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Syracuse Jews & Supporters Join Nationwide Fast and Protest against Blockade of Gaza, US-Israeli Policy

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John Smith/WAER News
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Local protestors, some Jewish, criticize Israel and US policy, as they call for an end to the blockade of Gaza and end to violence against Palestinians.

A group of Jewish people here in Syracuse is taking part in a nationwide fast to support Palestinians after the violence with Israel last month … that flared up again today. They’re calling on the U-S to stop funding military equipment for Israel, and pressure the country to lift an embargo against Palestinians in Gaza. Andy Mager calls it oppression of the people there, that has lasted for years.

“14 years now of a blockade that has had horrific humanitarian consequences. There have been Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2008, well into 2009, in 2012, 2014, and then earlier this year. So, great violence and great suffering.”

While attacks in the most recent conflict came from both sides, Mager suggests many more Palestinians, including civilians and children, were killed. Mara Sapon-Shevrin says their ultimate goal is to find a solution that ensures peace. And they hope their actions might get the attention of federal officials here to use U-S influence. She knows it can be hard – and politically risky - for people to criticize the Jewish state.

“As someone who is Jewish, I want people to understand that it’s totally legitimate and appropriate to criticize the actions of Israel without it being about ‘bad Jews’ and it’s not anti-Semitism.”

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John Smith/WAER News
Local protestors joined nationwide fast to end humanitarian crisis they say is brought on in Gaza by a years-old blockade and embargo that prevents food, medical supplies from entering the region.

Sapon-Shevrin would like to be hopeful about a change in government in Israel leading to more productive peace talks, after the ouster of Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister.

“How can we support starving people and not providing health care. The COVID situation in Gaza is horrible. Actually, one of the hospitals doing vaccinations was bombed. Regardless of what religion we are, we can’t support killing innocent children and families. And we decry that when it happens to Israelis as well.”

The demonstrators are also trying to raise money for humanitarian aid to refugees in Gaza.