cruel celebrations

Pro-Palestinian, left-wing campus groups cheer Iranian attack on Israel

ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt, on the mindset of the anti-Israel left: ‘The cruelty knows no bounds, the hatred has no limits.’

HOSSEIN BERIS/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images

An Iranian pro-government supporter holds up a picture of slain Gen. Qassem Soleimani at Palestine Square in Tehran, on April 14, 2024, in a celebration of the early morning Iran's IRGC attack on Israel.

Soon after news broke on Saturday night of Iran’s missile attack on Israel, hard-line anti-Israel activists celebrated Iran’s barrage, with some declaring it a necessary consequence of Israel’s “genocide” in Gaza. 

The message spread quickly on social media and appeared on the feeds of several Students for Justice in Palestine chapters. An Instagram post by the account @PalestinianYouthMovement praised the attack and said “Iran, Yemen and Lebanon dared to take action to bring an end to this genocide.” The account has 587,000 followers, and its post was shared by the SJP chapter at UCLA. 

“We saw it after Hamas’ 10/7 massacre and we’re seeing it now after Iran’s unprecedented attack on the Jewish state: anti-Zionists rejoice, glorifying and justifying violence against Israeli civilians,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told Jewish Insider. “The cruelty knows no bounds; the hatred has no limits.”

Hunter College’s Palestine Solidarity Alliance, an affiliate of SJP, reposted a report of an Iranian drone attack from the Arabs of Canada Instagram account and added: “true solidarity.” 

Columbia University’s SJP chapter reshared a post by Omar Baddar, the former deputy executive director of the Arab American Institute, mocking Israel for seeking U.N. condemnation of the attack. “You violate a mountain of UN resolutions, condemn the UN at every turn, bomb UN schools & shelters, murder UN employees & then you demand a UN meeting over another country responding to your bombing of their consulate,” the post read. 

In Chicago on Saturday, 300 anti-war activists were meeting to discuss plans to disrupt the Democratic National Convention in August when an activist took to the stage to announce that Iran had attacked Israel. The crowd burst into cheers at the news, The Free Press reported. The event was co-hosted by several groups, including the Chicago chapter of SJP. 

Asad Abukhalil, a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus, tweeted that it’s “shameful for us as Arabs that Iran did what all Arabs could not do.” 

The pro-Iran sentiment was also shared by some far-right antisemitic figures. Keith Woods, a white supremacist with a following on YouTube, tweeted “give ‘em hell” at the Iranian ayatollah. “I won’t be losing any sleep knowing Israel is being bombed,” he wrote in another post. 

In Washington, some analysts and policymakers who have condemned Israel’s war conduct in Gaza since October blamed Israel for the Iranian missile offensive, saying Israel provoked the attack with its strike earlier this month in Damascus, Syria, that killed several senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officers. (The U.S. considers the IRGC a terrorist organization.)

“This *is* the price for Israel’s reckless and escalatory strike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus,” Matt Duss, executive vice president at the left-wing think tank Center for International Policy and a former adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), wrote in a post on X.  

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, accused Israel of trying to manufacture a crisis with Iran to distract from the war in Gaza.

“Benjamin Netanyahu’s desperate, failing government has obviously been trying to distract from the genocide in Gaza and maintain political power by sparking a full-blown regional war with Iran,” the group said in a statement. “The American people do not support the ongoing genocide in Gaza or the Israeli government’s transparent attempt to drag our nation into another doomed and unnecessary Middle East war.” Several CAIR leaders, including its executive director, praised the Oct. 7 attacks and cheered Hamas terrorists. 

A top Al-Jazeera editor called it “shocking” that Jordan came to Israel’s defense. “There are Arab citizens who pull the trigger to protect Israel and watch when the Palestinians are bombed,” Dima Khatib, the managing director of AJ+, wrote in a post on X.

A number of public officials walked back ill-timed anti-Israel posts after the Iranian onslaught began. In a tweet posted hours into the attack, far-left Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) posted an anti-AIPAC message on a campaign account. She later deleted it with no explanation.

Rossana Rodriguez, a member of the Chicago City Council who championed a cease-fire resolution in the city that was opposed by local Jewish leaders, tweeted “Free Palestine” after the attack began. The post was condemned by the Israeli consulate in Chicago, which called it a “celebration of Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel.” 

Rodriguez followed up with a tweet that she hadn’t seen the news of the attack when she tweeted. “I do not celebrate war or the loss of human life in any way. I just got off a plane to see people again trying to demonize me for saying something basic. Same people who have been cheering on a genocide,” said Rodriguez. 

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