Approximately 100 protesters gathered near the Vanderbilt University campus in Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday to protest Israel’s response to the recent barrage of Hamas rocket attacks. Hamas allies have launched 1,300 rocket attacks so far this year, and Israel has recently responded by precision targeting rocket launch sites and ammunition storage facilities, in addition to Hamas political infrastructure. Israel’s attempt to diminish terrorist capabilities has been conducted with precautions to minimize loss of innocent life. In fact, Israel continues to transport food for Gaza residents across the border even throughout the present conflict. Yet, as I interviewed many of those at the protest, the open hostility to Israel’s existence as a Jewish state and refusal to condemn Hamas was stunning.
One protester claimed ALL of Israel is on occupied land, including Tel Aviv, Jaffa, and Haifa. According to him, “Every square foot of Palestine is owned by the Palestinians. The Israelites have no reason to stay there, ever.” He went on to stay, “Your citizens are not supposed to be there. This land is not yours! Move off! Move back to Europe where you came from.” Another sign he held proclaimed “the imposter Jews should go back to Asia.”
A lady claimed the Israeli response to the Hamas rocket attacks is “almost the same” as the Holocaust which claimed the lives of over 6 million people. Several young children apparently with her gathered around a sign claiming that Israel’s military actions – a defense of herself against Gaza terrorists – is tantamount to another “holocaust.”
Another lady at the protest claimed that the Hamas rocket attacks are “not even that scary” and that “Israel is the great aggressor.” She also inaccurately declared that “no one has been allowed in or out [of Gaza] since 2007” and bizarrely claimed that Hamas has only fired “a couple of rockets back” at Israel. Furthermore, she stated Israel’s response in Gaza is “ethnic cleansing and genocide.”
Reality conflicts with her opinions. Residents in southern Israel live with the harsh reality of rocket attacks and often just have a 15-second warning or less to seek shelter. And, contrary to the protester, more than 800 rockets have been fired into Israel over just the last four weeks. And rather than indiscriminately targeting civilians, the IDF often provides advance warnings of military operations and uses precision targeting to minimize damage to surrounding areas.
While protesters boldly proclaimed Israel was a terrorist state since its founding, protesters claimed Hamas was NOT a terrorist organization! The United States Department of State disagrees, listing Hamas as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). One protester verbally berated the journalist for daring to inquire about the messaging on the signs.
The intolerance, bigotry, and ignorance displayed by the anti-Israel protesters at the event proves discouraging for all those hoping for reason and peace to prevail in the Middle East.