Watch: 9 Jewish activists arrested after occupying Friends of the Israel Defense Forces office

ActivismIsrael/PalestineUS Politics
on 31 Comments


Nine Jewish activists protesting the Israeli assault on Gaza were arrested today after occupying the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) office in midtown Manhattan. The protesters, members of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Jews Say No! (JSN), stood in the office for an hour, holding a banner, singing songs in Hebrew and English and reading the names of the more than 600 dead who have been killed as a result of the Israeli attack.

Watch the moment before they were arrested:

The activists demanded that the FIDF stop funding the Israeli army. FIDF is a multi-millionaire dollar non-profit organization that collects funds to send to the Israeli military. Signs taped to the JVP and JSN members read: “Jews say no to the ground invasion of Gaza.”

The demonstrators were arrested by dozens of New York Police Department members—including members of the Counter-Terror Unit–when they refused to leave the premises. They are expected to be charged with criminal trespassing. The demonstrators were taken to a precinct in Manhattan.

Police at demonstration inside Friends of IDF office. (Photo: Alex Kane)

Police at demonstration inside Friends of IDF office. (Photo: Alex Kane)

“We are here to demand as American Jews that the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces stop funding Israel’s massacres in Gaza,” Alana Krivo-Kaufman, JVP’s Northeast regional organizer, said while at the office. She was one of the nine arrested. Joining her was Rebecca Vilkomerson, JVP’s executive director, Brandon Davis, an activist and contributor to Mondoweiss, and others.

The act of civil disobedience came amidst a wave of global protests against the Israeli attack. JVP and JSN members were determined to step up their activism as the assault on Gaza continued, and so they decided to target the FIDF. Last week, Chicago’s JVP chapter protested against Boeing, which manufactures fighter jets and helicopters that the Israeli army uses . Five demonstrators were arrested at that action. Chicago also saw tens of thousands of people march on July 20th in what was reportedly the largest protest for Palestine in the city.  And a national day of action against the attack on Gaza is planned for Thursday.

While the civil disobedience action was ongoing, supporters gathered outside the FIDF to demonstrate, holding a die-in and demanding an end to the assault on the Gaza Strip. One legal observer told me that passers-by screamed epithets at them and one threw an iced drink at those gathered in protest.

Maia Ettinger, one of those who went inside the FIDF office, said she participated in the action to honor the memory of her mother and grandmother, who survived the Holocaust. Ettinger emigrated to the U.S. from Poland when she was young. “I learned from them to oppose dehumanization and abhor collective punishment,” she said. “I can’t stand by and watch their experiences desecrated by the Israeli government.”

The New York protest started early this morning, with the activists gathering in a coffee shop to plan their course of action. When about ten of the demonstrators arrived at the FIDF office, an employee asked what they were doing. Felice Gelman, a long-time activist, said they wanted to make a donation. When the door opened, the New York Jews flowed into the FIDF office over the protests of the FIDF employee. Greeting them were photographs of attractive Israeli soldiers. But the banner they held had a stark message: “Friends of the IDF: Stop Funding Palestinian suffering.”

Krivo-Kaufman announced what they were doing, and the FIDF workers immediately called the police. They looked at the protest with faces of consternation. “I need these people out of the office,” said one employee, while another snapped photos of those occupying the FIDF office.

The demonstration lasted for about an hour before the police arrived to arrest them all.

IMG_0291

They were put into police vans and driven away while their supporters chanted, hoping that their voices were heard by those inside the cop cars.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and graduate student at New York University's Near East Studies and Journalism programs. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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31 Responses

  1. just
    July 22, 2014, 4:26 pm

    Bless them, each and every one! The very best donation that has ever been made to the FIDF!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Mooser
      July 22, 2014, 5:49 pm

      “FIDF is a multi-millionaire dollar non-profit organization that collects funds to send to the Israeli military.”

      That’s one way to put it, but no matter who is in it, I doubt they wanted any attention drawn to their headquarters, I mean, offices.

      • tree
        July 22, 2014, 6:36 pm

        …I doubt they wanted any attention drawn to their headquarters, I mean, offices.

