Tracking the Finances and Activism Behind Anti-Israel ‘Days of Rage

This month in New York City, the anti-Israel group ⁢Within⁣ Our Lifetime held a “Day‍ of ⁢Rage,” where protesters‌ chanted slogans supporting the Palestinian cause ​and displayed flags of terrorist organizations. ⁢This⁣ group had previously caused ⁤disruptions at the Brooklyn Museum, leading to​ a confrontation where⁣ police had to intervene and make several arrests. The protesters, ⁣some of ‌whom were not affiliated with the targeted locations like Columbia and New ⁢York University, were also accused of physical⁤ and verbal assaults. Antisemitic remarks and ⁣disruptive actions ⁣led university officials and the mayor to emphasize the severity and trained nature of the protests. The group has​ been active in ⁢escalating protests⁤ on various public platforms and​ events throughout the city.

This month, pro-Palestinian protesters affiliated with the anti-Israel group Within Our Lifetime shouted hateful slogans and waved flags of terrorist groups in a “Day of Rage” they organized in New York City.

“Long live the intifada,” the demonstrators shouted, according to one video account. “Resistance is justified where people are occupied.”

(Thomas Fluharty for the Washington Examiner)

It wasn’t the first time. On May 31, these agitators succeeded in “taking over” New York City’s Brooklyn Museum. In videos WOL shared on X, hordes of protesters chanted as they swarmed the museum grounds, crowded the doors, and hung flags from the institution’s edifice.

Later video shows WOL Chairwoman Nerdeen Kiswani standing “inside the de-occupied” museum, shouting into a microphone, “Brooklyn Museum, you can’t hide. Divest from genocide!” WOL claimed that “within an hour,” the “Israeli-trained NYPD stormed the museum, targeting and violently arresting activists,” including Kiswani.

An NBC News report provides much-needed context to WOL’s version of events. The Brooklyn Museum has said its employees were “physically and verbally assaulted and harassed” by assembled protesters, who damaged art installations outside the museum. In total, the New York City Police Department said it arrested 34 protesters during the attempted takeover. Neither the Brooklyn Museum nor the NYPD responded to the Washington Examiner’s request for further details.

WOL has used a string of protests to increase chaos and discord throughout New York City in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. Its occupation of the Brooklyn Museum appears to indicate increased bravado, possibly emboldened by its successes in stoking hate at pro-Palestinian encampments in universities throughout New York City starting in mid-April.

Authorities long noted that encampment protests were being fueled by external actors. The NYPD told reporters that of the 112 people taken into custody at Columbia University on the evening of April 30, only 80 were affiliated with the school. At City College of New York, 170 were arrested on April 30, with only 68 protesters affiliated with the school. At New York University, 133 protesters were arrested at an April 22 protest. Only 65 were “current NYU students, faculty, or staff.”

Anti-Israel demonstrators associated with the ‘Within Our Lifetime’ protest group rally in front of the Brooklyn Museum on May 31 in New York City. (Stephanie Keith / Getty Images)

New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced at a May 1 press conference that he and the NYPD recognized it was “more than a peaceful protest” on New York City campuses. “We saw evidence of training. We saw a shift in tactics that were being used,” he explained.

While leaders have not named the entities that helped to foster the frenzy on New York City campuses, antisemitism watchdog Canary Mission provided the Washington Examiner with an extensive dossier on WOL’s involvement in encampments at Columbia, CCNY, the New School, the Fashion Institute of Technology, NYU, and Fordham University. In addition to the group’s public statement calling for the escalation of encampment protests and its direction of protesters to various encampment sites through its public Telegram account, WOL’s role as a key agitator increasing the anti-Israel vitriol on campuses is clear.

The Washington Examiner has focused this report on WOL’s activities on dates when arrests of nonstudent agitators are known to have occurred. They demonstrate WOL urging confrontations with police, demanding escalation of protests, and spreading antisemitic hate.

April 22 at NYU Gould Plaza

WOL promoted the encampment at NYU’s Gould Plaza, where 65 students and faculty and 68 nonstudent activists would later be arrested by the NYPD. Its advocacy took place largely on Telegram, a social media site where the group has about 4,820 subscribers.

