More than 100 Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) organizers and their allies shut down the University Bridge during rush hour on Thursday to call yet again for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza. This week the death toll surpassed 18,000 and the United States continues its ardent support of Israel’s genocide

JVP members in Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington DC, and Philadelphia, coordinated eight bridge closures to mark the eighth and final night of Hanukkah. According to JVP’s press release, Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of when a day’s worth of oil kept the menorah lit for eight days and the Jewish revolt against the Syrian Greek ruling class in 167 BC. JVP said that Jews who fight for Palestinian liberation “take inspiration from this lesson in endurance and hope to persist in their calls for a ceasefire and a free Palestine.” 

The pressure from Jewish, Arab, and other activists has so far led to mixed results. 

This week, 53 countries in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted to support a non-binding resolution that calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, 23 countries abstained, and 10, including the US, voted against a ceasefire. But President Joe Biden seems more critical of Israel, recently calling out Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his “indiscriminate” bombings. Still, despite public support for an end to the violence, Biden has not called for a permanent ceasefire. 

Protestors gathered on the University Bridge on Thursday. HANNAH KRIEG

Closer to home, the Washington Congressional delegation also fails to stand strong against the genocide. Besides Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who signed onto Rep. Cori Bush’s resolution in October, no other congress member in Washington has called for an end to Israel’s bombardment. 

JVP specifically targets the Chair of the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), in their actions, printing her name on signs and chanting “Senator Murray, pick a side. Ceasefire or genocide.” 

In November, Murray called for a temporary pause to allow for the release of hostages and the transportation of humanitarian aid. But JVP criticized her for not supporting a permanent ceasefire like her colleague Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the caucus, or as she did in 2021 when Israel killed 260 Palestinians in 11 days. 

It does not appear Murray has moved much on the issue. In an email to The Stranger, Murray’s spokesperson, Naomi Savin, reiterated the senator’s support for “humanitarian pauses to allow hostages to return home and critical aid to reach civilians.” 

While Savin did not express any interest from the senator in a permanent end to Israel’s bombardment, she wrote that  “...Murray is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and—as she has said many times—she is very worried for the safety of the civilians who are caught in the middle of this conflict and are cut off from food, water, medicine, and electricity. She has been very clear with the Biden administration and with Israeli government leaders that Israel needs to act in accordance with international law and do everything it can to protect innocent civilians, and she will continue to press the Biden administration on this issue.”

In her powerful position as Chair of the Appropriations Committee, Savin said Murray will “get supplemental funding—including humanitarian aid for Gaza—to President Biden’s desk.”

Many pro-Palestinian advocates do not find her disinterest in a permanent ceasefire surprising. According to Open Secrets, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) ranks number three in Murray’s top campaign contributors. Likewise, AIPAC gave Seattle-area Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), who has also failed to call for a ceasefire, more money than any other donor this year. Open Secrets found the defense industry and pro-Israel groups earned the top spots for Smith donors. 

Smith did not respond to my request for comment. 

The protest was scheduled to coincide with the eighth and final night of Hanukkah. HANNAH KRIEG

Locally, Seattle elected officials showed their support for the ceasefire in the Washington Solidarity Statement for Peace and Justice in Israel/Palestine, which has garnered more than 1500 individual signatures and the endorsement of more than 150 community organizations. Elected official signatories include Seattle Port Commissioners Ryan Calkins, Toshiko Hasegawa, and Hamdi Mohamed, State Reps. Darya Farivar (D-Seattle) and Noel Frame (D-Seattle), State Sens. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle) and Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), Seattle City Council Members Lisa Herbold, Tammy Morales, Teresa Mosqueda, and Dan Strauss.

The City Council passed a ceasefire resolution 6 to 0 in November after Council Member Kshama Sawant’s initial resolution failed earlier that month.

Of course, the council’s resolution will not stop the violence on its own, so JVP and other organizers in Seattle, the United States, and across the world will keep building power and pressure. As one organizer said Thursday night, “We’re in it for the long haul.”