Israeli and palestian flags on bricks(l), Graphic of protesters(r)

Antony McAulay/Shutterstock Danomyte/Shutterstock (Licensed)

Anti-Israel student protesters face backlash after projecting ‘glory to our martyrs’ on campus building

The projections reportedly ran for two hours.


Katherine Huggins


An anti-Israel student protest at George Washington University (GWU) sparked backlash online after images of them projecting phrasing such as “glory to our martyrs” and “free Palestine from the river to the sea” went viral Tuesday night.

Student journalist Cade McAllister reported Tuesday that the crowd was eventually dispersed by campus police and that the GWU dean of students advised the protesters to leave.

Other phrases projected on the library building included allegations that the university president and university itself were “complicit in genocide in Gaza,” that “your tuition is funding genocide in Gaza,” that “2000 Palestinian children were murdered by ‘Israel’ in the last two weeks,” and a demand to “end the siege on Gaza,” among others.

According to a report by the GW Hatchett, four students were responsible for the projections and the images were projected onto the library for about two hours before they were stopped.

College campuses across the U.S. have been gripped with pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel demonstrations alike since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration of war against Hamas, following the group’s brutal Oct. 7 attack against Israeli civilians.

But the pro-Palestinian protesters on campuses have seen the most backlash, with multiple conservatives calling for the revocation of visas for students demonstrating against Israel and some soon-to-be graduates losing job offers due to statements they made in support of Hamas.

Students for Justice in Palestine at GW put a statement out at the beginning of the war standing by Palestinians “right to resist the violent 75-year long colonization of our homeland by any means necessary” and rejected “the distinction between ‘civilian’ and ‘militant.’”

The student group held a vigil honoring martyrs who made the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ for Palestine, which prompted the university president to issue a “veiled condemnation” of the vigil, according to the Hatchett.

The use of certain phrases by the GW protesters were blasted as antisemitic dog whistles.

For example, “from the river to the sea” is a call for a Palestinian state to be established from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea—meaning the entire state of Israel would be eradicated.

“There is of course nothing antisemitic about advocating for Palestinians to have their own state,” the American Jewish Committee writes. “However, calling for the elimination of the Jewish state or praising Hamas or other entities who do or suggesting that the Jews alone do not have the right to self-determination, is antisemitic.”

The protesters’ praise of Palestinian “martyrs” sparked backlash online as well.

“MARTYRS?!?!?! THEY’RE TERRORISTS,” wrote one X user.

Since Oct. 7, at least 5,791 Palestinians have been killed, including 2,360 children, according to Palestinian health officials.

Critics do not believe the projections referenced the Palestinian civilian casualties, but rather the deaths of Hamas terrorists who participated in the Oct. 7 attack which caused the deaths of at least 1,400 Israelis and the taking of more than 200 people hostage into Gaza.

“This martyr rhetoric is explicitly referencing the Hamas attacks on Israel and the terrorists killed during the attack,” wrote a conservative journalist.

However, a number of people disagreed with that assessment, noting the term “martyr” is often used by anyone who dies in a conflict.

Students for Justice in Palestine at GW have been using the phrase martyr since the beginning of the war.

“Over 600 of our people have ascended to martyrdom, and that number grows every hour,” the group wrote in its statement first reacting to the conflict. “Glory to our martyrs, each and every one. They have paid the ultimate sacrifice for liberation.”

This post has been updated.

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