At 6 a.m., the group shared a post on the “NYU Encampment Updates” Telegram account saying the occupation of Gould Plaza had taken place two hours earlier.

At 10 a.m., WOL shared photos from within the encampment, where a tent said “Free Palestine” and signage accused NYU of having “blood on its hands.” An hour later, the group issued a call to “flood New York University for Gaza” at 7 p.m., stating that “students have heeded the call to escalate” and urging others to “join our solidarity rally at Gould Plaza … and be ready to mobilize all day to defend the encampment.”

New York University Gould Plaza. (Fatih Aktas/Anadolu via Getty Images; Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

Just after 5 p.m., a man resembling WOL member Abdullah Akl was filmed inside Gould Plaza chanting, “There is only one solution: intifada revolution. We will free Palestine within our lifetime.” The intifada were two periods of Palestinian-led terrorist attacks against Israelis in which around 1,000 were killed.

At 5:30 p.m., the group demanded that the NYPD “back down” against the encampment. Two hours later, at 7:30 p.m., Kiswani was filmed chanting, “If we don’t get no justice, then they don’t get no peace,” in the center of Gould Plaza. WOL reported the appearance of NYPD buses at Gould Plaza by 8 p.m. About 40 minutes later, WOL said that NYU faculty had been arrested and soon after encouraged protesters to “come block the buses” of arrested faculty and protesters.

WOL led a march to 1 Police Plaza, NYPD headquarters, “to support” those who were arrested. Protesters took up what appears to be the entirety of Grand Street and Broadway, shouting, “Revolution.” As they arrived at 1 Police Plaza shortly before 10 p.m., they shouted, “Intifada, intifada, long live the intifada.”

On May 1, NYU President Linda G. Mills referenced the Gould Plaza protest in a statement to the school community. “Social media was used to summon hundreds of people to our campus, including people who did not have permission to be at NYU and who we believed significantly threatened our community,” Mills said. In the aftermath of the event, she said she had been personally threatened, a building where she and other faculty members live with their families had been defaced with red paint, and NYU had faced two bomb threats.

The encampment escalation missive

On April 27, WOL released an assessment on the encampments that contained concerning statements about its intention to escalate protests. “The movement trips over itself to provide endless trainings … on de-escalation tactics,” WOL wrote. “We can choose to prioritize de-escalation trainings, or we can choose to prioritize escalation trainings.” The group went to suggest that it can “learn to build effective barricades, how to link arms most effectively to resist police attacks, or what type of expanding foam works best on the kind of doorknobs present in our universities.”

The City College of New York and Columbia University (AP Photos/Julius Motal; Stefan Jeremiah)

Through its encampment statement, the anti-Israel group defined its “enemies.” Chief among them are members of the NYPD, a “functionary of U.S. imperialism” that WOL alleges is analogous with the Israel Defense Forces and the Ku Klux Klan. It also named “opportunists” such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) as enemies of the movement. WOL decried how Ocasio-Cortez posted “in support of the encampments while demonizing ‘outside agitator’ and condemning our resistance fighters [terrorist group Hamas and its terrorist affiliates] in Palestine.”

Acknowledging that many leaders were already blaming outside influencers for the tenor of campus protests, WOL said it “reject[s] the so-called ‘outside agitator’ line” and alleged that “the universities are ours for the taking,” seemingly confirming its involvement in shaping encampment protests.

CCNY and Columbia University

On April 22, WOL encouraged followers to “mobilize, defend, and support” encampments at Columbia, the New School, and NYU. By April 29, the anti-Israel group was urging its followers on Telegram to take part in an “Emergency Action” to “flood the encampments” at CCNY, Columbia, FIT, the New School, and NYU on April 30.

Around 12:30 a.m. on April 30, the group encouraged its members to go “all out” to Columbia to “defend the encampment.” Fifteen minutes later, it shared a video from the “Popular University 4 Gaza” Telegram account of crowds outside Hamilton Hall. The post proclaimed that “students have taken Hamilton building.” Students yelled, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a chant understood by many to call for the annihilation of the state of Israel.

