In anti-Israel demonstrations around the world, one frequently heard chant is “globalize the intifada."

What does “Globalize the Intifada” mean, how is it tied to past Palestinian activist violence against Israel, and how can it lead to targeting Jews today? 

What Does “Globalize the Intifada” Mean?

“Globalize the Intifada” is a phrase used by pro-Palestinian activists that calls for aggressive resistance against Israel and those who support Israel. The most prominent expressions of intifada have been through violence so this phrase is often understood by those saying and hearing it as encouraging violence against Israelis, Jews, and institutions supporting Israel. While the intent of the person saying this phrase may be different, the impact on the Jewish community remains the same.

Actress Ginnifer Goodwin explains the violent history behind the phrase “Globalize the Intifada"

What is an Intifada?

The Arabic word “Intifada” translates to “uprising” or “shaking off.” It has been used to describe periods of intense Palestinian protest against Israel, mainly in the form of violent terrorism: The First Intifada from 1987-1990 and the Second Intifada from 2000-05. 

The First Intifada was marked by a period of widespread Palestinian protests, civil disobedience, and acts of violence and terrorism against Israelis.

The Second Intifada, also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada, was a period of intense conflict and Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule that began in late September 2000 and continued until 2005. It was characterized by widespread protests, demonstrations, and suicide bombings, resulting in a high number of casualties on both sides, with close to 1,000 Israelis killed or injured by Palestinian terror attacks, including suicide bombings in civilian areas and passenger bus bombings. 

The phrase “Globalize the Intifada” calls for people from around the globe to participate in rising up against Israel.

Since the phrase is most closely associated with the violence of the First and Second Intifadas, indiscriminate use encourages targeting institutions, and individuals around the world who show support for Israel, which includes the majority of Jews. Widespread violent actions against synagogues, Jewish homes, cultural centers and individuals taken in the name of resisting Israel demonstrates the need for increased vigilance by those advocating for Palestinian rights against using potentially inciting language.

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Where is the Phrase Being Used Today? 

Calls to “Globalize the Intifada” contribute to the sense that people around the world need to take action against supporters of Israel around the world. Many protests have been peaceful, still some have taken violent action against Jews and their institutions. 

There are numerous examples of the usage of the phrase such as at a demonstration in Times Square, in front of the Consulate General of Israel in Manhattan, in central London, at Harvard University, and even on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, not far from Crown Heights, a neighborhood with a very large Hasidic Jewish population that is the home of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. 

How is the Phrase Being Used to Target Jewish Institutions?  

Since Hamas’ massacres against Israelis on October 7 and Israel’s following attempts to free hostages and eliminate the threat posed by Hamas, Jewish individuals, synagogues, and cultural institutions have been the target of violence in the name of protests against Israel. These are in addition to anti-Israel protesters targeting corporations that do business with Israel.

A social media post from the anti-Israel group Within Our Life, a self-described Palestinian-led community organization, was headlined with the phrase “Globalize the Intifada” and had examples of Israeli and U.S. companies and transit hubs, the locations included The New York Times, Penn Station, Grand Central Station, the BlackRock investment firm, and the Israeli tech company Check Point. 

“Each of the locations on this map reflects the location of an office of an enemy of both the Palestinian people and colonized people all over the world. Today and beyond, these locations will be sites for popular mobilization in defense of our people,” the group wrote.

“May this map serve as a call for every struggle to act in their own interest,” the group said in its call to action. “As we do so, we uplift one another’s struggles and free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

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AJC CEO Ted Deutch said: “This is not promoting peace. This is an incitement to violence against Jews and it must be taken seriously.”

That map was one of several posted by the group, which has supported the October 7 Hamas massacre as “whatever means necessary it takes” to achieve Palestinian liberation and has held numerous street protests denouncing Israel.

Other posts displayed additional maps with pins showing the locations of several Jewish and Jewish-led organizations. 

If the New York mapping strategy feels familiar, it should.

In June 2022, an anti-Israel campaign dubbed the “Boston Mapping Project.” claiming to show the ties between various Massachusetts institutions and “support for the colonization of Palestine,” raised alarms over its dangerous targeting of the Jewish community. The map put a target on the backs of Jews who were already feeling highly concerned about their safety. 

The Massachusetts map, published by anonymous supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, was promoted by anti-Israel groups such as Boston BDS and Massachusetts Peace Action