Discover more from Matthew's Notebook
Journalists falsely report Democratic Socialist rally for Hamas
Members of the media and congress condemned the DSA for organizing a pro-Palestine rally. None of them bothered to ask whether the DSA really did.
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) came under fire this weekend from a chorus of local and national politicians, who slammed the DSA for organizing a pro-Palestine rally in New York during a major Hamas attack on Israel. The only problem? The DSA didn’t organize the rally. And almost no journalists bothered to ask whether they did.
The gruesome violence in Israel and Palestine this week has unleashed a torrent of official Western political support for Israel, and a flood of disinformation. The confusion around the New York rally is a worrying sign of Western journalists’ ability to cope with the rumors swirling around the conflict. U.S. news outlets could not even be bothered to verify basic facts about an event in the largest American city, far from the conflict zone, involving American groups with a prominent media presence.
Pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters did indeed hold rival protest marches from Times Square to the Israeli consulate on Sunday. But the only involvement by the DSA’s New York chapter was to approvingly retweet a poster for the pro-Palestine event. The actual organizers listed on the “All Out for Palestine” poster were a coalition of Palestinian diaspora groups, along with the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) and the People’s Forum, two obscure far-left organizations.
“The Times Square rally was organized by progressive NY groups including Palestinian orgs, and while NYC-DSA wasn’t one of them, we promoted it because we’ve always stood in solidarity with the Palestinian people who had suffered decades of oppression,” said Gerard Dalbon, a leader of the NYC-DSA Anti-War Working Group, in a text message.
Dalbon confirmed that only one media outlet reached out to ask whether the DSA was involved in organizing the rally. Politico Magazine correctly reported that the DSA did not organize the rally and that “leading DSA members” were not seen attending. Others falsely reported that the DSA had organized a pro-Hamas rally in New York City.
The New York Post, a right-wing tabloid, falsely stated the “soulless progressives” of the DSA were hosting the rally in order to support Hamas. The Washington Free Beacon, a neoconservative tabloid, used the alleged DSA rally to attack the “overt anti-Semitism” of “the Squad,” four congresswomen with ties to the DSA. After the rally, Yahoo News published an article complaining that “Israel’s founding story…resonates less and less” with younger leftists. The article also falsely reported that the DSA was behind the rally.
The story soon became fodder for politicians looking to put pressure on the DSA and DSA-backed politicians.
Rep. Richie Torries (D–N.Y.) tweeted before the rally that “NYC-DSA is revealing itself for what it truly is: an antisemitic stain on the soul of America’s largest city…There is a special place in hell for those who glorify the cold-blooded murder of civilians and children.”
Torres has been described in Israeli media as “an unlikely poster child for pro-Israel America” and “one of the most passionately pro-Israel politicians in America.” The congressman, who represents the poorest congressional district in the country, spends much of his time and energy defending Israel against law students and human rights monitors on social media. Torres wrote that “[l]osing 600 Israelis is the equivalent of losing about 20,000 Americans” after this weekend’s attack.
New York City councilman Eric Bottcher condemned the “upcoming DSA rally in Times Square,” as did New York State senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal. The day of the protest, House Majority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, congressman Pat Ryan, and former congressman Mondaire Jones — all Democrats from New York — accused the DSA of running a hateful rally, as did New York City comptroller Brad Lander.
In reality, DSA sub-groups have often been split over the Palestinian issue, and this weekend was no exception. The DSA International Committee, often seen as the far left of the organization, praised the Palestinian “resistance.” DSA North Star, a rival committee, simply stated “fuck Hamas!” The national DSA tweeted that the violence was “a direct result of Israel’s apartheid regime,” although it also called on members to protest for peace and “unequivocally” condemned “the killing of all civilians.”
“This series of opportunistic attacks from NY politicians targeting DSA in bad faith are meant to distract and point blame away from the role our own government has played in the suffering already incurred and which will only increase through the U.S. backing Israel with billions in funding every year,” said Dalbon, the NYC-DSA leader.
The United States rushed weapons and ammunition to Israel as Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant ordered a total-siege against the Palestinian city of Gaza and the “human animals” inside of it. The U.S. State Department deleted several statements calling for de-escalation, replacing them with expressions of unconditional support for the Israeli military.
The Israeli campaign killed over 900 people, including at least 260 children, as of Monday, according to Gaza’s ministry of health. Israel ordered Palestinians to flee through the Rafah border crossing, then reportedly bombed it. Hamas has threatened to kill one Israeli hostage for every Israeli airstrike on a civilian house without warning.
Other Democrats condemned the New York rally without attributing it to the DSA. New York City mayor Eric Adams called the protest “disgusting” and New York State governor Cathy Hochul called it “abhorrent,” both stating that the demonstrators were supporting terrorism. U.S. senator Chuck Schumer told the Times of Israel that the rally was “ill-timed and cold-hearted.”
Some DSA members themselves condemned the rhetoric of the rally. New York State assemblyman Zohran Mamdani, a prominent supporter of Palestinian rights, distanced himself from “rhetoric…seeking to make light of [civilian] deaths.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of The Squad, condemned the “bigotry and callousness” of the rally.
“It also did not speak for the thousands of New Yorkers who are capable of rejecting both Hamas’ horrifying attacks against innocent civilians as well as the grave injustices and violence Palestinians face under occupation,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement.
Emotions ran high at the rally and the smaller pro-Israel counterprotest. Demonstrators shouted taunts and obscenities at each other across the police barricades. A pro-Israel protester told pro-Palestine protester to “go back to Gaza,” and another near him waved a shoe above his head.
The New York Police Department kept the demonstrators on opposite sides of the street, occasionally breaking up scuffles. A woman was escorted away by police for approaching the pro-Palestine demonstrators and shouting “Nazis!”
Some protesters on both sides even promoted genocidal rhetoric. Pro-Israel demonstrators yelled on tape that Israel should “kill all Palestinians” ans “flatten Gaza.” One man in the pro-Palestine crowd was photographed flashing a swastika on his phone.
The most controversial statement came from Eugene Puryear, a speaker from the PSL, whose speech outside the Israeli consulate was taped in a viral video.
“And as you might have seen, there was some sort of rave or desert party where they were having a great time, until the resistance came in electrified hang gliders and took at least several dozen hipsters,” he said. “But I'm sure they're doing very fine.”
Puryear was referring to the Tribe of Nova, a music festival at Israel’s Kibbutz Re’im where 260 people were killed in the early hours of the war. Hamas fighters overran the Re’im army base along the Israeli border as part of its initial attack, then moved onto the nearby concert. Israeli police officers at the festival fired at the attackers but were overwhelmed by Hamas fighters, who kidnapped an unknown number of concertgoers.
Protesters at the New York rally — on the pro-Palestine side — seemed divided over Hamas’ actions. Several signs and chants supported Palestinian “resistance.” Other demonstrators told journalists that they support not Hamas but “the Palestinians” as a people.
“My family is currently under siege in Gaza and are just waiting to know if they will be alive or dead, without any electricity, without any support, without any supplies," Palestinian-American protester Sarah Barqawi told French media. "They are merely trying to defend their right to existence."
Thanks for reading Matthew's Notebook! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.