For the Democratic Party, “fighting antisemitism” now means sicking cops on Jewish protesters and pushing them down stairs. This is how the party responded to a protest outside their headquarters in Washington, DC, led by Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow, and Democratic Socialists of America.
The videos — mostly recorded by DC-based independent journalist Chuck Modi and other independent reporters — are harrowing. The Metro Police, who posed for selfies with white supremacists on January 6, are shown shoving, beating, and barking at activists in shirts that read “CEASEFIRE NOW.” Modi tweeted that he had not witnessed the Metro Police acting so violently against protesters since the BLM uprising in 2020.
Many of the protesters represent the 80 percent of Democratic Party voters who oppose the Biden administration’s policy of unconditional support for the genocide that Israel is carrying out in Gaza. The diverse group of roughly 300 activists began the night by holding a vigil outside of Congress where they lit 11,000 candles to honor the victims of Israel’s genocide. Then, the protesters went to the steps of the DNC headquarters where a group of them linked hands and blocked off the stairs, while party leaders were meeting inside. These politicians called the police, who brutalized the anti-imperialist activists, many of whom were Jewish.
DC-based activist Olivia DiNucci told Left Voice that the protesters were requesting DNC leaders come outside and speak with them when the police attacked.
“I was grabbed by the chest, thrown head-first down the stairs with people toppling on top of me,” DiNucci said. “The girl right next to me was pepper-sprayed so the side of my face was also. There were barricades being used to just be thrown at us.”
DiNucci was not certain if tear gas was used, but said she witnessed most of the cops putting on “huge gas masks” at one point.
As videos began to circulate on Twitter, the Metro Police published a report claiming that the protesters were acting “violently.” This lie was further spread by Zionist propaganda orgs and Democratic congresspeople such as Brad Sherman, who called the largely-Jewish activists “pro-terrorist” and claimed that they pepper sprayed the police.
One Zionist group, Democratic Majority for Israel, was so confident that the news would be spun in their favor that they actually shared one of Modi’s videos, claiming that it showed the protesters acting violently. Anyone who watches the video can clearly see that the cops were the only violent actors.
The pro-Palestine movement and the broader ceasefire movement are creating a clear crisis for the Democratic Party, with many polls indicating that Biden is losing support from young voters and Arab voters ahead of the presidential election. The role of anti-Zionist Jewish activists has been especially important. By demonstrating that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism, these activists are creating more space for all people to denounce the clear aggression and racism of Israel which the United States continues to fund.
Unable to effectively spin the narrative, the state and pro-Zionist institutions like university administrations are increasingly relying on repression. In doing this, the people who are the first to smear the pro-Palestine movement as “antisemitic” are banning Jewish-led peace groups, censoring them on social media, and using police to physically assault them.
Despite the repression, the movement continues to bravely confront all those in power who are backing this genocide, from the two imperialist parties to institutions like the corporate media, administrators of universities and hospitals, union bureaucracies like the AFL-CIO leadership, and weapons companies. This type of resistance must continue and grow because, as the Democrats are showing, they have no intention of opposing Israel’s crimes on moral grounds. They will only change course if it becomes untenable to keep siding with Israel against the movement.
Last night’s demonstration should also clarify who the Democrats see as their base. The capitalist character of the Democratic Party is why Democrats are perfectly willing to ignore — and even brutalize — 80 percent of people who vote for them, and instead side with the imperialist interests of the party.
Many writers and political analysts have raised concerns that the Democrats might not be able to win back the votes of these protesters. But even if the Democrats change their approach to Israel, it will never change the capitalist character of the party which has led them to staunchly support this genocide in the first place. These anti-war activists never voting for the Democrats again and remaining in opposition to the party would be one of the greatest developments to come out of the movement.
Whatever conclusions those in this movement draw from their experience, it will be essential for everyone in the movement to support anyone who faces repression and violence for courageously standing against genocide and imperialism. A broad defense of all those speaking out for Palestine is essential. When they attack us in DC, they attack us all.