Breaking: 7 Jewish activists arrested in disruptions of Celebrate Israel parade calling for justice for Palestinians

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2017
Contact: Naomi Dann | naomi@jvp.org | 845-377-5745

Celebrate Israel parade disrupted repeatedly by Jewish activists calling for an end to denial of Palestinian rights

Seven activists arrested throughout the day in a series of protests against Israeli occupation & apartheid on 50th anniversary of occupation

Sunday June 4, 2017 (New York, NY) – The annual Celebrate Israel parade was repeatedly disrupted by over 100 Jewish activists, including 7 who were arrested for civil disobedience demonstrations that at times stopped the parade’s progress. As the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem turns 50 years old this week, the protesters highlighted the devastating impact of Israel’s separate and unequal policies toward Palestinians.

One group of activists blocked NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his contingent, protesting the New York Police Department collaboration with Israeli security forces, an exchange of worst practices that harm communities of color & Palestinians. The activists locked themselves together across Fifth Avenue, preventing the Mayor from marching for several minutes with signs reading “Black & Palestinian Lives Matter”, “NYPD & IDF collaborate to kill”, and “End Israeli Apartheid.” Several parade-goers and private security attacked the protesters.

The New York Police Department has a long-standing relationship with Israeli security, enhanced by police exchange programs run by Jewish organizations including the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. These programs bring law enforcement officials to Israel to facilitate an exchange of worst practices, including racial profiling, mass surveillance, police shootings, and suppression of political dissent. Jewish Voice for Peace just launched a new campaign #DeadlyExchange calling for an end to US/Israel police exchange programs.

Another group of queer Jews staged a sit in disrupting the LGBTQ contingent holding signs saying ‘No pride in apartheid’ and ‘Queer Jews for a free Palestine.’ “We are here as queer and trans Jews to say that apartheid and occupation are nothing to celebrate and that we will not be used by the state of Israel to cover up its violent oppression of Palestinian people,” said Craig Willse, one of the 5 activists arrested in the nonviolent demonstration.

Demonstrators with IfNotNow also unfurled a banner across the parade route that read “No Celebration with Occupation,” slowing down the procession.

Other periodic disruptions occurred throughout the route.  At the close of the parade, marchers were greeted by stiltwalkers with banners reading “Celebrate Ending Israeli Apartheid” and “Stop the Deadly Exchange.”

There is nothing to celebrate until Palestinians have equal rights, until the occupation ends, until there is justice, dignity and equality for all people living in that land,” said Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace. “This week marks 50 years of Israel’s military occupation, and 70 years since the displacement of Palestinians at the founding of the state of Israel. We can’t celebrate while Palestinians are denied basic rights to freedom and dignity.”

Photos below. See @jvplive and Jewish Voice for Peace’s Facebook page for more details. Interviews upon request.

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