Greta Thunberg divides climate movement as her group promotes anti-Israel rhetoric

Thunberg deleted postings of her posing in pictures with antisemitic imagery.

Published: December 3, 2023 11:54pm

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is dividing the climate movement as she has been calling for the end of Israel while her organization, "Fridays for Future" has at the same time been promoting rhetoric online that has been endorsed by members of terrorist organizations.

Thunberg, the 20-year-old activist who rose to fame when she addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference, became vocal about her support for Palestine less than two weeks after Oct. 7, which marked the worst day for the death of Jews since the Holocaust. She posted a photo of herself with her friends holding signs supporting Palestine. She has continued posting photographs of herself protesting in support of Palestine and the fight against climate change nearly every week since

Her postings have not gone without criticism. India Today reported that in one picture she has since deleted, she posed with a stuffed octopus toy in the photo. The imagery drew public backlash, with several X users accusing Thunberg of sending out an “antisemitic message.” Propaganda cartoonists have often used the image to warn of a global Jewish conspiracy. It was a caricature frequently deployed by the Nazis.

After her Oct. 20 post, she directed users on X to donate to organizations in support of the cause, but several of the groups have questionable ties. 

For example, the first group she promoted, Medical Aid for Palestinians, was accused in 2019 of misusing funds and promoting antisemitic rhetoric such as videos from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, while another group she promoted, the Palestinian Youth Movement, has promoted calls for violence as well as content from U.S.-designated terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It was not until more than a day later that she added on X: "It goes without saying - or so I thought - that I’m against the horrific attacks by Hamas."

But the anti-Israel rhetoric is not limited to her personal account. Fridays for Future International has multiple statements supporting Palestine, including promulgating statements supported by people and organizations connected to terrorism. These sparked the Fridays for Future movements in Israel, Germany and Austria to distance themselves from the international movement. 

For example, the international Fridays for Future X page reposted an Oct. 17 post calling for a global strike in support of Palestine from a page called "Propaganda," which has repeatedly made posts critical of Israel and the United States. On Oct. 7, the day approximately 1,200 people were murdered and 240 others were kidnapped in Israel, Propaganda published a statement applauding the attack for "spreading fear in the hearts of occupying settlers who are crawling like dogs."

Fridays for Future continued pushing for a global strike for Palestine on Oct. 19 by calling Israel a "settler colonial state," pledging to "dismantle not only this textbook colonialism seen in Palestine, but all around the world in different forms and intensities" and accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinian people, echoing statements from the Hamas founding charter

A month after the attack, Fridays for Future published a petition calling for Egypt to open up the Rafah border crossing from Gaza into the Sinai Peninsula. That petition also accused Israel of committing genocide, and it was signed by hundreds of people, including some with ties to terrorist organizations. 

Signatories include Abou Elela Mady, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is designated as a terrorist group by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia and other countries. The letter was also signed by several people associated with Bahrain's National Democratic Action Society and Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, both of which are political parties that were controversially banned on terrorism allegations.

Fridays for Future has a long history of speaking out against Israel. For example, the group has made more than a dozen posts supporting Palestine and more than a dozen posts against Israel before Oct. 7 even happened.

For comparison, since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Fridays for Future's main X page has made three posts critical of Russia and less than 10 posts supporting Ukraine, with the most recent one in May 2022.

In one post in May, the group wrote on X that Israel is a "racist apartheid state" and used the phrase, "Free Palestine from the River to the Sea," the same call to action that led to U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib's censure in the House. The phrase is an extract from the Hamas Charter, that explicitly calls for eradication of Jews and the State of israel.

It also claimed in a November 2022 post that Zionism, the belief in Jewish self-determination, is "racism" and called for the global soccer governing body FIFA to expel Israel from the World Cup over allegations it is an apartheid state.

More recently, Thunberg has been denounced by various Jewish organizations for her activities against Israel. For example, after she chanted "crush Zionism" last month, B'nai B'rith International, a Jewish organization dedicated to fighting antisemitism, last week stated: "Zionism means nothing more than support for Israel’s right to exist—and Thunberg’s chanting of a shocking slogan more identified with genocidal forces in the Middle East discredits her as a legitimate interlocutor in the international community."

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, also denounced Thunberg last month for "facilitating the pollution of cancerous and harmful tropes against Jews on the streets of a European capitol where Jews were deported and gassed by the Nazis" after she supported a controversial Palestinian activist who has falsely claimed that Israel is gassing Palestinians. 

Neither Thunberg, nor the Greta Thunberg Foundation, Fridays for Future or its Israeli affiliate responded to Just the News' requests for comment.

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

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