Jewish protesters shut down the Boston University Bridge

Jewish protesters shut down the Boston University Bridge to demand a cease-fire in Gaza on November 16, 2023.

(Photo: IfNotNow Boston)

Jewish-Led Protest Blocks Boston Bridge Demanding Gaza Cease-Fire

"Every day brings more death, more starvation, more children losing limbs, more babies becoming orphans," said IfNotNow Boston. "It is unbearable, our souls cry out against it."

A Jewish-led protest featuring dozens of demonstrators calling for a cease-fire in Israel's war on Gaza shut down Boston University Bridge during rush-hour traffic on Thursday morning.

"We see what is happening to the people of Gaza: no food, no water, no electricity, no medicine," says an open letter from IfNotNow Boston. "Every day brings more death, more starvation, more children losing limbs, more babies becoming orphans. It is unbearable, our souls cry out against it. So today, out of desperation, we are sitting-in on the BU Bridge, begging our politicians to support a cease-fire."

The letter, which specifically calls out U.S. President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), apologizes to "the regular people" impacted by protesters' blockade of the bridge, which crosses the Charles River, connecting Boston and Cambridge.

"We wish there was a way we could stop this war by going directly to the politicians who have the power to intervene. But we've tried that—we've tried everything," the letter explains. "We've marched outside the White House, and prayed inside Congress. We've been turned away from Sen. Warren's office four times, and joined thousands of people to demonstrate outside."

Several other lawmakers across the United States and around the world have been confronted with similar demonstrations in support of a cease-fire in recent days, from an interfaith protest in Washington, D.C. late Wednesday to last Saturday's march in London that drew hundreds of thousands of people from throughout the United Kingdom.

The letter says that "we are still mourning the 1,200 Israelis who were brutally murdered" in a Hamas-led attack on October 7, which prompted what experts around the world are calling Israel's "genocidal" war against Gaza. It also emphasizes that like the families of around 240 people taken hostage by Palestinian militants during the attack on Israel, "we know it will be negotiations, not bombs, that finally bring them home."

The Israeli bombardment and ground operations have killed over 11,000 Palestinians in Gaza, including at least 4,710 children. Thousands more are wounded or missing, and around three-quarters of the territory's 2.3 million residents have been displaced. Israel has devastated civilian infrastructure and limited the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza—supplies of water, food, medicine, and fuel are running out.

"For the last month, I've witnessed unspeakable atrocity that's being done in my name, and I'm here to say this is not for American Jewish safety, this is not for global Jewish safety, and that we're calling for a cease-fire," said protester Emma Rose Borzekowski, according to NBC10 Boston. "We're saying that there needs to be an end to the violence."

The IfNotNow letter similarly stresses that "we know that real safety for Jews requires safety for all people. Our future and our liberation is bound up with the liberation of Palestinians. There cannot be peace for anyone until the siege ends, and apartheid and occupation are dismantled."

"The Jewish principle of פיקוח נפש, Pikuach Nefesh, requires people of our faith to do what we can to save even a single life. Today, millions of people are in mortal danger because of this war. And American politicians have the power, if they use it, to make it stop," the letter concludes. "So today we fulfill our moral and religious obligation by sitting-in on this bridge, begging President Biden, Sen. Warren, and all who claim to represent us to call for a cease-fire."

Biden, Warren, and the vast majority of political leaders in Washington, D.C. have rejected growing global demands for a cease-fire in Gaza. Just two dozen progressive House Democrats signed a Wednesday letter to the president pressuring him to reconsider his position, particularly given "the grave violations of children's rights."

Israel gets nearly $4 billion in annual military assistance from the United States, and Biden recently asked Congress to add another $14.3 billion because of the war. However, the U.S. government on Wednesday night also declined to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for humanitarian pauses in Gaza—which Human Rights Watch U.N. director Louis Charbonneau said "should be a wake-up call to Israeli authorities that global concern, even among its allies, is strong."

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