While senior White House officials were in Jerusalem today to mark the opening of the U.S. embassy, and 55 Palestinian protesters in Gaza were killed by Israeli forces, young Jews with the group If Not Now blocked traffic in Washington DC outside the Trump International Hotel for two hours by erecting an “Embassy of Freedom” to protest the administration’s move.
Rebecca Hornstein, a Rabbinical school student from Philadelphia said, “Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem puts the U.S. stamp of approval on the ongoing evictions and dispossession of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the ongoing violence directed at Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank– all of which are counter to Jewish values.”
“The images coming out of the region could not be starker: American and Israeli officials smiling and celebrating in Jerusalem contrasted with dead and wounded Palestinians in Gaza,” said protester Lila Weintraub, an IfNotNow member in DC, “Now is when our community needs to choose a side: will they support the Trump and Netanyahu alliance or speak out for Palestinian freedom?”
A statement for the group said President Donald Trump’s move of the embassy is an “endorsement of the policies of the Israeli occupation” and tied Trump to “the extremist policies” coming from Israel.
Following Israel’s declaration of Independence 70 years ago today, Jerusalem became divided under Jordanian and Israeli control. After the June 1967 War, Israel captured the eastern part of the city. While Israel’s seat of government has been in Jerusalem since 1948, Israeli control over East Jerusalem was not recognized internationally until Trump’s December 2017 announcement that he would move the embassy. Still, the White House maintains that recognition of the city as Israel’s capital should not prejudice a final status agreement between the Israeli and Palestinians.
Other countries have since followed the U.S. Paraguay became the latest to declare intent to move their embassy to Jerusalem last week. Yet European officials condemned the embassy opening with many boycotting the reception.
Young Jews are taking the streets against Trump moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. This provocation will serve to further entrench the brutal occupation. American Jews are building an #EmbassyOfFreedom pic.twitter.com/8yUu5dnp41
— Maiya Zwerling (@ML_GZ) May 14, 2018
— (((YonahLieberman))) (@YonahLieberman) May 14, 2018
An @IfNotNowOrg activist notes they shut a busy DC street during rush hour without being arrested, while scores were just harmed in Gaza over the same issue.
“What’s newsworthy is that we could do all of this freely, and that Palestinians could not.” pic.twitter.com/WMC05xN25n
— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) May 14, 2018
Over 150 protested in DC against relocating the U.S. embassy, a latest in a series of direct actions by If Not Now where 37 were arrested in demonstrations in 30 cities across the U.S. in recent weeks.