22 August 2006 - Yesterday, groups of Jewish activists across the U.S. protested continued Israeli military aggression in Lebanon and Palestine. Echoing a similar action that took place in Boston on August 1st, protesters staged die-ins, hung banners above freeways during morning and evening rush hours, and locked themselves down outside of zionist institutions.
In New York, a group of more than 20 Jewish protestors staged a “Die-In” during morning rush hour outside Penn Station, unfurling large banners and lying down on the ground to demand a cessation of continuing Israeli military aggression in Lebanon and Palestine. In a peaceful demonstration, silent protestors created a scene reflecting the large civilian death toll in Lebanon and the aftermath of war.
Participants expressed outrage at what they believe is a failed and immoral Israeli policy backed by the U.S. in Lebanon and Palestine. Long-time civil rights activist Dorothy Zellner, age 68, said: “There are hundreds of thousands of silent Jews who believe in justice and oppose Israeli policies and it’s time we stood up and spoke out.”
The group included those with family living in Israel, long-time American civil rights activists, and those speaking out against Israeli military action for the first time.
Mario Yedidia, a Die-In participant, with family spread across Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa said, “killing civilians, attacking government institutions and destroying the infrastructure of modern society is an immoral course of action that will ensure security for no one. Israel is unsuccessfully challenging a simple truth: no one is secure while others live in terror.”
In San Francisco, more than 30 Jewish activists participated in nonviolent civil disobedience in front of the offices of the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the Jewish Community Federation (JCF). Both of these organizations rally political support and financial aid to Israel. Six of the protestors sat down in front of the building and literally locked themselves together, blocking the entrance. Fourteen protestors were arrested and charged with trespassing and resisting arrest.
“JCRC and JCF use expensive PR campaigns and scare tactics to equate Jewishness with uncritical support of Israel,” explained Dr. Susan Greene of San Francisco. “We are here to say loud and clear that they do not speak for us.”
“Israel has already violated the U.N. cease-fire resolution and continues to violate international law and basic human rights on a daily basis in Gaza and the West Bank,” said Samantha Liapes of San Francisco. “As American Jews of conscience, we cannot stand by silently as crimes against humanity are perpetrated in our name. We call on U.S. Jewish Institutions to stop funding Israeli terror and start funding the rebuilding of Lebanon and Gaza.”
In Philadelphia, Jewish activists hung large banners from bridges above freeways during morning and evening rush hours. Banners read: “U.S. Jews Say: Stop Military $ to Israel!” “U.S. Jews Stand Against Israel’s War Crimes” and “U.S. Jews Say: Israel Stop Killing Civilians”. The participants also distributed flyers about the U.S.-backed war and occupation of Lebanon and Palestine to Philadelphia residents throughout the day.
Micah Bazant is a Jewish anti-zionist resident of Oakland, California who participated in the protests in San Francisco on August 22nd. He is the author of Timtum and a co-editor of The Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah. He recently traveled to the West Bank with the incredible Birthright Unplugged program.