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Rallies in 25 cities say ‘No to Islamophobia; No to Racism: Yes to Justice’

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On Wednesday evening, Dec. 21st, in 25 cities across the United States, Jews, Muslims, and other communities joined together to say with clarity and strength: No to Islamophobia; No to Racism: Yes to Justice; Yes to Dignity for All Communities. Organized to coincide with the holiday of Chanukah, which begins Saturday evening, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and its Network Against Islamophobia (NAI), together with JVP chapters and partners, initiated the actions to reignite their commitment to challenging all forms of Islamophobia and racism.

Written on eight candles in the shape of a Chanukah menorah, the commitments were read aloud for all to hear and take in. Among the commitments:
• We condemn state surveillance of the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities.
• We fight anti-Muslim profiling and racial profiling in all their forms.
• We protest the use of Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism to justify and perpetuate Israel’s repressive policies against Palestinians;
• We challenge, through our words and actions, institutionalized racism and state-sanctioned anti-Black violence.

200 people attended the rally in Washington DC (Photo: JVP)

200 people attended the rally in Washington DC (Photo: JVP)

In Kingston, New York, participants braved the cold to join the action called for by the newly created Hudson Valley JVP chapter. In Sacramento, hundreds of people stood together for a creative program co-sponsored by JVP and CAIR ending with a question from the organizers, “How will you follow through on your commitments?”—and suggestions of opportunities, educational events and actions.

In Austin and New Haven, in Ithaca, Portland, and Raleigh—and in cities large and small— community members held their candles, visibly and with conviction.

In Chicago, the local JVP chapter partnered with American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other groups to call upon Governor Bruce Rauner to reverse his position of pausing the relocation of Syrian refugees and, instead, to welcome and support their resettlement with all the resources at his disposal.

A vibrant march co-organized by JVP Boston made its way through the streets of downtown Boston. Hundreds of people participated, and the large number of social justice groups* that cosponsored the event expressed a commitment to addressing a wide range of issues.

And in Miami Beach, where I live, CAIR FL and JVP joined to create an event that brought many communities together. In addition to music and readings, a number of children read signs they had made with words of “compassion,” “justice,” “respect,” “equality,” and “a world without Trump,” in response to being asked what words came to mind when they thought of the world they wanted to live in.

Taher Herzallah speaks at the rally in Washington DC. (Photo: JVP)

Taher Herzallah speaks at the rally in Washington DC. (Photo: JVP)

The Chanukah actions are part of a broader commitment to engage in this work thoughtfully and consistently and to stand against all forms of Islamophobia—whether it is a hate crime in the street or violence resulting from US domestic or foreign policies. JVP’s Network Against Islamophobia has as its foundational principles being accountable partners in the larger movement led by Muslims and those who have been directly impacted by Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism, and, at the same time, doing the work within Jewish communities to bring these issues to the forefront. That also means engaging within our communities in learning together through workshops and discussions about the multiple ways in which Islamophobia is manifested and how we can do this work most meaningfully and effectively.

Muslim communities and other impacted groups have been organizing for a very long time. The very positive recent decision by President Obama to dismantle the regulations that enable the NSEERS (Special Registrations) program to exist grows out of years and years of organizing by groups like DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving) in NYC and by other groups that have been directly targeted by these government policies and programs. As that organizing continues to grow, JVP and NAI hope to be genuine partners in this work.

Community-building was also a key part of Wednesday’s actions, something that is much needed at this time. Participants made their commitments, not just for the evening, but as part of long-term, sustained, collaborative work for justice.

*The cosponsors of Boston’s actions included American Friends Service Committee, Northeast Palestine Advocacy Project, Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights,, Common Street Spiritual Center, Muslim Justice League, Arlington Street Church/Boston – Social Action Committee, UU’s for Justice in the Middle East – MA Chapter, Cambridge Bethlehem People to People Project, Black Lives Matter Cambridge and JETPAC Inc.

A version of this article first appeared on Huffington Post. 

Donna Nevel

Donna Nevel, a community psychologist and educator, is a founding member of Jews Say No!, Facing the Nakba, and Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism (JAAMR), and is a member of JVP-South FL.

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9 Responses

  1. AddictionMyth on December 26, 2016, 2:00 pm

    This is great! What disgusts me most is the hypocrisy of Jewish leaders who are silent when other Jewish leaders issue death threats against THEIR OWN people. And then what disgusts me even more is when they complain, “They are issuing death threats against us – you must let us build more settlements!”

  2. Marnie on December 27, 2016, 3:08 am

    Beautiful menorah and actions – hag sameah everyone :)

  3. jon s on December 27, 2016, 10:28 am

    Happy Hanukkah to all!!

    • Mooser on December 27, 2016, 12:45 pm

      “Happy Hanukkah to all!!”

      What’s so “happy” about it, “Jon s”? Those insane “Maccabees” fought with everybody in the Jewish community, nearly got us all killed or expelled, and to top it off, we didn’t learn a whole lot from the experience. Where’s the “happy”?

      • Talkback on December 29, 2016, 8:44 am

        @ Mooser
        jon s likes intifadas.

        @ jon s
        Happy intifada to you, too.

      • Mooser on December 29, 2016, 4:15 pm

        “Jon s” hasn’t got time for an intafada he’s having a wet dream aboput Israel Israel invading New Zealand!

      • amigo on December 29, 2016, 6:16 pm

        “Jon s” hasn’t got time for an intafada he’s having a wet dream aboput Israel Israel invading New Zealand! ” Mooser

        Give Jon S a break.He is deeply disappointed he can not have the opportunity to serve proudly in the ” Israeli Expeditionary Force ” to defend Israel,s ” untarnished image and teach those goys down under a lesson in how to respect their betters.

      • Mooser on December 29, 2016, 9:42 pm

        “amigo”, when Israel has the support of almost all of two billion Jews, it’s not surprising it throws its weight around and intimidates smaller countries. It’s the way of the world.

  4. Elizabeth Block on December 27, 2016, 10:38 am

    I can’t help wondering: What would have happened if Germans had done this after Kristallnacht?

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