Rabbis Stage Protest And Call For Cease-Fire Inside United Nations

The protesting rabbis appealed to the global community to stop Israeli military operations in Gaza, despite the United States’ ongoing support for Israel’s invasion.

More than 30 rabbis and rabbinical students staged a protest at the United Nations on Tuesday morning, calling for a cease-fire in Gaza as Palestinian authorities say the death toll from the US-backed Israeli invasion of the territory approaches 23,000.

The rabbis, who gained access to the building as part of a guided tour, entered the United Nations Security Council Chamber, where they recited prayers and chanted their support for a cease-fire. HuffPost embedded with the group and observed the protest.

Last month, in the same room, the United States vetoed a resolution demanding a cease-fire in Gaza. Thirteen of 15 members of the Security Council voted in favour of the resolution; the United Kingdom abstained. Also last month, the United States abstained from a watered-down Security Council resolution aimed at increasing humanitarian aid to Gaza. Russia abstained from that vote as well, after the United States vetoed a Russian amendment calling for a suspension of hostilities.

“As an Israeli, I’ve gone through cycles of terror and anxiety, frustration, and the most we can do in Israel right now is send goodies to soldiers on the front,” said Jeremy Milgrom, a rabbi from Jerusalem. “I think coming here is going to do more for Israel.”

Pro-cease-fire Jewish groups — including Rabbis for Ceasefire, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow — organised Tuesday’s protest action.

Sophie Ellman-Golan, communications director for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, stressed the protest was not adversarial toward the United Nations, but rather, came in response to the United States’ actions as part of the body.

“Since the Biden administration is consistently, single-handedly blocking the UN from taking any meaningful action for a cease-fire, we are organising 36 rabbis and rabbinical students from seven different states to come to the UN themselves, and say, ‘We’re speaking for the people, this is a moral call,’” Ellman-Golan told HuffPost ahead of the protest.

“Every single Jewish life, every single Muslim life matters, and to save a life is to save an entire world,” said Ari Lev Fornari, senior rabbi of Kol Tzedek in Philadelphia.

American Jews have been sharply divided about Israel’s response to the October 7 Hamas attack that left more than 1,100 people dead in Israel and more than 200 taken as captives, according to Israeli figures. Nearly half of those hostages were released as part of a prisoner swap in November.

“I’m angry. I’m upset. I feel that every day that this war happens, it gets more of us — Palestinians and Israelis and Jews all over the world — in more and more danger,” said Abby Stein, a rabbi who was raised in the Orthodox community.

Many Jews have participated in pro-cease-fire protests, while prominent Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League have criticised anti-Zionist organisations like Jewish Voice for Peace. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt referred to such groups in October as “hate groups,” and several former staffers at the group told Jewish Currents this month that Greenblatt had redirected the ADL’s work to focus on pro-Palestinian activism rather than American antisemitism.


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