Pressure Campaign

‘Qatar is Hamas’: Second rally outside embassy sends a blunter message

A local grassroots group organized a protest outside the Qatari Embassy with a harsher message toward Qatar than the local JCRC’s event earlier this week

Marc Rod/Jewish Insider

An ad-hoc grassroots group, Tsav 8 DMV, protests on Friday in front of the Qatari Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Days after the Washington-area Jewish Community Relations Council gathered outside the Qatari Embassy in D.C. to push for the release of hostages held in Gaza, a group of around 40 protesters rallied outside the embassy on Friday to deliver a harsher message to the Qatari government.

The group was brought together by Tsav 8 DMV, an ad-hoc grassroots organization — unaffiliated with established community groups — that has come together to plan local events and rallies in support of Israel following the Oct. 7 attack. Tsav 8 refers to the IDF’s emergency call-up order for reserve duty.

The protesters, carrying Israeli and American flags, as well as some homemade signs, delivered a blunt, direct message, distinct from the more balanced advocacy of the JCRC event: “Qatar is Hamas,” they chanted.

Speakers at the event blasted Qatar as a major supporter, sponsor and host of Hamas, calling out its financial payments to Hamas and Al Jazeera’s anti-Israel and pro-Hamas rhetoric. They also accused the kingdom of stoking anti-Israel and antisemitic activity on the college campuses to which it provides funding.

They argued that Qatar, through its support for Hamas, was effectively a party to the crimes of Oct. 7.

“We are here today to call out Qatar for what it really is: a terror supporting state seeking to destabilize the Middle East region,” Nimrode Pantz, a local lawyer and Tsav 8 organizer, said in a speech. “We will not allow Qatar to wash its hands [of] its responsibility [for] what happened on Oct. 7… We call on Qatar to use its full weight and its leverage on Hamas and demand the immediate release of our hostages.”

Another speaker pledged that the activists would return to the embassy until the hostages were released and “hunt you in every place you will be until we see them back.”

They also played a recorded translation of their remarks in Arabic and Israeli and American patriotic songs and prayers through a bullhorn, as well as read out the names of each of the 132 remaining hostages.

A few employees at the Qatari Embassy could be seen working in their offices overlooking the protest, but seemed to be ignoring the protest. An unknown individual, who said he had an appointment at the embassy, approached the embassy’s front gate and was surrounded by chanting protesters before moving around to the side of the building.

At the conclusion of the protest, a man riding by the embassy on a bicycle knocked a large Israeli flag out of Pantz’s hands, causing it to drop in the street. A police officer stationed outside the embassy chased and intercepted him, but let the man leave after a brief conversation.

Pantz acknowledged to Jewish Insider that the Tsav 8 rally was delivering a harsher message than the JCRC event, saying that may reflect “a difference between American Jews and Israelis — we know them for what they are, and we want to call them out for what they are…. We’re not trying to sugarcoat anything.”

He said Tsav 8 has grown from a small group of friends to a 550-member WhatsApp group since Oct. 7. The group regularly hangs Israeli flags from local highway overpasses, organized a motorcade on Capitol Hill and is also planning other local events.

“We’re here for the war… we all have careers, we’re not political activists, we don’t have any political aspirations,” he explained.

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