The Conspiracy

I Was Arrested for Protesting Deaths in Gaza

I was arrested on Tuesday.

My crime was participating in an act of civil disobedience outside the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas in solidarity with Palestinians being killed in Gaza.

“I was arrested on Tuesday.” | [Public Domain], via Pixabay

I could have had it worse. When Palestinians peacefully protest for their own rights, which they continually and bravely do, they apparently risk taking a bullet.

Beginning on the eve of Passover, thousands of Palestinian adults and children marched for the freedom and dignity denied to them by Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Israel’s response was to fire rounds of live ammunition at unarmed people. As of today, Israel has killed 33 people in Gaza. Over a thousand more have been injured.

It is inexcusable that Jewish institutions like the JCRC are silent about the 33 Palestinians who lost their lives at the hands of Israel, a state that claims to represent the Jewish people. It is even worse that American Jewish institutions move beyond silence, overtly justifying Palestinian suffering. The JCRC of Minnesota and the Dakotas chose to do just that after IfNotNow’s protest when its Executive Director insisted, “Hamas terrorists have manufactured the current crisis as part of its long-standing campaign to destroy the Jewish state of Israel.” This statement is detached from the reality and denies any nuance or moral responsibility. The Occupation is a daily nightmare for millions of Palestinians, not a fabrication of Hamas.

When IfNotNow demonstrated outside the JCRC of Minnesota and the Dakotas on Tuesday, we asked that they condemn the violence in Gaza. Instead, they chose to double down on their moral blind spot on Palestinian human rights.

Growing up, I was taught at synagogue that saving a life is more sacred than anything else, more important than any other mitzvah. As I sat outside the JCRC surrounded by my IfNotNow siblings, singing songs of peace and freedom, I had never felt more connected to the people around me and to Jewish tradition. While I was being arrested, it struck me that Jewish institutions have forgotten the sanctity of life that is so central to Judaism. Our Jewish leadership is too scared to condemn killing when the people killed are Palestinians. Our community deserves better.

Young Jews across North America are rising against the Occupation and the violence that upholds it. IfNotNow now has over 1,700 members in thirteen cities in the United States and Canada, and over the past few weeks, a total of 24 young Jews have been arrested, calling on Jewish leaders and institutions in Minneapolis, Boston, New York, and Los Angeles to condemn the violence on Gaza. Young Jews are reaffirming the sanctity of human life, showing solidarity with the oppressed, and refusing to be silent in the face of injustice. In other words, we are acting on the Jewish values we were taught at synagogue, in religious school, and by our families.

The status quo in the American Jewish community is unacceptable and unsustainable. Our people will never be free while we oppress another. As American Jews, we must decide, are we on the side of endless Occupation or of freedom and dignity for all?

Josie Slovut is a freshman at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities studying forest and natural resource management.

Correction: Since the time this article was published, the author received confirmation that the JCRC of Minnesota and the Dakotas did not call the police. This article has been edited to reflect this.


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One Older Response to “I Was Arrested for Protesting Deaths in Gaza”

  1. Beer baron
    April 14, 2018 at 1:40 am #

    If not now is another George Soros funded anti-Israel organization.

    Amqzingly, this author is upset because Israel will not allow its enemies into its nation–which the Arabs dream of destroying.

    She, like the organization to which she belongs, is too pathetic for words.

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