Protesters from across the country descended on Capitol Hill Wednesday to call for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, with hundreds ending up in handcuffs.
“We were raised saying ‘Never again.’ Never again is right now. It’s this very moment,” Liv, a member of the activist group Jewish Voice for Peace, told Fox News as demonstrators sang and clapped in the background.
More than 5,000 people have been killed since war broke out between Hamas and Israel.
Thousands of demonstrators swarmed the area in and around the Cannon House Office Building on Wednesday, many wearing black T-shirts reading, “Jews say ceasefire now!”
About 300 protesters were arrested, including at least three who face charges of assault on a police officer, U.S. Capitol Police told Fox News. Police also confirmed to Fox News that demonstrators inside the Cannon Rotunda will be charged with illegally protesting inside a House office building.
“Civil disobedience is part of how we get messages across, and we need the Congress to hear, we need the president to hear,” Louisa said while her hands were bound with zip tie handcuffs. “I feel that Biden needs to stand up and help facilitate a ceasefire so no more people die.”
One member of Jewish Voice for Peace said the demonstration was planned about three days ahead of time. He flew in to D.C. from Kansas City to participate.
“We are here to send a message to President Biden and to Congress, not in our name, ceasefire now,” Michael said.
He added that the U.S. government has “a lot of power” and should de-escalate the conflict.
“We need to stop sending money, stop stationing troops,” he said.
Protesters said the crowd included dozens of rabbis and children of Holocaust survivors. Some demonstrators compared the Israel’s actions — past and present — to a “genocide.”
“It is a moral catastrophe and rather than joining us, they’re arresting us,” Liv said.
JVP previously condemned Hamas’ attacks on civilians as “horrific war crimes.” But the group’s former executive director told Fox News that although she feels “despair and sadness and grief” for Israeli civilians, the conflict between Palestinians and Israel is not an “equal situation.”
“The important thing to remember is that this didn’t start on Saturday, Oct. 7,” Rebecca Vilkomerson, former executive director of JVP, said. “There’s been decades and decades of apartheid and dispossession and siege that Israel has been imposing on Palestinian people.”
The Anti-Defamation League’s D.C. chapter condemned the protests Wednesday evening.
“Although they claim to do so, these far-left radical organizations do not represent the overwhelming majority Jewish community,” ADL DC Regional Director Meredith R. Weisel wrote. “Rather, these groups are anti-Zionists that challenge Israel’s very right to exist. Let’s be very clear — anti-Zionism is antisemitism.”
But protesters told Fox News that Jews are not a monolith and that many empathize with the struggle of Palestinians.
“We are rising up in the way that we wish others would have spoken up for our own community to do everything that we can, to risk everything that we have to stop a genocide from unfolding in real time against the Palestinian people in Gaza,” Jay said as other protesters were arrested nearby.
The demonstrators also included members of the activist group IfNotNow. IfNotNow boasted on X that, as the Capitol protests unfolded, Jews in Boston were also “committing civil disobedience” at Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office, demanding she call for a ceasefire.
To hear more from protesters, click here.
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