U.S. secretaries of state and defense began presenting the Senate Appropriations Committee with information regarding the Biden administration’s request for increased funding for operations in Israel and Ukraine. During the briefing, anti-war demonstrators raised red-painted hands in the air, chanting “Ceasefire Now, Protect the Children of Gaza, and Stop Funding Genocide.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin testified about the administration’s request for an additional $106 billion, which includes $14.3 billion for Israel and $9 billion for humanitarian aid.
The protesters belonged to an organization called CODEPINK, which stated that the red-painted hands symbolized blood. They were also at the hearing to condemn the Biden administration’s support for what they referred to as “genocide” against Palestinians in Gaza. Secretary Blinken did not directly address the protesters, but when questioned about the possibility of a ceasefire, he mentioned that it could be considered for humanitarian reasons, although he expressed concerns about it potentially aiding Hamas.
In parallel, numerous Jewish peace activists across the United States called for an immediate ceasefire and justice for Palestinians. Rabbi Alissa Wise, a member of the rabbinical council with Jewish Voice for Peace, expressed her emotions about the situation and her commitment to taking action. The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly called for an immediate humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas, although this was met with strong opposition from Israel.
Jewish Voice for Peace and its supporters staged a protest at Grand Central station in New York to underscore the urgency of a ceasefire and the call for Palestinian freedom. This sit-in marked one of the most significant acts of civil disobedience in New York City since the Iraq invasion.