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Friday, February 23, 2024

Madison anti-war groups demand Gaza ceasefire in Capitol demonstration

Madison for a World BEYOND War and other local groups opposed legislation providing military funding to Israel and demanded an end to the armed conflict.

Anti-war and pro-Palestine demonstrators gathered at the Wisconsin State Capitol on Friday to demand lawmakers oppose an upcoming federal bill that would provide over $14 billion for Israel’s military to use in Gaza. 

Members of Madison for a World BEYOND War, an international group dedicated to abolishing the institution of war and defending global security with nonviolent action, marched to the Capitol carrying signs declaring “War is not the Answer” and “End Occupation of Palestine” while voicing their support for Palestine and demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. 

UW-Madison Law Professor Asifa Quraishi-Landes, members of Jewish Voice for Peace and members of World BEYOND War spoke at the conference, asking Wisconsin Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson to vote no on spending more than $14 billion on weapons for the war in Palestine. 

Staff of Democratic State Reps. Francesca Hong and Samba Baldeh helped to organize the event, and it was attended by staff of State Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee. 

On Oct.7, militants from Hamas orchestrated a cross-border terrorist attack on Israel. Following the attack, Israel declared war and invaded the Gaza Strip. On Nov. 2, the U.S. House passed the “Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act” meant to allocate $14.3 billion for Israel to use against Hamas. 

Before the bill was passed, President Joe Biden’s office released a statement opposing the bill, citing a lack of bipartisanship and denial of humanitarian assistance for Palestinian citizens. 

Samantha Bosco from Jewish Voice for Peace Madison addressed those gathered at the Capitol and highlighted the staggering timeline of the war in Gaza. 

“One hundred and eleven. One hundred and eleven. That is how many days that we have been seeing, unprecedented, unwavering, unrelenting genocide against the land and the people of Palestine,” Bosco said. “In front of our eyes, live on our screens, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Marc Rosenthal of Jewish Voice for Peace Madison also spoke at the press conference. He took a moment to recognize the strength of individuals fighting for change.

“We represent the only real power that will change this,” Rosenthal said. “It is people power. It is our capacity to mobilize, to organize internationally, and demand an end to this absolutely horrific violence.”

The International Court of Justice ruled Friday that Israel appears to have violated provisions of the Genocide Convention during its occupation of Gaza. The verdict ordered Israel to immediately take action to prevent genocide in its war against Hamas, preserve evidence relating to the allegations and provide humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians. 

The Madison Common Council unanimously passed a resolution in December calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The same resolution reminded state lawmakers that targeting civilians is a violation of international humanitarian law. 

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Resolution author and District 7 Ald. Nasra Wehelie asked Madison citizens to hold lawmakers accountable for the violence taking place in Gaza in a December statement

“Madison is a city that prides itself on being progressive and standing up for justice. It is important that we continue using our voice as policy makers to put pressure on our current administration to stop the bombing of civilians in Gaza,” Wehelie said. “I urge all Madisonians to look deep within our humanity and do our part, no matter how small, to call for an end to the bombing of Gaza and to work towards a future of peace.” 

Larson introduced a similar joint resolution in the state Senate calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The Republican-controlled Senate has yet to vote on the resolution.

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