Pro-Palestinian activists have a long history of disrupting Israel-connected events. They shout down speakers, block entrances and exits, and even physically attack speakers and participants. Up until now, these tactics have often been successful because law enforcement authorities have handled these pro-Palestinian activists, for the most part, with kid gloves. Yet, this policy may be inviting more disruptions and more violent attacks of an ever more dangerous kind.
It should be clear that most of these pro-Palestinian activists are not generic supporters of human rights. They often have long histories of support for terrorism and violence. Some even have criminal records. And their behavior seems to show a pattern of slowly escalating violence. This trend is worrisome and, unfortunately, the relevant authorities do not appear to be taking it seriously enough. It only takes a handful of deranged and dangerous individuals — or only one — to commit a truly devastating act of violence. And thus far, law enforcement agencies have failed to identify and interdict those who may have a propensity to attack Israelis and Jews at pro-Israel events. We have been lucky so far. But we may not be lucky forever.
This grave concern is illustrated by a recent incident. In October 2017, pro-Palestinian activists infiltrated an event for my organization Reservists on Duty (ROD), held at the Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York. At ROD, we bring reserve IDF soldiers to foreign countries to advocate for Israel. Once inside the synagogue, the anti-Israel activists began heckling the participants. Then they became more aggressive. One activist rushed one of the speakers and had to be restrained. The NYPD removed the attackers from the main sanctuary of the synagogue, but they were quickly released. No charges were filed and no criminal investigation took place.
At the time, I pointed out that “Police did an efficient job by pushing the attackers out, but no one was arrested. And these guys are already free, after they ruined our event.”
While the aggression ended up with no injuries, the equally mild reaction of the police can only encourage further aggression. And the identities of two of the guilty parties — revealed in an investigation carried out independently by ROD — makes the issue even more pressing.
One of them is Nancy Mansour, who also calls herself “Harrabic Tubman.” She is a Palestinian-American activist who has made numerous attempts to disrupt pro-Israel events in the past.
She is connected to the New York City branch of the virulently anti-Israel Students for Justice in Palestine, which has been involved in incidents of violence directed at pro-Israel students and activists. She is also affiliated with Samidoun, which is in turn affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist group that rejects Israel’s right to exist. Mansour has also expressed solidarity with PFLP terrorist Leila Khaled.
It appears that Mansour’s predilection for terrorist organizations is not confined to the PFLP. In the antisemitic Nation of Islam’s publication The Final Call, she said of Hamas, “I want people to understand that no matter how they feel about Hamas, if there was no Hamas, there would be no Palestine whatsoever. If there was no Hamas, Gaza would be gone. We support the resistance 1,000 percent and there is nothing left but the resistance at this point. Don’t use Hamas as an excuse to justify the massacre that Israel is committing against the Palestinians and has been committing before Hamas was even formed.”
Mansour’s predilection for violence seems best expressed by the title of an event she attended called, “My HEROES Have Always Killed Colonizers.” Given that the Palestinians view all Israeli Jews as “colonizers,” this is a very worrisome sign indeed.
Mansour also has a criminal record. In 2013, she and an accompanying mob broke into a gala held by the Friends of the IDF. She then attacked an attendee with a bullhorn. She was arrested for disturbing the peace and assault with a deadly weapon.
The second activist is Mosab Qashoo. Like Mansour, he has participated in rallies with Samidoun and expressed support for PFLP terrorists. His Facebook cover photo is of the PFLP “martyr” Basel Al-a’araj. During a 2017 visit to the West Bank, he visited Al-a’araj’s mourning tent. He also posted pictures of PFLP member Bilal Kayed, currently imprisoned in Israel, and Ahmed Naser Jarar, who killed an Israeli in 2018. He posted the words to a song called “Yes, I Am Terrorist!” Qashoo also expressed support for the violent “March of the Return,” organized by Hamas.
Qashoo has a criminal record and was arrested twice in 2017. He also appears to be mentally unstable and was for a time confined to an institution.
Mansour and Qashoo are not exceptions to the rule. There are at least hundreds like them. This should concern us all. They are both strong supporters of terrorism and terrorists. They glorify violence against Jews and Israelis. They both have criminal records. They and others like them should set off alarm bells among both law enforcement and the Jewish community. It only takes one.
Maj. Amit Deri (res.) is founder and CEO of Reservists on Duty, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting BDS.