Special to the Gazette
On Tuesday, January 30, Jamaica Plain residents joined hundreds of others at coordinated rallies at congressional and Senate offices across the state. They are demanding that the elected officials must work to end US complicity in genocide in Gaza by calling for an immediate bilateral ceasefire, cutting off all further shipments of weapons to Israel, and for the Biden Administration to reverse its cruel decision to defund the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – the largest aid agency providing education, health care, food, and other assistance to millions of Palestinians in Gaza and beyond. The rallies were in response to the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) January 26th ruling that ordered Israel to take steps to protect Palestinians and prevent a genocide in the Gaza Strip and of the decision of the US government to abruptly stop funding UNWRA on the same date.
Constituents of Congressman Stephen Lynch gathered outside his district office in Quincy. They spoke and delivered a letter, in which they commended him for recently signing Congressional statements https://escobar.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=1494 that call for significant changes in the Biden Administration’s policies regarding Palestine and Israel. In particular, the advocates highlighted these statements that they said showed that he understands that the problems go beyond Israel’s current military action in Gaza- “ A renewed humanitarian ceasefire is needed now… Violence has already exploded, with Palestinian civilians [in the West Bank] being targeted by extremist settlers in an unacceptable atmosphere of near-impunity that has left hundreds of Palestinians dead and thousands imprisoned… Israel must end its unsustainable siege of Gaza and its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory…our governments must uphold international law and hold our allies accountable for their actions… aggressive expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is a major obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace as well as a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and must be denounced by allies… [we] underline the importance of the democratic right to open and respectful debate of the issues in this conflict.” And the constituents want Congressman Lynch to go further and become a vocal leader on this issue by filing legislation which would give the measures advocated in the letters he signed onto and the ICJ’s order for provisional measures the weight of law.
Several long time JP residents spoke about their reasons for joining the protests. Elsa Auerbach, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace Boston and daughter of Holocaust refugees who has been involved in the multi-year campaign to educate Congressman Lynch about the need to speak out for justice in Palestine said, “I’m glad to see that Rep. Lynch is calling for a ceasefire, as should every elected official. It is abhorrent that the Israel government is the perpetrator of decades of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians which has now morphed into all out genocidal attacks on the people of Gaza. We need our government to stop enabling Israeli crimes. Now it’s time for Rep. Lynch to call for a restoration of UNRWA funding.”
Helen Raizen, a resident of Jamaica Plain for over 40 years said, “My Vienna-born mother fled Hitler in 1938 at the age of 13. As a retired software engineer, I’ve mentored three young women in Gaza who are software engineers. Two of them have families with young children. They’ve lost their homes, but the last I heard, on Christmas Day, were still alive. The people of Gaza deserve a chance to live as full human beings, and for that to happen, the bombing and explosions have to stop, massive humanitarian aid is needed to forestall famine and disease and the siege of Gaza must be permanently lifted. In the name of my many family members who died in the Holocaust, I thank Rep. Lynch for what he has done and ask him to do more – particularly to stop the US from continuing to fund Israel’s acts of violation of human rights and international law. The safety of Jews around the world depends on the Palestinians being safe to exercise their right of self-determination and be free from Israeli domination.”
Many other people from Jamaica Plain joined the rally outside the JFK federal building to bring these demands to Senator Warren and Senator Markey.
These rallies were organized by Massachusetts Peace Action, together with Jewish Voice for Peace Boston, the Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine, Community Church of Boston, Unitarian-Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (MA), Community Alliance for Peace and Justice, 1for3.org, Northshore for Palestine, and others.