‘No war crimes in our name,’ say Jewish protesters outside Kamala Harris’ LA home

BRENTWOOD CA OCTOBER 19, 2023 - The advocacy group IfNotNow held a protest Thursday morning, October 19.  On August 19, 2023, outside Vice President Kamala Harris

(Ifan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

‘No war crimes in our name,’ say Jewish protesters outside Kamala Harris’ LA home

Israel-Hamas, about Kamala Harris

Summer Lin
Andreas J Campa

Oct. 19, 2023

Led by progressive Jewish activists for Palestinian rights, dozens of protesters gathered outside Vice President Kamala Harris’ home in Los Angeles on Thursday morning, calling for an immediate ceasefire as Israel continues its bombardment of the Gaza Strip in the days since the attacks by Hamas militants.

Around 7:20 a.m., about 50 people in cars pulled up outside Harris’ home in the quiet Westside enclave of Brentwood and walked to the gate with signs that read “Jewish Ceasefire Now” and “No War Crimes in Our Name.” Some organizers wore neon green transit vests to ensure traffic on the two-way street was not blocked.

Harris lives in the home with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who is Jewish. It is not known whether they were at home during the demonstration. A representative from Harris’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The demonstration, which was peaceful, was organized by IfNotNow, a left-wing group of American Jews that called for an end to U.S. support for Israel’s apartheid system, according to the group’s website. Protesters vowed Thursday not to leave until there was “a ceasefire.”

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IfNotNow LA organizer David Shapiro kicked off chants and prayers of peace.

We stand outside the home of Kamala Harris and Douglas Emhoff asking them to join us in demanding a ceasefire, Shapiro said. We are American Jews with ancestors all over the world. We honor our tradition, which is rooted in the belief that human life is sacred. To achieve true security for ourselves as Jews, for Israelis and for Palestinians, we must work together for equality and justice for all and an end to apartheid.

Some drivers slowed down to hear the message and sang in favor of Israel. Two men from separate vehicles called the protesters terrorists before driving away.

A Times reporter at the scene heard a Los Angeles Police Department officer tell protesters not to exhaust the police force by having officers arrest people. LAPD spokesperson Annie Moran confirmed that a supervisor responded to a citizen call about a peaceful protest in the 600 block of North Kenter Avenue around 8:20 a.m.

As Biden visits, anger spreads amid dueling narratives of Israel and Hamas

In Washington, hundreds of protesters organized by IfNotNow and another progressive group, Jewish Voice for Peace, were arrested Wednesday after gathering at a congressional building to demand a ceasefire. Capitol Police writes on the social media platform

“While 500 Jews, rabbis and descendants of Holocaust survivors sing ‘Let Gaza Live’ and are arrested inside, a crowd of 10,000 people sing outside,” Jewish Voice for Peace posted on X. “We will not stop until our ceasefire demands are met!”

Israel has declared war and continued to bomb and seal off the Gaza Strip, which Hamas controls, since Hamas militants attacked southern Israel on October 1. On September 7, more than 1,400 Israelis were killed and at least 100 hostages were taken to Gaza. At least 3,785 Palestinians, including 1,524 children and 120 elderly people, have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza since Thursday, and at least 12,493 have been injured, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza.

About half of Gaza’s population, about 1 million Palestinians, have fled their homes in the north after Israeli officials ordered them to evacuate. Israeli airstrikes continued across Gaza on Thursday, including in southern areas considered “safe zones” by Israel.

Israel has also cut off all water, power and medical supplies to Gaza, exacerbating an existing blockade of the region. At President Biden’s request, limited humanitarian aid will be allowed from Egypt to Gaza.

What do Hamas and Israel see as the end game? What would “victory” look like?

According to media reports, Biden is expected to request from Congress $10 billion in military aid for Israel in the coming days. Biden has already pledged $100 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank.

Harris told reporters last week in the aftermath of the Hamas attack that she was “completely outraged” by the “extreme acts of terror.”

A few days after the Hamas attack, Emhoff spoke at a White House roundtable with other leaders of the Jewish community.

We witnessed a mass murder of innocent civilians. It was a terrorist attack, he told the audience. And there is never any justification for terrorism. There are no two sides to this issue.”

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IfNotNow volunteer Asher Kaplan said desperation has increased within the Jewish community in recent weeks. One of Kaplan’s childhood friends was nearly killed in a Hamas attack in October. 7.

Still, he said, these feelings of sadness and fear should not be used as a justification for mass killings.

We know that the indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians, carried out by Israel at this time and supported by the US government, will not make Jews safe, Kaplan said.

Brentwood resident Lydia Sorrentino, 53, was led to Thursday’s protest out of curiosity. She had just dropped off her first-grade son at nearby Kenter Canyon Elementary School and parked her car at the gate of the Harris home. The commotion came as a surprise to her.

This is usually a very quiet neighborhood; “I think this is the first time we’ve had something like this,” she said. I had to see what happened.

Although Sorrentino was aware of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she said she did not really understand the issue.

That’s why I’m here, to hear what is being said and what the protest is about, she said. Sorrentino grabbed her phone to record a few speeches and then walked back to her car and home.

“I still have a lot to learn,” she added.

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