5 JEWISH ACTIVISTS ARRESTED AFTER SHUTTING DOWN SENATOR BEN CARDIN’S OFFICE IN PROTEST OF HIS CONTINUED SILENCE TOWARD VIOLENCE ON PALESTINIAN PROTESTERS IN GAZA
Over the past two weeks, 37 American Jewish millennials have been arrested demanding Jewish leaders condemn the killing of 35 Palestinian protesters and the injuring of over 1500 more by Israeli live fire near the Gaza border.
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WASHINGTON, DC: This morning, 5 young American Jews were arrested after blocking the doors of Senator Ben Cardin’s Capitol Hill office. The demonstrators called on him to condemn the Israeli escalation of violence against Palestinian protesters in Gaza, in which Israeli military forces have killed 35 Palestinian protesters and injured more than 1,500 others with live fire over three days of protest. The Senator was in his office but refused to even engage with the protesters, calling capitol police within about a half hour.
“Senator Cardin claims to be a progressive leader and a champion for human rights across the world, so his silence in the face of Israel’s use of deadly force against Palestinian protesters speaks volumes. As American Jews, we are demanding that Senator Cardin 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 Rae Gaines, who is one of five IfNotNow members arrested at Senator Cardin’s office this morning.
The arrest of 5 young American Jews in Washington brings the total number of millennial Jews arrested in the past 10 days to 37, following demonstrations in in Boston at the Israeli Consulate, in New York City at Senator Schumer’s office, in the Twin Cities at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota, in Los Angeles at the Jewish Federation and in San Francisco at Senator Feinstein’s office. At each demonstration, the young Jews demanded a statement condemning Israeli violence against Palestinian protesters, and at each location the organization or individual chose to see the protesters arrested rather than condemn Israeli violence.
Just an hour after the protest of Senator Feinstein on April 13th, she finally broke her silence by releasing a tweet condemning violence.
At 9:30 am this morning, about 20 young American Jews and members of IfNotNow, joined by several local Palestinian activists — entered the Capitol Hill office of Senator Ben Cardin. Inside, they read the names of the 35 Palestinians that have been killed by Israeli forces in the past few weeks and recited the Mourner’s Kaddish, a Jewish prayer traditionally recited for family or community members who have died. IfNotNow members called on the Senator and his staff to release a simple statement condemning Israeli violence against Palestinian protesters. When they refused, the protesters moved outside, blocking the door to the office to call attention to the devastating killing of Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli military.
Today’s protest comes after the third Friday in a row that Palestinian protesters in Gaza were met with live fire from Israeli snipers. Yet Senator Cardin continued his silence, prompting the young Jews to chant periodically, “How Many More?” in reference to how many more Palestinians would have to die for the Senator to speak out. They also had a series of massive signs asking that same question.
The protesters noted that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 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.” Senator Sanders has also begun to circulate a letter condemning the violence which the protestors encouraged Senator Cardin to join his colleagues in signing.
“Palestinians in Gaza came out by the thousands today to protest for their freedom. They were met with more live ammunition, more teargas, more violence. Why does Senator Cardin insist on doing and saying nothing as this violence continues? How many more Palestinians need to die before he speaks out?” said Ethan Miller, who was also arrested at Senator Cardin’s office today.
On Friday March 30, just hours before the holiday of Passover began, more than 30,000 Palestinians marched in Gaza and IDF snipers responded to the protest with live gunfire. The next week, tens of thousands of protesters returned and again the IDF shot into the crowd, killing 9 Palestinians. Then again, as protestors returned this past Friday, the IDF again responded with live fire. The Palestinian protest has been overwhelmingly nonviolent and led by a diverse coalition of young Palestinians. For two weeks in a row, the United States blocked the United Nations Security Council from calling for an independent investigation into Israel’s use of force.
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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