Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets of Lower Manhattan on Friday afternoon for what was billed as a “Shut Down Wall Street” event, just as the United States vetoed a resolution at the United Nations Security Council calling for a permanent cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.
Protesters rallied in front of a number of prominent city landmarks in Lower Manhattan, including City Hall and Wall Street, chanting, “Free Palestine,” calling for an end to the United States’ financial support of Israel and denouncing the U.S. veto.
“I think it’s absolutely appalling that the U.S. vetoed a cease-fire,” said Kyle Turner, 29, who was protesting at Wall Street. “This is a humanitarian crisis, and the fact that this is still a third-rail issue for so many people is astonishing and heartbreaking.”
The resolution, which was submitted by the United Arab Emirates, had broad backing from the U.N.’s secretary general and most members of the Security Council because of concerns over the growing humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip, where health authorities say more than 15,000 people have been killed in two months of war with Israel. The war was set off by Hamas-led attacks on Israel that left some 1,200 people dead, according to Israeli authorities.
However, the United States followed through on its earlier statements that it would veto any resolution calling for a permanent cease-fire, supporting Israel’s claim that ending the war before it had achieved its goal of eliminating Hamas would only ensure more war in the future.
The protest fell on the second night of Hanukkah, a usually celebratory season that for many Jewish people across New York City has been complicated by the war in Gaza.
“I think that all Jews carry the burden of our history — our history of oppression, our history of genocide — on our shoulders,” said Aiyana Knauer, 34, who identified herself as an anti-Zionist Jew. “It’s something that’s instilled in us from birth, but with that history comes the responsibility to speak out against injustice that we see everywhere.”
Friday’s demonstration was organized by the activist organizations the People’s Forum and Al Awda. One protester, Nick MacDonald, 79, said he specifically took issue with President Biden’s support of Israel.
“I’m ashamed to be an American these days,” he said. “I walked against the Vietnam War 50 years ago, and here we are again.”