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"Back to the Ovens," Ft. Lauderdale Hamas Protestors Shout at Jews

January 5th 2009

Palestine Topics - SF Anti-Israel Protest
One of Many Anti-Israel Protests over Gaza

Many residents in tranquil Ft. Lauderdale were shocked last week to see 200 to 300 rowdy Hamas supporters assembled downtown screaming for Jews to “go back to the Ovens.” It was part of a show of solidarity with Gazans now under siege during Israel’s campaign to root out the Hamas terrorist establishment there. A video blogger, captured the protest on a YouTube video.

(See the Ft. Lauderdale pro-Hamas video)

The rally began as Hamas supporters squared off against a handful of mostly youthful Israel supporters outside the First Baptist Church in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. It grew uglier as Hamas supporters became enraged at their presence and began shouting insults. "Your mother is a whore," screamed one, who then broke into "Nuke, nuke Israel. Nuke, nuke Israel," followed by "Go to hell; go to hell; go to hell!”

Another woman, wearing a headscarf, shouted: "Go steal other lands. Go! Murderers! Go back to the oven! You need a big oven." The reference to “ovens” invoked Hitler’s crime of burning murdered Jews in ovens during the Holocaust.

One placards read: ''Did Israel take notes during the Holocaust? Happy Hanukah. 400 dead and counting.'' Another read ``Gaza needs food, water, medicine. Shame on you Israel.'” Israel supporters carried signs that declared, “You can't make peace with those who want to kill you.''

"This was not Gaza, it was not Paris, it was not London, it was not even Detroit. This was Fort Lauderdale, Florida!"" astonished video blogger Tom Trento declared in a brief commentary. Ft. Lauderdale has prided itself on a laid-back atmosphere. Many long-time residents were astonished to see the loud, raucous demonstration in their midst complete with anti-Jewish epithets.

More than 20 policemen cordoned off the intersection of Broward Boulevard and Northeast Third Avenue, preventing the roiling Hamas rally from edging into a violent confrontation with the vastly outnumbered Israel supporters. The pro-Israel supporters, despite insults and screams, stood their ground. There were no arrests at the Ft. Lauderdale fracas. But a similar rally in Miami of 1,000 angry Hamas supporters resulted in a dozen arrests.

At points the screaming crowd would settle into group prayer as an imam converted the sidewalk into an impromptu mosque for prostrated protestors on prayer mats. "We want to educate the people about what Islam really is so that they can appreciate the beauty of it," the imam commented to reporters. "Once people understand the real beauty of Islam they will have no choice but to accept it because they will realize that it's part of their nature."

''We want to see peace, but Hamas doesn't,'' explained Israel supporter Roger Firestone of Fort Lauderdale. “They're a terrorist organization.'”

The South Florida Palestine Solidarity Network organized the pro-Hamas rally. Spokesman Muhammed Malik complained in interviews with the media that the Israeli blockade has contributed to wretched conditions for ordinary Gaza residents, who face shortages of food, medicine, electricity and clean water.  Malik called Israel's actions ''collective punishment'' and said that it "fuels terrorism. People feel they have no hope.''

Israel has allowed in scores of humanitarian trucks daily. Egypt, which blockades Gaza at the south, has offered to allowed the wounded out, but the Cairo government has publicly denounced Hamas for refusing to evacuate them to increase the outward signs of carnage.

Ofer Bavly, Israel's consul general in Miami was quoted in The Miami Herald as stating “For too long, Israel was exercising a lot of self-control, which didn't go down well'' with many citizens. Israel has sustained more than 5,000 rockets fired from Gaza since 2001.

South Florida's congressional representatives were virtually unanimous in statements supporting Israel. For example, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D) declared, “Hamas is not only an impediment to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but also to Israel's efforts to establish normal diplomatic relations with many in the Arab world.'' Sen. Mel Martinez (R) stated, “Israel has a right to defend itself and its citizens. Terrorist organizations like Hamas cannot be allowed safe haven in any territory.'' Rep. Robert Wexler (D) issued a statement, “It is unconscionable for anyone to expect the Israeli government or any other government, for that matter, to sit idly by as thousands of deadly rockets rain down on their cities.'' Two republican representatives Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart jointly stated, “Israel is absolutely justified in defending herself and in taking all necessary military steps to guarantee the safety and security of its people.” Other congressional voices from the area voiced similar support.

One astonished Ft. Lauderdale resident reacting to the anti-Jewish fervor asked, “Where did all this support for Hamas come from right in our own community. We need to wake up.”

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