For Immediate Release: October 20, 2023
3,000+ New Yorkers Demand Ceasefire in Gaza!
200 arrested calling for ceasefire and peace as civilian deaths continue to rise
NEW YORK, NY — On Friday, a diverse coalition of over 3,000 New Yorkers, including Palestinian and Jewish organizations, elected officials, labor organizers, and residents from across the five boroughs, rallied in Manhattan to condemn the Israeli government’s ongoing bombardment in Gaza. They urged Senators Gillibrand and Schumer, all New York’s Congressional representatives, and others to join them in demanding a ceasefire and an end to U.S. funding for war crimes. As President Biden asks Congress for $14.3 billion in military aid to Israel today, the coalition joins a chorus of anti-war demonstrations across the country and around the world arguing that ceasefire is the only way to stop mass civilian deaths, bring hostages home, and provide desperately-needed humanitarian aid.
“As a DSA member, and as a Jew who lost a branch of his family tree in the Nazi Holocaust, I’m proud to be part of an anti-war organization that stands for solidarity and the full thriving of all human beings,” said Jeremy Cohan, Co-Chair of NYC-DSA. “At a moment when Palestinians are being subjected to an ethnic cleansing funded by our government—on top of generations of apartheid and occupation that have already taken far too many Palestinian and Israeli lives—we New Yorkers must come together to prevent any more pain and death. We won’t stop until this war ends: we demand our politicians support a ceasefire now.”
“Hochul and Adams have blood on their hands. Cutting off food, water, electricity, and medicine to 2.2 million people; forcing over a million Palestinians to leave their homes; bombing residential buildings, hospitals, schools, and places of worship. These are war crimes and crimes against humanity, plain and simple— and our governor and mayor are proudly supporting them. We are in a moment where silence is complicity. As a Palestinian and a New Yorker, I am not willing to just sit idly by while Israel, with US backing, commits war crimes against Palestinians. We will continue to protest in our streets until a ceasefire is reached, and our tax dollars are spent on funding public schools and transportation, not bombs raining down on Palestinians,” said Sumaya Awad, Palestinian activist, writer and member of NYC-DSA.
The rally was sponsored by the New York City Democratic Socialists of America, Adalah Justice Project, Muslim American Society of NY, Muslim Democratic Club of New York, Bangladeshi Americans for Political Progress (BAPP), Majlis Ash-Shura Islamic Leadership Council of New York, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), MORE-UFT (Movement of Rank and File Educators), IfNotNow NYC, Jewish Voice for Peace NYC, Yalla Brooklyn, Islamic Circle of North America NY (ICNA-NY), Crown Heights Tenants Union, Malaya Movement New York, Planet Over Profit, and Housing Justice for All. Attendees heard from Jeremy Cohan, Co-chair, New York City Democratic Socialists of America, Palestinian activist and writer Sumaya Awad, City Councilmember Tiffany Cabán, City Councilmember Shahana Hanif, Assembly Member Zohran K. Mamdani, Rabbi Morgan Bassichis, Rev. Khader Khalilia, Nastaran Mohit and others.
Speakers warned that Palestinians are on the facing a genocide funded by the U.S. government, and called for elected officials to join the call for an immediate ceasefire, open humanitarian aid into Gaza, and an end to US military aid for war crimes.
Demonstrators then marched to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Manhattan Office, demanding an end to the Israeli government’s blockade, occupation, and apartheid system against Palestinians. Over 150 were arrested, including State Senator Jabari Brisport, Assembly Member Marcela Mitaynes, and City Council Member Shahana Hanif.
Reports from Gaza show a humanitarian catastrophe is rapidly unfolding. The Gaza Health Ministry reports that over 4,100 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, over 1,500 of them children. Over one million people have been displaced. Hospitals are on the brink of collapse. Water and food are scarce. There are no bomb shelters in Gaza.
“We are horrified at the genocide that Israel is carrying out against Palestinians in Gaza, in the name of Jewish safety and with the full support of the U.S. government,” said Morgan Bassichis of Jewish Voice for Peace New York. “It is reprehensible to use Jewish pain and fear to justify collective punishment. Jewish New Yorkers demand our representatives call for an immediate ceasefire.”
Speakers mourned and condemned the deaths and violence against all people caught in the crossfire of this conflict and noted that the war’s atrocities are also harming New Yorkers, many of whom have family in Israel/Palestine who have been fearing for their lives as bombs continue to fall on people’s homes and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, as well as during Hamas’s horrific attacks on civilians. They also highlighted that calls for war by Democrats and Republicans are inciting hate against diaspora communities right here in New York and across the U.S.
“My American Jewish community is in mourning. We are utterly devastated right now. Through our loss, we are here to tell our elected leaders: The answer to all this grief cannot be mass murder,” said Brooklyn-based Rabbi Miriam Grossman. “The answer cannot be denying children food and water. That is not a path to mutual lasting safety. The answer has never been — and can never be — continued occupation and apartheid and the denial of Palestinian humanity. In this moment, we cannot hold back our grief for the suffering of other human beings. And we cannot let our own grief be weaponized into mass unthinkable violence.”
“In the midst of this devastating conflict, we must remember that every life lost is a tragedy, regardless of nationality or religion. The ongoing violence has claimed and continues to claim the lives of innocents, leaving families torn apart and communities shattered. We cannot allow this bloodshed to continue unchecked. A ceasefire is not a sign of weakness, but a testament to our strength as leaders and peacemakers,” said Assembly Member Phara Souffrant Forrest. “By calling for a ceasefire, calling to bring the hostages home, calling for aid to be let in to Gaza, we demonstrate our commitment to preserving life, promoting justice, and working towards a lasting solution. “
“As I’ve spoken with Jewish, Palestinian and Muslim constituents across my district, what’s emerged as a unifier is our shared fears, desperation, and hopes for a lasting peace,” said Council Member Alexa Avilés. “I unequivocally condemn the killing of any Israeli and Palestinian civilians. I also condemn the use of my tax dollars to fund human rights violations. We need an immediate ceasefire and hostages must be returned now. Peace is an action. We should be funding peace, choosing peace, speaking peace.”
“We need a ceasefire right now, so a humanitarian corridor can enable aid to get into Gaza and hostages to be safely released,” said Council Member Tiffany Cabán. “That’s how we halt the Netanyahu government’s genocidal agenda and begin to chart a course toward safety, freedom, and equal rights for all Palestinians and Israelis.”
As the civilian death toll rises and nearly a quarter of Gaza residents are being displaced, the coalition highlighted their anti-war principles, arguing against the $3 billion per year in military aid the U.S. sends to Israel.
“The Israeli assault on Gaza is a severe breach of international law, and it deeply challenges our common humanity. These attacks on civilians, hospitals, and places of worship, which include children and the elderly, must come to an end. The indiscriminate bombings of safe havens must cease. Dehumanizing vulnerable individuals must cease. The people of Gaza are enduring immense suffering, and they are left with very limited access to critical medical treatment, surgical procedures, or essential medications,” said Reverend Khader Khalilia, Member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “We urge the Biden administration and members of Congress to take immediate action to halt this humanitarian crisis, put an end to the imminent genocide, and ensure the free flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza by lifting the blockade.”
“We are witnessing a genocide and humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Hospitals have run out of painkillers, and bodies are being stored in ice cream trucks. We are calling for a ceasefire because it is the only way to stop the killing and provide humanitarian aid.Most Americans are on our side. 66% of Americans want a ceasefire. The majority of American do not want the US government to send more weapons to Israel. And still, President Biden is asking for $14B for military aid for Israel. As New Yorkers, we must make it clear that we don’t stand for this,” said Assembly Member Zohran K. Mamdani.
“Every day we are bombarded with more devastating news from Palestine, along with further commitments from our political leaders to maintain their unequivocal support for Israel, which includes $3.8 billion dollars in funding. This is a matter of grave concern for all US citizens, as our tax payer dollars directly fund the ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The labor movement has a moral obligation to stand with the oppressed, and on the right side of history. We call for an immediate ceasefire, and an end to all military support for the Israeli occupation,” said Nastaran Mohit with US Labor Against Racism and War.
Audio/visuals available upon request include:
Photos, video of 3000+ crowd of New Yorkers protesting outside Senator Gillibrand’s office; individual signs
ABOUT NYC-DSA: New York City Democratic Socialists is the local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America—the largest socialist organization in the United States with over 85,000 members. NYC-DSA is run by its 6,000+ members and activists who are working together to build a democratic socialist organization in the five boroughs.