White House slams ‘heartbreaking’ anti-Israel protest of Nova massacre exhibit in NYC

‘Banners of terror groups shouldn’t be flown anywhere, especially not on US streets,’ Biden aide says; Congress’s biggest Israel critics join condemnations, angering some followers

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Anti-Israel protesters unfurl a banner that reads, "Long live October 7" outside an exhibit in New York City memorializing the Nova festival massacre, on June 10, 2024. (Screen capture/X)
Anti-Israel protesters unfurl a banner that reads, "Long live October 7" outside an exhibit in New York City memorializing the Nova festival massacre, on June 10, 2024. (Screen capture/X)

The White House on Tuesday lambasted a recent New York City protest where participants waved flags of terror groups and chanted slogans championing attacks on Israeli civilians outside an exhibit memorializing the Nova music festival massacre.

Calling the conduct of the hundreds of far-left protesters “outrageous and heartbreaking,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement that “profane banners of terrorist organizations should not be flown anywhere, especially not on American streets.”

“Antisemitism has no place in the United States,” he continued, calling the protesters’ behavior “horrifying.”

Organized by the pro-Palestinian group Within Our Lifetime, the demonstration was dubbed “A Day of Rage for Gaza” and began with a rally at Union Square before participants headed to Wall Street where the exhibit on the Nova festival massacre has been set up since April.

Protesters set off flares, flew flags of Hamas’s armed al-Qassam Brigades terror wing and of the Hezbollah terror group, and carried banners with slogans such as “Long live October 7” and “The Zionists are not Jews and not humans.”

No arrests were reported but six people reportedly received summonses for disorderly conduct and jumping turnstiles on the subway.

Over 360 people were killed at the Nova music festival in southern Israel on October 7 as Hamas terrorists rampaged through the outdoor rave, mowing down festival-goers, torturing and raping victims and carrying out other atrocities. Many of those taken hostage in Gaza had been at the music festival.

Named “6:29 am, The Moment Music Stood Still,” the Wall Street exhibit recreates the events of October 7 at the music festival and the aftermath using objects that were left at the scene and footage taken both from security cameras at the scene and footage created by the terrorists.

It was originally planned to be open for four weeks but was extended and scheduled to be closed on June 16. However, in light of Monday’s protest, the exhibition’s organizers announced that it would remain open until June 22.

Monday’s protest drew a flood of condemnations, including from progressive lawmakers who many of the demonstrators have hailed over their criticism of Israel.

“The callousness, dehumanization, and targeting of Jews on display at last night’s protest outside the Nova Festival exhibit was atrocious antisemitism – plain and simple,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement hours after she held a much-heralded event on antisemitism on the far-left.

“Antisemitism has no place in our city nor any broader movement that centers human dignity and liberation,” she added.

Fellow Squad Rep. Jamaal Bowman tweeted, “I condemn those celebrating the innocents killed on October 7.”

“This dark day was the largest attack on the Jewish community since the Holocaust. Celebrating it is antisemitic and unacceptable. Peace cannot be achieved by weaponizing our tragedies against each other.”

Both of the left-wing lawmakers were subsequently inundated with a torrent of criticism from anti-Israel followers disgusted over their condemnation of the pro-Palestinian protesters’ conduct.

More moderate lawmakers also spoke out against the Monday protest.

“Any New Yorker who stands for peace cannot stand next to those waving Hamas and Hezbollah flags, especially at an exhibit commemorating the victims of the Nova Music Festival massacre,” New York Mayor Eric Adams tweeted. “That is pure antisemitism.”

“The NYPD has overseen thousands of peaceful protests, but it is our duty to arrest anyone who breaks the law. New Yorkers will always be safe here,” Adams added.

“The protest and vitriolic rhetoric outside were nothing short of despicable, inhumane, antisemitic,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted.

“The egregious behavior on display designed to justify the killing of Jews has no place in a civilized society. We will not tolerate it,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a statement.

Some 1,200 people were killed on October 7 when the Palestinian terror group Hamas led a massive cross-border attack in which terrorists murdered some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 251 hostages.

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