Protesters hold a demonstration in support of a cease-fire in Gaza

Protesters hold a demonstration in support of a cease-fire in Gaza in the Cannon House Office Building on October 18, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Jewish Americans to Lead Shabbat Protests Against US Complicity in Gaza

The protests will condemn "the hypocrisy of American politicians cracking down on 'unlawful' behavior at home while repeatedly voting to send Israel more bombs to kill Palestinians in Gaza."

Jewish organizers announced plans to hold bicoastal "solidarity Shabbat" protests Friday evening to demand a cease-fire in Gaza and an end to the violent repression of campus anti-war protests across the country.

The Jewish-led organization IfNotNow announced plans to hold the protests in Los Angeles and New York, with "hundreds of American Jews" gathering "together with a multi-faith coalition to take a moral stand against U.S. complicity in the genocide in Gaza."

The Shabbat actions come more than two weeks into a wave of mass protests that have spread on college campuses nationwide, with students setting up encampments and occupying school buildings to demand that universities divest from companies that work with the Israeli government, such as tech firms and weapons manufacturers.

IfNotNow directed participants to wear white and not bring signs to the events, where demonstrators will "uplift the demands of the students of NYC and around the world: Divestment now. Palestinian freedom now. Power to the Students. Eyes on Gaza."

More than 300 protesters were arrested last week at a Passover Seder rally that had been organized by Jewish advocates near Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) home in Brooklyn.

Arrests of protesters on college campuses in the last two weeks have surpassed 2,100, with more than 200 detained both at the University of California, Los Angeles and at Columbia University—both of which have celebrated their histories of student activism in the civil rights era and during the U.S. war in Vietnam.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden denounced the protests, saying "dissent must never lead to disorder."

IfNotNow called on political leaders to condemn "Israel's war crimes in Gaza, not student protesters taking action for peace."

"The media and politicians would rather scrutinize college campuses than confront the human misery and destruction happening in our name in Gaza which is, of course, the source of these protests," said the group.

"The Shabbat protests will serve to condemn state violence aimed at peaceful student protesters, as well as the hypocrisy of American politicians cracking down on 'unlawful' behavior at home while repeatedly voting to send Israel more bombs to kill Palestinians in Gaza," added IfNotNow.

On April 24, a week into the campus protests, Biden signed a foreign aid bill that included $17 billion in additional funding for the Israel Defense Forces.

At campus protests, some Jewish organizers have held other Shabbat services.

Protesters at New York University were planning a Shabbat dinner for Friday evening in solidarity with Gaza, and last week, students at the University of Pennsylvania took part in a Shabbat service.

"We pray together, we protest together, and we will get free together," said Jewish Voice for Peace Philadelphia.

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