        A quick perusal of a map indicates that there might be a hospital within 100 meters or so of the FIDF office. According to Hophmi, that means that the hospital is a legitimate target for aerial bombardment. Same for any nearby school, or any other civilian infrastructure, like libraries or parks, etc.

      • Marnie
        July 23, 2014, 12:48 am

        I’m not sure, but I think that those headquarters are possibly being used to store weapons of mass destruction. They’ve got to be there somewhere. That old lady with the glasses telling the people to leave is probably their strong arm.

  2. Justpassingby
    July 22, 2014, 4:31 pm

    What a mossad nest.

    Good job you 9 jewish activists! Brave!

  3. Rusty Pipes
    July 22, 2014, 5:02 pm

    Why does the IRS allow such groups to operate with tax-exempt status? I realize that government employees are overworked, but surely this and so many other groups that support Israel and the occupation do not fall under the category of charity.

  4. Les
    July 22, 2014, 5:07 pm

    I hope the word gets out about this. Thanks to the US media, largely Jewish owned and 100% in support of Israel’s efforts to wipe out the Palestinians, news of Jewish opponents of those policies get even less coverage in our media than even Palestinian critics.

    • Citizen
      July 22, 2014, 7:39 pm

      @ Les
      The protests going on re Gaza across the USA are not even being mentioned on TV news, network or cable. Pretty amazing.

  5. Justpassingby
    July 22, 2014, 5:08 pm

    “Among various substantive points in the CrossTalk episode on which Flynt appeared, the discussion was distinguished by one of the other guests—Martin van Creveld, a well-known Israeli military historian at Hebrew University—yelling at Flynt to “shut up” and then storming off the set, all within the first nine minutes of the program.”

    • sligoker
      July 22, 2014, 10:27 pm

      Wow, RT, very objective.

    • Qualtrough
      July 23, 2014, 1:02 am

      Justpassingby says:
      July 22, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      “Among various substantive points in the CrossTalk episode on which Flynt appeared, the discussion was distinguished by one of the other guests—Martin van Creveld, a well-known Israeli military historian at Hebrew University—yelling at Flynt to “shut up” and then storming off the set, all within the first nine minutes of the program.”

      Martin van Creveld, the one who threatened the world with the Samson Option, by which Israel would fire nukes, even in Europe, in the event they find their Zionist experiment failing? Good thing he wasn’t packing a backpack nuke when he had his fit.

  6. Mooser
    July 22, 2014, 5:39 pm

    Can’t wait for Hophmi and the gang to recommend recommend felony charges for this. They coulda been terrists, you know.

  7. John Douglas
    July 22, 2014, 5:46 pm

    These resisters are brave and principled Jews. I can’t help comparing them to the Israeli rabbis calling for the murder of the Arabs. Rabbi means teacher. These resisters are the rabbis.

  8. Stephen Shenfield
    July 22, 2014, 5:55 pm

    What if anything is going on in the minds of the cops? (Perhaps there is someone reading this who understands police psychology and can answer.)

  9. Daniel Rich
    July 22, 2014, 6:04 pm

    Are the 3 men currently running Mondoweiss [Weiss, Roth and Horowitz] going to do the right thing, create that watershed moment and invite Dr. Hanan Ashrawi to become part of the Mondoweiss team to finally give Palestinians the true, outside Jewish support? To give them/her a virtually accepted ‘platform’ to speak from?’

    Think about the shock waves that would send around the globe…

    Of course, it would also result in major donors to run for the hills ASAP…

    So, “What will it be; money or honor?”

    • just
      July 22, 2014, 9:50 pm

      What a nice thought, Daniel.

      • Daniel Rich
        July 23, 2014, 5:22 am

        @ just,

        I think it would be both a brilliant as well as a strategically sensible move, cementing Mondoweiss’ willingness to build real, genuine bridges between Palestine and the outside world, by leading by example, not pledges and possible plans.

        Dr. Hanan Ashrawi is and always has been an inspiration to me [I tend to be a hothead] when it comes to remaining composed and side with justice without being blinded by hatred and/or anger.

        The time for words is over. The dead demand action and they demand it now.

        RIP all of you, who have been untimely and unjust, picked out of mankind’s nimble basket, your bodies mangled and bloodied, but your spirit unbroken.

