NYC: Jews stage Penn Station “Die-in”

From an Aug. 22 NYC Die-In Press Release:

New York Jews Stage PENN STATION “DIE-IN”
Say to Israel and U.S.: The War Didn’t Work, Honor the Cease-Fire!
Destroying Lebanese and Palestinian societies is a crime, not a security policy

New York City – A group of more than 20 Jewish protestors staged a “Die-In” during rush hour this morning outside Penn Station, unfurling large banners and lying down on the ground to demand a cessation of continuing Israeli military aggression in Lebanon and Palestine. In a peaceful demonstration, silent protestors created a harrowing scene reflecting the large civilian death toll in Lebanon and the aftermath of war.

Coordinating with the group in New York, Jews in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Francisco staged similar events throughout the morning.

Participants expressed outrage at what they believe is a failed and immoral Israeli policy backed by the U.S. in Lebanon and Palestine. The burden of Israel’s U.S.-funded Israeli military action has fallen overwhelmingly on civilians and civil society, with over 1,000 Lebanese and 175 Palestinians killed since June 28 and over $3.5 billion worth of damage to Lebanese infrastructure. Protestors claimed Bush’s pledge yesterday of $350 million in aid falls dramatically short of a serious contribution to reconstruction, and does not excuse the rush to war supported by the Administration and Congress, including New York representatives.

The group included those with strong family ties to Israel, long-time American civil rights activists, and those speaking out against Israeli military action for the first time.

Mario Yedidia, a Die-In participant with family spread across Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa said, “killing civilians, attacking government institutions and destroying the infrastructure of modern society is an immoral course of action that will ensure security for no one. Israel is unsuccessfully challenging a simple truth: no one is secure while others live in terror.”

With a recent raid by Israel inside Lebanon this weekend, and hundreds of cluster bombs scattered in civilian areas, it has become clear that Israel is not abiding by the cease-fire.

“The current ceasefire exists in words only,” insisted Rebecca Steinfeld, a Die-In participant and native New Yorker also with Israeli family in Israel. “The people of Southern Lebanon still suffer daily Israeli violence, and the Palestinian people are in their 39th year of living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.”

“If 5000 Israelis can demonstrate against Israel’s policies, so should I,” said long-time civil rights activist Dorothy Zellner, age 68. “There are hundreds of thousands of silent Jews who believe in justice and oppose Israeli policies and it’s time we stood up and spoke out.”

The day of coordinated actions across the country has been organized by a wide spectrum of American Jews committed to peace and justice in Palestine, Israel and the entire region.

See here for photos.

See our last post on Israel/Palestine. See our last post on Lebanon.

  1. Arrests Made At SF Protest At Jewish Community Federation

    POSTED: 4:05 pm PDT August 22, 2006

    SAN FRANCISCO — Police arrested 14 men and women Tuesday after they blocked the doors of the Jewish Community Federation in downtown San Francisco in protest of U.S. involvement in Middle East conflicts.

    Bound together by ropes and metal tubing, six of the protesters sat directly in front of the building’s glass doors, which had been covered by adhesive posters and handbills.

    Sparks flew when a firefighter lowered a handheld power saw onto the piping connecting the arms of each protester. Once they were separated, officers escorted, carried or dragged each protester into a police van while onlookers cheered.

    According to police Captain Denis O’Leary, the protesters were to be transported to the Southern Police Station and booked on misdemeanor counts of disturbing a business and lack of proper identification.

    The protest did not turn violent, O’Leary said.

    Several of the activists, a few wearing traditional yarmulkes, screamed that they were, “Jews against Israel’s siege of Lebanon.”

    “I am a U.S. Jew and a taxpayer,” one protester yelled as police carried her into the van. “And I am against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and Lebanon.”

    Inside the building, as the posters were ripped down, men in suits watched as the demonstrators were carted off.

    Yitzhak Santis, a spokesman with the Jewish Community Relations Council, a public affairs organization representing the Jewish Community Federation, said the protesters were part of a “tiny fringe of the Jewish community.”

    “The Bay Area Jewish community overwhelmingly supports Israel and stands with Israel against terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah and Hamas,” Santis said.

    He also said that the Jewish Community Federation, which represents 80 different Bay Area groups involved with charity and fundraising, supports sending a multi-national force into Lebanon to prevent Hezbollah from rearming.

    But Samantha Litman, a spokeswoman for the demonstrators, said they were disputing a claim that all Bay Area Jewish organizations promote a blanket policy of supporting Israeli military action.

    “We’re appalled by what we’re seeing happening in Lebanon and Palestine,” Litman said. “Killing civilians, attacking government institutions and destroying the infrastructure of modern society is an immoral course of action that will ensure security for no one.”