On Wednesday, despite heavy rain and the presence of hundreds of police, over 1,000 protesters, led by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and IfNotNow, held a peaceful demonstration in Hollywood, California calling for an immediate ceasefire in Israel’s US/NATO-backed genocidal war in Gaza.
Protesters of every racial, religious and ethnic background participated in the event, which began with a march at De Longpre Park and ended up blocking Hollywood Boulevard, a tourist destination in the heart of the US film and entertainment industry. Thousands of protesters, many of whom were Jewish, occupied the intersection and chanted “Ceasefire now!”
Rally participants wore black shirts that read, “Not in our name” in the front and “Jews say ceasefire now” on the back.
JVP noted in a press release that the demonstration was held at “a site of historic labor organizing and storytelling.”
“Jewish people in entertainment have been blacklisted and muzzled for such political repression in the past,” JVP wrote, “and we see this repression repeated today against those who support Palestinians and oppose genocide and occupation. Much like our predecessors in Hollywood, we refuse to be silenced and say loudly, ‘Never again for anyone.’”
Wednesday’s protest in Hollywood coincided with a similar event organized by Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow outside the Democratic Party headquarters in Washington D.C. While both rallies were dominated by non-violent Jewish people and ceasefire advocates, in D.C., police reacted violently after demonstrators locked arms near the exit and entrance of the building while calling for a ceasefire.
IfNotNow reported that 90 people were injured in the D.C. protest after US Capitol Police rioted against them. One Capitol Police officer, who earlier in the evening stomped on a candlelight display that had been constructed by protesters, shot pepper spray onto the face of Jewish woman who was simply standing there. Several other cops were observed using their bicycles to push protesters, in addition to punching and kicking them.
Following the police rampage, Democratic and Republican politicians, many of whom participated in the pro-genocide “March for Israel” rally the day before, including Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Speaker of the House Michael Johnson, released statements falsely blaming the anti-genocide protesters for the violence carried out by the police.
While no one was injured by police at the Hollywood demonstration, the peaceful character of the protest did not prevent the Los Angeles Police Department from deploying hundreds of officers for several hours to menace demonstrators. Even after the protest ended, without any arrests, hundreds of cops were observed milling around in a nearby parking lot.
Reporters for the World Socialist Web Site interviewed several protesters at the rally. University of California Santa Barbara students Natasha and Liliana both agreed that what is happening in Gaza is a “genocide and we think it’s completely wrong.”
“This isn’t a debate,” Natasha explained. “It’s black and white. There’s a right and a wrong and Israel is completely in the wrong for committing genocide on a whole entire population.
“The West Bank, all of Palestine has been occupied by Israel... it needs to end now. I can’t believe they are even having a debate on this.
“The European people, we’re all against this genocide. It’s the government that is defying us. Democracy is not real anymore. It’s fake. Because we are all... against this genocide. All the people, yet the government are defying us. They’re using our money to fund a genocide.”
Liliana, who was holding a sign that read, “Hitler came back as Netanyahu,” agreed. “It’s 75 years and it’s about children dying, not war, because there is no war. It’s one side attacking the other for all this time, and it needs to stop.”
Indra, a nurse in Los Angeles, explained, “I’m here to support my colleagues that are in Gaza right now that are being killed. This is just absolutely horrific what’s happening. As a nurse, as a human being, we need to stop killing.”
Lenny, a social worker, said he came to the rally because “I’m just appalled by the genocide that’s happening in Gaza.” Kitty, a retired teacher, concurred, saying, “I agree with him completely. I cry every day over what’s happening.”
Elsie said she came to the rally to “end to the occupation and a ceasefire to the genocide.”
“Liberation for Palestine is liberation for us all,” she continued. “American imperialism, Western imperialism, it all needs to end.
“We have Jewish people here siding with us. So Zionism does not equal Judaism, and we know the difference between that... the media is trying to grasp at anything. They can’t control us anymore, especially now that we have social media.
“They are losing their grasp on enslaving us, in a way.”