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2002 Archive
2002 has seen some of the largest rallies against Israel ever organized in the United States. Especially since the spring, anti-globalization, antiwar and Muslim and Arab-American groups and supporters have increasingly coalesced against Israel's treatment of Palestinians and the American government's policies in the Middle East. Among its achievements, this new movement helped to spread across the nation a campaign pressuring American universities to divest from Israel; while failing to persuade university officials, the push for divestment created several pockets of anti-Israel animosity.
Anti-Israel Demonstrations:
    • 2005
    • 2004
    • 2003

While ADL does not consider mere criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic or illegitimate, the large rallies opposing the Jewish state - spurred by events in the Middle East - repeatedly served as forums supporting violence and terrorist organizations, and were marred by anti-Semitic expression. Throughout the past several months, in attempting to de-legitimize Israel and challenge its right to exist, members of organizations that publicly repudiate bigotry against Jews - as do most of those named below - tolerated or initiated at their events a grotesque inversion of history equating Zionism with Nazism. In speeches, placards and chants Israel's actions to defend its citizens from terror were regularly likened to the Nazis' systematic extermination of Jews. Unsurprisingly, these comparisons gave way to calls for the destruction of Israel.

The loose coalition of activists that crystallized in the spring of 2002 resumed staging protests in the fall. A number of rallies and conferences have been held since September and are planned for the coming weeks. Some are specifically directed at Israel and events in the Middle East, others address antiwar and anti-globalization concerns. Listed below are rallies that provided a forum for rhetoric that goes beyond non-bigoted criticism of Israel.

Date Location Event Anti-Israel Group Sponsor/Edorsing


Washington, D.C.

Anti-World Bank and International Monetary Fund protests

SUSTAIN (Stop US Tax-Funded Aid to Israel Now)


San Francisco,CA,

"National day of protest"

Justice in Palestine Coalition,


Chicago, IL

"Right of Return" national rally and march

Al-Awda, Right of Return Coalition


Atlanta GA

Protests Against AIPAC

Atlanta Palestine Solidarity


Ann Arbor, MI

Palestine Solidarity Movement

Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) &
Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee
(U Michigan)


Los Angeles, CA

Evening of Solidarity with the People of Palestine and Iraq

(Los Angeles chapter)


Detroit, MI
Wayne State University

Anti-War Rally to Stop U.S. Intervention in Iraq

Arab Student Assn
(Wayne State Chapter)
& ANSWER (local chapter)


Washington, DC

Anti-War Protests

Sponsor: International Action Center
Muslim Students Association


Boston, MA

85th Anniversary of the Balfour Declaration

The New England Committee to Defend Palestine, part of ANSWER


September 25-29 - Washington, D.C.
Anti-World Bank and International Monetary Fund protests

Various anti-capitalist and anti-globalization groups demonstrated against the IMF and World Bank. An organizing group, the Anti-Capitalist Convergence, had said "this time around we are not just shutting down the meetings but extending our protests to disrupt all of the institutions headquartered in DC that play a part in this system."

What Happened:

While the anti-globalization protests here in April were waylaid by a massive anti-Israel bloc, this weekend's more than 2,000 demonstrators remained focussed on global capitalism. And while protests earlier in the week included a few acts of vandalism and led to several hundred arrests, events throughout the weekend were also relatively peaceful.

September 28 - San Francisco, California
"National day of protest"

Sponsored by the Justice in Palestine Coalition, which is directed by the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

The rally commemorated the 2nd anniversary of the Intifada and the 20th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres.

What Happened:

Protesters were critical of Israel, but the protest appeared free of the moral and historical distortions that marked anti-Israel rallies in the Bay Area earlier this year. (Protesters at rallies in the spring carried signs that read "1943: Warsaw 2002: Jenin" and "Sharon = Hitler.") According to law enforcement estimates, about 3,000 people attended the rally; organizers placed the number around 7,000.

September 29 - Chicago, Illinois
"Right of Return" national rally and march

Sponsored by Al-Awda, Right of Return Coalition, the rally commemorated the 2nd anniversary of the Intifada and the 20th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres.

The event's endorsers included a coalition of American Arab and Palestinian organizations, socialist and anarchist groups and pro-divestment campus activists. Two far-left groups, for instance, the Chicago chapter of the Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives and the Chicago Anti-Racist Action, encouraged an "Anarchist, Anti-Authoritarian and Anti-Fascist Bloc" to join "the 1000s already coming to Chicago…"

October 5-7 - Atlanta, Georgia
Protests against AIPAC

Atlanta Palestine Solidarity called for protests against the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee at the pro-Israel lobby's national summit meetings. On its Web site APS invited activists to "Come join APS and other human rights activists in protesting these sponsors of terrorism!"

Other groups organizing the protests, according to postings, included the International Action Center, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (South), href="israel_protest_calendar_groups.asp#1">Al-Awda in Georgia and Students Organizing for Justice at Georgia Tech. A call to participate in the demonstration was posted on anarchist newswires.

Members of the New Black Panther Party, including anti-Semitic founder Malik Zulu Shabazz, also planned to protest.

What Happened:

About 100 protestors showed up on Saturday, including Malik Zulu Shabazz and nine other members of the New Black Panther Party. Shabazz led chants blaming "so-called Jews" for the slave trade and for killing Jesus. Also in attendance was Georgia State Rep. Billy McKinney, who blamed "J-E-W-S" after his daughter, U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, was defeated in a congressional primary earlier this year. A pro-Confederate flag protest, aimed at Roy Barnes, Georgia's governor - and the AIPAC conference's host - coincided with the anti-AIPAC protests.

