‘Not in Our Name!’ Hundreds Arrested at US Capitol As Jewish-Led Protest Demands Gaza Cease-Fire
Hundreds of Jewish Americans and allies were arrested at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday during a protest demanding members of Congress push Israel for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, where nearly 3,500 Palestinians have been killed over 12 days of relentless Israeli bombardment.
Thousands of protesters led by members of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), IfNotNow, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), and other groups rallied on the Capitol grounds and inside the building, where hundreds of people took part in a sit-in.
Their chanted slogans—including "not in our name" and "cease-fire now"—resounded thunderously under the Capitol Rotunda, while at other times they clapped their hands and sang with solemn determination in Hebrew.
"We're here to say: not in our names, and never again," JVP declared. "And we'll continue our civil disobedience until Congress calls for a cease-fire in Gaza, or until they force us to leave."
"Cease-fire is the first step to stop the ongoing genocide by the Israeli military of the over 2 million Palestinians in besieged Gaza, unable to leave," the group continued. "In the past week, over 3,000 Palestinians, including 1,000 children, were murdered by Israeli and U.S. bombs. Over 1 million people are displaced. We have the power to stop this violence."
"What we know from past Israeli state atrocities against Palestinians is that the bombs only stop once there is a sufficient mass outcry from the international community," JVP added. "It's on us to build that outcry—as fast as we possibly can."
Speaking outside the Capitol, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)—the only Palestinian American in Congress—said that "the majority of Americans are literally against oppression."
"They are," she insisted. "They are against occupation. They are against human rights violations. If you just tell them the truth, they will be on our side. So we have to speak the truth."
Tlaib had a message for President Joe Biden, who has declared his "rock-solid and unwavering support" for Israel, which he visited Wednesday and receives nearly $4 billion in annual U.S. military aid.
"I want him to know, as a Palestinian American and also as someone of the Muslim faith: I'm not gonna forget this," she vowed. "And I think a lot of people are not gonna forget this."
"We thank our Jewish community for being out here saying 'Never Again'," she said.
JVP, IfNotNow, and peace activist Ariel Gold—who was at the event—said hundreds of protesters were arrested.
Wednesday's protest and arrests followed a string of Jewish-led peace demonstrations across the nation, including two major rallies in Washington, D.C. IfNotNow's website lists many events planned in cities around the country in the coming days.
"The Israeli military is preparing for a massive ground invasion of Gaza. Israeli and American leaders are dehumanizing Palestinians with vitriolic rhetoric that calls to mind the most hysterical days of... [the] War on Terror," JVP said Wednesday. "We know where this will lead: genocide."
"Many of us are mourning our Israeli and Palestinian friends and loved ones," the group continued. "We are in pain and grief, trying to process a week of horrific violence that has left so many that we know injured, traumatized, kidnapped, or killed."
"But we refuse to let our grief be weaponized to justify the murder of more Palestinians," JVP added. "As American Jews, we demand a cease-fire now. No genocide in our name."
Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams.