Hundreds of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) organizers, their allies, and multicultural faith leaders chained their wrists together, locked arms, and blocked all entrances to the Jackson Federal Building downtown Friday morning.
The action marks an escalation in the group’s tactics after weeks of demanding that Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) end aid to Israel and call for an immediate ceasefire in Israel’s genocidal campaign against Palestine. As demonstrations ramp up in Seattle, across the country, and around the world, anti-war protesters believe the mounting pressure could push the US government to facilitate a deal between Hamas and Israel to save lives before Israel’s kill count—9,000 Palestinians, including 3,600 children—climbs any higher.
NOW: Jewish Voice For Peace and allies are blocking the doors this morning at the Federal Building, demanding that Sen Patty Murray stop funding the genocide of Palestinians: pic.twitter.com/oWW8K8nqpg— Hannah Krieg (@hannahkrieg) November 3, 2023
“This is a basic, decent, human, moral, and even obligatory call, and it is the bare, bare, minimum. We need [Murray] to take action and join the majority of the world, the majority of Americans, who call for a ceasefire now," said Aneelah Afzali, executive director of the American Muslim Empowerment Network of Puget Sound.
As Afzali noted, 66% of Americans and 80% of registered Democrats agree that Congress must call for a ceasefire, according to a recent poll conducted by Data for Progress.
Still, JVP demonstrators see no shortage of forceful opposition, including Friday morning, when police pushed elders to the ground and confiscated a ladder, stranding an organizer who climbed on an awning to hang a banner.
An organizer brought a ladder to drop a banner. Cops did not want them up there: pic.twitter.com/KLYvSDLyn1— Hannah Krieg (@hannahkrieg) November 3, 2023
As for Congress, only 18 representatives in the House, Seattle Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) among them, have signed onto the ceasefire resolution. While no elected official has formally put forward such a resolution in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the caucus, became the first of his colleagues to endorse a ceasefire in an interview Thursday morning. The demonstrators ask: If Durbin can do it, what’s Murray’s excuse?
When asked if Murray will join Durbin in calling for a ceasefire, her spokesperson pointed to the senator’s statement supporting “humanitarian pauses,” which she issued Thursday. The call for “humanitarian pauses” continues to increase among elected officials—even President Joe Biden called for one under the pressure of a rabbi.
According to Murray’s statement, a humanitarian pause would allow aid to reach innocent Palestinians. Then Israel can return to bombing Gaza, backed by even more US tax dollars. The House passed a $14.3 billion funding package to pay for Israel’s attacks, but the Senate will not entertain the bill since it does not fund aid to Ukraine. In light of that doomed proposal, Murray, as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said she will produce a bipartisan funding package to pay for Israel’s violence and the aid that the violence necessitates.
A “humanitarian pause” is not a ceasefire. Ceasefire, according to JVP, means the Biden administration facilitates an agreement between Hamas and Israel where Hamas returns the hostages and Israel stops killing Palestinians. Hamas officials reportedly said they will not release remaining hostages until Israel makes a ceasefire agreement. In a recent statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected even a “temporary ceasefire that doesn’t include a return of our hostages.”
The protesters insist that ceasefire, and further, an end to Israel’s occupation, represents the only solution to the conflict. JVP Executive Director Stephanie Fox urged Murray to answer their call, noting that Murray built her political career marketing herself as a “mom in tennis shoes.” If the mom in tennis shoes does not stop genocide, Fox asked, “What will you tell your children? What will you tell your grandchildren?”