“While Shabbat is typically a day of rest, we cannot afford to rest while genocide is unfolding in our names,” said one rabbi.
As Israel intensified a war that’s already killed more than 7,300 Palestinians and displaced a majority of Gaza’s residents, hundreds of Jewish American protesters and allies were arrested after taking over New York’s Grand Central Station Friday evening for a sit-in demanding an immediate cease-fire.
Chanting slogans including “no more weapons, no more war, cease-fire’s what we’re fighting for” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” human rights defenders took over the station’s Grand Concourse, while others hung banners reading “Never Again for Anyone” and “Palestinians Should Be Free” from the stairway to the East Balcony.
“While Shabbat is typically a day of rest, we cannot afford to rest while genocide is unfolding in our names,” said Rabbi May Ye. “The lives of Palestinians and Israelis are intertwined, and safety can only come from justice, equality, and freedom for all.”
Happening now: Hundreds of arrests at New York City’s Grand Central Station as Jewish demonstrators and allies call for a ceasefire in Gazapic.twitter.com/Srke1aT0kZ— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) October 28, 2023
The demonstration was led by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), with the participation of IfNotNow and other groups, as well as unaffiliated Jews and allies.
“We refuse to allow our own pain and trauma to be used to justify attacks against another people,” said Jay Saper of JVP. “We are here to say: Not in our name.”
JVP said New York state Sens. Jabari Brisport (D-25), Robert Jackson (D-35), and Julia Salazar (D-18); State Assembly Members Zohran Mamdani (D-36) and Emily Gallagher (D-50); and New York City Council Members Tiffany Cabán (D-22), Alexa Avilés (D-38), Sandy Nurse (D-37), and Chi Ossé (D-36) took part in the protest.
Artist Indya Moore, a signatory to the Artists4CeaseFire letter, said “I am here in solidarity with my Jewish siblings in support of Palestinians, and stand in witness with my ancestors, the Taino, African, and Spanish, colonized and colonizer—in memory of what happened to them, to raise our collective voice of dissent and demonstrate en masse that it is morally irrefutable that we need a cease-fire now and a call to end the genocide of Palestinians.”
⚠️ HAPPENING NOW AT NYC'S GRAND CENTRAL STATION: THOUSANDS OF JEWS AND ALLIES HOLD AN EMERGENCY SIT-IN, DEMANDING A CEASEFIRE IN GAZA. WE'RE TAKING OVER THE GRAND CONCOURSE. WE'RE REFUSING TO ALLOW A GENOCIDE BE CARRIED OUT IN OUR NAMES. CEASEFIRE NOW! NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE! ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/gyD3bqp4mJ— Jewish Voice for Peace (@jvplive) October 27, 2023
“As the Israeli government starves and bombs and invades the people of Gaza in the dark, the actions we take these next days and weeks will define our lifetimes,” IfNotNow wrote on social media. The Jewish-led group added that “7,000 Palestinians are already dead and over a million more have been displaced” while “Israeli leaders continue to openly use genocidal rhetoric.”
“We desperately need a cease-fire now,” the group asserted.
The protest was the latest in a wave of Jewish-led peace demonstrations across the U.S. since Israel launched its retaliatory war following Hamas-led attacks on Israel that killed more than 1,400 Israelis and people from around the world, with around 200 others kidnapped and taken to Gaza.
On October 18, hundreds of Jewish-led protesters were arrested at the U.S. Capitol while demanding members of Congress push Israel for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.
Although 18 House Democrats—all of them people of color—support a resolution led by Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) calling on the Biden administration to push for an immediate de-escalation and cease-fire, President Joe Biden has thrown his full support behind Israel, declaring Wednesday that its government “has to do everything in its power” to defend its citizens.
Biden has also requested $14 billion in additional U.S. military aid to Israel, which already receives nearly $4 billion from Washington annually.
Meanwhile, only 10 House members—eight of them progressive Democrats—voted Thursday against a bipartisan resolution that expresses unconditional support for the Israeli government as it perpetrates what Amnesty International said are likely war crimes and hundreds of international legal experts warned could amount to genocide.
“NO MORE WEAPONS. NO MORE WAR. CEASEFIRE IS WHAT WE’RE FIGHTING FOR”— IfNotNow🔥 (@IfNotNowOrg) October 27, 2023
7,000 Palestinians are already dead and over a million more have been displaced. Israeli leaders continue to openly use genocidal rhetoric.
We desperately need a ceasefire now. pic.twitter.com/EtgianSpWq
The Indypendent reported Friday that Metropolitan Transit Authority police were not allowing people to enter the station’s Metro North entrance, even if they had tickets.
“No worries,” said one sympathetic commuter, “I’ll take the train up to Harlem.”
This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).