At Holocaust vigil, Jewish Voice for Peace calls for cease-fire in Gaza

More than 200 people in Raleigh, many of them Jewish, called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza Saturday, noting a disturbing parallel between Israel’s war against Palestinians and the genocide of the Holocaust.

Holocaust Remembrance Day dates to 2005, but this year’s vigil took a turn toward connecting the dots between global massacres throughout history with special attention on war-torn Gaza.

The event, organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, drew a spirited crowd to Moore Square downtown, where speakers called for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel and widespread humanitarian response to the famine now plaguing the Gaza Strip.

Many of those gathered wore T-shirts with the slogan “Not in our Name,” carrying signs that read, “Jews Say Cease Fire Now.”

“Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians,” said Marlo Kalb, a JVP member. “Jews are not the only historic victims of genocide. We are not alone in our trauma, and we have a collective duty.”

Student Rabbi Noah Rubin-Blose led the recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish at Moore Square during a Holocaust Remembrance Day gathering in which hundreds called for a cease fire in Gaza.
Student Rabbi Noah Rubin-Blose led the recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish at Moore Square during a Holocaust Remembrance Day gathering in which hundreds called for a cease fire in Gaza.

Their calls for Palestinian self-determination came as part of Raleigh’s Holocaust Remembrance Day vigil, one of many observed nationwide. As they gathered, speakers placed a memory stone for not only the 6 million European Jews killed in the Holocaust, but also the disabled, LGBTQ and politically opposed victims.

They recognized Indigenous people killed by colonists in the United States, Armenians massacred during World War I, Tutsis killed in Rwanda and more than 26,000 Palestinians killed so far in the Israel-Hamas war.

“As we mourn for the dead,” Kalb said, “we must fight like hell for the living. Never again is now.”

And every 5 minutes and 45 seconds, a chime rang out over Moore Square — signifying the estimated time between each Palestinian death.

More than 200 gather in Moore Square in downtown Raleigh for Holocaust Remembrance Day, calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.
More than 200 gather in Moore Square in downtown Raleigh for Holocaust Remembrance Day, calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statement calling for an end to hatred and bigotry, noting that history’s lessons are more urgent with the number of Holocaust survivors dwindling.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “antisemitic incidents have skyrocketed to unprecedented levels since the horrific terrorist attacks in Israel on October 7, and we know that violence against Jewish people is not a problem consigned to history, but rather something we must confront and work to prevent every single day. Stopping the scourge of antisemitism and religious-based hatred requires all of us — no matter our faith — to stand up and speak out, and my administration continues our efforts to make North Carolina a welcoming place for all.”

Raleigh’s City Council has heard similar calls for supporting a cease-fire, hearing from dozens of pro-Palestinian speakers in its chambers.

Those at Saturday’s gathering turned their attention toward atrocities in Gaza, noting in particular Israel dropping hundreds of 2,000-pound bombs, many of them capable of killing people 1,000 feet away, according to CNN.

One speaker read a Saturday tweet posted by U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who urged a world “where hate has no place” — a sentiment the crowd considered out of step with U.S. policy in Israel.

“Start with you!” one shouted

“Shame!” said many more.

“We cannot keep funding these atrocities,” said Kevin Georgas, pastor at Jubilee Baptist Church in Chapel Hill. “We know intuitively that it’s never kept Jews or anyone else safe.”

As he spoke, the chime rang again.