Students at the City College of New York protest the Israel-Hamas war on the campus in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, Thursday, April 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Jake Offenhartz)

By 2 a.m., WOL shared its own video from Hamilton Hall, now adorned with a flag reading, “INTIFADA.” In the background, demonstrators screamed, “There is only one solution: intifada revolution.” “If we force open the gates of the university,” WOL proclaimed moments later, “understand we have a common enemy and build our respective capacities to fight them on and off the campus — the universities are ours for the taking.”

At 3:30 p.m., WOL members began a march through New York City encampments, starting with NYU, where Kiswani proclaimed, “Long live the intifada.” The group arrived at the New School at about 4:25 p.m., where its members chanted, “Over 40,000 dead, New School, your hands are red.” (At this date, even the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, whose data have been questioned by multiple researchers, reported about 34,000 dead.)

By 4:50 p.m., WOL was on the move again, proclaiming that the “FIT encampment welcomes WOL” around 10 minutes later. At 5:22 p.m., WOL members made their way to Columbia, using the subway system and blaring an air horn inside the Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station.

The group arrived at Columbia University on West 116th Street and Broadway at 6:20 p.m., once again echoing the call for “only one solution: intifada revolution.” By the time it left the university at nearly 7 p.m., the WOL protesters, led by WOL member Fatima Mohammed, were chanting, “Columbia, your hands are red.”

A Pro-Palestinian rally including Within Our Lifetime, a prominent activist group, was met with an Israeli counter protest in New York City on June 10. (Jonathan Fernandes / Sipa via AP Images)

En route to CCNY, the protesters took over an entire street around Broadway and West 133rd Street. The protesters appeared to be stuck outside the gates of the school when they arrived at CCNY at about 7:20 p.m. They promptly chanted at police personnel to “move cops, get out the way. We know you’re Israeli trained.” Ten minutes later, Akl shouted, “It is time to escalate.”

At 8:08 p.m., WOL reported that NYPD’s Strategic Response Group had arrived at CCNY. “More cops arriving by the minute,” the group told Telegram subscribers. “We need numbers to defend the encampment NOW!” At 8:20 p.m., it shared video from the “CUNY Gaza Solidarity Encampment” Telegram account of protesters occupying a school building and students who were “pepper-sprayed by violent cops.”

At 9:01 p.m., WOL shared its own video, apparently from within campus, of the Palestinian flag on the campus flagpole. “The American flag drenched in the blood of over 40,000 Palestinians is no longer flying at CCNY,” it reported. At just before 12 a.m., WOL told subscribers to “flood CCNY for Gaza” because the “NYPD is going to sweep” the encampment.

The following morning, WOL called for “ongoing jail support” after the “mass arrests” at Columbia and CCNY. Protesters were told to “mobilize NOW at 1 Police Plaza.”

WOL held a press conference that evening about the “NYPD assault on the Gaza solidarity encampments.” At a rally an hour later, Akl led a chant for revolution, and Mohammed shouted, “Our martyrs did not die in vain.”

Leaders from both Columbia and CCNY also spoke out on May 1, sharing horrifying tales of the April 30 protests. Columbia University President Minouche Shafik decried how “students and outside activists breaking Hamilton Hall doors, mistreating Public Safety officers and maintenance staff, and damaging property are acts of destruction, not political speech. Many students have also felt uncomfortable and unwelcome because of the disruption and antisemitic comments made by some individuals, especially in the protests that have persistently mobilized outside our gates.”

CCNY President Vincent Boudreau told his campus about the efforts that had caused the school to call in the NYPD. “Students inside the encampment began to warn us that outsiders among them were planning to take over a building,” he explained. The campus “received word” at about 7 p.m. that “hundreds of protesters were moving towards … campus from the south,” with around 300 reaching the fence at 140th Street “shortly thereafter.”

Readers will recall that WOL protesters began marching toward CCNY at that time and arrived at 139th Street at about 7:20 p.m. WOL video from 8:08 p.m. appears to have been taken from inside campus as the NYPD walked in through a gate.

Nerdeen Kiswani, co-founder and leader of Within Our Lifetime (WOL), speaks at a demonstration near Columbia University on Feb. 2 in New York City. (Alexi J. Rosenfeld / Getty Images)

Boudreau explained that outside protesters and students in the encampment joined forces and “demonstrators broke for the administration building,” eventually entering it. It is unclear whether WOL members participated in the occupation, as video the group shared of the action came from the CUNY encampment Telegram account.

Of 31 protesters arrested in the building, Boudreau said none appeared to be students. The school attempted to evacuate the encampment following the arrests. Because “a sizeable demonstration remained,” Boudreau said he “made the difficult call of allowing the NYPD to enter the campus.”

No school administrators have named WOL as an outside entity stirring up outrage on their campuses. The NYPD did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment about whether arrested encampment protesters from April 22 and April 30 were affiliated with the anti-Israel group or about the impact of WOL’s protests throughout New York City since Oct. 7.

WOL and its members

Kiswani originally founded WOL as the New York City branch of the campus group Students for Justice in Palestine. Renamed in 2018, WOL maintains connections with many SJP groups and, according to Canary Mission, is “a pivotal bridge between campus and community.”

Both SJP and WOL receive funding from the Westchester People’s Action Coalition Foundation, according to the New York Post. The WESPAC Foundation receives funds from billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros and Felice Gelman, a retired investment banker who contributes to pro-Palestinian causes.

Like National SJP and individual SJP chapters, WOL is not registered as a 501(c)(3) organization. As such, its donors are not publicly known unless, as in the case of the WESPAC Foundation, it chooses to identify funding recipients themselves.

WOL has organized numerous protests throughout the city since Oct. 7, including supporting efforts to shut down Terminal 4 within John F. Kennedy International Airport on Jan. 1 and again on Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Canary Mission cites WOL’s other targets as the New York City Marathon, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Modern Art, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Grand Central, Penn Station, and the Manhattan Bridge.

Canary Mission’s dossier on Kiswani is extensive and includes multiple instances of her calling for the abolition, annihilation, and defeat of Israel. Her arrest on May 31 was not her first in 2024. Kiswani was arrested on Jan. 26 for using sound amplification without a permit at a rally against Israeli corporations and entities. She was handcuffed during WOL’s participation in April 15 Tax Day protests, which were organized across the country to “block … the arteries of capitalism and jam … the wheels of production.”

Mohammed, WOL member, has shared frightening antisemitic language online, according to a Canary Mission dossier. “May every Zionist burn in the hottest pit of hell,” she posted on May 8, 2021. “I pray upon the death of the USA,” she wrote on X the following day. On Nov. 21, 2023, she posted, “Nothing but the complete dismantling of zionism will suffice.”

Video Mohammed shared on Instagram on May 7 is said to show protesters at Hunter College burning an American flag. She shared a post of the burning Israeli flag on April 14 and has shared multiple posts showing the badges of NYPD personnel with Arab last names whom she says “hammer a baton on the backs of their people.”

Akl has used social media to stoke hate. In an Instagram video shared on Nov. 26, 2023, Akl led protesters in chants on a crowded subway car to “globalize the intifada.” According to Canary Mission’s dossier on Akl, he led chants in Arabic on March 30, directing Hamas’s armed wing to strike Tel Aviv. Video on X from March 19 shows Akl being arrested at a protest.


Louder than hate

WOL is one of the numerous entities propelling hatred and decreasing public safety in an effort to promote a one-sided interpretation of peace in the Middle East, where Israel would be denied existence. As tensions mount amid continued conflict in Israel and Gaza, antisemitic actors inflict unending pain on Jewish communities worldwide.

In the face of fringe activists dominating media coverage, this hate speech and destructive rhetoric require a firm response from people of goodwill. Malign influences will not promote a future of peace and stability where Israelis and Palestinians can coexist without fear of terrorism.

Beth Bailey (@BWBailey85) is a freelance contributor to Fox News and the co-host of The Afghanistan Project, which takes a deep dive into nearly two decades of war and the tragedy wrought in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

" Conservative News Daily does not always share or support the views and opinions expressed here; they are just those of the writer."

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