Hundreds of Jewish activists brought traffic to a halt in central Boston earlier this month as part of a major protest against migrant detention conditions in the city and across the country.
Two weeks ago 36 Jewish demonstrators were arrested outside a New Jersey detention centre.
In Boston, after a rally at the New England Holocaust Memorial, protesters marched through the city’s streets to the Suffolk House of Correction, where 18 people were arrested after locking arms at the facility being used by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house scores of immigrants awaiting deportation proceedings, according to the Boston Globe.
The demonstration was organised by Never Again Action, a new Jewish group of young activists who also organised the New Jersey protest, which is invoking the memory of the Holocaust to refer to ICE’s treatment of undocumented immigrants at the US southern border and other locations. Some carried signs reading “Never again means close the camps.”
The protest was supported by the Boston chapter of If Not Now, a Jewish group which opposes Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, and Movimiento Cosecha, a national immigrants’ rights group.
“When we grew up hearing the words ‘never again,’ it’s referring to a moment like this,” Michaela Caplan, 23, one of the organisers of the event, told the Globe. Caplan said her grandmother was a survivor of Auschwitz and that 30 family members were killed by the Nazis.
Rabbi Becky Silverstein, of the Beyn Kodesh l’Chol community, said: “I think it’s particularly important for Jews, who face antisemitism and have an ancestral history of trauma, to speak out on behalf of other people”.
Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, said that there was widespread support for asylum seekers among the Jewish community.
He said that the lesson from the Holocaust was a “deep moral imperative to protest against human rights violations being done in our name because when we fail to protest, those who are acting in such a way will see that as permission to do worse.”