Why We Protested Nova: Confronting Zionist Propaganda and the Manufacturing of Consent for Genocide

On Monday, June 10th, Within Our Lifetime called for a citywide Day of Rage for Gaza in response to the US-sponsored massacre in Nuseirat Camp that killed over 270 Palestinians and left more than 700 wounded, as part of the ongoing genocide being carried out against the Palestinian people.  

New Yorkers responded by flooding the streets and shutting down the zionist propaganda “Nova Exhibition NYC,” currently installed at 35 Wall Street. In defiance of the NYPD’s growing brutality against protesters, targeting of Palestinian Muslim women, and their pathetic attempts to defame organizers, Within Our Lifetime strongly reiterates our call for sustained action against any institution facilitating or justifying the genocide of the Palestinian people, including the Nova Exhibition, for as long as it is in New York and in any city it will travel to next.

Photo by @ohsimages on Instagram
Photo by @lantzarroyo on Instagram

The zionist entity justified the Nuseirat massacre of nearly 300 displaced Palestinians by characterizing it as a “rescue” operation for four hostages taken from the Nova music festival. The Nova music festival was a rave next to a concentration camp — held 3.1 miles away from the wall separating Gaza from the rest of Palestine. This wall was erected to isolate Gaza from the outside world in 2005, and has kept two million Palestinians from returning to their ancestral villages for nearly two decades. The Israeli Occupation Forces launches missiles into the strip regularly but bans the import of construction equipment that could rebuild dilapidated homes. Long before October, they have restricted food and medicine from being transported across the wall — leaving many Palestinians malnourished and ill. This blockade has long served as a large component of israel’s strategy to ethnically cleanse Palestinians. 

Official government sources and mainstream news publications reporting of the “rescue” of the four hostages has obscured the Nuseirat massacre — which also saw three other israeli hostages (including one American) killed by the genocidal IOF themselves — and the IOF’s violence at Nova broadly. As WOL Chair Nerdeen Kiswani wrote, “If y’all really cared about what happened at Nova, why is no one talking about the Israeli occupation forces gunning down their own people and burning down cars with the missile strikes? Or the fact that they killed many hostages in Gaza? The exhibit is pure propaganda.” Israeli lives have never been a priority for the IOF, made clear by the existence and practice of the Hannibal Directive on October 7. The israeli occupation has also rejected multiple offers by resistance fighters to free all hostages in exchange for a ceasefire, showing that the massacre of Palestinians and the decimation of Gaza is more valuable to them than the “rescue” of their hostages. 

The Nova Exhibition serves only one purpose: to make this level of colonial violence acceptable to the US public. Manufactured consent has been pushed forth in a myriad of ways since October, including this exhibition that is traveling throughout U.S. cities. A recent article in TimeOut states that “the Nova Music Festival Exhibition seems to urge viewers to focus on what happened on October 7 and not muse over the events that preceded or came after.” The imagery it foregrounds, the emotions it elicits, and the decades of context it buries are designed to convey that the zionist entity is justified in committing a genocide. This traveling apartheid apologia serves the same goal as the false claims of 40 beheaded babies, the weaponization of sexual assault, and other projections from the zionist entity about October 7th that have been widely debunked.  

Photos of cards written by patrons at the end of the Nova Exhibition calling for the genocide of Palestinians.

The central narrative of the Nova Exhibition, “we will dance again,” demonstrates a broader element of israel’s national branding. For years, the zionist project has depended on an image of being fun and inviting in order to sustain an influx of settlers that can displace indigenous Palestinians. Using tools such as Birthright, pinkwashing, Eurovision performances, and events such as the Nova Festival allows the state to position itself as a “beacon of light.” Since October, however, “Israel” has no longer felt like a place to have fun — a national image the country’s leaders are desperate to re-establish. “We will dance again” is not an affirmation of life, it is a desperate attempt to once again whitewash the bloody reality of zionism and present a more palatable image where Palestinians do not exist.

