JVP-Seattle Statement on MLK Day actions

There was no business as usual on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Seattle. Responding to the call from Black leaders, Seattle reclaimed MLK day as a chance to demand revolutionary change through several creative actions across the city. JVP-Seattle is inspired by all of the powerful actions that occurred, and we are especially proud of our members who participated in a collective act of civil disobedience that shut down SR 99 for over two hours.

The day began with the distribution of The Seattle Crimes—a fake front page folded over the Seattle Times, which imitated the look of the newspaper, but whose content highlighted the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement. Articles included an argument against the new King county youth jail, a critique of racism in the Seattle Police Department, and an examination of gentrification in Seattle’s historically Black Central District.

Following the huge MLK march and rally, community members occupied two major highways. A group led by Black youth and people of color marched from the Federal Building to the Mercer onramp of I-5 where the Seattle Police Department assaulted marchers with pepper spray and arrested several people.

Simultaneously, eight community members, who mostly identify as Jewish and queer, including several JVP members, intentionally linked arms in lock boxes and blocked SR-99, stopping all north bound traffic for two hours. All eight individuals and three supporters were arrested, and have since been released.

Participants in the lock down aimed to use their bodies to stop traffic for four hours and twenty-eight minutes to represent the time Mike Brown was left in the street after being killed by a police officer. They were calling attention to the heartbreaking fact that every 28 hours a Black person is killed by the police, security, or vigilantes. Using their white privilege to refuse complicity in a racist system, these individuals honored the lives of Black people killed by a racist police state by reading their names during the protest.

Jewish Voice for Peace-Seattle is proud that our members helped to shut down business as usual in order to amplify the demands coming from Black leaders in both Ferguson and Seattle.

To support MLK day actions, including legal fees, go to the Tumblr site.

Please join us for a Chanukah Day of Action to end Police Violence

MenorahJewish Voice for Peace-Seattle is calling on Jewish folks and friends to join together with Jews across the country on the first night of Chanukah as part of a national day of action to end Police violence.

We will publicly participate in a Chanukah candle lighting to express our grief and outrage over the police killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and the other African Americans who are killed every twenty-eight hours by police or vigilante law enforcement.

As Jews, we cannot accept living in a society where black lives are seen as disposable. We cannot accept a world in which an encounter with the police for a minor infraction kills a father of six, where an unarmed eighteen-year-old is killed and then left on the street for four and a half hours, or where a twelve-year-old is shot and killed while playing in the park.

Jews insist that Black Lives Matter.

Event: Tuesday, December 16th, 6pm, Meet downtown in front of Pacific Place (600 Pine St) for public ritual, which will be Jewish led, but open to all for participation! RSVP here.

To read more about the principals and demands, or to find an action in your city, visit Chanukah Action to End Police Violence.

JVP-Seattle Statement on Ferguson

JVP-Seattle is outraged at the recent Ferguson Grand Jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed African-American Michael Brown. We recognize that it is just one example of the racism that permeates the US and devalues Black lives, just as Israel continues to devalue Palestinian lives.

We are determined to use our outrage and heartbreak to fight against the dehumanization and devaluation of people of color from the US to Palestine and to keep fighting for a world in which all people’s lives are equally valued.

It has been inspiring to witness community responses across the US protesting centuries of systemic, racist, and militarized police violence. And it has been moving to witness powerful expressions of solidarity from Palestinians in Gaza to African-Americans in Ferguson and back again.

We recognize that the devaluing of African-American lives built into the fabric of US government and society is mirrored in Israel’s unequal treatment of Palestinians. We know that at the root of Israel’s assault on Gaza this summer is a belief that Palestinian lives do not matter. We should neither have to say that Palestinian lives matter or that Black lives matter. But we do. They do.

Just as the mainstream media often labels all Palestinians as “terrorists,” it also depicts young African American men as “thugs” in order to dehumanize them and thus justify state violence against them. It’s not surprising to see the similarity in the tactics and technologies of repression against those who are rising up nonviolently in both places. Police officials, including recent leaders in St. Louis, have received military training from the Israeli Defense Forces. While we recognize those connections, we must stay rooted in the specificity and history of each place, even as it is critical to our organizing to understand the global structures that enable them both.

We believe another way is both necessary and possible. As Jews in Seattle, many of us white, we commit ourselves to continue the work of resisting and reshaping the structural inequalities that exist within the US, in Israel/Palestine, and in the rest of the world, and to do so heeding the call of those who suffer the consequences of inequality every day. By insisting on the connections among struggles, we will keep building a global response to racism and oppression from Ferguson to Palestine.

A Letter To Seattle City Council Members

Dear Seattle City Council members,

As the Seattle chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), we want to express support for Councilmember Sawant’s letter calling on Obama and Congress to condemn both Israel’s ongoing collective punishment of the people of Gaza and Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket fire into Israel. We, as Jews, vocally and visibly work against the Israeli occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

JVP is a national grassroots organization dedicated to achieving a just and lasting peace that recognizes the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination. JVP has over 180,000 online supporters, 40 chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Cabinet, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists. Here in Seattle our chapter includes descendants of Jewish Holocaust survivors, members with family living in Israel, and former members of the Israeli Defense Force.

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Bodies on the Line in Solidarity with Palestine

(originally posted by Wendy Elisheva Somerson on the Tikkun blog)

Protesters in locked arms laying on the crosswalk

Waking up every morning to news that Israel has bombed yet another school, mosque, or hospital in Gaza, has been so infuriating, heart wrenching and demoralizing. It has been hard to feel helpless in the face of such a large scale massacre being carried out in my name as a Jewish person. When I isolate at home watching the horrors unfold, it has been easy to spiral into a vortex of shame and immobilization about Israel’s actions.

Yesterday morning was different: instead of passively watching the news, our group of Jewish, Palestinian and allied activists made some news ourselves. Our Seattle and Tacoma chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace, along with the Seattle chapter of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, participated in an act of civil disobedience at Boeing in Tukwila, Washington in order to stop the business of war as usual. Boeing has been a major supplier of weapons to the Israeli Defense Force, including missile systems, F15 software, and Apache Helicopters. Our aim was to draw attention to how Boeing is profiting from these horrendous attacks on civilians in Gaza.

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JVP Stages Die-In at Pike Place Market

For Real Peace, Take the Profit out of Palestinian Suffering

Deeply concerned Jews in Seattle, in concert with other local activists and Jews across the country, are engaging in a demonstration in Pike’s Place Market to demand that the truth be told about the violence being perpetrated by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people. Since the beginning of Israel’s assault on Gaza, upwards of 190 Palestinians have been killed, many of them children. Using street theater to illuminate the brutality of Israel’s war on the civilians of Gaza, Jewish Voice for Peace demonstrators call out not only Israel’s one-sided assault, but also the corporations profiting from Israel’s wars and decades-long Occupation.