click below to read the statement from their website and for a few personal thoughts:
Jews Shut Down Israeli Consulate for 3 Hours
10 Jews Chain Together to Block Driveway and Entrance
Wednesday, January 14, 2009 Los Angeles
Early this 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.
you can agree or disagree with their ideas and their actions, but we should at least acknowledge that it takes courage to stand up amidst a community that has so blindly supported Israel in its choice to unleash such destruction in Gaza. It’s hard and at times scary, no matter what the context or situation, to be part of a minority view amidst a vocal majority, but sometimes you just feel what you feel.
For myself, seeing the illegitimate tactics utilized to wage a legitimate war in Lebanon two and a half years ago stopped me from that point forward from calling myself a Zionist. Seeing what we have been able to see in Gaza (despite Israel banning reporters from the Strip) only reconfirms those feelings.
There was a time when the role of Zionism in the Jewish world was up for debate, and it was one of an assortment of ways to access our connection to the Land of Israel. I know I am not alone in questioning what it means to be a Zionist, and God bless those that, unlike myself, rediscover Zionism for themselves and redefine it to meet their needs. Yet, these days, amidst renewed accusations that being against Zionism means you are against Jews and/or Judaism, I find myself thinking, is it possible for moderate, observant and secular communities to NOT be Zionist, and still be a “part of the tribe,” or have we grown so attached to that manifestation of our connection to the concept of the Land of Israel as a nation-state, that Zionism has inextricably linked itself to Jewish expression?
Speaking for myself, I find it quite easy to have a deep, intense, even passionate love for the Land of Israel. I’m not so fond of its government, or any other government. I’m not so fond of its military, or any other military. I do believe that the Jewish people have a right to a state (if they really want one), yet certainly not at the exclusion of another people having a right to a state (if they really want one). The notion of an ethnically enforced majority, that just makes me nauseous; I’m not trying to be a dick, I’m just trying to be honest. If I believe that Jews have the right to a state, am I automatically a Zionist? If I believe that a one-state solution is the only democratic solution, am I automatically not a Zionist? If I believe it is wrong and unjust for Israel to give preferential treatment to Jewish immigrants am I anti-Semitic? If I believe that it is more important to stand up to unjust tactics of war and persecution than to be a part of ethnic or nationalist unity, am I a traitor?
These are my thoughts, as the death toll in Gaza crosses 1000, and the spat in Gaza enters its third week, and a group of Jewish Americans, young and old, courageously chained themselves to the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles to make their statement and share their point of view.