Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., was delivering a speech Monday when a group of pro-Palestinian protesters attempted to drown him out, demanding a cease-fire in Israel’s war against Hamas militants in Gaza.
‘I want to call out to everybody right now. These final hours. This is what’s on the ballot,’ Booker began his speech. ‘We should know in New Jersey how privileged we are. There are so many places in our country right now … where people want to make sure… that we have…’
‘Cease-fire now,’ the crowd repeatedly chanted, interrupting Booker’s speech ahead of Election Day.
‘This is what makes America great,’ Booker interjected. ‘The power to protest. The power to have free speech. The power of America.’
As the chants continued and grew louder, the venue began playing ‘We Are Family,’ the 1979 song by Sister Sledge, over clamors of ‘cease-fire now’ that persisted from the demonstrators.
Booker chanted back, ‘Column A, all the way,’ meant to show support for Democratic candidates running in New Jersey local and state elections this week.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday doubled down on rejecting calls for a cease-fire in Gaza.
‘There will be no cease-fire without the return of the hostages. This should be completely removed from the lexicon,’ Netanyahu told crews at the Ramon air force base in southern Israel, according to Reuters, reiterating the Jewish state’s long-standing position. ‘We say this to our friends and to our enemies. We will simply continue until we defeat them. We have no alternative.’
Booker on Monday said he was ‘calling for a short-term cessation of hostilities that pose high-risk to civilians,’ joining a statement issued together with fellow Democrats Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, of Virginia, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, of Illinois, Jeff Merkley, of Oregon, Peter Welch, of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, of Massachusetts, Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, Tina Smith, of Minnesota, Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, and Jeanne Shaheen, of New Hampshire.
‘Hamas’ horrific actions cannot be ascribed to all Palestinians,’ the statement said. ‘Indeed, Palestinian residents of Gaza have often been victimized by Hamas.’
‘The failure to adequately protect non-combatant civilians risks dramatic escalation of the conflict in the region and imposes severe damage on prospects for peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians,’ the senators said, joining President Biden’s call for a ‘short-term cessation of hostilities that pose high risk to civilians, aide workers or humanitarian aide delivery’ in Gaza in order to successfully deliver aid to civilians under ‘strict and necessary oversight.’
Two other goals listed are ‘increased focus on the release of all hostages kidnapped on October 7,’ and ‘opportunity for broader discussion among Israeli and Palestinian leadership, together with regional and global partners, about long-term strategies to reduce decades-long conflict in the region.’
‘Based on the consensus opinion of U.S. and international aid officials, it is nearly impossible to deliver sufficient humanitarian aid to protect civilian life under current conditions,’ the senators said.