By Jewish Voice for Peace

March 13, 2024  The Wire


As Ramadan begins, pressure on the Biden administration to end its support for the Gaza genocide is mounting.

Biden has warned that an invasion of Rafah, where 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering, would be a “red line” without a plan to evacuate civilians — but Netanyahu is moving forward with plans to invade anyway, openly defying the same government supplying him with billions in military funding.

Any moral evacuation of Rafah is impossible: There is nowhere for people to go. A “civilian evacuation” would instead amount to an ethnic cleansing of Gaza on par with the Nakba of 1948, when over 750,000 Palestinians were forced to flee their homes to make way for the founding of the state of Israel.

The Palestine solidarity movement’s unyielding pressure on the Biden administration to call for a ceasefire and end its unconditional support for the Israeli military has led to a shift in rhetoric from the White House. In the past few weeks, the administration has begun using the word “ceasefire,” and has indicated growing frustrations with Netanyahu’s actions. But Biden has still failed to take any material steps to curb U.S. support for Israeli genocide.

All eyes on Rafah.

The Biden administration needs to go much further than shifting its tone in order to apply enough pressure to end this genocide.

That’s why we’re keeping our eyes on Rafah — and on all of Palestine. In the West Bank, as the month of Ramadan begins, Palestinian worshippers are already being denied entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, with fears that Israeli police violence against Palestinians will escalate further as the first Friday of Ramadan approaches. Palestinian community and popular struggle leaders are being kidnapped by the Israeli state — particularly disturbing following the recent harrowing reports of at least 27 deaths and widespread torture of Palestinian captives in Israeli detention facilities.

With these horrors in clear view, our mandate as Jews committed to Palestinian liberation is to continue the struggle against our government’s complicity — and to continue forcing the conversation about why the U.S. is backing a genocide into the mainstream. And, by taking action during some of the most televised days of the year, that’s exactly what we’ve done in the last week.

The State of the Union.

JVP members joined a broad coalition of organizations at the State of the Union in D.C., managing to block Biden’s motorcade en route to Congress. This protest delayed the start of Biden’s speech, forcing the demand for ceasefire into mainstream media coverage. A CNN broadcast live from the protests reported on our movement’s strategy: “This is the biggest platform where they can make a statement to the president.”

And the Academy Awards.

And during Hollywood’s biggest night, the Academy Awards, the movement made sure that Palestine was all over the coverage.

JVP-Los Angeles, in coalition with Filmworkers for Palestine, Adalah Justice Project, Writers against the War on Gaza, and SAG-AFTRA Members for Ceasefire, led protests shutting down the Oscars venue, delaying the start of the red carpet. Once the show began, actors like Ramy Youssef and Mark Ruffalo, wearing “Ceasefire Now” pins, spoke in red-carpet interviews of the pressing need for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. Even from the awards stage, director Jonathan Glazer made the direct connection between his film, about a German officer living next to Auschwitz, and the importance in the present of “refuting…  Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation.”

It’s still not enough.

In these key moments, some of the most televised of the year, our movement has repeatedly taken over the narrative, refusing to let U.S. media look away from a genocide.

At the same time, we know that all this is still not enough. While the Israeli government is starving children in Rafah, this is not enough. While the Israeli military decimates Gaza, this is not enough. While Palestinians are deprived of medical care, imprisoned, banned from travel, barred from returning to their homes, to their land, this is still not enough. While the Biden administration merely pays lip service to a ceasefire, refusing to use the leverage at its disposal to end the Gaza genocide, this is not enough. That’s why we’re not going anywhere. We’re keeping up the fight.