Yesterday, I came upon a political demonstration by the side of state rout 13, heading into Ithaca, New York. The protest, held by a coalition including students from Cornell University, Ithaca College, Catholic Worker and Jewish Voice for Peace, was one of an ongoing series of daily demonstrations being held in opposition to U.S. aid for the Israeli military.
At the protest, I spoke with Beth Harris, professor in the Ithaca College Department of Politics and member of Jewish Voice for Peace. When I asked her what the protest was all about, she explained, “The United States really allows this to happen, or actually encourages it by not having any kind of human rights restrictions on the massive aid that the U.S. gives Israel. So, for us as U.S. citizens, and for many of us as Jews, we don’t want to be complicit with the ongoing massacres in Gaza.”
Harris mentioned three specific demands of the protest. “We’re calling for an end to U.S. aid to Israel,” she explained. “We’re also calling for, as long as Israel is receiving U.S. aid, most of which is military aid, and most of it is used to actually buy weapons from the United States, that there be conditions on aid, like with any other country, that there be an investigation, specifically, on the aid that is received.” A third goal was an end to military action by Israel: “We’re calling for an end to the attack right now on Gaza, but also the general policy of attacks on civilians, and that there should be accountability.”
Harris made it clear that her group is against violence against civilians by Palestinians in Gaza as well. “We oppose all violence toward civilians on either side. The rights of all should be protected, and the Gaza rocket fire, they don’t really have the ability to direct it, so they don’t know who they’ll hit. We oppose that,” she said.
With violence between Israel and Gaza continuing to escalate, we can expect to see this protest will be back out on the street tomorrow.