Chanting “Palestine will be free,” protesters handed in a petition to the Jewish Community Federation in San Francisco declaring their rejection of Israeli citizenship rights, known as Aliyah.
The group of more than 100 called the act a ritual atonement in honour of the approaching Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur on 5 October.
The protesters claim that Israel’s offering automatic citizenship to overseas Jews while denying the same right to Palestinians forced off land that originally belonged to them in Israel and the occupied territories amounted to apartheid.
Protest organiser Eric Romain said: “This is hypocritical. It is a betrayal of our legacy as Jews.”
“Jews are not Zionists and Zionists are not Jews”
Words on one of the placards
A petition was gathered and others held placards declaring “Jews are not Zionists and Zionists are not Jews”.
Aliyah only for some
Aliyah, the automatic right for Jews around the world to immigrate to Israel, was established in 1950 following the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948.
But hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced off their land and into refugee camps at that time and in subsequent wars, the protestors said.
Since then nearly all have been denied the right to return, and the issue has long been a key sticking point in peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinian officials.
There are currently over 990,000 Palestinians living in refugee camps waiting to return home to lands seized by Israel in 1948 and again in 1967.
There are also over two million others in neighbouring countries and many more thousands displaced around the globe.
Sam Salkin, head of the Jewish Community Federation, a leading San Francisco Jewish charity group, called the protestors “a small group of fringy young people”.
“I don’t think they are representative of the Jewish community.”
However, the Jewish protestors claimed to represent the sentiments of a large portion of the San Francisco area’s estimated 225,000 Jews.