Early Wednesday morning, Jewish activists in a historic first in Los Angeles, chained themselves to the entrance of the Israeli Consulate and blocked the driveway to the parking structure, blocking all traffic in and out of the building. “We sent a clear message to the world that LA Jews are part of the global majority in opposition to the Israeli siege of Gaza,” said Lenny Potash a 72-year old protester who was cuffed to eight other activists, blocking the driveway to the consulate. The activists were joined by 50 other supporters and who chanted “LA Jews say, End the Siege of Gaza” and “Not in Our Name! We will Not be Silent!” Protesters also held up signs reading “Israeli Consulate: Closed for War Crimes.”
“We succeeded today in letting Jews and other Americans of conscience know that it is safe to speak out against the policies of the Israeli government and that the Israeli lobby does not speak for everyone,” said Robin Ellis, a Registered Nurse who also risked arrest to block the consulate entrance. “We are committed to escalating non-violent activities in the future to end the siege and win justice for Palestinians,” Ellis said.
The group of activists were an ad-hoc, multi-generational group of LA Jewish residents, including members of the recently founded International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. They shared a commitment to ending the Israeli siege on Gaza and an end to Israeli apartheid. The demonstration will kick off a wave of demonstrations across the United States uniting Palestinians, Jewish people, and other Americans outraged by the siege.
“We are shocked and outraged at Israeli’s latest act of violent aggression against the Palestinian people. Killing over 950 people, including 250 women and children, bombing schools and mosques and then calling it self-defense—that is the worst kind of hypocrisy. It also amounts to war crimes,” said Hannah Howard, a local member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. “We shut down the Israeli consulate today because as Jewish people we cannot allow business as usual while violence is being done in our name.”
Action participants also spoke out against the US government’s unconditional support for Israel’s siege and its ongoing war against the Palestinian people. “While US-funded F16′s rain down bombs on the people of Gaza, our elected officials locally and nationally offer unqualified support.” said Marsha Steinberg, a retired union representative. “Our government must stop sending billions of dollars in military and economic aid to the Israeli war machine,” Goldberg said. In the coming week, concerned Americans from all backgrounds will call on the new Presidential administration to make a 180 degree change in policy.
“While the end of the siege on Gaza is our most immediate priority, this is only the latest chapter in Palestinians’ 60 plus year experience of occupation and ethnic cleansing. Peace and justice in the region will only come when Palestinians have freedom and control their own destiny,” said Lisa Adler, a community organizer in Los Angeles and another member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. “Even before the siege began, Israel’s inhumane months-long blockade of Gaza created a major humanitarian crisis. We must end the siege. And we are building a nonviolent international movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions that brings an end to Israel’s policies of occupation and apartheid and advances the Palestinian struggle for justice,” said Adler.
For more information on the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.
– ## –
Profiles of several Demonstrators
Marsha Steinberg is a retired union representative and long time activist for social justice.
Gabriel Strachota is a 22-year old Jewish native of Massachusetts. His mother grew up in apartheid South Africa and he has many aunts, uncles, and cousins living in Israel.
Robin Ellis is a 34-year old Registered Nurse, working in Los Angeles’ public health system.. Robin’s grandparents and great grandparents fled Nazi Germany and settled in New York where Robin was born.Registered Nurse
Lisa Adler is a 29-year old New York native from a Latin American Jewish family. She spent several weeks in occupied Palestine in 2002 working in solidarity with Palestinians resisting the occupation non-violently.
Eric Romann is a 31-year old community organizer originally from New Jersey. Eric’s grandparents moved to Palestine to escape Nazism in the 1930′s and lost many family members in the Nazi Holocaust. His father spent the first 15 years of his life in Israel and Eric has many family members living there.
Samantha Tess Sunshine is a queer white Jew who lives in Los Angeles. She is a trained sex educator who has worked in the field of sexual health for almost a decade, and is currently a lead facilitator for the Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations Program at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.
PHOTO #1 Driveway photo: Jewish protesters block the entrance to the LA Israeli Consulate to protest the Israeli siege on Gaza. Photo Credit: riKu Matsuda