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Jewish Voice for Peace R.I. pickets Senator Reed’s office

Protesters demanded that Reed call for ceasefire, halt military aid for Israel, refund humanitarian aid

Protesters handed out pamphlets, provided food and attracted individuals to join the demonstration in Kennedy Plaza.
Protesters handed out pamphlets, provided food and attracted individuals to join the demonstration in Kennedy Plaza.

About 40 protesters from Jewish Voice for Peace Rhode Island gathered in front of Senator Jack Reed’s (D-R.I.) Providence office at 8 a.m. Thursday to demand that he call for a ceasefire in Gaza, stop supporting military aid for Israel and restore funding for humanitarian aid organizations like the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which the Biden administration paused after allegations that some UNRWA employees participated in the October 7 attack on Israel.

The demonstration marks the latest in a series of pro-Palestinian protests staged by JVP R.I. amidst a growing national movement opposing U.S. aid to Israel and calling for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. 

Protesters held large banners reading “Jack Reed Block Biden No More Weapons to Israel” and “End Genocide.” They handed out pamphlets, provided food and attracted passersby to join the demonstration in Kennedy Plaza. Two cars from the Providence Police Department were stationed across the street from the demonstration. 

Picketers chanted, “genocide Jack, what do you say? How many kids have you killed today?” as well as “stop the killing, stop the hate, Israel is an apartheid state” and “resistance is justified when people are occupied.”

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Organizers noted Reed’s role in decisions regarding military aid due to his position as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Jackie Goldman, an organizer for JVP, said that motivation for the demonstration also came from Reed’s support for a recent $95 billion foreign aid package that provided $26 billion in aid to Israel.

“That money should really be going to humanitarian aid or things to help local Rhode Islanders,” Goldman said. In January 2024, the World Bank and the United Nations approximated the cost of damage to critical infrastructure in Gaza at $18.5 billion.

In a speech on March 19, Reed said that the U.S. would “continue to support Israel as it works to degrade and defeat Hamas,” but added that he has “deep reservations about the conduct of this war.” 

Unruh wrote in an email to The Herald that “Reed has called for Israel to drastically change its tactics, for Hamas to release the hostages and more aid for Gaza’s civilians.”

“What Senator Reed fails to mention is that his words are empty,” Goldman wrote in an email to The Herald. “If he were responsive to constituents, he would take serious action to stop the Israeli assault on Gaza,” they added.

Organizers from JVP R.I. said they have tried to engage with Reed directly, but have not been able to meet with him personally. Danya Reda ’99, an organizer with Vote Uncommitted R.I., shared her discontent at his office’s responsiveness to constituent concerns. Reda met with members of Reed’s staff in November and January. Each meeting took a month to schedule, she said.

Reda also expressed frustration with communications between meetings. “Since that meeting in January, we haven't heard a single word from them,” she added. Reda noted that organizers “followed up just this past week – two separate emails with specific questions” and have so far received “no response.”

Senator Reed is “constantly hearing from and meeting with Rhode Islanders,” Unruh wrote.

Four of Reed’s five largest donors are engaged in weapons manufacturing, with his top donor being Lockheed Martin. Zack Kligler ’20.5, an organizer with JVP RI, said, “we’re here to remind the Senator that as much as these war profiteers can line his pockets, ultimately, at the end of the day, he works for the people of Rhode Island.” 

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Unruh did not respond to specific questions about donations from weapon manufacturers. 

Organizers referenced growing support for ceasefire, particularly on college campuses across the country.  Joel Reinstein, who has been involved with JVP for about a decade, described the wave of activism as a “beacon of hope.”

When Kligler was at Brown, he was involved with organizing to pass a 2020 report from the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility, which recommended divestment from “companies that facilitate the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territory.” He said he sees parallels between JVP’s work and student activists’ calls for divestment.

Many of the demonstrators at the rally dropped off supplies for students participating in the encampment

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At the rally, Goldman encouraged participants to continue showing up at JVP events. “Palestinians want to live freely in their homeland,” said Reinstein. “There will be justice and peace when Israelis and Palestinians are living together as neighbors with equal rights.”

Reinstein emphasized the extent of Jewish involvement in organizing for Palestine. “There’s all this rhetoric to justify police crackdowns on encampments about the safety of Jewish students,” Reinstein said. But, he noted, many of the organizers involved in the protests that have spread across campuses this past week are themselves Jewish.

“A lot of people invoke antisemitism and invoke Jewishness as a reason to keep up all of these various Zionist fights,” Goldman said. “We recognize that with our positionality, it's our job to be able to work with our congresspeople to show them that this doesn’t have to be the way.”

JVP’s rally fell during the week of Passover, which “is very much this holiday that celebrates liberation,” Goldman said. “In my mind, that is not just Jewish liberation, but liberation for all people.”


Ciara Meyer

Ciara Meyer is a Senior Staff Writer covering the Beyond Brown beat. She is from Saratoga Springs, New York and plans on concentrating in Statistics and English nonfiction. In her free time, she loves scrapbooking and building lego flowers.



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