Anti-Israel Protesters Vandalize WWI Memorial, Burn American Flag Following Police Intervention at Met Gala in NYC

Anti-Israel protesters vandalized a World War I memorial in Central Park, burning an American flag and defacing the base with graffiti reading "Gaza." The 107th Infantry Memorial was targeted by protesters blocked from reaching the Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Demonstrators also adorned the statue's soldiers with stickers and Palestinian flags, waving them atop the monument.

Nitish Verma
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Protester prepares to burn an American flag at a World War I memorial statue in Central Park.

As the Metropolitan Museum of Art rolled out its red carpet for the Met Gala, one of fashion’s most glamorous nights, the streets of New York told a different story. More than a thousand anti-Israel protesters clashed with police, leading to vandalism of historic monuments and a charged atmosphere that contrasted sharply with the star-studded event.

Why It Matters

The protests in New York are a microcosm of the larger global tensions surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The vandalism of war memorials, in particular, strikes a chord in the public consciousness, raising questions about the nature of protest and the sanctity of historical remembrance.

The day’s events began with a “Day of Rage” organized by the Palestinian activist group Within Our Lifetime. Protesters marched from Hunter College towards the Met, intent on making their voices heard. Their path was blocked by police at the East 79th Street Transverse, leading to a tense standoff in Central Park.

In a bold act of defiance, some protesters vandalized the 107th Infantry Memorial, scrawling “Gaza” across its base and setting an American flag ablaze. The nearby statue of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman was also targeted, with “Free Gaza” painted in red and a Palestinian flag draped over it.


As the evening progressed, confrontations escalated. Near Madison Avenue and East 83rd Street, police arrested approximately two dozen protesters. The situation intensified as officers tackled individuals to the ground amidst chants questioning their allegiance.

Meanwhile, nearly a thousand pro-Israel supporters gathered in Riverside Park, coinciding with Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. The rally highlighted a surge in antisemitism on college campuses, with speakers emphasizing the importance of remembering the past to prevent its darkest chapters from recurring.

The Israeli ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, delivered a poignant speech at the rally, likening the anti-Israel protests to “modern-day Nazis” and calling for decisive action against the spread of antisemitism.

As New York recovers from a day of unrest, the events serve as a stark reminder of the enduring complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The city’s response to the protests, and the dialogue they spark, will undoubtedly continue to shape the narrative around freedom of expression and the boundaries of peaceful protest.

Key Takeaways

  • Anti-Israel protesters clash with police, vandalizing a war memorial and burning the American flag near the Met Gala.
  • About two dozen protesters arrested as police divert crowd into Central Park to prevent further disruptions.
  • Pro-Israel supporters confront demonstrators at Hunter College, decrying what they call "support for terrorism."
  • Nearly 1,000 pro-Israel demonstrators gather in Riverside Park, denouncing antisemitism and showing solidarity with Jewish students.
  • Gilad Erdan compares anti-Israel protests to "modern-day Nazis," urging action against universities tolerating antisemitism.