I just got back from an exciting protest here in Los Angeles. A group of anti-Zionist Jews and supporters who oppose Israel's military campaign in Gaza chained themselves to the doors of the Israeli consulate, closing the entrance for three hours. As the protest spilled onto the sidewalk and street, Wilshire Boulevard was completely shut down all morning, with traffic diverted to side streets.
Here's the story from the LA Times:
Jewish activists chain themselves to Israeli Consulate building
10:18 AM, January 14, 2009
Demanding an end to military action in Gaza, eight to 10 Jewish activists chained themselves this morning to the Israeli Consulate building on Wilshire Boulevard.
Other activists who were not chained to the building walked in a circle outside the consulate, chanting: "Let Gaza live! End the siege now." One of the signs they carried read: "The Israeli consulate has been closed for war crimes."
Hannah Howard, a spokeswoman for the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, which is conducting the protest, said demonstrators chained themselves to the front steps of the building at 8:30 a.m. and that two others blocked the walkway. Several more stood in front of the driveway on Wilshire Boulevard to prevent cars from entering and exiting. About 50 protesters participated in the demonstration, she said.
"Jews will not allow the violence that is being done in our name to continue," Howard said. "Not all Jews are united in support of Israel. We [also] recognized the humanitarian crisis in Palestine."
The consulate is on the 17th floor of the building at 6380 Wilshire Boulevard, and many other businesses have offices inside.
There have been many other protests specifically by Jewish Americans against this war in Gaza, both here in LA and in other places around the country. This is exciting in that it begins to break down the myth of monolithic Jewish support for even the worst of Israeli's militaristic politicies.
Do most Jews support the idea of the state of Israel? Yes, most Jews do. But most Jews also want to see Israel living in peace with its neighbors, not going to war at every provocation, not taking over more or more land that does not belong to them, and not keeping another people under occupation and without rights or basic human needs.
The anti-Zionist Jews who organized the protest (and I count myself among them although I am not a member of the particular group who organized the protest) take it a step further and question the moral underpinnings of the "Jewish state". For myself, I see Zionism as a form of nationalism and I believe that the future has to be about the abolition of all forms of nationalism in favor of a global consciousness that says that all forms of injustice and human suffering are equally abhorrent regardless of where they occur and to whom they are directed.
It's exciting to see more and more Jews stepping up and challenging the AIPAC's of the world, and letting people know that we reject militarism, occupation, and crimes against humanity being done in our name. There is another way toward peace, and it is based on mutual respect and understanding, international law, and human empathy.
UPDATE:One commentor asked for a link to the group who organized the protest. Here goes: International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
REC LIST? Gee-gad, oh how unjust the DKos rec list is. I've slaved for hours over diaries that got 10 comments, delved into deep research and writing projects about all kinds of topics of utmost concern that never got close. Now, this little one-off that took me 10 minutes goes straight to the top? Uggghh, but, hey, I'll take it, and I do think the more people know about how diverse Jewish opinion on Israel is, the better off we'll all be.