History was made in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 18 when thousands of Jewish activists and their allies demonstrated on Capitol Hill to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an end to Israeli genocide against Palestinians. This was the largest protest in U.S. history by Jewish people in solidarity with the Palestinian people — and it was covered by major U.S. and international media outlets.
Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now! organized this demonstration, which was held outside the Cannon House Office Building. Meanwhile, hundreds of Jewish people, including 24 rabbis, occupied the rotunda inside. Rabbis read testimony from Palestinians in Gaza. Chants rang out of “Not in our name” and “Ceasefire now!” At least 300 occupiers were arrested. Many of them wore “Not in Our Name” T-shirts, a slogan used by Jewish people who deplore Israeli apartheid and anti-Palestinian violence.
Both organizations also mobilized thousands of Jewish activists who rallied at Farragut Square in Washington on Oct. 16. Many then blocked entrances to the White House, calling out President Joe Biden for complicity with Israel’s genocidal bombing campaign. They demanded he pressure Israel for a ceasefire and stop its plans to invade Gaza. Protesters chanted, “Stop genocide in Gaza!” Some Palestinian flags flew and “Free Palestine!” signs were held. At least 30 people were arrested.
In two New York City actions on Oct. 13, Jewish activists joined other forces in Manhattan’s Times Square to denounce Israel’s genocidal attacks on Gaza and Jewish Voice for Peace organized an evening rally which drew 1,000 people to Army Plaza in Brooklyn. At the latter protest, some signs read: “Jewish descendants of Holocaust survivors against Israeli apartheid.”
Jewish Voice for Peace published a full-page ad in the New York Times on Oct. 18, which linked to a petition calling for an immediate ceasefire; it has gotten nearly 80,000 signatures to date. The group asks every opponent of this genocide to call members of Congress and tell them to vote no on resolutions supporting Israel’s siege and allocating more military funding and weapons shipments to the Zionist state, which will only cause additional atrocities and deaths in Gaza.
The two organizations are calling for another protest in Washington on Oct. 25 to keep up the pressure on Biden to call for a ceasefire.
Kathy Durkin’s grandparents fled anti-Jewish pogroms in tsarist Russia in 1907 and raised a non-Zionist family in the U.S.