'Not an Innocent Bystander': Pro-Palestinian Group Defends Protest Against Cancer Hospital

Anti-Israel rally at Columbia (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
January 30, 2024

A pro-Palestinian group on Monday defended its choice to protest outside of a New York City cancer hospital earlier this month, calling the facility "not an innocent bystander to genocide."

"On Jan. 15, 2024, MLK Day, thousands of protesters and 140+ endorsing organizations braced the cold and marched from Union Square to the United Nations, Gracie Mansion, and beyond, stopping by many major hospitals along the way," Within Our Lifetime posted on Instagram. The activist group during the protest marched outside the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), chanting at the hospital, "You support genocide too."

"In response, right-wing and Zionist media worked overtime to spread lies and misinformation about the protest and the stop at Sloan Kettering," the group continued in the post. "But what's the real story?"

The group went on in the post to detail the "complicity of MSK ... in Israel's genocide."

One example was "complicity in the Nakba," the group said. It named renowned MSK researcher Mathilde Krim, who in her 20s was part of Irgun, a paramilitary organization that smuggled weapons to Jewish resistance fighters combating British rule in Mandatory Palestine before Israel's founding. The hospital profiled her for Women's History Month, detailing her research on AIDS in the 1980s, but "none of this history is acknowledged," the group said.

Other examples the group cited included MSK's acceptance of a $400 million donation from "billionaire Zionists Ken Griffin and David Geffen," even though the former "profits off of the genocide of Palestinians and blacklists pro-Palestinian student activists" and the latter "has donated millions to Israeli cultural institutions." The group also highlighted what it said were MSK faculty "justifying genocide and Israel's targeting of hospitals," displaying social media posts of purported researchers supporting the war in Gaza or saying that Hamas conducts military operations from hospitals.

Finally, the group reported claims of an "unsafe and hostile anti-Palestinian work environment," featuring testimonies from anonymous MSK employees who slammed "the blatantly Zionist faculty and leadership."

MSK did not respond to a request for comment

A protest leader at the MLK Day demonstration told the crowd to "make sure they hear you; they're in the windows," as she led the demonstrators by "another complicit institution." Founded in 1884, MSK is a renowned hospital in New York City and one of the top cancer treatment centers in the country.

Also this month, groups of pro-Palestinian protesters interrupted a speech from President Joe Biden at a black church in South Carolina and blocked bridges in New York City.