ON THE DAY TRUMP MOVES AMERICAN EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM, AND DEADLIEST DAY FOR PALESTINIANS SINCE 2014, YOUNG JEWS AND RABBINICAL STUDENTS SHUT DOWN BUSY D.C. INTERSECTION FOR TWO HOURS
At the exact moment that Trump’s Embassy opened in Jerusalem — and on the single deadliest day for Palestinians since 2014 — 150 young Jews disrupted the morning commute in the nation’s capital, building their own Embassy of Freedom and took a stand against the violence on Gaza.
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May 14, 2018
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WASHINGTON, DC: This morning, as American officials gathered in Jerusalem to officially move the US embassy to the city and Isreali forces killed over 50 Palestinian protesters in Gaza, 150 young Jews from across the United States blocked traffic for two hours at one of the busiest intersections in Washington, D.C. as part of a protest against the move, which only serves to entrench the Israeli occupation in a city that is already divided by violence and separation.
“The images coming out of the region could not be starker: American and Israeli officials smiling and celebrating in Jerusalem contrasted with dead and wounded Palestinians in Gaza. Now is when our community needs to choose a side: will they support the Trump and Netanyahu alliance or speak out for Palestinian freedom? Our generation knows that the Jewish future demands Palestinian freedom, and we hope that they join us.” said Lila Weintraub, an IfNotNow member in DC who helped lead the protest this morning.
After an invigorating rally, the group of young American Jews and Rabbinical school students took over the streets and marched down 11th St until arriving at Pennsylvania Ave and 12th Street, the location of the Trump Hotel, where the protesters began to build an “Embassy of Freedom,” complete with doors, windows, pillars, and flags. In the middle of one of the busiest intersections in downtown DC, between the White House and the Capitol Building, they sang in Hebrew and chanted while disrupting the morning commute. DC police blocked traffic for two blocks in every direction and the disruption lasted two hours.
“I took action today as a future Rabbi because this is a moment of crisis for Palestinians, Israelis, and American Jews. Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem puts the US stamp of approval on the ongoing evictions and dispossession of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the ongoing violence directed at Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank– all of which are counter to Jewish values,” said Rebecca Hornstein, a Rabbinical school student at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia who was prepared to be arrested at the protest.
The president’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem marks the administration’s endorsement of the policies of the Israeli occupation and the strong connection between Trump and the extremist policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, and 370,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem live without the same rights as their Jewish neighbors.
“Most American Jews oppose unilaterally moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, but our community’s institutions cheered the president’s cruel and provocative decision, made all the more provocative today of all days, as it comes on the heels of Trump withdrawing from the Iran deal and in the midst of unconscionable Israeli violence against Palestinian protesters in Gaza.” said Rachel Klepper, a member of IfNotNow who traveled from New York City to attend the protest. “Instead of cheering on their Embassy of Occupation in Jerusalem, I am proud to be building an Embassy of Freedom in DC with IfNotNow, a movement that represents the future of the Jewish community and knows that that future relies upon Palestinian freedom.”
This protest was organized by IfNotNow, a movement of young Jews working to end the American Jewish community’s support for the Occupation. This demonstration comes after weeks of Palestinian protests, where more than 40 Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip were killed by the Israeli military and thousands more were injured. In response, American Jewish activists with IfNotNow protested in over 30 cities, demanding that the political leadership of our community speak up against the escalation of violence. More than 37 IfNotNow members were arrested during these recent protests. At the same time as, members of All That’s Left: Anti-Occupation Collective, mainly diaspora Jews living in Israel, protested outside the new site of the American Embassy in Jerusalem.
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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. IfNotNow has 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.
You can learn more about IfNotNow at www.ifnotnowmovement.org
Photos credit: Gili Getz, IfNotNow.