This exhibition was first shown in occupied Yaffa and was brought to NYC by zionist organizations like the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation and celebrities like Scooter Braun. If these are the individuals and organizations funding this propaganda endeavor, it should be painfully clear that the exhibition is furthering the zionist project’s genocide and colonization of Palestine. Braun is a notorious apologist for genocide who spends his time praising the occupation forces and fraternizing with Benjamin Netanyahu. The UJA Federation has funded zionist settlements in the West Bank and led normalization efforts for years, recently organizing excursions to the zionist entity for mayor Eric Adams and NYPD police commissioner Kaz Daughtry. There, they studied surveillance technology and tactics used against Palestinians in the West Bank. After they returned from their trip, the NYPD began utilizing drones to surveil protests and other public events regularly — especially within Black and Brown communities.

Governor Kathy Hochul expressing support for the genocide in Gaza at a UJA Federation fundraiser.

At a UJA fundraiser hosted earlier this year, Governor Kathy Hochul defended the genocide in Gaza by proclaiming that “there would be no Canada” if they attacked Buffalo, NY. Although she came under tremendous scrutiny and hastily apologized for a “poor choice of words,” it is cause for concern that she felt comfortable using such genocidal language at a fundraiser hosted by the organization. The exhibition has also been boosted by zionist public figures from former “Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and the Delegitimization of Israel,” Noa Tishby to zionist organizations like the Anti-Defamation League. Gilad Erdan, the Ambassador to the United Nations for the israeli government visited the Nova exhibit, stating “I will do everything so that ambassadors from all over the world visit here and understand that we are fighting against sheer evil.” 

In less than 24 hours, our action has been condemned across the political spectrum which sustains the U.S. war machine — from local sellouts like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Jamaal Bowman and Ritchie Torres to stalwart fascists like Eric Adams and Inna Vernikov. At the time of writing this, Senator Chuck Schumer has finished his speech on the Senate floor condemning the demonstration and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries has posted his own statement against us. 

The official “X” account for the zionist project posted no less than four separate tweets in condemnation. For so-called allies of our movement to align with the most ardent zionists in condemning us for protesting this spectacle makes clear to us that their sympathies extend as far as their pity for our people’s annihilation. Not only do we proudly take ownership of the fact that we protested one of the most public-facing zionist institutions in our city, we are proud to have done it alongside thousands of New Yorkers who understood the importance of this action.

The irony is also not lost on us that politicians are creating hysteria around a protest outside of a five-story exhibition on Wall Street, but have actively supported or been silent regarding the Nuseirat massacre, which the Nova propaganda was used to justify. It is shameful seeing the rush to claim that zionists were abstractly “traumatized” by the protest, when it was Palestinian, Muslim, and Arab youth who were brutalized at the action. The NYPD guarded the exhibition, threatening and beating protestors with batons. One week after the NYPD assaulted and arrested WOL chair Nerdeen Kiswani inside the Brooklyn Museum, an NYPD Legal officer put another Palestinian hijabi woman in a chokehold while arresting her without cause outside of the exhibition. Meanwhile, patrons of the Nova exhibition spat on us, hurled curses and slurs, and directly threatened us.

Among the accusations levied against us in the past 24 hours is that we went down to the Nova exhibition to celebrate something. As WOL chair Nerdeen Kiswani asserted, “We had a protest against the latest massacre in the Nuseirat camp in Gaza, in which occupation forces killed 270+ Palestinians with the support of U.S. forces. It was zionist groups who organized a counter demonstration that explicitly called for celebration while we mourned.”

We call on everyone everywhere to continue organizing against these institutions and especially those in New York City. We will not condemn October 7th. We will not condemn our people’s resistance forces. We will not condemn the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Tet Offensive, or distance ourselves from the resistance fighters of the Haitian Revolution. We will speak of the Algerian Revolution with our heads held high, and we will not stutter in supporting the African National Congress’s armed campaign against apartheid. We will not use doublespeak when we discuss our support for the Black Liberation Movement or the long legacy of Indigenous resistance against settler-colonialism in this country. We will not ask any oppressed person to accept their own annihilation, nor will we accept the attempts of so-called allies or outright enemies to shame us into accepting such injustices. 

We owe it to Gaza to continue fighting, especially when we are targeted by the enemy and isolated by self-appointed allies. We call on the supporters of the Palestinian people to heed the call from Palestine and escalate – both in words and in action. We are proud of our people. Any institution that facilitates our nation’s destruction will be met with action.