Protesters at “New York Stands With Israel” Press Conference Insist City Council Members "Do Not Speak for Us!"
Protesters confront Rep. Eliot Engel and others as they depart the "New York Stands With Israel" press conference at New York City Hall on Monday, July 14, 2014.
Around a hundred protesters surrounded New York City Hall during a “New York Stands With Israel” press conference Monday morning. The event, which was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York, was intended to give New York City legislators the opportunity to justify Israel’s week-long bombing campaign of Gaza. But chants of “shame on you, City Council”, “New York stands with Palestine”, and “from Brooklyn to Palestine, genocide is a crime” penetrated the press conference—and media reports of it.
“Our elected officials are using their positions as representatives of the people of New York to lend support to Israel’s abuses and violations of international law,” Adalah-NY member Mindy Gershon stated. “These officials don’t speak for us!”
“We want to let the City Council know that most of New York does not support racist genocide and apartheid by [Israel],” said Bill Dores, a member of Al-Awada Right to Return Coalition.
John Francis, one of the organizers of the demonstration, added, “This is a one-sided war of choice, driven by the Israel government’s hunger for land and fueled by corporate desire for profit. We must hold Israel accountable.”
Demonstrators also staked out the exits of City Hall Park, shouting “Shame!” and other chants at those departing. In attendance at the event were Reps. Eliot Engel, Charles Rangel, Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, and Nita Lowey; New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver; Consul General of Israel to New York Ido Aharoni; and numerous City Council members. Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who drew ire earlier this year for addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in secret, was conspicuously absent.
Most attendees passed the line of protesters quietly but some, including Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels and partner of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, engaged the crowd in taunts.
On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "no international pressure" would stop him from continuing to strike Gaza. He also said that "there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan," a scenario which would see the occupation continue indefinitely.
US taxpayers send $3 billion a year to Israel. Americans have millions of additional dollars invested in companies that provide equipment and services to the occupation.
Over 25,000 individuals have signed a petition calling on President Obama to push for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
Photos of the protest outside City Hall, as well as additional videos of confrontations with attendees as they depart, follow.
UPDATE 7/14/2014 6.30PM: There is a ceasefire on the table. A decision is expected Tuesday.
Protesters confront Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels and partner of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, as he departs the "New York Stands With Israel" press conference at New York City Hall on Monday, July 14, 2014.
An attendee of the "New York Stands with Israel" press conference at New York City Hall takes a video of protesters.