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Jewish Voice for Peace Holds Massive Rally at Capitol for Israel-Gaza Ceasefire

Israel’s government “is on the brink of genocide against Palestinians,” a member of the group organizing the event said.

Protestors block access to Pennsylvania Ave. near the White House during a demonstration to support Gaza on October 16, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

A massive protest is being held on Wednesday at noon in front of the Capitol building in Washington D.C., organized jointly by Jewish-led anti-occupation groups Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and IfNotNow, in which participants are demanding that lawmakers pass a resolution calling for the U.S. to facilitate a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

According to a press release from JVP, the event is part of a broader effort to have “ten thousand American Jews…lead a week of massive protests” in the nation’s capital in reaction to the violence that has been perpetrated by the Israeli military in Gaza.

A protester holds a sign blocks from the U.S. Capitol that reads “End the Genocide of Palestine” during the Jewish Voice for Peace demonstration in Washington D.C. on October 18, 2023.

Earlier this week on Monday, a similar event took place in front of the White House, with hundreds of demonstrators engaged in acts of civil disobedience (including blocking entrances to the White House grounds), carrying signs and chanting demands to end war, apartheid and genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. Around 30 individuals were arrested during the protest.

The Wednesday demonstration demands that lawmakers in Congress adopt an already-drafted resolution, authored by Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) and endorsed by other progressive members of Congress, to compel President Joe Biden to “facilitate deescalation and a cease-fire” agreement between Israel and Hamas. It also calls on the Biden administration to “promptly send and facilitate the entry of humanitarian assistance into Gaza,” which has been blocked by the Israeli government since the start of hostilities.

Biden is currently in Israel to demonstrate the United States’s official support for the country, including its aims to completely destroy Hamas. While he has advised the country not to occupy Gaza when the fighting ends, Biden’s comments have largely been supportive of Israel throughout its military campaign and blockade of food, water and electricity to the strip. Other American diplomats have also expressed support for Israel while its leaders have said the conflict “will be a long war.”

Demonstrators gathered outside of the U.S. Capitol building, behind a banner that reads “No Genocide on Gaza!” at the Jewish Voice for Peace protest in Washington D.C. on October 18, 2023.

In addition to demanding the U.S. change course and facilitate a ceasefire, JVP is specifically calling out Israel for its retributive and indiscriminate violence against innocent Palestinians, which began after an attack by Hamas earlier this month resulted in hundreds of Israeli residents being killed or kidnapped by the organization. While they have shown support for Israel after that attack, several international organizations have accused Israel of a number of war crimes in Gaza, including collective punishment, use of the chemical weapon white phosphorus, , and possibly illegal evacuation demands that have led to the displacement of thousands of residents in the territory.

On its website, JVP has also decried Israeli and American leaders for “dehumanizing Palestinians with vitriolic rhetoric that calls to mind the most hysterical days of Bush’s War on Terror.”

Demonstrators gathered near the U.S. Capitol on October 18, 2023, in protest of the Israel government’s military action in Gaza, with one protester holding a sign that reads “Jews Say Stop Genocide of Palestinians.

“We know where this will lead: genocide,” the website’s description of the planned Wednesday rally says. “President Biden and every American political leader must demand a ceasefire now.”

“The Israeli government is on the brink of genocide against Palestinians,” Jay Saper, a JVP member, said in a press release from the organization promoting the planned protest. “It has never been more important for Jews and all people in the U.S. to rise up with literally everything we have — the way that we would have wanted others to rise up for our ancestors.”

“What we know from past Israeli state atrocities against Palestinians is that the bombs only stop once there is a sufficient mass outcry from the international community,” said JVP member Eliza Klein. “It’s on us to build that outcry — as fast as we possibly can.”

In a video message she posted on Monday after the event at the White House, JVP board member Naomi Klein urged her followers on X to attend the rally at the Capitol on Wednesday.

“We’re calling for a ceasefire, we’re calling for an end to the war crimes in Gaza,” the writer and activist said, adding:

We cannot simply watch the collective punishment, forced displacement and ethnic cleansing that is happening now in Gaza. Gazans are not human shields, they are human beings, deserving of as much care, dignity and protection as the Israeli civilians in whose name this vengeance-fueled onslaught is being unleashed.

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