On Friday evening, a spontaneous action of civil disobedience by thousands of supporters of the organization Jewish Voice for Peace shut down Grand Central Station in Manhattan to protest the escalating genocide against Gaza. The NYPD arrested several of the protesters, but thousands then gathered outside.
Chants included, “Biden Biden you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
The demonstration showed widespread pro-Palestinian sympathies among the public, including Jewish workers and youth, who packed the main floor of the terminal during rush hour.
The protesters also unfurled banners from the mezzanine that read, “Palestinians should be free” and “Israelis demand cease-fire now.” A large number of the participants wore black T-shirts from Jewish Voice for Peace that said, “Not in Our Name” and “Ceasefire Now!”
The World Socialist Web Site spoke with several of those participating. Asked her response to the Democratic Party’s support for the genocide, one protester said, “I’m horrified. They’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Biden is no better than Bush,. In fact, I think he’s worse, if that was possible. The fact that those are the choices we have, there’s something seriously wrong.”
“Most people are against this war, this genocide, [but] they have their own agenda going on.”
“This is an impending genocide,” another protester from South Africa said. “This is worse than apartheid, what’s happening now... I hope everything gets shut down. I hope we heed all the calls from the Palestinians [for strike action by workers]. I don’t see any other way we’ll stop the genocide that is happening.”
“I’m an American Jew, and I can’t stand to see genocide committed in our name,” another protester said. She said that many Jews in the US and in Israel fell the same way. “Unfortunately our voices are smaller, and we are not given the same platform as Zionist Jews, and that’s why it’s incredibly important that we are here today and show up and show the world that not all Jews feel like Zionists do.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) stated that subway service on the No. 4, 5, 6 and 7 lines was severely disrupted by the demonstration. The MTA also shut down access to a portion of the terminal.
After three loudspeaker warnings by police demanding the protesters disperse, those who remained were told to put their hands behind their backs. The police then moved in and put them in zip ties and walked the detained protesters to waiting buses.
Protests took place around the world on Friday in response to the intensification of the genocidal air assault and launching of a ground invasion by the Israeli government on Palestinians in Gaza.
Posts on X/Twitter, showed multiple demonstrations across Turkey, including an enormous protest in Ankara in front of the Israeli embassy and a similar protest in the southern city of Adana. Protesters in Istanbul chanted, “We want action, not rallies.”
Reuters reported that Israeli security forces blocked young Palestinians from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Friday and killed four Palestinians during raids. Demonstrations erupted in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Hebron, Nablus, Tulkarm and Jenin.
Also, Reuters reported a demonstration in Amman, the capital of Jordan, where “thousands of people took to the streets to denounce Israel and voice support for the Palestinians. Many waved the green, red, white and black Palestinian flag.”
One participant, Mahmoud Aqalan, told Reuters, “We are with Palestinians and with Gazans. We also came to stress that we are standing behind the resistance until the end.” Another protester, Hassan Sultan, added, “It is our brothers who are being killed in Gaza. This is the least we could do—to make our position known to the world.”
Global Eye News also posted a video of protests in Paris on Friday. These protesters are defying attempts by the French government to ban demonstrations against the war crimes being committed against Palestinians by Israel.
Not one of these protests has been reported or even mentioned by the major corporate media outlets. This media blackout is being carried out because the protests cut across the pro-Israeli and pro-imperialist propaganda campaign that has been underway since the October 7 uprising of the Palestinians in Gaza against the barbaric oppression of the Zionist state.
Fox News reported on a pro-Palestinian protest near Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where a small group of pro-Israeli counter-protesters attempted to provoke a physical confrontation with the demonstrators. As other university administrations have done in recent weeks, Michael Fitts, the president of Tulane University, denounced the pro-Palestinian demonstrators, claiming their rally was “not approved or sanctioned by Tulane.”
Meanwhile, the corporate media attempted to falsely brand a pro-Palestinian protest at Cooper Union in New York City on Wednesday as an antisemitic rampage against Jewish students. The demonstration was organized to protest the war and demand a ceasefire in Gaza. The students at Cooper Union walked out of class at around 1:00 p.m.
Headlines were published claiming that a group of Jewish students were “barricaded” and locked inside the school library and faced physical threats from the demonstrators. However, in later reports, city officials said that a small group of counter-protesters decided to enter the library and wait for the protest to pass by.
Cooper Union President Laura Sparks released a statement later addressing the “peaceful protest,” saying, “To maintain a safe space, the library was closed for approximately 20 minutes while some student protestors moved through the building, some chanting protest slogans and banging on the library doors and windows.”