By Joshua Albert
Approximately 60 activists from Jewish Voice for Peace made their way to Jewish Community Services to deliver a petition signed by over 34,000 people to the Jewish Federation League of North America. The petition was addressed to Jerry Silverman, President and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America; Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center; and Rabbi Steve Gutow, a representative of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs. The petition urged leaders to take a public stand for an immediate ceasefire and to call for an end to the blockade and sanctions imposed on Gaza that continue to severely impact the quality of life for residents of the impoverished Strip.
Protesters held placards with messages including: “Ceasefire is not enough, end the blockade”, “ Hold Israel accountable”, and “Some are guilty, all are responsible”.
10 civil affairs officers and Philadelphia police Homeland Security officials were on-scene.
Six protesters were able to gain entry to the building by claiming to be from the Mitvah Food Project, a non profit with offices inside the building. The activists then refused to leave until they received a face-to-face meeting with the president of Jewish Federation’s Philadelphia chapter, Naomi Adler.
Adler, reportedly not in the building that day, instead held a conference call with the six protesters. The phone call was organized by police and building officials.
Adler said that she could not make this promise, and so the six refused to leave and sang Hebrew peace hymns for the duration of their occupation.
“It’s about time this happened,” said one Jewish Federation employee of the protesters as she left the building.
A lone supporter of the Israeli occupation and siege of Gaza, who identified herself as Edith Still, shouted at the six peace activists: “How many rockets have you flown?”
Police offered to perform a “mock arrest”, which entailed handcuffing protesters so they could walk them out for the photo opportunity. The protesters agreed, and they were cuffed inside, led out of the building, then immediately un-cuffed and given disorderly conduct citations.
Peace activists cited yesterday are due in court August 26th, and will be given the option of paying a fine, challenging their citations, or entering a diversionary program.