        We’ll be the pallbearers for now, but the future of a viable Palestinian state rest heavily on our shoulders as well.

  10. Citizen
    July 22, 2014, 7:46 pm

    NYPD have been brainwashed by Israeli police. This is specifically mentioned in this harrowing step-by-step account of a former IDF soldier relating how he eventually rebelled against his upbringing and what he was required to do as an IDF soldier–it starts out with his unit’s involvement in killing a little Palestine kid, and closes relating how Palestinians are used as lab rats to perfect Israeli weapons, which are then sold to the highest bidder around the world as “fully tested by reality.” He’s surprised to find out that a Baltimore cop he meets while in USA knows his father, who’s a big honcho in the Israeli security force–the cop had just come back from being trained in Israel: link to youtube.com

  11. adele
    July 22, 2014, 7:57 pm

    This makes me want to cry….because it never ends…..and because there are people such as Maia who truly understand the meaning of sanctifying life and won’t desecrate the pain and suffering of her loved ones :

    Maia Ettinger, one of those who went inside the FIDF office, said she participated in the action to honor the memory of her mother and grandmother, who survived the Holocaust.

    Victory will be ours but the cost of destroyed lives and families is unbearable.

    • Marnie
      July 23, 2014, 1:04 am

      The woman in the video says no more aide to israel, “that would help alot.” Agree wholeheartedly. Back in 2008-2009, when the financial crisis in the US was exploding all over the place, an israeli woman asked me what Obama was going to do about it. I told her I would hope he would put the american people as his priority. She looked at me like I’d smacked her and said “What about us? Whose going to take care of us?” I had no response, I was just furious.

  12. yonah fredman
    July 22, 2014, 10:09 pm

    “One legal observer told me that passers-by screamed epithets at them and one threw an iced drink at those gathered in protest.”
    What’s a legal observer? Is it someone who was there legally? Is it a lawyer? Is it someone who is placed there for lawyerly purposes?

    • Mooser
      July 23, 2014, 10:54 am

      “What’s a legal observer? Is it someone who was there legally? Is it a lawyer? Is it someone who is placed there for lawyerly purposes?”

      That frightens the hell out of you, doesn’t it Yonah? They’ll be coming soon to a settlement near you!

    • eljay
      July 23, 2014, 10:56 am

      >> What’s a legal observer? Is it someone who was there legally? Is it a lawyer? Is it someone who is placed there for lawyerly purposes?

      I bet it was Lenny. ;-)

  13. jewishgoyim
    July 22, 2014, 10:36 pm

    Why isn’t there anything on Mondoweiss on the Rula Jebreal outburst? Am I missing something here?

  14. Qualtrough
    July 23, 2014, 1:05 am

    Their act takes a particular kind of bravery, knowing that they will be accused of being self-hating Jews and facing the opprobrium of many of their co-religionists. The ‘self-hating Jew’ accusation reminds me of the whites accused of being ‘race traitors’ during the struggle for civil rights in the US.

    • Marnie
      July 23, 2014, 9:39 am

      It reminds me of exactly the same thing. Do they really want to be in that company?

    • Mooser
      July 23, 2014, 10:56 am

      “the whites accused of being ‘race traitors’ during the struggle for civil rights in the US.”

      Actually, I remember the sobriquet “ni–er-lover” being regularly applied.

  15. seafoid
    July 23, 2014, 4:28 am

    JVP should go to HaDersh’s office and bring attention to his homocidal ranting

    link to haaretz.com
    “Both morality and the rule of law demand equal treatment of all murders. They also demand an acknowledgment of the difference between the deliberate murder of innocent civilians and the legitimate military actions of a government seeking to protect its citizens, even when those military actions cause unavoidable civilian casualties among the human shields widely employed by Israel’s enemies. ”

    link to electronicintifada.net

  16. mijj
    July 23, 2014, 4:38 am

    an illustration, in music, of the relationship between the State of Israel and Palestinians:

    Das Ich – Kannibale
    link to youtube.com

    .. there is definitely a sense of sadistic pleasure in those who support, applaud, and lie to excuse, Israel’s massacre of the Palestinian people.

  17. asda
    July 23, 2014, 5:30 am

    That’s humanity in action.

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