New York City

Responding to a vicious ad Hulu ran that defended Israel’s genocide against Palestinians, which aroused justified hostility on social media, activists held a 200-person protest that took the anger to Hulu’s New York City office Feb. 9. Workers World Party and the Bronx Anti-War Coalition led the ad-hoc united front at the action, which included the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Network. 

The blame for promoting genocide is laid at Hulu’s doorstep at 79 Fifth Avenue, New York City. Feb. 9, 2024

The International Court of Justice had ruled that Israel was plausibly committing genocide in Gaza. Disney-owned Hulu then started running an ad, paid for by Israel, that blames Hamas for the massive suffering of the people of Gaza, which lies in rubble caused by Israeli bombing. The ad used AI-generated images to depict Gaza as a fictional, tourist destination that might exist — “if it weren’t for Hamas.” 

Israel’s 75-year occupation of Palestine; the siege of Gaza by Israel since 2006; the 30,000 civilians, about 12,500 of them children, killed since October 7; the amputations without anesthesia; the Israeli Occupation Force’s bombing of schools, hospitals and cultural institutions — the ad stood truth on its head by blaming all of that on the Palestinian resistance. 

The social media outrage to Hulu’s propaganda — which serves to defend Israel’s genocide against Palestinians — was swift and strong. The street action concretized that outrage.

Since the Feb. 9 protest, Israel launched a vicious bombing campaign on the City of Rafah — where the Israelis had directed Palestinians to flee to earlier. Some 100 people were killed, with social media users seeing horrific scenes of survivors, all civilians, emerging bloodied and dazed from bombed areas. 

The New York Times headline that evening reinforced the distorted coverage: “Israel Says It Will Protect Civilians.”

Protest laid at Hulu’s doorstep

Outside Hulu’s NYC office. Feb. 9, 2024. WW Photo: Brenda Ryan

The building housing Hulu’s offices was protested early Feb. 9, when activists left body bags and a sign saying “Hulu promotes genocide” at the door.

Later, students, leaders in the Puerto Rican struggle, anti-Zionist orthodox Jewish groups, socialist organizations, Palestinian rights organizations, LGBTQIA+ groups, speakers from Peru and Swaziland and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra gathered at New York subway hub Union Square during after-work rush hour for a rally, before marching to Hulu headquarters.

Before the night was over, the IOF-trained NYPD arrested one of the organizers, Richie Merino, charging him later with making “unreasonable noise.” Cops violently shoved another to the ground. Arbitrary arrests, aggressive tactics and violent police repression have increased against pro-Palestine actions here recently. 

That same day, Feb. 9, Instagram management took down the social media account of Within Our Lifetime, the largest Palestinian rights organization in New York, which has led numerous marches of thousands of people. 

At Union Square, Neteru Kartai, an anti-Zionist orthodox Jewish group, sent seven of its members with placards that said “Free Palestine,” “State of Israel does not represent world Jewry,” and “Israel is responsible for 75 years of tragic bloodshed.” 

Rabbi David Feldman told the crowd, “We stand here as Jewish people, and we say that we are even more pained when all of this is being done supposedly in our name. The Jewish religion is sadly being misused to justify all these crimes [against Palestine].

“People think that standing up against this occupation is antisemitic,” he said. “People think that all Jews support this occupation and this genocide. This is not the case. Masses of Jewish people are disturbed by and are against what is taking place.”

Larry Holmes of Workers World Party addressed the offensive nature of the AI segment of the ad, calling it “an insult to every people who have fought against colonialism everywhere in the world down through history.

“It’s saying they could turn Gaza into the French Riviera if there was another Nakba to push people off their land,” Holmes said, “and the ones who don’t go will get killed.” 

A standout moment of the Union Square pre-march rally came when Kneeco from Bronx Boricua Resistance was speaking. The NYPD arrogantly demanded the sound equipment be shut off. As protesters yelled “Shame!” at the cops, Kneeco continued in a voice that could be heard for blocks without amplification. 

“I don’t need a megaphone!” Kneeco said as the crowd roared. “Everything that I have to say right now is being amplified on a global scale! As a media streaming service, with licensing for countless visual works, Hulu has proven that the roots of its interests and services are in increasing its capital and in siding with the Zionist settler-colonialist entity” he said. 

The crowd then marched to Hulu’s offices nearby, crowding into the sidewalk in front of the building. After brief speeches and chants of “Hulu, Hulu, you’re a liar, stop protecting colonizers,” and “Hulu, hulu, you can’t hide, you’re promoting genocide!” the people marched 30 blocks to Times Square, stopping to protest Starbucks along the way.

Police used protesters’ use of amplified sound as a pretext to arrest one of the protest leaders, laughably issuing a summons for “unreasonable noise.” Organizers said no noise could be too loud to demand a ceasefire and an end to the Israeli occupation. And they saw other reasons for the arrest.

“People all along the march supported us, and some joined us,” said Richie Merino, a leader with the Bronx Antiwar Coalition. “That’s why the IOF-trained police made their arrest. They fear the solidarity of the masses here with the Palestinians. But they can’t stop people from identifying with the people suffering and wanting to join the movement to stop it.” 

Bronx Antiwar Coalitions response to Hulu’s ad: tiktok.com/t/ZT8cpxDt5/

Tony Murphy

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Tony Murphy

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