Giovanni Giacalone
Eyes everywhere

They are not peaceful demonstrations, it’s terrorism

An anti-Israel demonstrator holding an al-Qassam sign pointing at Jewish students in a US college campus (YouTube; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The most objective definition of “terrorism” that I have so far been able to find is the one conceived by Boaz Ganor, director of Herzliya’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism:

Terrorism is the deliberate use of violence, aimed against civilians, in order to achieve political ends.

I like this definition because it is free from any type of subjective values referring to specific ideological causes (no “just cause”), and no reference to a specific modus operandi (doesn’t matter what tool you are using to perpetrate the attack). It is plain and clear.

Now, let’s take a look at some cases that have occurred in the past few days on US college campuses.

At Yale, Jewish student Sahar Tartak was singled out for wearing Hasidic Jewish attire and jabbed in the eye with a Palestinian flag by a demonstrator who then fled the scene protected by his mates.

As Sahar told the NY Post: “There are hundreds of people taunting me and waving the middle finger at me, and then this person waves a Palestinian flag in my face and jabs it in my eye…When I tried to yell and go after him, the protesters got in a line and stopped me”.

Now, this is not just an antisemitic hate crime, this can also be classified as an act of terrorism because there is a political motivation behind the attack, the hatred for Israel.

Next, Sharon Knafelman, vice-president of Berkley’s“Bears for Israel”, this is what she told Fox News:

I’ve witnessed my friend being spat at, called a “dirty Jew”, I saw a girl get violently strangled…”.

Next, a female pro-Pal demonstrator with her face partially hidden by a kefiya held up a sign that reads: “Al Qassam’s (military wing of Hamas) next target” pointing to a group of Jewish students holding American and Israeli flags.

And again, Jewish students were chased off campus at Columbia by demonstrators shouting antisemitic phrases, telling Jewish students to “go back to Poland” or shouting death to the Zionist state.

These are just a few cases, but there would be plenty more to cite. In summary, this is what’s going on at college campuses in the United States, this is terrorism as it aims to terrorize and attack students for specific political objectives.

Chants and slogans in support of Hamas, the al-Qassam Brigades, and the Houthis, “death to America and Israel” slogans, flag arsons, glorification of October 7th, and calls for intifada are by now common denominators at demonstrations in the United States that, unlike Alexandria Ocasio Cortez stated, are far from being peaceful; these are calls for war.

What is the objective of all this violence? To get rid of Jewish students from campuses, just like in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. To get rid of all ideological-political dissent, of all those who do not agree with the pro-Hamas and pro-Iran line.

Would it be a coincidence that on April 24th, the leader of the Iranian regime, Ali Khamenei, posted a tweet saying: “Why are you supporting Palestine? Today the whole world is supporting Palestine. People are supporting Palestine in the streets of Europe, in Washington, and in New York”.

Khamanei uses the words “support Palestine”, but we all know very well what these words really mean and we saw it two weeks ago when the Iranian regime launched over 300 drones and missiles against Israel.

Sharon Knafelman is correct when she says: “The US has a decision to make, rather or not to be on the right side of history”.

We know very well whose side to be on, now we need to wait and see if the Biden administration knows which side to pick and what to do. A statement is not enough.


About the Author
Giovanni Giacalone is a senior analyst in Islamist extremism and terrorism at the Italian Team for Security, Terroristic Issues and Managing Emergencies-Catholic University of Milan, at the Europe desk for the UK-based think tank Islamic Theology of Counter-Terrorism, and a researcher for Centro Studi Machiavelli. Since 2021 he is the coordinator for the "Latin America group" at the International Institute for the Study of Security-ITSS. In 2023 Giacalone published the book “The Tablighi Jamaat in Europe”.
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