Show me what Torah looks like. https://t.co/mHGpoHdjb4
— Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (@TheRaDR) July 2, 2019
Tuesday’s traffic blockade came a week after US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said in an Instagram video that the United States is “running concentration camps on our southern border,” in reference to the Trump administration’s policies regarding illegal immigrants.
Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, told JNS, “I don’t need to get caught up in comparison to the Holocaust in order to be completely horrified and motivated to action by what our government is doing in our name at the border.”
However, Burton conceded that “one can absolutely” protest both Ocasio-Cortez’s Holocaust analogy and the conditions at the migrant detention facilities.
‘Most people sympathize with detainees, Ethiopians’
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action applauded the demonstration.
“I am inspired by the outpouring of Jewish protesters physically resisting ICE and CBP’s cruel, inhumane treatment of immigrants in our name,” Stosh Cotler, the organization’s CEO, told JNS. “Recent visits to border detention facilities by members of Congress have revealed atrocious conditions, and are a reminder of the urgency with which we need to act to stop the Trump administration’s policies of harm and suffering.”
She continued, “We must continue to take action by demanding that Congress hold this administration accountable and cut off funding to the agencies overseeing these human rights atrocities.”
American Jewish scholar Jonathan Sarna went beyond the Boston protest and noted an apparent trend.
“In both Boston and Israel, protesters are shutting down traffic—in Boston to protest against immigrant detention centers and in Israel to protest against police killing of an unarmed Ethiopian Jew,” he told JNS.
Protests dissolved into violent riots Tuesday night, following the funeral earlier in the day of Solomon Tekah, a 19-year-old Israeli-Ethiopian who was killed by an off-duty police officer on Sunday. Police reported 136 arrests and 111 officers wounded across the country.
“The aims, in both cases, seem to me laudable: Most people surely sympathize with the detainees and with the Ethiopians,” said Sarna. “The actions, however, seem to me highly questionable.”
“Why should totally innocent commuters be victimized because migrants and Ethiopians are mistreated? In what moral universe are innocents punished for the sins of government officials?” he continued. “In my view, opponents of detention centers should protest at the offices of Homeland Security, and opponents of police brutality should protest at police stations. Just as we try to avoid harming innocent civilians in war, we should likewise try to avoid harming innocent civilians in protests.”