Demonstration commemorating Gaza at Museum of Natural History, NY, Aug. 26, 2015
At 4 pm yesterday, the NYC chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) rallied outside the Museum of Natural History to call attention to the destruction wrought by Israel upon Palestinians in Gaza. On this date last year, Israel and Hamas signed a ceasefire following 50 days of bombardment, during which over 2,200 Palestinians were murdered — including over 500 children. Though life has returned to normal for Israelis, the destruction from the assault and continued blockade force Palestinians in Gaza to live in conditions that can only be described as criminal. Accountability and justice remain elusive for Palestinians.
JVP demonstration commemorating Gaza a year later, in NY, August 26, 2015
While activists remember the deaths of last summer, the rally was a call to action: Jewish Voice for Peace demands an immediate end to the blockade of Gaza and all military aid to Israel. “Gaza is out of the news, but the blockade continues,” said Lana Povitz, a Jewish Voice for Peace member. “Even as we mourn, Israel’s current policies are only compounding the destruction.”
JVP recognizes that the siege of Gaza exists within a system of occupation, dispossession and racism. Last month, JVP hosted Siam Nawara, who spoke about how his son, Nadeem, was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier last year. “Israeli forces killed 11 Palestinian children with live ammunition in the West Bank in 2014, but Nadeem’s is the only case that resulted in an investigation,” said Beth Miller, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace. “If we want to change the reality on the ground, we have to challenge systemic impunity for Israeli forces throughout the occupied territories.”
Central to the protest was a recognition of the complicity of the United States in Israeli policies, and international military and policing cooperation between the countries. “Many activists in the #BlackLivesMatter movement have been making connections with the Palestinian resistance,” said Robyn Spencer, an assistant professor of history at Lehman College who spoke about the issue at a JVP event last year. “It’s not just that certain weapons appear in both places. We have to acknowledge the ways that Black bodies pose a problem for the United States, and the way Palestinian bodies pose a problem for the Israeli state, and connect the dots, so to speak, of the racist ideologies at the root of Israeli and U.S. society.”
After the rally at the Museum of Natural History, the group of around 100 demonstrators marched to Columbus Circle, where members of the Granny Peace Brigade then read aloud the names of Palestinian children who were murdered last summer.