i don’t love posting press releases, but as a new yorker this makes me happy. not as proud as i’d be were i in toronto, montréal, LA or san francisco, but nonetheless. after last week’s demonstration, which brought together the full range of jewish opposition to the israeli government’s war on gaza, from Women in Black NYC to Jews Against the Occupation/NYC to the Ad Hoc Committee of Orthodox Jews for Peace (a new group, apparently) to the informal jewish anarchist networks, here’s hoping for momentum…

so, annotated only to explain the pseudonyms:

For Immediate Release

Friday, January 16, 2009

NYC Jews Call for an Immediate End to Israel’s War on Gaza
Banner Drop at U.S.S. Intrepid Marks Spread of U.S. Jewish Solidarity With Palestinian

A banner drop over New York City’s West Side Highway, carried out by members of Jews Against the Occupation/NYC, declared “Jews Say: End Israel’s War on Gaza NOW!” This action by Jewish New Yorkers continued the wave of increasingly public Jewish solidarity with the Palestinians targeted by the Israeli government’s ongoing attack on the Gaza Strip, which has killed over 1,000 people, nearly 1/3 of them children.

The banner, which was seen by thousands of commuters during morning rush hour on Friday, January 16th, 2009, expanded the public presence of the many New York Jews who strongly disagree with the self-appointed community spokespeople who have repeatedly expressed support for the bombing and invasion of Gaza. “We are standing up for justice,” said Niuta Teitelboim [1], one of the JATO/NYC activists, “which is a Jewish tradition that many Jewish organizations seem to have abandoned. Too many have vocally endorsed a war which has involved a continuous string of Israeli war crimes: the mass killings of children and families at UN schools designated as places of refuge; the targeting with bombs and artillery fire of hospitals and ambulances; and most recently the destruction of food and medical aid supplies in a UN facility.”

JATO/NYC placed the banner at the U.S.S. Intrepid to highlight the role of U.S. aid to Israel in the current war and massacres. “Palestinian doctors, ambulance drivers, and children are being killed by bombs paid for with U.S. taxpayers’ money, dropped from planes paid for with U.S. taxpayers’ money, sent by an Israeli administration that could not maintain one of the world’s largest militaries without a constant flow of cash from the U.S. treasury,” elaborated R. Rosenthal [2], another JATO/NYC member involved in the action. “That means all of us are involved in this bloody war. Even if foreclosures and unemployment weren’t decimating our neighborhoods, surely there are better uses for $3 billion a year than helping the Israeli government commit war crimes.”

Over the past week, Jews across North America and Europe have shown their opposition to Israel’s latest war, as well as its ongoing military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem and denial of Palestinian refugees right to return home. Jewish groups have held sit-ins at Israeli consulates in Toronto, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; taken it upon themselves to declare the cancellation of a London rally in support of the war; participated actively in the many demonstrations calling for an immediate end to the bombing and invasion of Gaza; and joined the worldwide campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel until Palestinian rights under international law are respected. “Today’s action is one small contribution to the growing movement in solidarity with the 1.5 million Palestinians being bombed, shelled, and shot by the Israeli army,” JATO-NYC member Sholom Schwartzbard [3] explained. “We know from our own history what being sealed behind barbed wire and checkpoints is like, and we know that ‘Never Again’ means not anyone, not anywhere – or it means nothing at all.”

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[1] Niuta Teitelboim, known to the gestapo as “little wanda with the braids” was a partisan fighter in warsaw. as part of a mixed jewish/polish communist fighting unit, she was a key link between resistance inside and outside the ghetto. her unit bombed nazi supply trains and officers’ hangouts, robbed banks to reclaim money taken from the people of warsaw, and helped arm the jewish resistance. she personally carried out assassinations of top gestapo officers. Teitelboim was captured and killed, but didn’t give up a single name or piece of information.

[2] ‘Rosie’ Rosenthal was a lifelong peace and justice advocate, one of the rank-and-file radicals who are the often-nameless heroes of every movement. as an air force pilot, he survived being shot down twice over germany during WWII, and was rescued first by the french resistance and then by the russian army he went on to speak out against the u.s. wars on viet nam and iraq, as well as racism and economic inequality in the u.s.

[3] Sholom Schwartzbard was a jewish radical from bessarabia. he fought in the russian revolution as part of a jewish cavalry unit, against the german and austrian armies as well as the ukrainian nationalist armies, whose pogroms had killed most of his family. after the russian civil war ended he became critical of the bolshevik government’s betrayal of the revolution, and was active in the anarchist movement in paris. in 1926 Schwartzbard assassinated symon petlyura, the leader of a ukrainian counter-revolutionary army responsible for many pogroms, and was acquitted of any crime by a french jury.