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‘Cease-fire now’ – Thousands of Jews protest against Israel’s War on Gaza

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Picture: IfNotNow / X / Taken October 16, 2023 – Jewish-led protesters hold a ‘ceasefire’ banner during a demonstration on October 16, 2023, outside the White House in Washington, DC. Protesters chanted ‘cease-fire now’ and sang songs in Hebrew after being arrested and made to sit on the ground with their hands cuffed behind their backs.

By Brett Wilkins

“Today, thousands of American Jews and allies marched to the White House to demand that President Biden use his leverage … and force Israel to halt its genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.” – Jewish Voice for Peace.

Dozens of Jewish Americans and allies were arrested Monday outside the White House in Washington, DC as thousands of protesters urged the Biden administration to press for an end to Israel’s massive bombardment of Gaza — which, after just 10 days has already killed more Palestinians than any previous Israeli war on the besieged coastal enclave.

Event organisers said more than 50 people were arrested by Capitol Police and uniformed Secret Service agents after blocking multiple entrances to the White House during a demonstration organised by the Jewish-led peace groups IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). Protesters chanted “cease-fire now” and sang songs in Hebrew after being arrested and made to sit on the ground with their hands cuffed behind their backs.

“Today, thousands of American Jews and allies marched to the White House to demand that President [Joe] Biden use his leverage to implement a cease-fire and force Israel to halt its genocide of Palestinians in Gaza,” IfNotNow explained in a statement published by Newsweek.

“Today’s action represents a growing wave of Jewish, progressive, and youth leaders calling on President Biden to de-escalate the conflict, restrain Israeli aggression, and ensure the safe return of Israeli civilian hostages,” the statement added.

Activist and former Survivor contestant Evvie Jagoda told the rally that “we’re going to make it impossible to use Jewish grief for US imperial interests.”

“They’re going to have to name the real reasons for US policy: Power, weapons, oil, racism, Islamophobia,” Jagoda added. “They cannot do this in our name.”

Playwright and actor Wallace Shawn also spoke at the rally, telling participants that Israel’s assault on Gaza is “one of the most deliberate cruelties inflicted on a people that I can remember that my own government has supported”.

“Even in Vietnam, they didn’t quite admit they were just slaughtering the innocent,” he added.

Monday’s demonstration came as a group of progressive US legislators introduced a resolution urging the Biden administration to push for an immediate cease-fire. Biden has declared his “rock-solid and unwavering support” for Israel, which receives nearly $4 billion in annual US military aid despite being one of the world’s wealthiest nations per capita.

Activists and progressive US legislators including Representatve Rashida Tlaib (Democrat-Michigan) — the only Palestinian American member of Congress — have called for a suspension in American military aid to Israel in the wake of past killings of Palestinians and other human rights violations, including the increasingly recognised crime of apartheid.

The White House protest also followed weekend demonstrations for peace and Palestine held across the United States and around the world. Dozens of demonstrators including a pair of progressive state legislators, rabbis, and the descendants of Holocaust survivors were arrested at a rally in New York City.

“We as American Jews believe that ‘never again’ means never again for anyone, and that includes Palestinians,” JVP said on Saturday. “‘Never again’ is this very moment.”

Monday’s White House rally and arrests came as Israel’s massive bombardment of Gaza continued for the 10th day, with more than 2,800 Palestinians — including at least 1,030 children — killed, according to health officials. That’s more Palestinians than have been killed in any previous assault on Gaza. Israeli soldiers and settlers have also killed scores of Palestinians in the illegally occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since the Hamas-led infiltration attack that has left more than 1,400 Israeli civilians and troops dead since October 7.

Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article was first published by Common Dreams