WASHINGTON (JTA) — Dozens of protesters shouting “Ceasefire now!” repeatedly disrupted a Senate hearing where top Biden Administration officials were seeking emergency wartime assistance funds for Israel and Ukraine.
Sen. Patty Murray, the Washington Democrat who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, asked the Capitol police to remove protesters from the room at least six times.
The protesters waited until Secretary of State Antony Blinken, began his testimony, allowing Murray and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the committee, to deliver their opening remarks without interruption.
Blinken, who is Jewish, appeared to be the main target of the protesters. By the time Lloyd Austin, the defense secretary began his testimony, the protesters appear to have stopped their outcries, although a contingent remained behind, raising hands stained with fake blood.
“Palestinians aren’t animals!” one woman screamed. “Stop funding the genocide!” Some of the protesters belonged to the Codepink, a woman’s antiwar protest group. In each instance, protesters chanted, “Ceasefire now!”
Another chant was, “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go,” reflecting a bid by some on the progressive left to link the U.S. migrant crisis to Israeli actions on its border with the Gaza Strip.
Invading Hamas terrorists from Gaza killed more than 1,400 people, wounded thousands and abducted at least 240 people on Oct. 7. Israel has pounded Gaza with air strikes since then and in recent days began a ground incursion. The Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry says that more than 7,000 Palestinians have been killed, including thousands of children.
Blinken and Austin said the emergency funds were needed to assist two U.S. allied democracies at a time of crisis. Ukraine has been repelling a Russian invasion for more than 18 months.
As he closed his comments, Blinken also nodded toward the concerns of the protesters.
“I also hear very much passion [being] expressed in this room and outside this room,” he said. “All of us are committed to the protection of civilian life. All of us know the suffering that is taking place as we speak. All of us are determined to see it end. But all of us know the imperative of standing up with our allies and partners when their security, when their democracies are threatened. That’s what’s happening now. We stand resolutely with them even as we stand resolutely for the protection of innocent civilians.”