July 10, 2019; Truthout
Progressive Jewish activists are organizing around the country to protest the detention of immigrants in what are essentially concentration camps. Monday, hundreds of Jewish activists and allies surrounded a Chicago ICE office chanting “‘Never again’ means close the camps!” and singing and praying.
Instead of rejecting the Holocaust analogy by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when she described immigrant detention facilities in the United States as “concentration camps,” Never Again Action is leaning directly into it.
They also shut down entrances to the Chicago Federal Building, condemning Illinois Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth for voting for legislation that provided the administration with $4.6 billion in border funding.
We are two hours into shutting down the Chicago Federal Building, where @SenatorDurbin and @SenDuckworth work.
We have a simple demand: no more money for roundups, #CloseTheCamps and #ShutDownICE.
There is no middle ground.
WATCH: https://t.co/z3H2NdhJwR pic.twitter.com/X4RaXi0V3g
— ✡️ Never Again Action ✡️ (@NeverAgainActn) July 9, 2019
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Never Again Action is brand new—just over a week old, according to Allison Kaplan Sommer of Haaretz, but it already has tens of thousands of twitter followers. It describes itself as “a mass mobilization calling for Jews to shut down ICE and hold the political establishment accountable for enabling both the deportation machine that has separated immigrant families across the United States for decades and the current crisis at the border.”
Haaretz reports that the organization follows the growing trend of young progressive Jews taking actions on causes that are not specifically Jewish while clearly identifying themselves as Jews.
“We are committed to putting ourselves and our bodies on the line, the way we wish European gentiles had done for us 70 years ago” and “we do whatever it takes to stop business as usual, to not be ‘good Germans’ who go about our daily lives while immigrants are starved in cages.”
And Chicago is only one city in a campaign to condemn the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants and refugees. Last week in Elizabeth, New Jersey, 36 out of a crowd of 300 Jewish activists were arrested for blocking the road to a detention center. Reports Haaretz:
On Tuesday, Jewish activists took action in Boston, with more than 1,000 marching from the city’s Holocaust memorial to a detention facility for migrants in the South Bay area. On Wednesday, on the other side of the continent in Orange, California, the entrance to a detention facility was blocked by another group of Jewish protesters.
“We have a responsibility as a people whose history included these kinds of atrocities to identify the signs and prevent them from happening,” says Alyssa Rubin, a 25-year-old lead organizer from Boston. “If you’ve ever said, ‘Never again,’ or if you’ve ever wondered what you would have done if you were alive during the Holocaust, this is the time.”
In the past week, immigration is the fight that young progressive Jewish activists have deemed worth showing up for—and even getting arrested for. It’s not yet clear if their commitment to a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict runs as deep.”—Ruth McCambridge
This article has been altered from its initial form. The original referenced a quote from IfNotNow, a different, if allied, Jewish activist organization.