jews protest gaza assault

In an unusual turn of events, hundreds of Jewish activists in the United States have come together to protest against Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza. The demonstrations, which have resulted in numerous arrests for alleged acts of civil disobedience, are organised by Jewish groups advocating for an anti-zionist and peaceful solution. This protest has highlighted a growing divide within the Jewish community as the conflict in the Middle East continues to claim lives on both sides.

The protests began in Washington and have gained significant attention. On Wednesday, around 400 demonstrators were detained after staging a sit-in protest on Capitol Hill, demanding an immediate ceasefire in the ongoing hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians. This followed a similar protest on Monday when 50 activists were arrested for blocking the gates of the White House. Both events were jointly organised by Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow.

During the protests, some demonstrators were seen waving Palestinian flags and accusing Israel of planning to commit genocide in Gaza in retaliation for the October 7 attacks by Hamas, which led to the deaths of more than 1,400 Israelis and the abduction of nearly 200. Prominent author and social activist Naomi Klein spoke at the rally, suggesting that Israel was exploiting Jewish fears of another genocide to justify its actions, adding: “We will not let our fears of antisemitism be manipulated in this way.”

In response to these protests, organisations like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have been critical, asserting that these activists do not speak for the broader Jewish community. 

The former US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, took a harsher stance, questioning the Jewish identity of anyone attending the protests. He tweeted, “Any American Jew attending this rally is not a Jew.”

While some attendees at the protests were not Jewish, both events featured addresses by rabbis. Rabbi Brant Rosen from Los Angeles emphasised the moral significance of the moment, stating that future generations might question whether they acted or remained passive in the face of potential genocide. He said: “Did we act, or did we stand idly by while genocide was committed in our name?”

Several protesters shared their experiences of being criticised and ostracised within their own communities for their views on Israel. The protests come at a time when the conflict has escalated, with tragic consequences for the lives of civilians, especially in Gaza.

The activists remain skeptical of official narratives surrounding recent events, particularly the explosion at al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza. While Israel and US officials have contested the blame, the protesters argue that history casts doubt on Israel’s accountability in such incidents.

At the protests, Sam Thorpe, who said his grandparents had survived the Holocaust, said in an interview published by Al Jazeera: “I see my job as carrying on their legacy as Jews who see their role as standing up for stateless and oppressed people all throughout the world. I see no better way to do that than fighting for a ceasefire and peace in Gaza today.”

These protests have also brought attention to the US President, Joe Biden, who has expressed his commitment to Israel’s security but has warned against disproportionate responses that harm civilians. Protesters have criticised the US’s support for Israel and called for a reevaluation of the relationship between the two nations.

As the conflict continues to unfold, the protests in Washington reflect a growing dissent within the American Jewish community, with voices emerging in favor of a more peaceful stance.

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