A Syracuse University professor praised Air Force engineer Aaron Bushnell for fatally setting himself on fire at a pro-Palestine protest outside the Israeli embassy in DC.
‘RIP Aaron Bushnell, who self-immolated in front of the Israeli embassy as a political protest against the genocide. Don’t believe in manipulation otherwise. He showed more moral clarity and courage than politicians and genocidaires,” said Professor Farhana Sultana, who works at the prestigious Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
“They still try to portray it as a mental health issue, but he was rational and clear about his political reasoning, which resonates with most of the world.” May his sacrifice not be in vain. Indeed. It was legitimate moral indignation and courage against the Holocaust and barbarism in Palestine with the full participation of the United States. May his sacrifice not be in vain, may his last words on this earth ring true #FreePalestine.’
Bushnell, 25, succumbed to his injuries overnight after setting himself on fire while shouting “Free Palestine” Sunday at a protest he livestreamed on Twitch. The fire burned for more than a minute before police and security personnel managed to extinguish it.
Many far-left figures, including Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and controversial Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King, have also expressed their respect for Bushnell.
‘RIP Aaron Bushnell, who self-immolated in front of the Israeli embassy as a political protest against the genocide. Don’t believe in manipulation otherwise. He showed more moral clarity and courage than politicians and genocidaires”, published the Siracusa professor Sultana in X
Aaron Bushnell, 25, succumbed to his injuries overnight after setting himself on fire while shouting “Free Palestine” Sunday at a protest he livestreamed on Twitch.
Aaron Bushnell, seen with his father Dave (far left), mother Danielle and younger brother Sean (far right).
A member of the Cape Cod community wrote on X: ‘Aaron was a sweet boy. He left the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod, which many consider a cult.
King wrote: I want to honor a young man who was so disturbed by the genocide of the Palestinians that he set himself on fire yesterday at the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC. Instead of harming another person, he made a decision that, of course, seems strange and disturbing to all of us, but I empathize with him.’
Stein, for his part, said: ‘Rest in power to Aaron Bushnell. May his sacrifice deepen our commitment to stopping the genocide now.”
DailyMail.com contacted Syracuse for comment on this story.
Bushnell’s parents, Dave and Danielle Bushnell, are longtime members of the Community for Jesus church in Orleans, Massachusetts, which has been accused in the past of operating as a cult that abuses and controls its followers.
Despite Bushnell’s fatal protest, the church strongly supported Israel on its social media, reposting messages strongly defending Israel’s operation in Gaza following the Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7.
‘Only Hamas is deliberately attacking civilians. Hamas seeks to force the Israeli army to violate the rules of war; “Israel accepts that there are no rules that the Hamas gunman would ever follow,” reads one of the messages republished by the Community of Jesus.
“The strange result is that a sick world is more accepting of deliberate mass killings by Hamas than of occasional accidental collateral damage by Israel.”
Danielle works as a buyer and contract manager for the church’s literary arm, Paraclete Press. Meanwhile, David’s Facebook lists his association with the church, as well as compensation groups, including the Church of the Transfiguration.
The Community for Jesus church in Orleans, Massachusetts, has been accused in the past of operating as a cult that abuses and controls its followers.
The Community of Jesus appears to have disconnected its phone on Monday morning after DailyMail.com attempted to contact them.
A member of the Cape Cod community wrote on X: ‘Aaron was a sweet boy. He left the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod, which many consider a cult. I got the impression that he joined the military as a way to distance himself from the Community, although I never explicitly discussed it with him.
‘I realized I was under stress at that time. “This is incredibly sad and a total waste.”
According to Dave Bushnell’s social media feed, Aaron and his younger brother Sean grew up playing instruments in church and were often photographed at their community events as children.
Dave wrote in 2017: ‘My sons, Aaron and Sean, are members of the Spirit Winter Percussion ensemble, part of the Arts Empowering Life group of arts organizations.
‘There are no words to express how grateful Danielle and I are for this group and how much it has meant (and continues to mean) in our children’s lives. Thank you to everyone who gives their all to make this group so special! Join us to make the impossible a reality!
The Community of Jesus church shared posts in support of Israel on social media
‘How do you teach children to dream big and be what they were created to be? Go for the gold!! Hire the best teachers and staff! Aim for perfection and don’t settle for anything less than the best you can! Welcome to Spirit WP!
Founded in 1958 by ‘Mother Cay’ and ‘Mother Judy’, the group used to live a communal life in complete celibacy, but has reportedly become less extreme in recent years and now allows members to live off-site .
However, in 2020 a Canadian judge ruled in favor of students at a church-affiliated school, saying it “created an abusive, authoritarian and rigid culture.”
One of Bushnell’s friends said he was “the kindest, gentlest, dumbest kid in the Air Force,” according to leftist activist Talia Jane.
“He is always trying to think about how we can achieve liberation for everyone with a smile on his face,” the friend, who called himself Errico, reportedly added. He is a major anarchist.
Jane said Bushnell is survived by his “comrades from across the country, including a close-knit community in San Antonio.”
DailyMail.com has contacted Dave Bushnell for comment on this story.
Horrific video of the incident showed Bushnell explaining the reasons for his “extreme act of protest” as he walked towards the building and shouted “Free Palestine” as his body went up in flames.
Aaron’s father wrote of the church: “There are no words to express how grateful Danielle and I are for this group and how much it has meant (and continues to mean) in our children’s lives.”
“My name is Aaron Bushnell,” he told the camera, “I am an active duty member of the United States Air Force and I will no longer be complicit in genocide.”
‘I’m about to engage in an extreme act of protest, but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s nothing extreme.
“This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.”
For more than 30 seconds he walked in silence, passing the neighboring Chinese embassy and holding an open bottle of liquid in his left hand.
When he arrived at the embassy, he placed the camera on the floor and walked toward the door, bathing in the liquid before placing the service cap on his head.
The active-duty airman was a DevOps engineer based in San Antonio, Texas, according to his LinkedIn profile. He touted himself as having “very good communication skills” and “thriving in team environments.”
Bushnell was pursuing his bachelor’s degree in software engineering and is CompTIA Security+ certified, a credential that indicates he has the basic skills to perform basic security functions and pursue a career in IT security.
He had apparent ties to at least two anarchist groups, Burning River Anarchist Collective and Mutual Aid Street Solidarity, both based in Ohio. Bushnell followed the groups on Facebook.