Following a call by the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions National Committee and other Palestinian organizations, supporters of equal rights for Palestinians held protests around the world on Saturday, calling for an end to the Israeli assault on Gaza and an end to the siege that has been strangling the economy of Gaza for 8 years.The protest call states, in part, “As we face the full might of Israel’s military arsenal, funded and supplied by the United States and European Union, we call on civil society and people of conscience throughout the world to pressure governments to sanction Israel and implement a comprehensive arms embargo immediately.

“Take to the streets on Saturday 9 August with a united demand for sanctions on Israel.

“From Gaza under invasion, bombardment, and continuing siege, the horror is beyond words. Medical supplies are exhausted. The death toll has reached 1813 killed (398 children, 207 women, 74 elderly) and 9370 injured (2744 children, 1750 women, 343 elderly). Our hospitals, ambulances, and medical staff are all under attack while on duty. Doctors and paramedics are being killed while evacuating the dead. Our dead are not numbers and statistics to be recounted; they are loved ones, family and friends.

“While we have to survive this onslaught, you certainly have the power to help end it the same way you helped overcome Apartheid and other crimes against humanity. Israel is only able to carry out this attack with the unwavering support of governments – this support must end.

Young Jewish activists have been at the forefront of these protests in different parts of the world. In the US, 6 activists with Jewish Voice for Peace were arrested for carrying out civil disobedience at a meeting of the Jewish Federation.

One of the organizers reported that the young people arrested “were the first Jewish Voice for Peace chapter to deliver a petition signed by over 35,000 supporters, urging the Federation and other Jewish leaders to take a public stand not just for an immediate ceasefire, but for an end to the underlying conditions of siege that makes life unbearable for Palestinians in Gaza. They demanded – and received – a meeting with the Philadelphia Federation CEO, Naomi Adler. While they waited, refusing to leave the building for over four hours, they sang Jewish songs of peace. Outside, a crowd of supporters read poems, sang songs of peace, and read the names of almost 2,000 people who have been killed in Gaza these past three weeks. In the end, six protesters were removed from the building in handcuffs.”

The Mondoweiss blog reported on the protest in London, including excerpts from a speech by nineteen-year-old student and activist Barnaby Raine, who has been organizing a “Jewish Bloc against Zionism” in London. He said:

“I am proud to stand here today as a Jewish boy from North London in solidarity with the people of Gaza. I’m not here today in spite of Jewish history. I’m here because of Jewish history…

“I’m here today because my great grandparents knew what it meant to be excluded and to be the victims of racism. They knew what it was like to be booted out of their homes and turned into refugees…

“[To BBC] Is that a conflict? When people flee for their lives to United Nations shelters, and then Israel attacks the United Nations shelters, is that a conflict? (No!). No no no BBC this is not a conflict, this is a massacre…

“I am 19 years old. What future awaits the 19 year olds of Gaza?..

“Let’s put sanctions on Israel until this barbarism ends.

“So I just want to leave you with one important quote. In the early 20th century, people all over the world from all backgrounds who stood for the oppressed might have declared: ‘I, too, am a Jew’. When apartheid besmirched the earth people might have said: ‘I, too, am a black South African’. Well, today, people from all backgrounds, from all walks of life, all over the world, come together and say in our thousands, in our millions: ‘We are all Palestinian’.”

Hundreds of thousands of people participated in marches and rallies Saturday in hundreds of cities around the world, including Washington DC, Cape Town South Africa, Birmingham and Dublin, with an estimated 150,000 people protesting in London alone.

Photos at ISM.