A group of left-wing rabbis demanding a cease-fire in Gaza took over the United Nations Security Council chamber in an unprecedented demonstration on Tuesday.
“It is an unprecedented defilement of the U.N.’s most sacred chamber and a stunning exposure of the U.N. reality of mob rule,” Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, told Fox News Digital.
“The U.N. Security Council has never condemned Hamas for their October 7th atrocities, but a group of extremists calling to disarm Israelis and deny the Jewish state their U.N. Charter right of self-defense gets the approval of U.N. authorities,” she added.
About three dozen rabbis and rabbinical students were able to gain access to the U.N. Security Council chamber since they had signed up for a tour of its headquarters in Manhattan.
Once inside, they unfurled banners they had hidden and began demanding the U.S. stop vetoing measures that would bring an end to the Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip. The protesters carried banners that read “Biden: the world says cease-fire” and “Biden: Stop vetoing peace.”
A press release by Rabbis 4 Ceasefire, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), Jewish Voice for Peace, and IfNotNow, sent out before their protest started, laid out their goals.
The press release said in part, “demands of the United States and all members of the United Nations: (1) Reaffirm and recommit to the goals of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, taking meaningful action to stop the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza; (2) Hold another Security Council vote to pass a resolution for ceasefire that includes lifting the siege and hostage exchange; (3) Bring to the General Assembly a resolution calling for appropriate accountability measures in line with international law, including an immediate arms embargo.”
The U.N. has called for an immediate cease-fire, but the U.S. and, at times, other allies have rejected various resolutions, usually citing issues with language and lack of what the U.S. deems a “durable” solution to the situation.
The Security Council did pass a resolution on boosting humanitarian aid to the region and “to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities.” The U.S. didn’t use its veto and allowed it to pass.
Protests demanding a cease-fire have increased around the U.S. as Israeli operations in Gaza continue, with over 300 protesters arrested in New York City on Monday as they blocked the various bridges and tunnels that connect the city to surrounding areas during rush hour traffic in the morning.
Protesters on Monday also interrupted President Biden’s speech in Charleston, South Carolina, at the site of 2015 massacre in Mother Emanuel AME Church, chanting “Cease-fire now! Cease-fire now!”
Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told Fox News Digital that no one at the U.N. had advance knowledge of the protest, and he insisted that no one at the organization tried to assist the protesters.
He highlighted the fact that the group included both American and Israeli rabbis, and he argued that the group was anti-war, not anti-Israel.
“They had booked tours as individuals ahead of time, like anyone else given that tours can only be booked online,” Dujarric explained. “Like any other visitors, they went through a thorough security screening for weapons and sharp objects. The banners they brought in were carefully hidden in their clothes and could not be detected by the normal security screening devices we use.”
“After they pulled out their papers, security asked them to take seats while we collected their names,” he continued. “Following that they were escorted out of the building. At no point did they represent a security threat to the delegates and staff, nor was there ever a point where there was any physical resistance on their part nor was force, or threat of force, used by U.N. security.”
Dujarric stressed that the protesters had “clearly violated the rules” and were escorted off the premises for that reason, but he noted the nonviolent nature of the protest and that people occasionally do make it into the U.N. to “express themselves.”
Bayefsky did not find the U.N. explanations of events likely, noting that demonstrators had been able to film and photograph their activity, which she noted was not permitted without U.N. authorization, and blamed security and the tour guides for allowing the protest to take place.
“U.N. security officers are enabling the event, allowing it to continue, and removing uninvolved onlookers from the room,” she claimed. “The tour guides were also there and not demanding U.N. security take immediate action to restore tour protocol.”
Reuters contributed to this report.