We bring you the voices of Jewish Voice for Peace and their allies who shut down the main terminal of Grand Central Station during rush hour Friday in one of New York’s largest acts of civil disobedience in 20 years to demand a ceasefire in Gaza. The multiracial, intergenerational movement says about 400 people were arrested, including rabbis, famous actors and elected officials from the New York State Assembly and Senate and the City Council.
AMY GOODMAN: Israel is intensifying its aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza. Palestinian officials say the death toll has topped 8,300, including over 3,400 children. On Friday, Israeli ground troops, backed by tanks and armored bulldozers, entered Gaza amidst a communication blackout that cut off contact, electricity and cellular service between Gaza and the rest of the world. Communications have now been partially restored.
On Friday, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in support of a humanitarian truce, but Israel and the United States voted against the resolution.
Massive demonstrations calling for a ceasefire in Gaza continued this weekend, including here in New York City. On Friday night, thousands of members of Jewish Voice for Peace-New York City and their allies shut down the main terminal of Grand Central Station during rush hour. It’s the largest sit-in protest the city has seen in over two decades. Many wore shirts that said “Not in Our Name” Banners were unfurled, reading, “Palestinians should be free” and “Israelis demand ceasefire now.” One sign read, “Never again for anyone.” The multiracial, intergenerational movement says about 400 people were arrested, including rabbis, famous actors and elected officials.
Democracy Now! was there. Today we bring you some of the voices at Grand Central, including Rosalind Petchesky, professor of political science at Hunter College.
PROTESTERS: Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now!
ROSALIND PETCHESKY: My name is Rosalind Petchesky. I’m here with maybe a thousand others, a lot of us Jews. But we are here to protest the genocide that is happening in our name. It has to stop. We are crying every minute. When we listen to your show, we are crying. I have a dear friend, Mohamed, with his little family in Gaza. He almost got blown up today. We can’t let this go on. We believe in justice and the right to live for everyone. But Palestinians have been the victims of oppression for 75 years, and it has to stop. That’s why we’re here, to say 'Not in our name.' I am older than the state of Israel.
AMY GOODMAN: There’s Jewish prayers in the background. The sun is going down, and it’s the Jewish Sabbath.
ROSALIND PETCHESKY: It is. And on Shabbat, we have to pray. We have to recommit ourselves to justice. I believe that Judaism and Jewish ethics — this is how I grew up thinking — are about justice and about Rabbi Hillel’s statement: If I am not for myself, who am I? And if I am only for me, what am I doing here? I glossed over it a little bit. And if not now, when? Now! Peace now. Ceasefire now. President Biden and Blinken, listen to what people are telling you, especially the young people and lots of Jews.
PROTESTERS: Not in our name! Not in our name! Let Gaza live! Let Gaza live! Let Gaza live! Let Gaza live!
INDYA MOORE: My name is Indya Moore. I am standing here, I’m resisting and protesting in solidarity with Jews, trans people, queer people, Black and Brown victims of colonization, and Americans, just like you and I, to stand against our tax dollars being used to decimate Palestinians. And we’re standing for peace. We’re standing for compassion. And we’re standing for self-determinating justice and liberated Palestine.
PROTESTERS: Stop the genocide! Free, free Palestine! Stop the genocide! Free, free Palestine!
SUMAYA AWAD: My name is Sumaya Awad.
AMY GOODMAN: And why Grand Central?
SUMAYA AWAD: Because this is a symbol of New York. This is a symbol of the United States in many ways. And so, we’re here. We’re saying this is ours. This is where we go to work. This is how we get to our children. This is how we go to school. And we want the same thing for Palestinians in Gaza. We want them to be able to live their lives in dignity and freedom.
DR. STEVE AUERBACH: My name’s Dr. Steve Auerbach. I am a pediatrician, licensed physician in the state of New York. I’m here to say that many Jewish pediatricians are calling for stopping the killing of children and their families, calling for a ceasefire now, and not in our name.