On Sunday, approximately 300 demonstrators took part in the protest sponsored by Atlanta Palestine Solidarity. The tone was far milder than the day before; generally, criticism of Israel did not extend beyond placards reading "no to Israeli racism" and "expose Israel's apartheid policies" Several groups took part, including the ADC, the Green Party of Dekalb County, the Concerned Black Clergy (who also participated in the previous day's protest), the Workers World Party and the harshly critical Neturei Karta. A group of ultra-Orthodox rabbis with a record of hostility to Israel and Zionism, Neturei Karta members held signs that read: "Zionism And Judaism Are Extreme Opposites," "Zionist Ideology Opposes The CREATOR" and "Torah Jewry Is United Against Zionism & The State Of Israel.

October 12-14 - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Palestine Solidarity Movement - second national student conference

Sponsored by Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) and the University of Michigan chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

What Happened:

The conference, held at the University of Michigan, attracted about 400 activists from 70 campuses, according to organizers. Speakers included embattled University of South Florida Professor Sami al-Arian and Hussein Ibish, Communications Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

SAFE (Students Allied for Freedom and Equality), which hosted the event, affirmed the divestment campaign's principles and tactics as formulated at the PSM's gathering in February. Attempts by some organizers to moderate the tone of the group's Mission Statement led to disagreement and debate; participants ultimately retained language calling Zionism racist and supporting the Palestinian Intifada, according to news reports.

According to The Houston Chronicle, one conference organizer suggested a more realpolitik approach. "We probably all believe that Zionism is racism, but that is not the question," she said. "We're just trying to be smart. We need good PR."

During the conference, representatives of Al-Awda sold T-shirts with the inscription "Intifada! Palestine will be free from the river to the sea." The slogan was also shouted by conference-goers confronting a handful of protesters outside the building.

October 12 - Los Angeles, California
Evening of Solidarity with the People of Palestine and Iraq

The Los Angeles chapter of ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), a protest movement launched by the New York-based International Action Center to contest the bombing of Afghanistan, discussed the "true story of the Palestinian people" at the Radisson Hotel. Palestinian historian and author Naseer Aruri was scheduled to speak about the "issues which surround the quest for peace with justice for the Palestinians." Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark was also scheduled to speak; according to the Los Angeles ANSWER's Web site, Clark recently led an ANSWER delegation "to Iraq and met with victims from the recent bombings." Clark's activities with the IAC, which he founded, have contributed to the ascendancy of the group on the pro-war and pro-Palestinian left.

The other keynote speaker listed was Tamara Rettino, a founding member of Jews for a Just Peace.

Event background:
  • Local chapters of the IAC have been involved in many anti-Israel and anti-war rallies this fall. ANSWER has launched the "Commission of Inquiry into U.S.-backed Israel War Crimes against the Palestinian People," which it describes as "a national grassroots research project to document the crimes of the occupation and present a narrative of the Palestinian struggle that can serve as a counterbalance to the corporate media distortions of the conflict."

October 14 - Detroit, Michigan - Wayne State University
Anti-War Rally to Stop U.S. Intervention in Iraq

Sponsored by the university's Arab Student Association and the local chapter of ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), a protest movement launched by the New York-based International Action Center to protest the bombing of Afghanistan.

Rally background:
  • Students affiliated with the Arab Student Association and ANSWER recently held a rally at Wayne State to persuade the university to divest from companies that operate in Israel; about 50 students and other supporters took part in the October 1 rally. In addition, the university's administration was given a petition, signed by approximately 100 students, asking the school to divest its assets in American companies doing business in Israel, as well as from the Israeli government.

October 26, 2002 - Washington, D.C.
Anti-War Protests

The International Action Center is calling for mass marches and rallies in "Washington DC and San Francisco in the U.S., and in many other countries" on the first anniversary of the signing of the USA Patriot Act. IAC and other rally "initiators" hope to launch "a massive international mobilization in opposition to a new war against the people of Iraq."

The rally has been endorsed by several left-wing and Muslim and Arab groups, including the Green Party USA, School of the Americas Watch, the Joliet Anti-Racist Action and the Muslim Student Association.

Rally background:

  • The IAC's last major rally in Washington, D.C., which was attended by many pro-Palestinian groups, was organized around International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings on April 20. Thousands of protestors equated Zionism with Nazism, many chanted in support of Hamas and Hizballah and some called on Saddam Hussein to bomb Jerusalem.

November 2, 2002 - Boston, MA.
85th Anniversary of the Balfour Declaration

Organized by the New England Committee to Defend Palestine, the rally, scheduled to be held across from the British Consulate, will mark the anniversary of the 1917 British pronouncement calling for a national home in Palestine for the Jewish people.

Rally background:

  • The New England Committee to Defend Palestine is part of ANSWER [Act Now to Stop War and End Racism], an antiwar protest movement created by the International Action Center. The New England Committee's previous rallies in Boston have included a July 29 protest whose slogans, as advertised on the local IAC Web site, included "Stop Israeli war crime!" and "U.S./Israel out of Palestine now!"

    Another rally, held on June 9, protested Boston's celebration of Israel's Independence Day; the group asked supporters to demonstrate against "54 years of Zionist racism and genocide" and "the U.S./Israeli war against the Palestinians." Protesters at the rally held signs that read, "Israel equal to racism and Genocide." In a message announcing the rally, the New England Committee declared that Zionism "is no less a racist ideology than is anti-Semitism," and that "Israel has maintained its occupation for more than half a century": in other words, since it has existed.
Related Articles
Groups/Individuals who Sponsor/Endorse Anti-Israel Protests
Pro-Palestinian Rallies Turn Into Anti-Israel/Anti-Semitic Forums
More About Terrorists and Their Supporters:
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