Images of hundreds of anti-Zionist protesters occupying New York City’s Grand Central Terminal are spreading across the world. The city’s largest act of civil disobedience in two decades ended with the NYPD arresting busloads of Jewish activists and their allies. The demand: End Israel’s genocidal bombing of Gaza being waged in the name of Jews.
News of this action was a moralizing turn of events: just hours before, the world learned that Israel had cut all phone service in Gaza. News outlets have lost contact with their journalists on the ground, and Palestinians around the world cannot reach their loved ones. In this complete blackout, Israel began its worst bombing yet since the start of its offensive two weeks ago. The bombing reached such an intensity that Egyptians on social media reported that they could feel the vibrations from across the border.
Despite the Zionist state’s efforts to silence Gaza, the world heard them anyway and amplified the message to stop the siege, stop the bombing, and Free Palestine. Protesters mobilized around the world — from Jordan, where protesters demanded the government open its border with Palestine; to France, where a spontaneous rally was held in Paris despite the Macron regime’s attempt to ban protests. Even in the West Bank, where the Israeli military and settlers are terrorizing Palestinians and sympathetic Israelies, thousands of Palestinians bravely mobilized in solidarity with Gaza.
In this context, an emerging vanguard of anti-Zionist Jews — largely organized within the groups Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow — held an action which should once and for all end the lie that “anti-Zionism is antisemitism.” By 6:00 PM, the cops were blocking many of the entrances to Grand Central and briefly stopped letting anyone — even commuter ticket holders — into the station. Nevertheless, these determined demonstrators shut down the city’s largest transport hub during Friday rush hour. Hundreds of these activists wore shirts with bold lettering that read “JEWS SAY CEASEFIRE NOW,” while others blocked the station’s departures screens with banners reading “NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE” and “PALESTINIANS SHOULD BE FREE.” They chanted “From the river to the sea,” a popular chant which Zionists try to falsely depict as an antsemitic slogan, and “Biden Biden, shame on you!” By the time the NYPD began arresting these activists in the hundreds, about a thousand more protesters had mobilized outside of Grand Central, singing in solidarity with Palestine.
This historic action marks an important advance by the anti-Zionist Jewish movement. For the past two weeks, they have used tactics of civil disobedience to demand an end to the bombing of Gaza, and to discredit the propagandistic line, put forward by Israel and the United States, that the Palestinian liberation movement is antisemitic. An action in front of Senator Chuck Schumer’s Brooklyn home, organized two weeks ago by Jewish peace activists, resulted in over 60 arrests. Over 150 more were arrested at a similar demonstration the following weekend in Manhattan. Last week, JVP protestors occupied Capitol Hill, resulting in hundreds of arrests. Each of these actions is important by itself, but the impact of last night’s sit-in has created a sea-change in the moralization of the Palestinian liberation movement and has raised the profile of the anti-Zionist Jewish community.
These actions should inspire even more people to join the movement which is uniting Palestinians, Arabs, Jews, and many other oppressed communities within the United States, and flooding cities around the world with massive displays of solidarity. While the most mainstream demand is a progressive call for a ceasefire which would stop the current bombing and siege on Gaza, many sectors of the movement are importantly putting forward other demands which challenge the very legitimacy of the Zionist state and its imperialist backing from the United States and European powers. Some of these demands include an end of all U.S. aid to Israel and an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land established in 1948.
Left Voice calls for a socialist, secular Free Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, where Palestinians, Arabs, Jews, Christians, and all people can live peacefully together like they did before the imperialist-backed creation of the Zionist state.
Let October 27 mark the end to the lie that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.