Archive for the ‘Protests’ Category

New York City Council hearing on BDS

September 10, 2016

imgresThe two sides of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement squared off in New York’s City Hall on Thursday, with BDS activists disrupting a hearing where city council members discussed a resolution condemning BDS. The resolution doesn’t add penalties, but displays a hostility to a non-violent act of free speech, BDS supporters say.

Click to read Resolution 1058-2016 or see the wording after Donna’s testimony below.

Testimony  of Jane Hirschmann and Donna Nevel before the New York City council on 9/8/16

My name is Jane Hirschmann and I am representing a group called Jews Say No! We are a NYC based group of Jews who stand up for human rights and justice in Palestine. We believe that it is in the best tradition of the Jewish people to criticize, argue, think and think some more about issues of justice and fairness and to protest human rights abuses where they exist. Indeed for many of us that is one of the main lessons of the Holocaust. Also as Jews we have a particular obligation to speak out concerning Israel, which purports to speak for Jews everywhere.

As the daughter of Holocaust survivors anti-Semitism concerns me deeply. But to suggest as this resolution does, that the BDS movement is anti-Semitic or an attempt to delegitimize Israel is unfounded rhetoric and defamatory. This resolution and similar ones nationwide have been promoted by the Israeli lobby and segments of this community to distract people from the real issues at hand—Israel’s human rights abuses and blatant disregard for the law. This resolution is based on the premise that if you protest the inhumane behavior and policies of a nation state, you are delegitimizing that state, and in the case of Israel, you are anti-Semitic.

The United Nations and several International courts have made it very clear that Israel is in violation of international law. These violations include the 60 year illegal occupation of the West Bank; the illegal settlement expansion which contravenes long standing U.S. policy and hinders any serious peace effort; the theft of Palestinian lands; the blockade of Gaza and the horrific slaughter of thousands of Gaza civilians, to name just a few. Protesting and boycotting Israel for its lawlessness and violence against the Palestinians is not anti-Semitic. It is pro human rights. Can one criticize a country and their abuses without saying that those engaged in this criticism are either delegitimizing the country or, as in this case, are anti-Semitic? In fact, the notion that our protest of Israel’s abuses delegitimizes Israel is preposterous. Israel by persistently acting in an illegitimate way is delegitimizing itself. Every time it violates human rights standards, it delegitimizes itself; by occupying the West Bank it delegitimizes itself; by building a wall it delegitimizes itself, by stealing Palestinian homes and water it delegitimizes itself; by destroying Gaza it delegitimizes itself. And I could go on and on.

On the issue of boycotts I ask you to remember the bus boycotts in Montgomery. Did the boycotts delegitimize Alabama or did the racist policies delegitimize the State? Or take the boycott of South Africa for its apartheid policies. Did the boycott delegitimize the country or was it the conduct of that country? What about the most recent boycott initiated by Governor Cuomo against North Carolina over their anti-LGBT law. Was this an attempt on the Governor’s part to delegitimize that State or just a peaceful non-violent method to protest and force change by using economic and social pressure?

We in the BDS movement are also using this same time-honored, non-violent method to protest the activities of a nation state—Israel. We are not protesting the Jewish people per se because Israel does not represent nor speak for Jews all over the world. Opposing a country’s policy, is not opposing all of its residents nor is it delegitimizing the country. In the case of Israel we are simply joining a growing portion of the International community to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel until it ceases its inhumane treatment of the Palestinians; until the occupation has ended; until the right of return is recognized; and until Palestinians can live in dignity with all the same rights as Israelis.

This Israeli campaign to stifle first amendment activity, including the BDS movement is an attempt to delegitimize our constitution and the city council should not be a party to this.

Jane Hirschmann, one of the co-founders of Jews Say No!

Testimony before the New York City council

 Donna Nevel, Board Member, Jewish Voice for Peace

As part of my commitment to speaking out and supporting the movement for justice in Palestine and Israel, I would like to speak about why I consider it my responsibility to stand in support of the movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) and why I strongly oppose the resolution being put forth today. As a board member of Jewish Voice for Peace, a national organization dedicated to a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis, I am speaking here to represent the growing numbers of progressive Jews who support this global movement for justice.

The BDS movement is motivated by a call for solidarity from the international community. In 2005, a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society called for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law and ends its violations of Palestinian rights.

