International & Antiwar News


Originally published in the Winter/Spring 2023 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 71, printed March 22. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Winter/Spring 2023 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post. For other issues dating back to 2012, see the Full Issues page.

Staff Report

Close to 100 Jews, Palestinians and others brave a cold rain March 12 to protest the
visit to Washington, D.C., by the extremist finance minister of Israel, Bezalel Smotrich.
“BDS” stands for the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement. Photo courtesy of Jamal Najjab.

The D.C.-Metro chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace held a protest March 12 outside a D.C. hotel where Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, an extremist settler leader, was speaking to the Israel Bonds’ leadership.

“Despite the cold and rain, approximately 90 people attended the demonstration,” according to a report by JVP member Jamal Najjab. “The crowd was overwhelmingly made up of Jewish Americans, pro-Palestinian Americans, Palestinian Americans and Palestinians. They held signs attacking Smotrich, in support of the Palestinians and the divestment of Israeli bonds. Everyone joined in as chants were called out.”

Several other organizations, mainly Jewish, also held anti-Smotrich protests outside the hotel. Altogether, hundreds took part in the various actions.

According to a report by NBC News, Smotrich, who leads the far-right, ultranationalist Religious Zionist Party, told a journalist with Israel’s 13 News that he thought “the village of Hawara needs to be erased” and that “the state of Israel needs to do it.”

His comments came after two Israelis were fatally shot in an Israeli settlement about 5 miles from Hawara. Following Smotrich’s remarks, “Hundreds of settlers, some carrying knives and guns, then tore through Hawara, setting homes and businesses ablaze,” according to NBC. “A 37-year-old Palestinian man, Sameh Hamdallah Mahmoud Aqtash, was killed by Israeli fire, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.”

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