“The NYC-DSA is revealing itself for what it truly is — a deep rot of antisemitism that must be universally condemned for celebrating the deadly terrorist attacks against Israel,” Torres said.

“Today’s DSA rally – which effectively celebrated Hamas’s murder and kidnapping of hundreds of Israeli civilians, including children and grandparents – was abominable,” Lander said.

The New York State Democratic Committee said it “strongly condemns the ‘NYC-DSA,’ whose support of a rally that sought to justify the wholly unjustifiable acts of wanton violence, terrorism, kidnapping, and murder that was perpetrated on the people of Israel.”

The progressive New York Jewish Agenda said: “DSA has a right to free speech, but their speech here — a celebration of death and destruction — is showing New Yorkers something deeply disturbing about them.”

US Congress members affiliated with or supportive of the organization did not respond to requests for comment about the protest, including US Rep. Jamaal Bowman, US Rep. Cori Bush, US Rep. Greg Casar, and US Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

“It should not be hard to shut down hatred and antisemitism where we see it. That is a core tenet of solidarity. The bigotry and callousness expressed in Times Square on Sunday were unacceptable and harmful in this devastating moment,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It also did not speak for the thousands of New Yorkers who are capable of rejecting both Hamas’ horrifying attacks against innocent civilians as well as the grave injustices and violence Palestinians face under occupation.”

Bowman and Casar have condemned the Hamas attack.

The protest saw participants cheer the terror onslaught, celebrate the killing of Israelis, and mock Israeli counter-protesters.

A pro-Palestinian activist holds up a photo of an Israeli held hostage by Hamas toward Israeli counter-protesters during a rally in New York City, October 8, 2023. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

Progressive student groups also backed the rally, including at least five pro-Palestinian advocacy organizations from the City University of New York (CUNY). The massive public university system has been accused by Jewish leaders of allowing antisemitism to fester on campuses, much of it related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At least nine CUNY groups also endorsed an anti-Israel rally scheduled for Monday outside the Israeli consulate, organizers said. Some of the groups are officially sanctioned university organizations.

CUNY’s chancellor said on Saturday that he was “horrified by Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel and its people.”

“We want to be clear that we don’t condone the activities of any internal organizations that are sponsoring rallies to celebrate or support Hamas’ cowardly actions. Such efforts do not in any way represent the University and its campuses,” Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said.

Student groups at other colleges around the US also backed the terror attack on Israel.

At Harvard, at least 36 student groups signed onto a statement saying they “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence,” without mentioning the terrorist atrocities.

Lawrence Summers, a former president of Harvard and ex-secretary of the US treasury, condemned the statement, and the university’s silence on the war.

“In nearly 50 years of Harvard affiliation, I have never been as disillusioned and alienated as I am today,” Summers said on X. “Harvard is being defined by the morally unconscionable statement apparently coming from two dozen student groups blaming all the violence on Israel. I am sickened. I cannot fathom the Administration’s failure to disassociate the University and condemn this statement.”

Ted Deutch, head of the American Jewish Committee, said the students were “demonizing Israel and supporting Hamas’s barbarism.”

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