The resolution under discussion shamelessly and shamefully distorts the BDS movement’s goals. BDS is about leveraging pressure to compel a state to change its behavior and respect human rights. The BDS movement is not permanent; this pressure is needed only UNTIL Israel complies with basic principles of equality.

BDS has garnered such strong international support among concerned people, including Jews, across the globe because people of conscience oppose decades of denial of a people’s basic human and national rights.

One of the false and destructive accusations being made is that it is anti-Semitic to support BDS. This is not only a highly irresponsible accusation, and harmful to those fighting for justice, but it also does an injustice to the reality of actual anti-Semitism when it occurs.

It is not discriminatory in any way to hold a nation-state accountable for its human rights abuses and for violations of international law. There is nothing anti-Semitic about that in any rational definition of anti-Semitism.

There has been a call from Palestinian civil society, whose community is suffering on a daily basis, to join an international effort to hold Israel accountable to changing its behavior. That is ethical; that is a call I embrace.

 On a final and personal note, I support the ethical and yes, dignified call for BDS–as a Jew and as a human being committed to justice and to peace. I have always felt—and continue to feel—deeply connected to my community’s history of struggle and resistance; of the anti-Semitism and oppression we’ve endured. In no way is my support for BDS and my deep commitment to justice for Palestinians at odds with that deep connection to my people. In fact, it grows out of my history and life as a Jewish person who grew up learning from my deeply ethical parents to be proud of who I was but to never think I was better than anyone else or any other people, and to fight against injustice whenever and wherever I saw it.

Therefore, I will continue to support BDS with thousands and thousands of others across the globe UNTIL there is a just solution rooted in ending state policies that are discriminatory and anti-democratic and in insuring equal rights and respect and safety for all.

I hope you will reject this very wrong-headed resolution that attempts to trivialize and distort a critical human rights issue.

Thank you.


Resolution condemning all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the global movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the people of Israel.

By Council Member Cohen, Deutsch, Garodnick, Greenfield, Grodenchik, Kallos, Koslowitz, Lancman, Levine, Maisel, Treyger, Rosenthal, Cabrera, Palma, King, Gibson, Gentile, Espinal, Richards, Koo, Vacca, Van Bramer, Vallone, Johnson, Dickens, Borelli, Matteo and Ulrich

Whereas, The Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) is a campaign seeking to exclude the Israeli people from the economic, cultural, and academic life of humanity; and

Whereas, This movement targets not just the Israeli government but Israeli academic, cultural, and civil society institutions, as well as individual Israeli citizens of all political persuasions, and in some cases even Jews of other nationalities who support Israel; and

Whereas, The Global BDS Movement targets Israel and only Israel, while ignoring the world’s myriad despotic regimes; and

Whereas, Israel is far and away the most democratic and open society in the Middle East, with well-established rights for religious minorities, women, and LGBT citizens that far exceeds those of any other nation in the region; and

Whereas, The Global BDS Movement does not recognize the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination; and

Whereas, Some of the BDS Movement’s supporters and leaders have trafficked in unacceptable anti-Semitic rhetoric, including comparison of Israeli policy to that of Nazi Germany; and

Whereas, University-based BDS efforts violate the core goals of the university and global cultural development, which thrive on a free and open exchange and debate; and

Whereas, Both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in safe and secure states, free from fear and violence, with mutual recognition; and

Whereas, The Global BDS Movement does not support the two-state solution, a goal which can only be reached through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians; and

Whereas, Israel is an ally of the United States and has a long-standing relationship with the City of New York; and

Whereas, The City of New York has the largest population of Jewish residents in the nation and is home to the largest Jewish community outside of Israel; now, therefore be it

Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York condemns all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the global movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction its government and people.


Jewish Activists Arrested in Sit-in at Friends of Israel Defense Forces NYC Office

July 23, 2014

Transcript of report on Democracy Now

Not In Our Name: Jewish Activists Arrested in Sit-in at Friends of Israel Defense Forces NYC Office

Protests in response to Israel’s assault on Gaza have drawn hundreds — and in some cases thousands — around the world. On Tuesday, members of Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! occupied the New York City office of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, a nonprofit group that raises money in the United States to send to the Israeli military. For about an hour, activists read the names of the more than 600 Palestinians killed and demanded the organization stop its fundraising for the military attacking Gaza. Nine were arrested when they refused to leave the premises. We get a video report from the protest.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Protests in response to Israel’s assault on Gaza have drawn hundreds—and in some cases thousands—around the world. Here in New York City on Tuesday, members of Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! occupied the office of the Friends of the IDF. The nonprofit group raises money in the United States to send to the Israeli military.

