“Occupation is root cause of violence”: Jewish-Americans protest at Israel’s Western Wall, call for boycott
(This article is published in Salon.)
Jewish-American activists with the peace organization CODEPINK protested at Israel’s Western Wall (also known as the Kotel or Wailing Wall) on Tuesday morning. They unfurled a banner that read “American Jews support BDS,” referring to Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, a peaceful global human rights movement called for by Palestinian civil society that seeks to use nonviolent economic means to pressure the Israeli government to end its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens, and allow Palestinians who were violently expelled from their ancestral lands to return — as is required by international law.
After five minutes, plain-clothed Israeli authorities confiscated their banner and told them to leave. The activists, Ariel Gold and Ariel Vegosen, were part of a week-long CODEPINK trip to Israel-Palestine, where they witnessed firsthand what life is like for Palestinians living under military occupation.
CODEPINK said that, during its trip, “along with helping Palestinian farmers with their olive harvest, the group witnessed Israel’s apartheid system of different roads, services, and laws for different people. They experienced major restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement, the massive growth of illegal Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land, and numerous human rights abuses against Palestinians.”
“At this moment of escalated violence in Palestine and Israel, we are here at the Kotel to pray for an end to the occupation, the root cause of the violence,” Gold and Vergosen explained. “As American Jews we take a stand in support of peace and justice for all people.”