WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, a group of about 40 multiracial Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders and activists occupied House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ Rayburn office to lead a pray-in for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as the only moral choice.
The Democratic leader’s staunch support of Israel and refusal to call for a ceasefire as more than 5,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli bombs in Gaza over the past 17 days — including more than 2,600 children — not only constitutes a grave moral failure, but a lack of alignment with the Democratic base. According to a new poll, 80 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of all voters agree that the U.S. should call for a ceasefire in Gaza. Faith leaders also drew attention to the recent bombing of a Greek-Orthodox Church that killed members of former U.S. Rep. Justin Amash’s family.
The action opened with prayers for the thousands of Palestinians who have been killed since October 7, led by Rev. André Greene of Varick Memorial AME Zion; Rabbi Alissa Wise; Imam Suhaib Webb; Rev. Dayna Edwards of Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Congregation; Minister Jessica Anderson, Howard Divinity School student; and Rev. William T. Young of Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ.
Despite the broad support for a ceasefire among the base, only 18 Democrats in Congress have called for a ceasefire by signing onto Rep. Cori Bush’s Ceasefire NOW resolution introduced last Monday. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is calling on Congress to pass a new spending package that would send $14 billion in military funding to enable Israel’s genocidal attacks on Gaza.
Faith leaders and activists highlighted the devastating impact of each bomb that has been dropped and each life cut short through a reading of nearly 200 names of those killed by American-made weapons, including entire families across generations. In a symbolic display, activists raised mirrors with the phrase “The world is watching” painted on the back, forcing Congress to take a long, hard look at themselves and reckon with their complicity in Israeli war crimes. As much as Jeffries and his complicit Democratic colleagues try to avoid scrutiny, they can no longer hide their moral failures from the public as their inaction directly results in the murder of hundreds of Palestinian civilians each day. As activists departed singing, the names of those killed were posted around Jeffries’ name placard, a reminder to the minority leader of the blood on his hands.
The action was led by a coalition of organizations including the Adalah Justice Project, the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace, Dream Defenders, Rising Majority and the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice.
Tuesday’s pray-in follows another sit-in led by the Adalah Justice Project last Friday at Rep. Ro Khanna’s office. During the four-hour disruption that went viral, Rep. Khanna refused to make any public calls for a ceasefire despite more than 4,300 having already been killed at that time, stating that he had “no redline.” The action came just after Rep. Khanna’s political director resigned over Khanna’s resistance to signing the resolution for a ceasefire. His resignation is part of a mounting uprising from congressional staffers as members are reluctant to defy the Biden administration and publicly support a ceasefire. On Thursday, more than 400 staffers on Capitol Hill urged their bosses to call for a ceasefire in an anonymous letter.
The actions send a clear message to the Democratic Party: You cannot continue with business as usual while Israel commits genocide in Gaza with full U.S. backing. A ceasefire is the only moral choice, and the world is watching your next move.