Protesters chained themselves to the exterior door of the Israeli Consulate at 20 Park Plaza on Tuesday hoping to convince Israeli officials to denounce the use of live ammunition against demonstrators in the Gaza Strip.
According to the IfNotNow organization, which launched the protest, Boston police arrested eight members before anyone from the consulate reacted to their request for a public stance opposing the national government’s policies.
“The police were called before anybody in the consulate came out’’ to meet with protesters, Adam Greenberg, a member of the volunteer organization, said in a telephone interview after the protest. He was not among those arrested.
Boston police said the eight people arrested face three charges: being a disorderly person, disturbing the peace, and trespassing.
Israeli Consul General to New England Yehuda Yaakov responded to the protest by releasing the following statement.
“Israel and America have a shared appreciation for freedom of expression, based of course on respect for the law,” Yaakov said. “What we saw today crossed the line into lawlessness, following a recent public call on social media to ‘Target Yehuda Yaakov.’ We have full confidence in Boston law enforcement and city authorities to ensure the safety of our American and Israeli employees, and are very appreciative of the understanding and support of the building’s staff and tenants to this end.”
During a Gaza confrontation between Palestinian protesters and Israeli military last week, at least 15 people were killed, and the IfNotNow group contends that the use of weaponry against the demonstrators was a mistake that should not be repeated.
“IfNotNOw is a community of young American Jews aimed at ending American Jewish support for the occupation’’ of Gaza and the West Bank by the Israeli government, said Greenberg. “The Israeli occupation of Palestine is an ongoing daily nightmare for Palestinians and a moral crisis for the Jewish community both in Israel and the US.”
Eliza Kaplan, 24, of Jamaica Plain, said she’s been involved with IfNotNow for about two years. She said she participated in the protest Tuesday morning as an emcee, speaking into a megaphone and singing songs, but she was not among those arrested.
“I’m Jewish and I feel really connected to my Jewish identity,” she said, “and I’ve been really disappointed and horrified in the Israeli government’s support for the occupation.”
Kaplan said when she saw the Gaza violence unfold on the news on Friday, she began to grow fearful of what could be to come.
“I’m starting to get scared that there will be increased escalation,” she said.
And that’s why she was out there Tuesday morning.
“I’m really passionate about bringing my Jewish community with me and standing against the occupation, and standing against violence and calling for freedom and dignity for all — for Israelis and for Palestinians,” she said.
“I don’t have all the solutions, but I know that the status quo is completely unacceptable,” she said. “And I hope that our community can say with confidence that the status quo is unacceptable and that we want a future that is more safe and more just for all people.”
Jen Wishnie, 24, of Jamaica Plain, who also participated in the protest and was not arrested, echoed those sentiments.
“I want to see a world where all people are valued as human,” she said, “and I think that world is impossible under occupation.”
Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.John R. Ellement can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.