Police arrested 14 men and women Tuesday after they blocked the doors of the Jewish Community Federation in downtown San Francisco in protest of U.S. involvement in Middle East conflicts. ?
Bound together by ropes and metal tubing, six of the protesters sat directly in front of the building’s glass doors, which had been covered by adhesive posters and handbills.?
Sparks flew when a firefighter lowered a handheld power saw onto the piping connecting the arms of each protester. Once they were separated, officers escorted, carried or dragged each protester into a police van while onlookers cheered.?
According to police Captain Denis O’Leary, the protesters were to be transported to the Southern Police Station and booked on misdemeanor counts of disturbing a business and lack of proper identification.?
The protest did not turn violent, O’Leary said.?
Several of the activists, a few wearing traditional yarmulkes, screamed that they were, “Jews against Israel’s siege of Lebanon.”?
“I am a U.S. Jew and a taxpayer,” one protester yelled as police carried her into the van. “And I am against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and Lebanon.”?
Inside the building, as the posters were ripped down, men in suits watched as the demonstrators were carted off.?
Yitzhak Santis, a spokesman with the Jewish Community Relations Council, a public affairs organization representing the Jewish Community Federation, said the protesters were part of a “tiny fringe of the Jewish community.”?
“The Bay Area Jewish community overwhelmingly supports Israel and stands with Israel against terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah and Hamas,” Santis said.?
He also said that the Jewish Community Federation, which represents 80 different Bay Area groups involved with charity and fundraising, supports sending a multi-national force into Lebanon to prevent Hezbollah from rearming.?
But Samantha Litman, a spokeswoman for the demonstrators, said they were disputing a claim that all Bay Area Jewish organizations promote a blanket policy of supporting Israeli military action.?
“We’re appalled by what we’re seeing happening in Lebanon and Palestine,” Litman said. “Killing civilians, attacking government institutions and destroying the infrastructure of modern society is an immoral course of action that will ensure security for no one.”