Sat, Jun

75 Jewish Organizers Arrested After Blocking LA Freeway to Demand Cease-Fire


PROTEST - "Until our tax money stops funding an active genocide, we will disrupt business as usual," said the Jewish-led Palestinian rights group IfNotNow on Wednesday as organizers shut down a section of the 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles for about an hour starting at around 9:30 am, demanding a cease-fire in Gaza. 

The California Highway Patrol reported that 75 people were arrested for stopping traffic on the southbound lanes of the busy highway, where they sat with a banner that read, "Permanent Cease-fire: Equality, Justice, Safety for All."

"Jewish tradition teaches that all human beings are created B'tzelem Elohim, in the image of G-d. For us, starvation and slaughter in Gaza violates our deepest beliefs," said IfNotNow on social media, demanding that the Biden administration support the international call for an immediate cease-fire.

The group noted that 66% of Americans, according to polling released by Data for Progress in October, back a cease-fire. In November, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found the 68% of Americans believed Israel should negotiate a cease-fire. 

The action came as the Biden administration was reportedly negotiating with Republicans in Congress regarding a White House request for $100 billion in military aid funding, some of which would go to Israel. Last week, the U.S. State Department bypassed Congress to send tank shells to the Israel Defense Forces, which have killed more than 18,600 Palestinians, left nearly 25,000 children orphaned, and caused the collapse of Gaza's healthcare system as doctors have struggled to treat tens of thousands of injured people and diseases have spread. 

Despite public opinion, escalating protestspleas for a cease-fire from international humanitarian groups, and an overwhelming vote in favor of a cease-fire at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, the Biden administration has shown no signs of heeding the demand. 

"As Jews, we cannot sit by as the people of Gaza are starved and slaughtered our name," said IfNotNow. "And as Americans, we can't let [President Joe] Biden and Congress send billions more in funding for Israeli war crimes."

IfNotNow Los Angeles acknowledged that the action had disrupted the lives of residents on the freeway. 

"Though I do NOT agree with the method of freeway closures and impacting innocent commuters," said one observer, "I understand the Jewish community wanting to get Americans' attention that the Jewish community does not stand with Zionism (Israel) or their war crimes in Palestine."

(Julia Conley is a staff writer for CommonDreams.org where this article was first published.)