Jews occupy ‘Statue of Liberty’ to demand cease-fire in Gaza
New York, November 7, 2023 (Bass Desk): Hundreds of American Jewish activists on Monday peacefully occupied New York’s ‘Statue of Liberty’ to demand a ceasefire with Israel and an end to the ‘genocidal bombardment’ of civilians in Gaza.
Demonstrators wearing black T-shirts with slogans such as ‘Jews want a ceasefire now’ or ‘Not in our name’ waved banners reading ‘The whole world is watching’ and ‘Palestinians must be free’ at the foot of New York’s iconic Statue of Liberty.
The giant copper statue is located on Liberty Island at the entrance to New York Harbor.
Jay Saper of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), organizer of the rally, said in a statement, “The famous words of our Jewish ancestor Emma Lazarus inscribed on this monument compel us to take the necessary steps to allow Palestinians in Gaza to breathe freely.”
Emma Lazarus (1849-1887), American Jewish poet, helped Jewish refugees flee Europe to New York in the 19th century.
Emma Lazarus was an American author, poet, and translator as well as an activist in the Jewish and Georgist movements. He is remembered for writing the sonnet ‘The New Colossus’ inspired by the Statue of Liberty in 1883. His writing appears engraved on a bronze plaque, which was placed at the base of the Statue of Liberty in 1903. Lazarus was involved in helping refugees in New York who had fled Eastern Europe.
Jay Saper’s statement quoted Lazarus’ poem ‘New Colossus’, which is inscribed on the statue’s base to address American immigrants.
Participants at the Institute for Middle East Understanding called for ‘an end to Israel’s genocidal bombardment of Palestinian civilians in Gaza’.
Photographer Nan Goldin said, ‘As long as the people of Gaza are screaming, we must scream louder, no matter who tries to silence us.’
At that time, some local elected officials stood by. Some political leaders were present, the left is in a political strong position.
New York City, a multicultural hub for immigrants, has been rocked by pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protests over the past month.
The city is home to about two million Jews and several hundred thousand Muslims and has so far avoided any violence related to the conflict. Tensions are also evident in certain places such as university campuses.
Jews, a liberal segment of American Jewish youth, vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party. They have been harshly critical of Israel. They accused Israel of carrying out a ‘genocide’ against Palestinians in Gaza.
They also condemned President Joe Biden’s military and diplomatic support for Israel. Israel has been bombarding the Palestinian territories for a month since the October 7 attacks by Hamas.
The Hamas-run health ministry said the death toll in Gaza had surpassed 10,000 as of Monday.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters demonstrated in Washington on Saturday. A large number of JVP workers were present among them. They called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and condemned the policy of US support for Israel.
In late October, thousands of JVP protesters occupied Manhattan’s massive Grand Central Station with similar demands.
Separately, thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters, including some from American Jewish organizations, shut down the Brooklyn Bridge.