Over 100 congressional staffers staged a walkout in front of the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, calling on the representatives they work for to endorse a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.
The staffers held a vigil for the 1,400 Israelis killed in Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack against Israel, as well as the more than 10,000 Palestinians killed in Israel’s retaliatory siege against the Gaza Strip.
“We were horrified by the brutal October 7th attacks on Israeli civilians, and we are horrified by the overwhelming response by the Israeli government that has killed thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” Congressional Staff For A Ceasefire wrote in a statement. “Our constituents are pleading for a ceasefire, and we are the staffers answering their calls.”
“Most of our bosses on Capitol Hill are not listening to the people they represent. We demand our leaders speak up: call for a ceasefire, a release of all hostages, and an immediate de-escalation now,” they added.
Speaking on the steps of the Capitol, organizers of the walkout read the statement to those present and added that they had gathered there to “mourn the loss of every single beautiful and innocent life.” The protesters, who brought flowers to lay before the capitol steps, held a moment of silence and conducted an interfaith prayer.
— Jehad Abusalim جهاد أبو سليم (@JehadAbusalim) November 8, 2023
The walkout was not the only protest that took place in the Capitol on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee discussing free speech on college campuses, protesters repeatedly interrupted the proceedings and were dragged out of the chamber by Capitol Police.
The protesters called for a ceasefire, staggering their interruptions throughout the hearing. A similar protest took place last week during the testimony of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee.
One-by-one, pro-Palestinian protesters continuously disrupt a House Judiciary Committee hearing about free speech on college campuses. pic.twitter.com/y5Pj1acEtI
— CSPAN (@cspan) November 8, 2023
Over the weekend, tens of thousands of protesters marched to the White House and called on President Joe Biden to endorse a ceasefire. Despite the growing public outcry against the United States’ backing of what many Americans now see as a disproportionate, even genocidal response by the Israeli government against Palestinians, Secretary Blinken and the Biden administration have refused to endorse calls for de-escalation. “Those calling for an immediate ceasefire have an obligation to explain how to address the unacceptable result that would likely bring,” Blinken told reporters on Wednesday.
One of the most prominent lawmakers who’s openly called for a ceasefire is Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). Tlaib was censured by House Republicans, with the support of 22 Democrats, who twisted her support for Palestine into a call for the genocidal eradication of Israel.
“Rather than acknowledge the voice and perspective of the only Palestinian American in Congress, my colleagues have resorted to distorting my positions in resolutions filled with obvious lies,” Tlaib wrote in a statement responding to the censure. “I have repeatedly denounced the horrific targeting and killing of civilians by Hamas and the Israeli government, and have mourned the Israeli and Palestinian lives lost.”
“A majority of Americans support a ceasefire, but this Congress isn’t listening to their voices. I will continue to call for a mutual ceasefire, for the release of hostages and those arbitrarily detained, for the immediate delivery of humanitarian aid, and for every American to be brought home,” she added.
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