The atmosphere was heavy yesterday Monday in New York, where a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel demonstration and a Jewish prayer were held in memory of the hundreds of civilians who have lost their lives since Saturday, when the Palestinian group Hamas launched an attack on Israel. .

In New York – where about two million Jews and hundreds of thousands of Muslims live – demonstrations took place for the second day in a row: on the one hand, supporters of the Palestinian cause, and on the other, rallies in favor of Jews and Israel.

Since Sunday, the police have been taking care to surround these gatherings in order to avoid incidents.

“New York on the side of Gaza”

In the heart of Manhattan, a few hundred pro-Palestinian Americans and foreigners gathered under the slogans “New York on the side of Gaza” and “Israel go to the devil”, while demanding that the US stop military aid to its ally in the Middle East.

Mostly young people gathered in front of Israel’s consulate general, holding Palestinian flags and banners with slogans against Jewish “settlers” and the “racist Zionist” regime.

Gathered behind bars and surrounded by police, the protesters were confronted by a particularly aggressive pro-Israel group, who shouted abusive slogans at them.

Young people wearing Palestinian headscarves demanded from the loudspeakers the “liberation of Palestine” and “the end of the settlement and occupation of the Arab areas”.

“Gaza, the new Warsaw ghetto”

“No justice without peace” and “no justice on stolen land”, shouted the demonstrators, while on the banners they were holding slogans comparing the Gaza Strip with the Warsaw ghetto.

Lina Abukougaik, a 45-year-old Palestinian-American, said she has “one brother, two sisters and several cousins” in Gaza, from whom she has not heard: “I don’t know if they were bombed, if they are alive, if they are injured, if they are okay.” she pointed out with tears in her eyes.

Ray Gordon, an 81-year-old white retiree, said he was “outraged that my taxes are arming, funding and diplomatically helping Israel.”

Mariam Alaniz, a 27-year-old PhD, criticized “Hamas’ methods and tactics” and said she would like “the Palestinian struggle to be organized from the grassroots, by the people, in a democratic way.”

“The people of Israel, our people”

In a heavier atmosphere, a prayer for the dead was held at the Emanu-El Synagogue on New York’s 5th Avenue.

People of all ages and religions prayed, held candles and waved flags in the colors of Israel, while some wept.

The temple’s American rabbi Joshua Davidson assured that “we are firmly on the side of Israel, our people.”

His colleague Rabbi Melissa Bayer-Whitman said that “the Jewish community of New York and our wider community of friends, which we saw here today, (…) will stand side by side in solidarity for days and months.”

The USA, a country with 335 million inhabitants, is home to the largest Jewish community in the world after Israel. In 2020, according to the Pew Research Institute, there were 5.8 million Jewish adults living in the country and another 2.8 million people who had at least one Jewish parent.

Besides, the country has about 4.5 million Muslims, 600,000 to 750,000 of whom live in New York.