Activists from Jewish Voice for Peace NYC and Jews Say No! held a Gaza solidarity protest outside the office of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, condemning US support for Israel’s massacre of Palestinian protesters – Ben Norton reports.
BEN NORTON: Activists from the progressive organizations, Jewish Voice for Peace New York City and Jews Say No, gathered in the rain outside the offices of New York senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday, May 16. The demonstrators expressed solidarity with the unarmed Palestinian protesters being massacred by the Israeli military in Gaza. They demanded that politicians speak out and stop U.S. support for the bloodshed.
ASAF CALDERON: We are here as Jewish New Yorkers. We are with organizations, Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No. And we are here to say to our senators, Senator Gillibrand and Senator Schumer, that they have to condemn the killing of protesters in Gaza and they have to support the right of Palestinians to live in freedom and to go back to their homes. Palestinians in Gaza have been protesting for the past six weeks against this siege that lays on Gaza and demanding the right of return that they deserve.
And seventy percent of the population of Gaza are refugees or descendants of refugees. Israel has reacted to these demonstrations by killing and unarmed protesters. And we’re here to tell our senators that they must condemn these killings and must support the Palestinian right of return.
SPEAKER ONE AND DEMONSTRATORS: Palestinians have the right to live in freedom, the right to return home. We have been so inspired by the unbelievable organizing coming out of Gaza.
SPEAKER TWO AND DEMONSTRATORS: To campaigns. To show how you can support Palestinian rights, whether you’re a teacher, you’re a doctor, you work at a coffee shop, there are ways you can contribute to the BDS movement.
SPEAKER ONE AND DEMONSTRATORS: Ahmed Rashid was a freedom fighter and he taught us how to fight. We’re gonna fight all day and night until we get it right. Which side are you on, Chuck Schumer, which side are you on, Gillibrand? Which side are you on, Chuck Schumer, which side are you on, Gillibrand?
ROSALIND PETCHESKY: We’re here because we are enraged, and we are sad, and we are determined to stand with Palestinians, especially in this historic and very tragic week and six weeks of massacres of Gazans near the fence that the Israelis put up. The systematic sniping and killing of mostly unarmed protesters is unspeakable, and it’s also- frankly, I’m a political scientist and a student of international law.
It’s a violation of international law. As the entire boycott and siege on Gaza for the last eleven and more years has been a violation of international law. Gazans were protesting, in part, because of the anniversary of the Nakba, The Catastrophe, which was the years of 1947-49, when there were massive expulsions Palestinians from their ancestral homes and villages, seven hundred and fifty thousand Palestinians expelled.
Most of those living in Gaza are refugees from that time, or their descendants. Fifty percent of them are children, so, living in conditions where the water is absolutely undrinkable- so they’re being poisoned by the water in the ground. They’re being bombarded systematically and periodically, and so munitions are poisoning their environment. They are not allowed out of Gaza.
Gaza is strip of land with two million people compressed there. Many people often use the phrase, “it’s an open-air prison.” I actually think it’s more like a concentration camp. And the right to protest those conditions is absolutely a human right. So, to kill people who are peacefully- and very much unarmed- nonviolently protesting those conditions and also calling attention to the expulsion of Palestinians seventy years ago, and ongoing to this day, is a human right.
So, we’re from Jewish Voice for Peace. We stand with Palestinians, we stand with human rights, and we want the senators, who work in this building and supposedly represent us, to hear our voices and to speak out, as- just as humane, ethical people, if not in their politics. They’re more worried about getting reelected. They’re more worried- but they have to listen up, because the times are changing.
Not all Jews, and not even the majority of Jews, support these policies of the Israeli government. And even in New York City, we’re here to say, “We are Jews, we are New Yorkers, and we will not vote for you if you do not speak out against these atrocities.”.
BEN NORTON: Reporting for The Real News, I’m Ben Norton.