We won’t be bullied into silence

February 23, 2015

Palestinian rights activists have come under fire after protesting a New York City Council meeting in opposition to a planned trip to Israel for 15 council members sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC).

In all, more than 60 groups ranging from Jewish Voice for Peace to Al-Awda NY-The Palestinian Right of Return Coalition have held press conferences and sent letters to legislators denouncing the trip as pro-Israeli propaganda and pointing out past links between New York police and the Israel Defense Forces. As Mondoweiss.net noted, the Jews Against Islamophobia Coalition has "urged City Council members to stay away from the trip because of the JCRC's endorsement of anti-Muslim practices, like the NYPD's surveillance of Muslim communities."

When activists with the Direct Action Front for Palestine unfurled a banner during a recent City Council meeting, they were criticized as anti-Semitic. In response, the following petition is being circulated, defending the right to speak out against Israeli apartheid.

ON JANUARY 22, Direct Action Front for Palestine unfurled a banner at a meeting of the New York City Council to silently protest an upcoming, all-expense-paid trip to Israel by 15 Council members.

The banner was dropped as the Council was voting on a batch of resolutions, including one commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Although interruption of that resolution was entirely coincidental, the protesters were widely smeared in the media as "anti-Semitic" for "disrupting Auschwitz liberation commemoration."

Jews for Palestinian Right of Return rejects this absurd slander and applauds DAFP and others who courageously spoke truth to power at the City Council.

In fact, the Council's shameful support of Israel--not the protest--is the real insult to the memory of Holocaust victims. In the words of survivor Lillian Rosengarten: "I too am a refugee from Nazi Germany, and I am a Jew who must say no to apartheid, occupation, check points, stolen land, racism and a desire for a Jewish state only obtained through the suffering and blood of Palestinians."

Protest outside the New York City Council against plans for a tour of apartheid Israel
Protest outside the New York City Council against plans for a tour of apartheid Israel (Jews for Palestinian Right of Return)

Israel's massacre of more than 2,200 Palestinians (500 of them, children) last summer in Gaza only adds to the list of atrocities committed to perpetuate that state.

We the undersigned call on the City Council and its media allies to stop defaming supporters of Palestinian rights with false accusations of anti-Semitism, and to cease their complicity with apartheid Israel.

First published at Change.org.

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