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Dozens of American Jews arrested protesting Gaza violence

From Boston to San Francisco, young activists from IfNotNow demonstrate outside the offices of prominent Jewish institutions and senators, demanding they condemn Israel’s violence against Gaza protesters.

Police arrest an IfNotNow protester outside Senator Chuck Schumer's office in New York City, during an action protesting IDF violence on the border with Gaza. (Gili Getz)

Police arrest an IfNotNow protester outside Senator Chuck Schumer’s office in New York City, during an action protesting IDF violence on the border with Gaza, April 9, 2018. (Gili Getz)

Thirty-seven American Jews were arrested across the United States last week in a series of actions outside the offices of major Jewish institutions and elected officials to protest the ongoing violence against Palestinians at the Israel-Gaza border.

The actions, organized by the Jewish-American group IfNotNow, took place in Boston, New York, Twin Cities, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and Washington DC, where young Jews demanded statements condemning Israeli violence against the unarmed protesters taking part in the “Great Return March.” Since the march began three weeks ago, Israeli snipers have killed over 30 Palestinians and wounded 1,200 more.

IfNotNow was established in the summer of 2014 during Israel’s war in Gaza by young American Jews. Angered by the overwhelming support of American Jewish institutions for the war, they began organizing actions calling for an end to the war, an end to the occupation, and freedom and dignity for all. Since then, IfNotNow has organized hundreds of nonviolent actions — and, more recently, delegations to Israel-Palestine — with the aim of pushing Jewish institutions to stop supporting the occupation.

The first action took place in Boston on the morning of April 3rd, less than a week after Israeli snipers gunned down 17 Palestinians in Gaza. Activists chained themselves to the Israeli Consulate of New England, read the Mourner’s Kaddish, a Jewish prayer traditionally recited for family or community members who have died, and demanded that Consul General Yehuda Yaakov condemn Israeli violence. Eight activists were arrested.

Young Jewish activists from IfNotNow link arms outside the Israeli Consulate of New England in Boston. The activists read the Mourner's Kaddish and demanded the consul general condemn IDF violence against Palestinian marchers in Gaza. (Emily Glick)

Young Jewish activists from IfNotNow link arms outside the Israeli Consulate of New England in Boston. The activists read the Mourner’s Kaddish and demanded the consul general condemn IDF violence against Palestinian marchers in Gaza, April 3, 2018. (Schyler Cunningham)

Eliza Kaplan, 24, who participated in the Boston action, spoke to +972 by phone about the impetus for the actions: “We see the status quo in Gaza to be unacceptable, and we find the IDF’s violence to be horrendous. That is why we are calling on Jewish leaders to condemn it and be a moral voice. If they are not going to be the moral leaders of our community, then IfNotNow will be those leaders.”

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“My Jewish identity is really important to me,” Kaplan continued, “we are trying to bring our entire community to share the values of freedom for all people and speak out.” Less than a week after the Boston action, seven IfNotNow activists were arrested after blocking the doors of New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s New York City office.

IfNotNow protesters demonstrate outside the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, April 11, 2018. (Amira Alhassan)

IfNotNow protesters demonstrate outside the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, April 11, 2018. (Amira Alhassan)

On April 10th, a group of Jewish activists locked arms in front of the entrance of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Minnesota, blocking entry to the many businesses in the building. A day later, five Jewish activists were arrested after blocking the doors of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ offices. Elon Glickman, one of those arrested, spoke to the crowd during the action:

I grew up in the Jewish community of Los Angeles, where I learned that freedom and dignity are core Jewish values. As young Jews and members of this Jewish community, we’re asking the Federation to do the bare minimum and condemn this unconscionable violence. How long will they stay silent as live ammunition is used against Palestinian protesters? How many more Palestinians need to be killed before they speak out?

