Jewish groups protest at U.S. Capitol, demand Gaza cease-fire

by Mark Richardson
Illinois News Connection

Chicago - Thousands of American Jews from Illinois and across the country protested at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., this week, calling for a cease-fire in the war in Gaza.

It has been more than a week since Hamas invaded Israel, leaving hundreds dead and injured. Since then, Israeli troops have bombarded Gaza in an effort to take out Hamas and free hundreds of Israelis and others who were kidnapped.

Scout Bratt, a member of Illinois Jewish Voice for Peace, said they are opposed to waging war against the Palestinians who live in Gaza, most of whom are not affiliated with Hamas.

"There is no military solution to this," Bratt argued. "We need to address root causes, which include the Israeli military occupation in apartheid, and again, our own government's role in funding this oppression."

Thousands of members from the same group protested at the White House earlier in the week. The event was peaceful, but dozens of protesters were arrested for "civil disobedience." A Marist poll found 63% of Americans favor U.S. public support for Israel, but 79% fear the war will lead to a larger Middle East conflict.

As the protests played out, President Joe Biden flew to Israel and other Middle Eastern countries to show solidarity with the Jewish nation. Bratt noted her group has a message for Biden: to end U.S. military support to Israel. She added most of the military equipment being used is paid for and made on U.S. soil.

"It's about holding accountable our government for contributing to these severe crimes," Bratt contended. "Essentially, what we're demanding is a cease-fire. Now."

Bratt pointed out American support for Israel's attack in Gaza is spurring violence against Palestinians here and in other parts of the world. She cited an incident in suburban Chicago this week when a landlord allegedly killed the 6-year-old child of one of his tenants because, according to the man's relatives, the child was Palestinian.

"There's a lot of rhetoric and vitriol that both Israeli and American leaders are perpetuating that is dehumanizing," Bratt stressed. "Clearly this vitriol is contributing to violence here in our own cities."

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