Activists protest Senator Schumer’s silence on Gaza killings
Young Jewish American Activist Group IfNotNow protests silence by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer who has been vocal in condemning Arabs, Muslims and everyone else, except for the violations of Human Rights committed by Israel’s government. New York police arrested the protestors who refuse to compromise their humanity
On Monday (April 9, 2018), seven young American Jews were arrested after blocking the doors of Senator Chuck Schumer’s New York City office for 90 minutes. The demonstrators called on him to condemn Israeli violence against Palestinian protesters in Gaza, in which Israeli military forces have killed 30 Palestinian protesters and injured more than 1,000 others with live fire over two days of protest. The violence was Israel’s response to The Great March of Return, one of the largest Palestinian protests the Gaza Strip has seen in years — a protest which has not injured or endangered Israeli soldiers or civilians.
“Senator Schumer claims to be a progressive champion and leader in the American Jewish community, so his silence in the face of Israel’s use of deadly force against Palestinian protesters is deafening. As American Jews and as constituents, we demand that Senator Schumer live up to both progressive and Jewish values and do the bare minimum that we could expect from any moral leader: condemn the use of live fire against protesters,” said Becca Kahn-Bloch, who was one of seven IfNotNow members arrested at the protest.
At 9am, about 40 young American Jews — all members of IfNotNow — entered the lobby of 780 3rd Avenue, where Senator Schumer’s New York City Office is located. Once inside, they read the names of the 30 Palestinians that were killed by Israeli forces in the past ten days and recited the Mourner’s Kaddish, a Jewish prayer traditionally recited for family or community members who have died. While the Senator is in DC this week, IfNotNow called for his staff to come down and agree to have the Senator release a simple statement condemning Israeli violence against Palestinian protesters. When they refused, the protesters left the lobby and began to block the entrance, in an attempt to disrupt business as usual.
Today’s protest comes just three days after the second Friday in a row that Palestinian protesters in Gaza were met with live fire from Israeli snipers. Yet Schumer continued his silence, prompting the young Jews to chant periodically, “How Many More, Chuck?” in reference to how many more Palestinians would have to die for the Senator to speak out. They also had a series of massive posters asking that same question. The protesters noted that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), also an American Jew, had condemned the violence on the day it happened, saying: “The killing of Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli forces in Gaza is tragic. It is the right of all people to protest for a better future without a violent response.”
On Friday March 30, just hours before Passover began, more than 30,000 Palestinians marched in Gaza and IDF snipers responded to the protest with live gunfire. Last Friday, tens of thousands of protesters returned and again the IDF shot into the crowd, killing 9 Palestinians. In response to the protest — which has been overwhelmingly nonviolent and led by a diverse coalition of young Palestinians — the U.S. condemned “leaders and protesters who call for violence or who send protesters including children to the [Gaza] fence, knowing that they may be injured or killed,” and for the second week in a row, blocked the United Nations Security Council from calling for an independent investigation into Israel’s use of force.
“A rising generation of American Jews are speaking out against the occupation, and the immoral policies that are needed to control an entire people and uphold it. We know that Gaza is still occupied — Israel controls the air above Gaza, the sea on one side and the land on the other side. The “defense” we’ve seen by Israeli forces is a defense of the occupation, not Israeli lives. We call upon our so-called leaders in the American Jewish community to stand against senseless violence and loss of life, and to an end to the occupation,” said Eliana Fishman, who was also arrested at the protest.
In December 2017, Senator Schumer boasted about advising President Trump on the decision to unilaterally move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a reckless action that has fostered instability, violence, and further entrenched the now 51-year-old occupation.
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IfNotNow is a movement led by young Jews to transform the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation into a call for freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians. The organization was founded in 2014 during the Gaza War as a moral call to the American Jewish community to oppose the war. IfNotNow has over 1,700 members and chapters in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, the San Francisco Bay Area, Toronto, and Washington, DC.
Learn more about IfNotNow at www.ifnotnowmovement.org