By David Cruz
New Jersey’s two Democratic senators are staunch in their support of Israel, even as many of the world’s nations join in condemning the Jewish state’s recent actions in Gaza. Both senators receive tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions from pro-Israeli groups like the American Israeli PAC and NORPAC. Demonstrators contend that New Jersey voters want a tougher stand on Israel, but that PAC money is directing the senators otherwise.
“This is what the people who voted for them want, and this is what they’re doing, and they don’t match up,” said Steve Shalom of NJ Peace Action. “If you think that all those contributions from all those pro-Israel lobbies might have an effect, well, look at what’s going on.”
There were a little more than 50 demonstrators here today, representing a cross-section of liberal causes, including Newark-based groups, who rarely pass up an opportunity to criticize Sen. Cory Booker.
“Anything that is going on over there where there’s bloodshed, particularly with children, and those who have nothing to do with it is near and dear to my heart,” said Newark-based community activist Donna Jackson, a frequent Booker critic. “Although not my normal fight, I stand in solidarity to join the bridges of the community of Newark with this international movement to call for this bloodshed to stop.”
Anees Mansour has been living in Gaza since 1986. He says he’s traveled to the U.S. to share stories of suffering there in the hopes of generating support for the Palestinian people.
“The Palestinian people in Gaza are looking for any help, for any support and when we see these people protesting and supporting my people in Gaza it’s like they’re giving us hope for life,” he said.
Jamie Tripputitus brought her two children with her. “I wanted my children to grow up and know that there are other children, not looking for their names on Coke bottles,” she said. “They’re looking for their sisters and their siblings’ names on memorials and walls and it just felt like it was a good lesson for them.”
Demonstrators tried to take their demonstration upstairs to Sen. Booker’s office but were met by security, who told them that those who did not leave would be placed under arrest.
We reached out to Sens. Menendez and Booker today. Both offices said the senators would have no comment, adding that the senators would let their records speak for themselves, to which demonstrators here say, “exactly.”