AMY GOODMAN: For about an hour, activists read the names of the more than 600 Palestinians killed and demanded the group stop fundraising for the Israeli military. Nine people were arrested when they refused to leave the premises. Others protested outside the office. Democracy Now! was there and brings you some of their voices.

PROTESTER: Find out why Jews are protesting Israel’s war on Gaza. Take a leaflet.

REBECCA VILKOMERSON: My name’s Rebecca Vilkomerson. I’m the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace. And we’re here today in Golda Meir Plaza at the office of the Friends of the IDF, the Israeli Defense Force, and we’re planning to do an action, the groups Jews Say No! and Jewish Voice for Peace, Jewish activists who are protesting against the war on Gaza, against this incredibly terrible assault on civilians, and protesting the fact that this organization right here is actually raising money for the Israeli Defense Forces, helping them, supporting the assault that they’re making on Gazan women, children and families. So we feel like it’s really important, especially as Jews, to make the statement that this is not in our name and that the Jewish community is not behind this assault in the United States and that they need to stop doing this immediately.

PROTESTERS: No more money for Israel’s crimes! Not another nickel, not another dime!

DOROTHY ZELLNER: My name is Dorothy Zellner. I’m a former civil rights worker. I worked with SNCC for five years in the black liberation movement in the United States. Most of us have been to Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, if not once, many times, and we have seen for ourselves what the conditions are there. And it is totally unbearable to know that this country dares to even say they represent us and they speak for us. There is a sit-in going on right now up in the offices of the Friends of the IDF.

FRIEND OF THE IDF 1: No, no, no. Wait, wait.
FRIEND OF THE IDF 2: Sorry, no one can come in.

PROTESTER: We’re a group of American Jews. We’re here—

FRIEND OF THE IDF 2: I can’t have you stay here. You’re not here with an appointment. I ask that you wait outside.

PROTESTER: We are here peacefully.

FRIEND OF THE IDF 2: I know you are.

ALANA KRIVO-KAUFMAN: We are here to demand, as American Jews, that Friends of the IDF stop funding Israel’s massacre of Palestinians living in Gaza. Over the past two weeks, 621 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed. We are here nonviolently to do a civil disobedience. We mourn all who are lost, and we are reading the names of those who the Friends of the IDF have helped funded the IDF to kill.

BRANDON DAVIS: Thursday, July 10th, the following people were killed: Asmaa Mahmoud al-Hajj, age 22.
PROTESTERS: Asmaa Mahmoud al-Hajj, age 22.
BRANDON DAVIS: Was killed in a bombing in Khan Younis that killed eight members of the same family and wounded 16 other people. Mahmoud Lutfi al-Hajj, age 58.
PROTESTERS: Mahmoud Lutfi al-Hajj, age 58.
BRANDON DAVIS: Khader al-Bashiliki, age 45.

FRIEND OF THE IDF 2: We’re calling the police right now. Excuse me. Excuse me. The police are on their way. You have to wait outside.
FRIEND OF THE IDF 1: This is private property.

PROTESTER: We are here—we are here nonviolently.

FRIEND OF THE IDF 2: No, no cameras!

MAIA ETTINGER: My name is Maia Ettinger. I was raised by two Holocaust survivors: my mother and my grandmother. And in their name, I’m here today to oppose the dehumanization of Palestinians, to oppose collective punishment. These were the things that they suffered and that they taught me to fight on behalf of everyone, not just on behalf of Jews.

BRANDON DAVIS: Suha Hamad, age 25.
PROTESTERS: Suha Hamad, age 25.
PROTESTER: On Wednesday, July 9th, these many Gazans were killed. Abdel Hadi Jumaa al-Sufi, age 24.
PROTESTERS: Abdel Hadi Jumaa al-Sufi, age 24.
PROTESTER: He was killed in a bombing near the Rafah crossing.

