Anti-Israel Demonstrators Plan a ‘Flood’ of Disruption at the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting 

It’s likely no coincidence that the group calls their protest a ‘Flood’ after Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attack was called Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony on December 1, 2021, at New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Anti-Israel demonstrators are planning to protest and disrupt the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting Wednesday — part of a growing trend of targeting holiday celebrations in the name of “Gaza” in cities across the country.

“Flood the tree lighting for Gaza,” a flyer from a self-described Palestinian-led community organization, Within Our Lifetime, says. The group’s post to Instagram calls for “mobilization, not celebration” and advises attendees to bring flags, signs, and keffiyehs, and to “mask up.”

That Within Our Lifetime calls this protest “flood” is likely no coincidence. Hamas’s name for the October 7 attack on Israel — in which terrorists murdered more than 1,200 mainly civilians, raped women, and took more than 200 hostages — was dubbed Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.  

“I’m certainly happy to agree that in life there are coincidences. I don’t think this is one of them,” a New York City council member, Kalman Yeger, tells the Sun. “The use of the word flood makes it so obvious this is pro-Hamas.”

Within Our Lifetime also organized the “Flood Thankstaking” rally — a wordplay on Thanksgiving — in which protesters threw red paint and put red handprints on the façade of the New York Public Library’s flagship Stephen A. Schwarzman building, causing $75,000 in damages. Other demonstrators donning white jumpsuits and carrying red paint barged into the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade route, some gluing their hands to the street.

As the Christmas and Chanukah season ramps up, protests at public holiday celebrations are likely to intensify. Anti-Israel protesters tried Friday to drown out Christmas music at a tree lighting ceremony at Nantucket where it was attended by President Biden and the first lady. “Biden, Biden, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide,” the demonstrators chanted.

Similar protesters delayed a tree lighting at Seattle Friday by a half hour, chanting “intifada” and “free Palestine.” Protesters at Portland also targeted the city’s tree-lighting ceremony.

“We do anticipate that there will be protests in the city on Wednesday — to include around the area of the tree lighting — and at future gatherings around the city in the days and weeks to come,” a spokesman for the New York Police Department tells the Sun. “The NYPD will be on hand to protect the tree lighting and all those attending, and we will not tolerate disruption or any threats to public safety.”

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting is one of the biggest Christmas celebrations in the city, drawing tens of thousands of New Yorkers and tourists alike to watch the star-studded event that is broadcast on NBC. Millions more watch it on television. Within Our Lifetime’s Instagram post notes that this is “a major tourist attraction.” Attracting eyeballs is the goal.

Within Our Lifetime’s Instagram account is full of protest videos and flyers for upcoming actions. There are two scheduled for Tuesday alone at New York City. The constant protesting is reminiscent of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.

The group’s website offers a protest “toolkit” with recommended chants, including, “It is right to rebel, Israel go to hell,” “We don’t want two states, we want ’48,” and “NYPD, KKK, IDF they’re all the same.” The group’s Telegram messaging app channel says, “Share like wildfire and don’t stop showing up until Palestine is free, from the river to the sea.” These are calls for the end of Israel.

Within Our Lifetime did not return the Sun’s request for comment.

While protesting is a constitutional right in America, impeding traffic in an unsanctioned protest or acting as a heckler’s veto is not. Like with climate protesters blocking traffic or destroying iconic works of art, the tactics of these protesters may backfire. There are more than 600 comments to Within Our Lifetime’s Instagram post announcing the Christmas tree lighting protest, many of them negative.

“The average New Yorker finds it offensive that in a time when libraries are struggling to stay open seven days a week, the New York Public Library has to spend $75,000 or so to clean up the mess that these folks left behind,” Mr. Yeger says. “The right to freedom of assembly doesn’t mean you have the right to block a bridge.” 

Chanukah starts next week. There are no flyers on Within Our Lifetime’s Instagram page calling for protests of Chanukah events like the menorah lighting at Grand Army Plaza. The NYPD declined to specifically address that event in a statement to the Sun but says, “The NYPD Intelligence and Counterterrorism Bureau deploys a wide array of resources to protect the city based on events unfolding here and around the world.”

The New York Sun

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