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.
Below is a video, followed by a transcript:
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 dont 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 Ã–zbek and Daniel Begun, for that report.