POLICE OFFICER: Hey, you’re going to wind up—if you don’t leave, you’re going to wind up getting charged with criminal trespass. So, I would advise you, if you don’t want to get arrested, to leave now.

REBECCA VILKOMERSON: We’re here doing civil disobedience peacefully.

POLICE OFFICER: OK, good. Do whatever you want to do.

PROTESTERS: Hatem Abu Salem, age 28.

PRISCILLA READ: Priscilla Read. I’m here appalled by the crimes against humanity being committed by Israel that profess to the world that it’s capable of hitting targets in a very precise way. If this is precision bombing, the world has never seen anything like it. We are repeating the names of the people who’ve been killed in Gaza. The proportion of very young children is appalling.

BRANDON DAVIS: Nagham Mahmoud al-Zouaydi, age two.
PROTESTERS: Nagham Mahmoud al-Zouaydi, age two.
BRANDON DAVIS: Was killed in Beit Lahia. Basem Mohammed Mahmoud Madhi, age 22.
PROTESTERS: Basem Mohammed Mahmoud Madhi, age 22.

REBECCA VILKOMERSON: Looks like they’re preparing to arrest us. They have a bullhorn. When the police come in, we’re going to tell them that we’re here peacefully doing civil disobedience and that we’re here peacefully. We’re mourning all lives that are lost, but we’re holding the Friends of the IDF accountable for helping to support the IDF to kill all these people in Gaza—whose names we’ve been reciting for almost an hour, and we’re still not through the list—and tell them that we’re here peacefully. We will not resist arrest, but that we’re not leaving.

INSPECTOR ED WINSKI: Good afternoon, folks. I’m Inspector Winski from the NYPD You are trespassing on private property. I’m going to give you an opportunity to leave. And if you choose to leave, you can leave now; if not, you’re going to be arrested. So anyone that wants to leave can leave now.

PROTESTERS: [singing] We are a peaceful Jewish people. We are singing for Gazan lives.

AMY GOODMAN: Nine members of the Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! organizations were arrested Tuesday occupying the offices of the Friends of the IDF in New York. Special thanks to Democracy Now! producers Hany Massoud and Sam Alcoff and to our fellows, Anna Özbek and Daniel Begun, for that report.

The Israeli Settler Movement Not Welcome in New York City!

November 19, 2013


On Sunday, November 17, several groups protested a conference supporting the Israeli settler movement, featuring leaders of the Shomron Regional Council, the Zionist Organization of America, a U.S. congressional representative, and others. They met to discuss “why Judea and Samaria [which is the Israeli-occupied West Bank] must be the main focus of today’s Israel advocacy.”

All Israeli settlements in Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territories violate international law, according to major human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the International Court of Justice, and governments worldwide. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying country from moving its citizens into the occupied area as residents.

The protest was sponsored by Jews Say No! and Jewish Voice for Peace NY and several endorsing groups— Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, Brooklyn For Peace, NYC Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, John Jay Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Rutgers Newark SJP, Brooklyn SJP, Hunter SJP, Rutgers New Brunswick SJP, CUNY Law SJP, New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership

 Press Release


In the Press:

Mondoweiss:  Yesterday in New York there was a gathering of settlers and their supporters at a synagogue on the Upper West Side…..Thankfully, there was a robust demonstration against the settlers conference outside, and many of the speakers inside were jarred by the protest, and referred to it angrily.

Jerusalem Post:  A small group of protesters representing left-wing Jewish groups marched silently in single file outside the synagogue during the conference, holding signs against Israel’s presence in the West Bank. The signs bore such slogans as “Jews say no to occupation,” “Jews say justice for the Palestinian people” and “Jews say not in our name.”




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Protest the IDF Dinner! March 17, 2009

March 16, 2009


The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces are inviting people to “join us in saluting the soldiers of the IDF and showing them our love and support.” The dinner will be attended by “notable dignitaries” from Israel and Washington. Three IDF soldiers will address the audience via live satellite from “the field in Israel.”


Join us in showing opposition to the occupation and siege of Gaza.
Join us in showing support for justice for the Palestinian people.

