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At Rally for Hostages, Nadler Is Booed After Calling for Gaza Aid

WorldMiddle EastAt Rally for Hostages, Nadler Is Booed After Calling for Gaza Aid

Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York was booed on Sunday at a demonstration in Manhattan calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas after he encouraged attendees to also push for humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza.

“As we remember the heinous crimes committed by Hamas, we must continue to press for lifesaving humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people, too,” Mr. Nadler, a Democrat and the longest-serving Jewish member of the House of Representatives, said during a speech at the event at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, near the United Nations headquarters.

While some people in the crowd applauded, others began to boo as he went on: “We must do more, because we are better than Hamas. We must do more to bring food and assistance to those who are suffering.” The heckling grew louder and continued until the end of the congressman’s remarks as more attendees joined in, some chanting “bring them home” or “shame.”

A crowd that appeared to number in the thousands had gathered for the demonstration, whose date was chosen to mark six months since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks on Israel. As police officers looked on, participants arrived holding Israeli flags and signs that said “Bring them home now.” The event was coordinated by over 150 organizations, including synagogues, pro-Israel groups and the New York chapter of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which was founded in the wake of the attacks. About 100 hostages are still being held in Gaza, according to the Israeli authorities.

Mr. Nadler, introduced as a “leader who is a strong supporter of Israel and a fighter of antisemitism,” was among a list of speakers that included family members of hostages and Naftali Bennett, a former Israeli prime minister.

The response to Mr. Nadler reflected a divide among Jewish New Yorkers over the way Israel is conducting its war against Hamas. Some reject any criticism of Israel, while others, including activist groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, have rallied for a cease-fire, denouncing the Israeli and U.S. governments over the mounting death toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“The minority who interfered with Nadler’s speech does not represent the Hostages Families Forum, nor the families themselves,” Shany Granot-Lubaton, an organizer with Hostages and Missing Families Forum New York, said after the event. She said the rally showed “how our people can be united even though we can have so many different opinions on so many different things” and that freeing the hostages was “the number one priority of all of us — right to left, secular and Orthodox.”

“We respect and thank Congress member Nadler for coming today and for being a part of our fight to bring every one of our hostages back home,” she added. “We know that he’s been working tirelessly for this cause.”

Robert Gottheim, Mr. Nadler’s chief of staff, said the congressman wasn’t saying anything extraordinary. “We have to have humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people; that goes without saying,” Mr. Gottheim said.

Mr. Nadler paused amid the booing and heckling before continuing and wrapping up his speech with a reference to the story of Passover, Mr. Gottheim said. “The thrust of his statement was what everyone was there for: Bring the hostages back.”

The event also included an installation meant to convey the suffering of those still in captivity. Seven people, wrapped in chains, sat inside dog cages on the ground as three others stood nearby with their hands chained together. All were dressed in white clothes with red paint smeared across their bodies.

Joseph Goldstein contributed reporting.

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