The main groups that comprise the bulk of organizers and demonstrators who have supported the Hamas barbarism against Israel are:
1) Radical Islamic groups that, like the Islamic Republic of Iran after the 1979 revolution, regard Israel as the "Little Satan" and America as the "Big Satan."
2) American revolutionary groups who used to be affiliated with Communism but now call themselves radical socialists or workers parties. Their goal is to overthrow our government and they attach themselves to every disruptive movement in the hope of garnering support and creating distrust for American democracy.
3) Old-fashioned anti-Semites who hate anything associated with Jews and concoct conspiracy theories that blame "the Jews" for all evils.
4) Useful idiots who have little or no knowledge of the issues but march in lockstep with all "woke," "hard left," and "anti-colonial" causes on the theory that "if it's left, it must be right."
Recall that these protests began before Israel counterattacked against Hamas. They were in full bloom on October 8, even while the bodies of 1,200 murdered Israelis, including babies burned alive, were still being gathered and counted, and the roughly 240 hostages taken by Hamas to Gaza identified. These demonstrations were not against Israeli military actions in Gaza; they had not begun yet. More joined them after that.
The original responses to the Hamas barbarism in the hours and days following the morning of October 7 set the tone and began the organizational actions that followed. Many of the protests that now demand a unilateral ceasefire -- including the attempts to shut down Christmas celebrations -- are orchestrated by some of the same radical groups that organized the pro-Hamas demonstrations before Israel went into Gaza. Demonstrations and protests by groups such as the Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace or the National Lawyers Guild seem anything but spontaneous and grassroots responses to "Israel's military actions in Gaza." They are not demonstrations against what Israel does; they are protests against what Israel is, namely the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people.
To be sure, Israel's legitimate military efforts to destroy Hamas terrorists and the weapons that they have hidden among civilians, and the resulting civilian deaths, have allowed the anti-Israel organizers to recruit more useful idiots who believe they are protesting only against Israeli actions with the chant "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." Many of these undereducated and over-propagandized students have no idea what bodies of water they are referring to, or that this chant demands the end of Israel and any Jewish presence in the Middle East. The radical organizers, however, know exactly what that chant and others mean: a demand to "clean" the Middle East of "dirty Jews."
The larger point is that the well-organized and externally funded demonstrations are directed as much against the United States and its values as against Israel and its actions. Without the useful idiot students who join any protest they think is directed against the "colonial" and "oppressor" targets of "intersectionality," these demonstrations would be relatively small and limited to long-term professional haters of Jews and America.
But these useful idiots make these well-funded and organized protests larger and allow the media to convey the false impression that they are spontaneous. The media insists on calling these protests "pro-Palestinian." Nothing could be further from the truth. When it sounds indelicate to say "pro-Hamas" -- a terrorist organization -- the signs change to "pro-Palestine." There is nothing to indicate how the Palestinians would actually be helped by the disappearance of Israel and leaving them, like the Iranian people, to the tender mercies of a corrupt, repressive state.
They had voted for Hamas in the first place because they hoped it would be better. Hamas had promised to be better. It was not. Even most of its leaders chose not to live in Gaza: they are now billionaires who, until October 7, had been hiding in five-star hotels in Qatar and Turkey. When they got word that Israel might hold them accountable, they reportedly dispersed.
Where are the calls for anything that would actually help the Palestinians or make their lives better: freedom of speech, equal justice under the law, freedom of the press, better job opportunities, and an end to government corruption and abuse?
The protests are exclusively anti-Israel, anti-American, pro-Hamas, and pro-terrorism. Many of the useful idiots join the protests to support a ceasefire, without realizing that a unilateral ceasefire now would constitute an invitation to Hamas to repeat their barbarism over and over again, as their leaders have promised they would do.
Recall again that the protests against Israel began before there was any fire to cease – that is before Israel responded militarily to the Hamas barbarism. The ceasefire demand was added once Israel counter-attacked, as a way to broaden the base of the protest. The radical anti-Israel protesters, would not be satisfied with a ceasefire. They want to see the destruction of Israel and the victory of Hamas. Indeed, a recent poll suggested that a majority of young Americans would like to see the end of Israel and its replacement by Hamas.
Hamas, of course, would most likely not be satisfied with merely ending Israel. They want to end all non-Muslim democracies. Already Hamas has sent operatives to parts of Europe, where several were recently caught. There are probably Hamas operatives in the United States, as well.
Most importantly, what if the useful idiots who now march for Hamas in favor of Israel's destruction become a fifth column in America and willingly join Hamas terrorists in targeting Jewish and other institutions in our nation. It was only a half-century ago that young Americans joined the Weather Underground and tried to blow up universities, military recruiting centers and army bases. If Hamas is not defeated in the Middle East, it is coming to a theater near you.
So when you watch an anti-Israel demonstration on television, please understand who is behind it and what are their ultimate goals, because the next target is American democracy -- and you.
Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus at Harvard Law School, and the author most recently of War Against the Jews: How to End Hamas Barbarism. He is the Jack Roth Charitable Foundation Fellow at Gatestone Institute, and is also the host of "The Dershow" podcast.