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Protesters demanding a Gaza cease-fire disrupt Adam Schiff’s victory celebration

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The victory party for Rep. Adam B. Schiff in Hollywood took an unexpected turn on Tuesday night as more than two dozen protesters disrupted his speech by calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. The protesters, shouting phrases like “cease-fire now” and “Let Gaza live,” pushed towards the stage, causing a commotion that forced Schiff to cut his speech short.

Schiff, who was leading in the primary for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, was delivering his victory speech at the Avalon Theater when the protesters interrupted. Despite efforts by security guards to remove the protesters, Schiff acknowledged their right to protest, saying, “We are so lucky to live in a democracy where we all have a right to protest.”

As the protesters continued to chant, Schiff thanked his supporters and expressed his admiration for Sen. Feinstein. However, the noise from the protesters and Schiff’s supporters chanting his name made it difficult to hear his remarks. Eventually, Schiff hugged his wife and left the stage, promising to work with the protesters towards victory in November.

The Israel-Hamas conflict has been a divisive issue in the California Senate campaign, with Schiff’s opponent, Rep. Barbara Lee, advocating for a cease-fire in Gaza. Schiff, on the other hand, expressed support for a temporary cease-fire agreement that international mediators have been working on. President Biden has also endorsed this deal, which aims to release hostages held by Hamas before the start of Ramadan.

Despite facing protests and interruptions at campaign events, Schiff has received strong support from pro-Israel groups, including a substantial contribution from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Super PACs like AIPAC’s United Democracy Project have poured money into supporting Schiff’s candidacy, emphasizing his pro-Israel stance.

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While Schiff has been bolstered by this support, cease-fire activists like Estee Chandler, the founding organizer of Jewish Voice for Peace-Los Angeles, have been vocal in their criticism of Schiff’s position on Gaza. Chandler and other activists have accused Schiff of failing to call for a permanent cease-fire, labeling the situation in Gaza as a form of genocide.

Despite the disruptions at his victory party and other campaign events, Schiff remains focused on his goal of winning the Senate seat in November. As the campaign intensifies, the issue of the Gaza conflict will continue to be a defining factor in the race, with Schiff’s stance on the cease-fire coming under scrutiny from both supporters and protesters.

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Chats and reflections on the present moment.

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Lydia Polgreen

Credit…Will Heath/NBC, via Getty Images

It is a rare thing in our rapidly secularizing country to be confronted with piety and devotion in popular culture. So it was a surprise, and a balm, to watch a man who prays daily and talks openly about his devout faith storm a bastion of earthly godlessness: “Saturday Night Live.”

I am referring, of course, to the comedian Ramy Youssef, who hosted the show on what he described in his opening monologue as “an incredibly spiritual weekend,” noting Ramadan, Easter and the arrival of a new Beyoncé album.

“I’m doing the Ramadan one,” he quipped, to peals of laughter, unspooling a very funny bit about how loving Muslims are. Youssef has mined his experience as a believer among the profane in gentle standup specials and a namesake sitcom. His entire monologue glowed with a welcoming warmth — Muslims, he seemed to say: We’re just like you.

In a country that is supposedly obsessed with diversity and inclusion, it is remarkable how rare it is to hear from a practicing Muslim in America.

Surveys by the Institute for Policy and Understanding, a nonpartisan research organization focused on Muslim Americans, have consistently found that Muslims are the most likely group to report religious discrimination in the United States. According to a Pew survey conducted in 2021, 78 percent of Americans said that there was either a lot or some discrimination against Muslims in our society. Muslims are no more likely to commit crimes than members of any other group, but crimes in which Muslims are suspects get outsized media coverage, research has shown.

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It is no surprise, then, that Islamophobia is perhaps the most tolerated form of religious prejudice. Right now, Senate Republicans appear to have persuaded several Senate Democrats to vote against a Muslim judicial nominee after smearing him, with no evidence at all, as an antisemite.

Many of the skits that toyed with religion on “S.N.L.” on Saturday were funny — Ozempic for Ramadan! Genius. But part of me winced through them as well, because I saw in Youssef something that other members of minority groups have had to do to “earn” their place in the safety of the mainstream: the performance of normalcy, of being nonthreatening and sweet, the requirement to prove that your community belongs in America just like everyone else’s.

I loved Youssef’s monologue, in which he bravely pleaded, “Please, free the people of Palestine. And please, free the hostages. All of the hostages.”

“I am out of ideas,” Youssef declared toward the end of his monologue. “All I have is prayers.”

To which this nonbeliever can only say: Same, Ramy. Same.

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