by MHI participants
On November 20, about 1000 Jews and others participated in a “Jewish Resistance” protest to condemn the right-wing Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) for inviting Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s “chief strategist, to speak at its annual gala in New York City. We also demanded the firing of Bannon, who is a notorious anti-Semite, racist, white nationalist, conspiracy theorist, and enabler of the “alt-right” at Breitbart News, which he headed until recently.
We seem to have succeeded in driving Bannon away. He was a no-show!
The Jewish Press reports that Bannon “blam[ed]” his non-attendance on the protesters. Haaretz, a leading daily Israeli newspaper, reports that ZOA President Morton Klein “speculate[d] that it was the protesters who led Bannon to stay away.”
The protest began with a rally in Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan. We then marched across 42nd Street to the Grand Hyatt hotel, where the gala was taking place, surrounding the hotel’s front entrance. After about 15 minutes, the cops told us we would be arrested if we didn’t disperse, so we then marched around the block and the area nearby.
One noteworthy aspect of the protest is that speakers, signs, and chants all voiced strong solidarity with Muslims, immigrants, and others in the cross-hairs of the incoming Trump administration. By no means were our concerns exclusively about Jews. Another noteworthy aspect is that the protest brought together diverse parts of the Jewish community—secular and religious Jews, and Zionists, non-Zionists, and anti-Zionists. Participants in Black Lives Matter were also present.
Many protesters brought handmade signs, mostly in English, but some in Hebrew or Yiddish. Although the protest was organized by three groups, IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Jews For Racial & Economic Justice, very few of the signs that people carried were those of organizations; the large turnout was mostly independent.
Here is what some of the signs said:
“Bannon = Goebbels”
“Just Say No to Collaboration”
“Jews Against Anti-Semitism: why is this even a thing that we have to say?”
“Let’s Keep Our Country Safe”
“Bannon is Treyf [unclean]”
Memorable chants at the protest included:
“No Bannon, No ZOA, No Fascist USA”
“Get Up, Get Down, Immigrants Built this Town”
“When Muslim Communities are Under Attack, What Do We Do? Stand Up, Fight Back.”
“From Palestine to Mexico, Border Walls Have Got to Go”
“Donald Trump, It’s Your Fault. Steven Bannon, Oy Gevalt.”
Earlier in the day, hundreds of people attended a rally in Brooklyn to protest against the anti-Semitic, pro-Trump graffiti that was sprayed on playground equipment in Adam Yauch Park. Yauch, who died in 2012, was a member of the Beastie Boys.