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Call It a ‘Hate March’

I visited the Nova Exhibition last week, which commemorates the 364 innocent people who were murdered—and the 40 taken hostage—by Hamas at the Nova Music Festival on October 7th. Porta potties destroyed by gunfire, burned cars, shoes and backpacks left behind, TVs with videos of the attack and videos of survivor testimony fill the museum’s dark rooms. While all of the brutal scenes of kidnapping and torture are distressing, and the stories of those who lost loved ones are devastating, one mother’s story truly broke my heart.

On October 9th, Y. (an initial I use to protect her privacy) was on a Zoom call with President Biden to discuss how he had begun fighting to secure the release of her daughter, who was a presumed hostage. Tragically, in the middle of the call, Y. heard a knock on the door from a source who informed her that her daughter had been found. Only, her daughter’s body had been found and had been confirmed dead by the IDF.

When I exited the exhibit, I noticed some of the people from the videos (including survivors and parents of the dead) congregated just outside—including Y. As I approached her to express my condolences, she described to me what it was like to witness the hate march just the day before.

Outside of the memorial honoring the life of her daughter, and all 364 people slaughtered at the concert, a massive crowd of terrorist supporters began to protest. They chanted that “Zionists decided to rave next to a concentration camp,” comparing the Nova festival to having a “rave next to the gas chambers during the Holocaust.” Additionally, they yelled that the entire exhibit is simply “Zionist propaganda” and that “resistance is justified.” Protesters were seen waving Hamas and Hezbollah flags and a banner that read “Long live October 7th.” Finally, when speaking toward a group of Jews, one man explained that he “wish[ed] Hitler was still here, he would’ve wiped you all out.”

Imagine, just for a second, if KKK members protested at a memorial for Emit Till, declaring support for the people who murdered him. Or imagine, just for a second, if people celebrated the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center by waving Al-Qaeda flags. These hypotheticals are, for the most part, unimaginable; if they really were to happen, they would, correctly, be labeled hate marches or pro-terror rallies. We must use the same language here.

Yet make no mistake: protesting the war in Gaza is fair game. But, screaming Nazi rhetoric and applauding Hamas’ brutal massacre in front of a memorial commemorating October 7th is not. Cheering on the murder and rape of concert-goers in front of the victims’ parents is, most definitely, not.

For Y., processing the death of her daughter was difficult enough. Watching thousands of New Yorkers glorify it was even harder.

So, unless praising terrorists who rape, kidnap and slaughter Jews is “justified” in your worldview, then call the protest an “Antisemitic hate march.”

About the Author
James Covit is a high school student at the Heschel School in New York City. He is an alumni of Seeds of Peace International Camp and the American Jewish Committee's Leaders for Tomorrow fellowship.
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