On April 13th, a group of 20 young Jews from IfNotNow Bay Area demonstrated outside California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office in San Francisco. Nine of the activists who blocked the entrance to her office were arrested. The activists demanded that she join Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in condemning the violence. Later that afternoon, Feinstein tweeted that the violence is “exceptionally destructive for both the Palestinians and the state of Israel. It must end. Violence is not the pathway to reconciliation.”

On Monday night, police arrested five more IfNotNow activists protesting outside Maryland Senator Ben Cardin’s office on Capitol Hill.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Lewis from Afula

      This post is not news.
      These so called “Jews” are going to assimilate, intermarry and disappear over the next several decades. Their activity is irrelevant to Israel’s history and destiny.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        @Lewis: Not knowing what the destiny of the Jewish people is, of course I asked Google. So many possible destinies! I settled on this one:

        https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/.premium-1994-a-scientist-adored-by-israelis-dies-1.5425984

        Almost immediately after the Six-Day War of 1967, while most other Israelis were still ecstatic from the military victory and jubilant about having access to Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank, along with the other territories, Leibowitz was already warning that maintaining control of the territories would have a corrosive and corrupting effect on Israel. It would, he predicted as early as 1968, turn into a “secret-police state, with all that this implies for education, free speech and democratic institutions.”

        Reply to Comment
      • Peter

        No, it’s not news. It’s young Jews acting as leaders in the global struggle for human rights as Jews have long done….and not letting Israel’s status as a majority Jewish state (within its legal borders anyway) allow it special dispensation.

        Reply to Comment
      • john

        ‘those jewish girls won’t have jewish babies because they will assimilate’ it looks like lewis – in his anti-miscegenation fervor – acknowledges judaism isn’t an ethnicity, but a religious or cultural practice that can be ‘lost’.
        their activity is more relevant to jewish values than israeli destiny (which is, per netanyahu, to die by the sword).

        Reply to Comment
        • Lewis from Afula

          Secular American Jews are a lost cause.
          In a recent opinion poll, only 20% tops are having kids that are brought up Jewish. About 30% never have kids. Another 50% are having kids but not bringing them Jewish. In several decades, only the strictly Orthodox will remain in America.

          Only in Israel, the Jewish future is assured.

          Reply to Comment
          • john

            ok, the law of return won’t apply to them when they’re not ‘brought jewish’. your fetishizing demography is creepy.

            the future is not so assured if yall keep electing extremists.

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            John:
            The Law of Return will apply to them. However, I doubt these spoiled left wing degenerates will ever take up offer to make to aliyah.

            Reply to Comment
          • john

            ifnotnow is a great example of jewish values in action

            Reply to Comment
      • Laura minney

        Its Past TIME that Israel is HELD ACCOUNTABLE by all nations for their violence and human rights abuse against Palestinans.

        Reply to Comment
        • Lewis from Afula

          There is nothing “fakestinyan” about these people.
          They are Jordanians and Gazans who need to surrencer unconditionally their war of extermination.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Israel Is the Terrorist
            Ilana Hammerman Apr 05, 2018

            “About a week ago, on the highway between Hermesh and Mevo Dotan, two soldiers were killed and two were injured by a car that was driven by a resident of Barta’a. There are not many Israelis who know where these settlements are located and in what kind of reality they exist. But the vast majority probably have no doubt who was the terrorist here, and who, the innocent victim…. The problem is that terror has long since become the reality, and the entity that has allowed and is allowing this to happen is the State of Israel. Look at the map and find Barta’a, and maybe you’d even be interested in going there and seeing and hearing how its residents live and what their surroundings are like. I happened to do so a few days before the car-ramming incident, and it was completely clear to me – and not for the first time – that this reality is a product of the ongoing policy of terror pursued by generations of Israeli governments, and that it is this policy that gives rise to the acts of resistance against it. What’s amazing is only that there aren’t more such acts, because it’s really and truly an intolerable situation….”
            https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-israel-is-the-terrorist-1.5976966

            Reply to Comment