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Jewish Voice for Peace Demands Gaza Ceasefire Outside AIPAC’s NYC Headquarters

"We refuse to let AIPAC speak in our name as Jews," one demonstrator said.

Jewish Voice for Peace protesters and their allies, many holding signs, demonstrate outside the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) headquarters in New York City on February 22, 2024, calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

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On Thursday afternoon, thousands of Jewish New Yorkers and their allies protested in front of the headquarters for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobbying group that has funneled millions in donations to lawmakers in Congress in order to push Washington to reject calls for a ceasefire in Israel’s genocidal military campaign against Palestinians in Gaza.

After the Hamas-led attack against Israel on October 7, 2023, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a bloody siege of Gaza, killing around 30,000 Palestinians, including more than 11,000 children, according to figures that were shared in a press release from Jewish Voice for Peace, which organized the protest in New York City.

Jewish Voice for Peace protesters and their allies, many holding signs, demonstrate outside the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) headquarters in New York City on February 22, 2024, calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

The demonstration on Thursday was attended by thousands of Jews — including rabbis and descendants of Holocaust survivors — who condemned Washington’s refusal to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, as well as AIPAC’s role in pressing politicians to send billions in additional aid for Israel’s genocide. The protesters began their action by meeting around 3 p.m. local time at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza. They then marched to the United Nations — where, earlier in the week, the U.S. had vetoed a Security Council resolution for a ceasefire — and to the AIPAC headquarters.

The protest included the use of red trash bags with the words “Dump AIPAC” emblazoned on them. The trash bags were meant to be reminiscent of the Garbage Offensive protest by the Young Lords in 1969, which called attention to the needs of working class and Latinx New Yorkers.

“As a Palestinian Jew who supported the struggle for the Puerto Rican Studies Department at Brooklyn College, I’ve always been touched by the acts of solidarity between our communities. When the Young Lords led the Garbage Offensive in 1969, their platform also included support for Palestinians,” said JVP member Esther Farmer. “I am honored to carry this legacy of solidarity forward in the streets today.”

Protesters blocked the streets, chanted slogans and held up a large mural that read, “AIPAC funds genocide.” The protest also extended a few buildings down the street from AIPAC, to the offices of U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats from New York who are prominently backed by AIPAC. Protesters occupied their offices, with The New York Times reporting that more than a dozen people were arrested inside.

Jewish Voice for Peace protesters and their allies, many holding signs, demonstrate outside the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) headquarters in New York City on February 22, 2024, calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

“I was raised to feel deep, deep, deep in my core that when genocide was happening, it was my job to stand up and fight,” said Louisa Solomon, a rabbinical student who was among those arrested. “For many of us, it is the logical expression of Jewish values to stand in solidarity with Palestine and to stand up to our elected officials who are allowing genocide.”

Jewish Voice for Peace has led a number of protest actions across the U.S. since October 7, demanding that Washington pressure Israel to agree to a permanent ceasefire. The protest on Thursday specifically sought to highlight AIPAC’s role in influencing lawmakers to oppose calls for an end to the genocide.

Jewish Voice for Peace protesters and their allies, many holding signs, demonstrate outside the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) headquarters in New York City on February 22, 2024, calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

Funds from AIPAC — which has, according to JVP, raised around $90 million since the hostilities began — have helped “bolster [the organization’s] influence on members of Congress who oppose a ceasefire in Gaza and ramp up aggressive campaigns against those who have spoken out against the Israeli military’s indiscriminate bombing of Gaza,” the group said in its press release.

“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC, uses millions of dollars and racist smear campaigns to ensure Congressional complicity in the Israeli’s government’s genocide of Palestinians,” said Jay Saper of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Several polls have suggested that most Americans believe there should be a permanent ceasefire, and that the U.S. should lead the way in demanding one. In a Data for Progress poll published in December, for example, 61 percent of respondents said the U.S. should call for a permanent ceasefire, while only 28 percent opposed the idea.

Members of Jewish Voice for Peace also pointed out the popularity of a ceasefire.

Jewish Voice for Peace protesters and their allies, many holding signs, demonstrate outside the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) headquarters in New York City on February 22, 2024, calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

“Polls show the vast majority of Americans want the war on Gaza to stop. And yet, because of pro-apartheid lobby groups like AIPAC, most elected officials still refuse to call for a ceasefire,” said Ezra Klein, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Sarah Koshar, another participant in the protest, said the lobbying group was not representative of Jewish voices in the U.S.

Jewish Voice for Peace protesters and their allies, many holding signs, demonstrate outside the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) headquarters in New York City on February 22, 2024, calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

“We refuse to let AIPAC speak in our name as Jews,” Koshar said. “As the number of Palestinians murdered by Israel eclipses 30,000, we call on our government to listen to the will of the people and reject AIPAC as the extremist warmongers they have always been.”

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