Thousands of Jewish Americans and Allies Demand Cease-Fire in Gaza
"We as American Jews believe that 'never again' means never again for anyone, and that includes Palestinians," said Jewish Voice for Peace.
Thousands of Jewish New Yorkers are flooding the entrance protesting genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, New York October 13 -- Image via Jewish Voice for Peace on Twitter
By Julia Conley, Common Dreams
As the Biden administration's intent to silence dissent against the United States' backing of the Israel Defense Forces' onslaught in Gaza became increasingly clear Friday night, at least 80 Jewish Americans and other supporters of Palestinians' human rights were arrested for protesting outside the homes and offices of a number of Democratic lawmakers, where they demanded the U.S. government join growing calls for a cease-fire.
The U.S. group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) organized the mass action, along with calling on Americans to contact their representatives in Congress and demand that they speak out against the air assault Israel launched this week in retaliation for Hamas' brutal attack last weekend.
At least 2,215 Palestinians have been killed in airstrikes this week, and at least 8,714 people have been injured. The death toll in Israel has reached 1,300, according to Al Jazeera.
Human rights advocates have warned that a looming ground offensive by the IDF in Gaza could rapidly push civilian casualties far higher.
On Friday, JVP led more than 2,000 protesters in five U.S. cities—New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle—in demanding that senators and members of the U.S. House act to halt the "genocide of Palestinians."
"We as American Jews believe that 'never again' means never again for anyone, and that includes Palestinians," said JVP, referring to the refrain repeated by the Jewish American community regarding the need to prevent genocide. "'Never again' is this very moment."
Thousands of people gathered at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and marched to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) home, where they blocked the road. Approximately 60 people were "dragged away by police," JVP said.
New York state Assemblymembers Zohran Mamdani (D-36) and Marcela Mitaynes (D-51) were among those arrested.
Fifteen people padlocked their arms together in front of Rep. Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) office in San Francisco. The group was arrested as 200 other protesters chanted, "No more weapons, no more war, peace is what we're fighting for!"
Fifteen people occupied Sen. Patty Murray's (D-Wash.) office in Seattle, and six were arrested, while JVP joined another Jewish-led Palestinian rights group, IfNotNow, in leading 60 demonstrators in a protest at Rep. Brad Sherman's (D-Calif.) office in Los Angeles.
"Brad Sherman, you can't hide, we charge you with genocide," chanted the crowd in Los Angeles.
If Not Now members also assembled outside Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) in Boston, holding signs that read, "Not In Our Name" and "Jews Against Genocide."
One descendant of Holocaust victims told representative for Warren that her family's Judaism survived the genocide, but her ancestors "paid a steep price."
"They didn't do that for this to be happening now. They didn't do that for you, Sen. Warren, to stand by and say nothing now," said the young advocate. "And the murder that is happening now, the genocide that is happening now and about to happen to Palestinians and Palestinian children, will not bring any of my family back."
In New York, Rabbi Alissa Wise acknowledged that for some Jewish people, "the call to unconditionally support Israel, including sending increased military funding, is coming from a place of deep grief, fear, and anxiety."
"But we know," said Wise, "that more weapons will only bring more harm to everyone."
Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.
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