Video by Jay Firestone
At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, six people from the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network chained themselves together using piping chain-link to blockade the entrance to the Israeli Consulate building on Wilshire Boulevard on Los Angeles’ Westside.
Police quickly closed the boulevard to traffic, and employees of the building, at 6380 Wilshire, were told not to come to work. A spokesman from the consulate said that those who were in the building were not allowed to leave during the protest.
The protesters carried signs and wore T-shirts pronouncing the consulate closed due to “war crimes.”
Over the next two hours, about 40 additional protesters from the same group marched and chanted in front of the building demanding an end to the Israeli offensive in Gaza.
“A lot of my family live in Israel, and I want people to know that as a Jew, this is not a decision I condone. I don’t want to see this level of violence going on in my name,” said Nina Becker, 26, about the Israeli siege in Gaza. She said she has not spoken to her Israeli relatives since the offensive began, but she said she wants to spread the message that not all Jews support the Israeli military effort in Gaza.
Despite news Wednesday morning of a potential ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, the small group continued their demonstration, calling for a boycott of “Israeli apartheid” and repeating the chant, “U.S. Jews Say Not In Our Name.”
“We’re here today because as Jews we demand an end to the siege in Gaza and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people,” said Hannah Howard, 30, an organizer of group. “We recognize Israel is a project of European Jews who went into a land where people already lived, and we do not support a state that does not allow for Palestinian self-determination.”
Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton arrived on the scene soon after the protest began and personally demanded the group unchain themselves and end the blockade of the building. To avoid arrest, the group complied.
Eric Romann, 31, declared the effort a success because they had achieved their goal of shutting down the Israeli Consulate.
“I don’t believe Hamas is a terrorist organization,” Romann said. “I support a politically arranged situation in Israel-Palestine, where everyone has the same rights.”
StandWithUs President Roz Rothstein also quickly came to the scene, called there by Consulate officials. StandWithUs has staged multiple pro-Israel rallies across the region since the conflict began, including one drawing between 2,000 and 3,000 supporter last Sunday at the Federal Building.
“I think we’ve got to make sure that everybody understands this is one-sided propaganda given without context, with exaggerated use of terminology especially, when they invoke terms like ‘apartheid,’” Rothstein said.
“They neglect to recognize Hamas’ double war crimes—launching rockets from civilian populations into civilian populations. All the people standing here today? It’s not even in their vocabulary.”
The protest ended at about 11a.m., but the group said they plan to continue to protest at other locations, including outside City Hall to send their message to L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa.