Anti-Israel activists (archive)
Anti-Israel activists (archive)Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

A pro-Hamas demonstration targeting a Teaneck Synagogue turned violent on Sunday when protestors hurled objects and sprayed red paint at counter-protestors, commuters, and pedestrians, according to the Bergen County Jewish Action Committee (BCJAC). Teaneck police arrested at least two protestors during the demonstration, which drew an estimated 1,000 protestors, most non-Teaneck residents.

BCJAC spokesman Yigal Gross strongly condemned the demonstration, which was held outside an informational program on real estate in Israel being held at Congregation Keter Torah, an Orthodox Jewish Synagogue in Teaneck, as “a cynical attempt to target a religious institution under false pretenses as part of a coordinated and malicious campaign to harass Teaneck’s Jewish community”.

According to Gross, “these protestors knowingly misrepresented, and made utterly unfounded and inflammatory claims about, the event in an attempt to mask what was little more than the targeted harassment of a peaceful religious community by a violent mob.”

The BCJAC stated, "As they have elsewhere in the United States and abroad in the wake of Israel’s defensive war against the terrorist group Hamas following the October 7th massacre, pro-Hamas demonstrators have escalated their attempts to target Jewish communities. Teaneck, where Jewish residents number as much as 40 percent of the population, has seen numerous protests over these past months."

“It is no coincidence that this random quiet New Jersey town has become such a flashpoint for pro-Palestinian activism,” said Gross. “These protestors are here because we are here. They are seeking out and targeting Teaneck’s Jews.”

Even so, according to Mr. Gross, “by targeting a local synagogue, these protestors have now taken their pattern of bigotry and harassment to a new level. We support citizens’ right to free speech, but the right to worship is equally sacrosanct. Every American should be able to enter a house of worship without fear of intimidation.”

Gross also expressed worry that targeting religious institutions, particularly those frequented by families and young children, elevates the risk of things getting out of hand. Gross pointed out that similar protests, including one in the neighboring town of Englewood, attracted unruly mobs from out of town and devolved into chaos, with vandalism, violence, and arrests. “We don’t want these things taking place near places of worship and around families and young children. We can disagree on political issues, but we all have a responsibility to maintain a basic level of decency and decorum and preserve the peace and security to which everyone living in Teaneck is entitled.”

“We believe there are bad actors trying to drive a wedge between Teaneck’s residents and to isolate and intimidate its Jewish community,” he said. “Thankfully, they are failing in their efforts. Our community continues to stand strong and proud. The event was held as planned, and we are thankful that neighbors of all background and faiths as well as local law enforcement continue standing with our community in these difficult times.”