I’ve never been prouder to be a pediatrician than when, back on Friday, October 13th, thoroughly mainstream organization, the New York state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics said that “We stand with the children of Israel and the children of Gaza. We love all children, all families equally,” and calling for an immediate ceasefire. So, that was back on October 13th. Unfortunately, children and their families continue to be killed. These sorts of collective actions, collective responsibility is illegal. These sorts of mass killings of civilian areas, mass bombings of civilian areas are illegal and immoral.
The United States should be leading to call for a ceasefire now. I’ve never been prouder of the 18 congresspersons who have called for a ceasefire now. And I’m calling on President Biden and Senator Schumer and my assemblyperson, Nadler: Please, please, these are not Jewish values. It is not a Jewish value to be dropping bombs on children, killing children and their families.
SEN. JABARI BRISPORT: I am state Senator Jabari Brisport, the 25th State Senate District in Brooklyn. And I’m here calling for a ceasefire in order to allow for the release of hostages and humanitarian aid. I carry the Not on Our Dime legislation with Assemblymember Mamdani, which will stop New York from allowing for fake charities that claim to be charities to help Israeli citizens but actually fund displacement and destruction and settler violence in Palestinian territory.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you planning to get arrested today?
SEN. JABARI BRISPORT: I got arrested a week ago, and I am going to let others step up today. I got arrested a week ago at a sit-in outside Senator Gillibrand’s office asking her to start calling for a ceasefire.
ASSEMBLYMEMBER ZOHRAN MAMDANI: My name is Zohran Mamdani. I’m an assemblymember for parts of Astoria and Long Island City. And I’m here today to joining thousands of Jewish New Yorkers, rabbis and allies to say that the time is now for an immediate ceasefire.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you willing to get arrested?
ASSEMBLYMEMBER ZOHRAN MAMDANI: I’m not going to be getting arrested today, because I was arrested two weeks ago, and I was advised to not get arrested immediately after.
AMY GOODMAN: What were you arrested for?
ASSEMBLYMEMBER ZOHRAN MAMDANI: I was arrested for civil disobedience, for disorderly conduct. I was arrested alongside Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes in front of Senator Chuck Schumer’s home, calling on him to support the demand for an immediate ceasefire.
AMY GOODMAN: What does it mean to you that on this Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, thousands of Jews are here at Grand Central saying “Ceasefire now”?
ASSEMBLYMEMBER ZOHRAN MAMDANI: It shows that what we have been told about the consent for this genocide is not true. So many of the Jewish New Yorkers here are struggling through heartbreak and mourning of October 7th, and they have made it very clear that do not use their heartbreak, their tragedy as the justification for the genocide of Palestinians. In over two-and-a-half weeks, we’ve already seen more than 7,000 Palestinians be killed, close to 3,000 Palestinian children, one Palestinian child killed every 15 minutes. These New Yorkers, and so many across the state, are saying the time is now for a ceasefire, and if you’re not calling for it, you’re supporting a genocide.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDY NURSE: Sandy Nurse. I’m a councilmember to the 37th District.
AMY GOODMAN: And you represent what area of the city?
COUNCILMEMBER SANDY NURSE: Bushwick, Cypress Hills, Brownsville, East New York, City Line.
AMY GOODMAN: And why are you here today?
COUNCILMEMBER SANDY NURSE: I’m here today to stand in solidarity with Jews, Muslims, allies, because we believe in a free Palestine. We believe in a Palestine without military occupation. We believe that we need to end this genocidal war. And we do not believe that our dollars, our tax dollars, should be used to bomb other children. We don’t believe that unjustified murder of one set of children brings about murder for another set of children. We need to end this war, and we need to move towards a peaceful solution.
SECURITY: Are you a credentialed member of the media? I’m going to ask you, as a courtesy, please to leave the steps. They’re planning an announcement that people are disrupting the steps, and they’re in violation. They’re going to — they’re going to start possibly making arrests. So, if you’re a credentialed member of the media, I’m going to ask you for the same courtesy: if you’d please leave the area. Thank you.
POLICE OFFICER 1: If you refuse to leave this premises, you will be arrested on the charge of criminal trespass. If you do not accompany the arresting officer voluntarily to the prisoner transport vehicle, or if you must be carried, you may be charged with additional crimes.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell me your name and why you’re getting arrested?
