Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Israeli police arrest author Ayelet Waldman and 6 others in Gaza border protest

(JTA) - Israeli police arrested Ayelet Waldman, a Jewish American author, while she was with a group trying to deliver relief to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Waldman, who is Israeli-born, was one of seven people arrested Friday morning at a protest action organized by Rabbis for Human Rights, and one of five Americans. Two were released before Shabbat, organizers said, but Waldman was still in custody at the police station in Ashkelon, a city near the Gaza border.

Her husband Michael Chabon, also a noted novelist, expressed concern about her status on Instagram. "She was there in the company of a group of American rabbis, #rabbis4ceasefire, to show the world, the people of Gaza, and their fellow Jews in Israel, and around the world what Judaism teaches: justice, lovingkindness, peace, mercy, liberation," he said.

In video Chabon posted, Waldman is seen bearing a bag of rice as she walks toward Erez Crossing, on the northern Gaza-Israel border. A policeman blocks her way and she persists in trying to skirt him.

The other Americans arrested include Rabbi Alissa Wise, a founder of Rabbis for Ceasefire; Rabbi Alana Alpert, a Detroit-area congregational rabbi; Ilana Sumka, a longtime activist and rabbinical student; and Kobi Snitz, a mathematician.

The Israeli police and the Israeli embassy in Washington did not return requests for comment. Miriam Messinger, a spokeswoman for Rabbis for Ceasefire, said that the organizers contacted the U.S. embassy about the arrests.

"We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas," a State Department spokesperson told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. "We are aware of the reports and have no further details to share.  U.S. citizens should heed the Level 4 Travel Advisory to not travel to Gaza."

Rabbi Andy Kahn, a Brooklyn-based rabbi who joined the protest, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the protesters did not expect to be able to deliver aid to Gaza Palestinians, who are considered by international health officials to be on the verge of a famine more than six months into the war launched Oct. 7 by Hamas.

Instead, he said, they wanted to make a point timed for Passover about the plight of Palestinians who have been displaced by the war.

"Passover is a holiday of liberation and is a holiday which focuses on food and how it is related to liberation," he said in an interview. "Bringing food aid was a part of our passover observance, in calling attention to need in Gaza, to the need for a ceasefire, and exchange and release of hostages and a permanent end to this conflict."

Waldman and Chabon are known for their works written and produced separately and jointly. Waldman is known for her 2007 novel, "Love and Other Impossible Pursuits," and for her Mommy-Track mystery series. She and Chabon are developing a TV series based on his novel, "The Yiddish Policeman's Union."

They have also been active for years in the advocacy for Israeli accommodation with Palestinians and with protests critical of Israeli actions.


Reader Comments(0)