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“Pro-Israel Senators Targeted in N.Y.C. Protest Calling for Gaza Cease-Fire”

A gathering turned into a scene of arrests on Thursday night as more than a dozen individuals were taken into custody during a peaceful demonstration inside a Manhattan building housing the offices of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats from New York.

Donning black T-shirts with the message “Cease Fire Now” emblazoned on them and wielding signs urging the senators to “stop funding genocide,” the protesters formed a human chain, seated on the floor in front of the building’s elevators at 780 Third Avenue. Their defiant stance led to their eventual arrest by the police.

The protest, orchestrated by a local faction of Jewish Voice for Peace, aimed to spotlight the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, particularly the recent escalation between Israel and Hamas. The situation has resulted in significant casualties, drawing international attention and calls for a ceasefire.

Earlier in the day, hundreds had gathered at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza near the United Nations headquarters, decrying the U.S.’s voting pattern regarding resolutions calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The Biden administration’s repeated opposition to such measures has underscored its steadfast support for Israel.

With heavy police presence, the demonstrators marched towards the American Israel Public Affairs Committee headquarters, attributing the conflict’s perpetuation to senators influenced by AIPAC. Their passage of an aid package funneling billions into Israel’s military efforts against Hamas fueled the demonstrators’ resolve.

Elena Stein, overseeing the protest’s organization, stressed its moral urgency, lamenting the U.S.’s alleged complicity in what she described as Israel’s “genocide against Palestinians.” Despite past efforts to sway lawmakers, she bemoaned their perceived indifference.

The protest featured diverse expressions, from musical performances to placards denouncing AIPAC’s influence on elected officials. State Assemblyman Zohran Kwame Mamdani delivered a fervent address, urging continued advocacy for a ceasefire, while across the street, counterprotesters voiced their dissent.

Among the protesters was 81-year-old Carolina Cositore, who identified herself as both American and Jewish, condemning what she deemed AIPAC’s undue influence on Congress. The gravity of the situation in Gaza, she emphasized, demanded action.

Simultaneously, another group of protesters staged a sit-in at 780 Third Avenue, resulting in further arrests. For individuals like Louisa Solomon and May Ye, the demonstration was an assertion of Jewish values and a repudiation of what they viewed as tacit endorsement of genocide.

The ongoing conflict has galvanized regular protests in New York City, with concerns over rising antisemitism and Islamophobia heightening tensions. Amid the turmoil, humanitarian crises persist, with casualties mounting and essential supplies dwindling.

International pressure against Israel’s military operations has mounted, with South Africa characterizing its policies towards Palestinians as akin to apartheid. Yet, Israel vehemently denies accusations of genocide, buoyed by unwavering support from the U.S. government.

However, cracks in this support may be emerging, with reports of the Biden administration contemplating measures to restrain Israel’s military actions. As diplomatic efforts intensify, the hope for a lasting ceasefire remains precarious amidst the ongoing turmoil.

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