301 Park Avenue, between 49th and 50th Streets
5:15-6:30 P.M.

Grit-TV coverage of 24-hr protest

February 18, 2009

Click here for footage from the demonstration

Click here for a panel discussion that includes Jews Say No organizer Hannah Mermelstein

More Pics from WZO & JA protests

February 14, 2009

More from Daniel McCabe:

And for a slideshow by Yoji Sugaya:

900 New Yorkers join 24 hour protest for Gaza!

February 13, 2009

On February 13 at 9 am, Jews Say No, wrapped up 24 hours protesting in front of the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency to say “Not in Our Name” to the Israeli government and to these US-based organizations that promote and defend its policies. Close to 900 people participated in the protest, some for one hour, some for 24 hours! In the wake of the election of a far right wing majority in Israel, these concerned Jews mobilized to build on the wave of increasingly public Jewish solidarity with the 1.5 million Palestinians who continue to live under siege in Gaza.

The protest was held for 24 hours to highlight the reality endured by the people of Gaza who are forced to live under inhuman conditions without reprieve, 24 hours a day. The demonstrators wanted to show the devastating impact of the Israeli occupation, the ongoing violence, bombings, and home demolitions by the Israeli government, and the effects of Israel’s blockade, which denies the people of Gaza food, water, medical supplies, and other humanitarian aid. The day was marked by three periods–morning, afternoon, and night–in the life of a child in Gaza. Readings depicted what life should be like for children but what, instead, as a result of the Israeli government’s actions, their daily conditions are like.

Protesters from many different Jewish backgrounds- long time civil rights and peace activists, Holocaust survivors, children of survivors, as well as first time participants- came together to speak out against the ongoing Israeli siege on Gaza.  Testimonies from participants about why they were there and letters of solidarity from around the world with today’s action were read throughout the day. Dr. Ruchama Marton, President and Founder of Physicians for Human Rights, Israel, wrote “We, Israelis, Jews, and Palestinians, need your voice that says NO clearly and loudly as a tool for creating change in Israeli and American policy”. Nabila Espanioly, Director of the Al-Tufula Center for Women and Children, declared, “As a Palestinian citizen of Israel I join you in your demand: not in my name, not with my tax money. After the election in Israel, I believe today it is more important than ever to sound your voice.”

See photographs by Daniel McCabe below, and more photographs and video to be posted soon.

Photographs by I-Witness Video at

4:40 am update at 24 hour protest

February 13, 2009

4:40 am: More than 870 people have been to the protest already! This photograph was taken a few minutes ago:

40 am

Jews Say No – 24 hour protest

February 10, 2009


In solidarity with the people of Gaza, who are being forced by the Israeli government to live in inhuman conditions under a brutal occupation, please join us for a 24-hour street protest in front of the offices of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency, which promote and defend Israeli policies.

Thursday, February 12, 9 a.m. – Friday, February 13, 9 a.m.
633 Third Ave (40/41st Sts, east side of Third Ave)



Please come for an hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, or more — during the day or night! Allies are encouraged to join us. Signs and visuals will be available.


Endorsers of the February 12-13 Jews Say No protest:

Nicholas Abramson
American Jews for a Just Peace
Renate Bridenthal
Elly Bulkin
Leslie Cagan
Jesse Ehrensaft-Hawley
Nina Felshin
Danielle Feris
Michelle Fine
Sherry Gorelick
Cindy Greenberg
Jane Hirschmann
Carol Horwitz
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-USA
Jews Against the Occupation
Jews for a Just Peace–North Carolina
Esther Kaplan
Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz
Abigail Levine
Alan Levine
Richard Levy
Hannah Mermelstein
Marilyn Neimark
Donna Nevel
Michael Ratner
Judy Rebick
Alisa Solomon
Len Weinglass
Dorothy Zellner

and hundreds of additional people have endorsed our call

January 12 Israeli Consulate protest

January 12, 2009

Jewish protest against the Israeli massacre in Gaza
Monday, January 12
in front of the Israeli consulate, NYC

We are Jews who say “Not in Our Name” to the Israeli Government.
We call for:
-an immediate end to the massacre of the Palestinian people
-an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli troops
-an immediate end to the blockade of Gaza
-immediate steps taken to end the Israeli occupation

We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, with protesters in Israel who are bravely opposing the brutality of their government, and with all those around the world calling for justice and peace in the Middle East.

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Photos by Bud Korotzer

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