JOCELYN: My name’s Jocelyn [phon.]. If someone asks for my solidarity and I can give it, that’s what I’m going to give right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Why is this important to you?
JOCELYN: I mean, the blood is on my hands, too. My tax dollars are funding this. And, you know, this is the least I can do.
AMY GOODMAN: And what’s your name?
PHI LE: I’m Phi, Phi Le [phon.].
AMY GOODMAN: And why are you getting arrested?
PHI LE: I was born in a refugee camp in the Philippines. I am Vietnamese. I am a child of imperialism. So, I can’t let — I can’t see it go on. I can’t see it continue.
PROTESTERS: [singing] Which side are you on? Which side are you on? Which side are you on?
JANE HIRSCHMAN: My name is Jane Hirschmann. I’m here because my family survived the Holocaust, but many did not. My parents were Holocaust survivors. And there’s one thing I learned: Never again means never again for anyone. We don’t condone this, and Netanyahu better stop the bombing of Gaza. You know, this didn’t start with Hamas. This started in 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were removed from where they lived in order to set up a Jewish state. And these people that they’re killing in Gaza, they were moved to Gaza because of the 1948 Nakba, which means “catastrophe.” And now they’re going to eliminate them, kill them or move them somewhere else. And it’s got to stop. And Jews, American Jews, have to step and say, “Not in our name. Not with our tax money. You cannot do this kind of genocide in front of our eyes or ever again.”
AMY GOODMAN: Are you getting arrested today?
JANE HIRSCHMAN: Oh yeah, I am. My whole family is here. I’m here with my daughters, my grandchildren — they’re not getting arrested, they moved out — my husband. We’re all here together. There are 13 of us.
PROTESTERS: Never again for anyone! Never again for anyone! Never again, Israel! Never again, Israel!
PROTESTER: I’m here to support the people of Gaza, the people who are currently experiencing a genocide. It’s disgusting that our government has enabled this. And so we’re here shutting down Grand Central to show that we, the people here, will not tolerate that.
JOYCE RAVITZ: They won’t arrest me because I have a cane. They won’t arrest me.
AMY GOODMAN: What’s your name?
JOYCE RAVITZ: I want to get arrested, and they’re refusing.
POLICE OFFICER 2: Are you ready? Are you going to get arrested?
JOYCE RAVITZ: Yes, I want to get arrested.
POLICE OFFICER 2: Let’s do it.
POLICE OFFICER 3: All right, we’ll help you stand up.
JOYCE RAVITZ: OK.
POLICE OFFICER 2: Are you ready? You need help?
JOYCE RAVITZ: I need help standing up.
POLICE OFFICER 2: We’ll put your hands behind your back.
JOYCE RAVITZ: I need my cane.
POLICE OFFICER 4: We’ll get it.
JOYCE RAVITZ: My name is Joyce Ravitz. I think that it’s really important that there’s a ceasefire.
POLICE OFFICER 3: Ma’am, let go of your cane one second, please.
POLICE OFFICER 2: Ma’am, can you let go of your cane for a second?
JOYCE RAVITZ: I let go of my cane.
POLICE OFFICER 3: All right. I’ll give it right back to you. I’m going to give it right back to you.
JOYCE RAVITZ: That there’s a ceasefire, that people stop killing each other. We have to stop killing each other. We can’t, we won’t get rid of Hamas. We won’t get rid of an idea. We might get rid of the organization. We might get rid of all of the people in Gaza. All of the Palestinians might be killed. But the idea won’t die. Freedom won’t die.
PROTESTERS: Free, free Palestine! Free, free Palestine! Free, free Palestine! Free, free Palestine! Free, free Palestine!
AMY GOODMAN: Voices from the historic Jewish Voice for Peace protest on Friday that shut down Grand Central Station in New York City. Protesters were calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. About 400 people were arrested in what’s believed to be the largest sit-in protest New York has seen in over two decades.
Coming up, Democratic Congressmember Delia Ramirez of Chicago. She’s one of 18 members of the House who have signed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire. Stay with us.