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At Brooklyn Seder Protest, Jewish New Yorkers Target Schumer Over Aid

As Senator Chuck Schumer of New York prepared for a final vote to pass an aid package that would provide $26 billion to Israel, hundreds of protesters gathered in his Brooklyn neighborhood on the second night of Passover to call for an end to the United States’ military support of Israel.

Though Mr. Schumer, the Democratic majority leader, was in Washington, demonstrators rallied on Tuesday in Grand Army Plaza, one block away from his Brooklyn home, a common site of protests since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war. As the sun set, people gathered around a circular banner representing a Seder plate, which included the words “Jews say stop arming Israel” alongside images of foods eaten during the Seder meal.

“This will not be a Seder as usual. These are not usual times,” Morgan Bassichis, a member of the progressive group Jewish Voice for Peace, said to attendees.

The protest, organized by pro-Palestinian Jewish groups, marked what has been a distinctly different Passover celebration for Jewish people in New York City and beyond, as college campuses and family dinner tables feel the ripple effects of the Israel-Hamas war.

Stefanie Fox, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said that the protest was held during Passover in order to send a message to Mr. Schumer as the Senate moved toward a final vote on a $95 billion aid package that would include the funding for Israel.

“Everything in our tradition compels us to bring everything we have to stopping these historic atrocities being done in our names and with our tax dollars,” Ms. Fox said in an interview on Monday.

Mr. Schumer is largely considered part of Washington’s pro-Israel establishment. But he recently had harsh words for Israel’s president, Benjamin Netanyahu.Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

Mr. Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the United States, recently called for elections to replace Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, once the war winds down. His rebuke of the Jewish state’s leader last month — in a speech in which he also spoke of his love for the state of Israel and his horror at the Hamas attacks of Oct. 7 — exposed the widening gap between Israel and the United States, its most important ally, analysts said.

“Senator Schumer just very recently spoke very harshly about Prime Minister Netanyahu on the Senate floor,” Beth Miller, the political director for Jewish Voice for Peace, said at the protest on Tuesday. “For him to do that with one hand, and then on the other hand reward Prime Minister Netanyahu by pushing forward this military funding package, shows that he is not serious about actually shifting U.S. policy to leverage change.”

One attendee, Calvin Harrison, 29, a community organizer who lives in Manhattan, said he was at Grand Army Plaza “because I’m a Jew and I was raised to believe that Judaism is about justice.”

“Passover is a celebration of liberation for the future,” he went on. “We can’t celebrate liberation for ourselves while we’re oppressing Palestinians.”

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