Protesters Challenge Pro-Israel Lobbyists’ Meeting in Washington DC; AIPAC Threatens Lawsuit
Celine Hagbard (IMEMC) : As thousands of protesters prepare to gather in Washington DC, on Sunday, March 2nd, to stand up against the policies promoted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a satirical video promoting the protest has raised the ire of AIPAC officials, who have threatened to sue the peace group ‘Codepink’.
The video portrays the annual AIPAC gathering in Washington as a place where Israel lobbyists can brush shoulders with the most powerful people in Washington politics, and push an agenda that is harmful to U.S. interests.
It uses video footage from the official AIPAC video promoting the gathering, with sarcastic voiceover recordings.
In one part of the video, a shot of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaking to the crowd is voiced over with the words, “I thank you for your zealotry, I thank you for your prejudice, and I thank you for standing up for the apartheid state of Israel.”
In another segment, a commentator asks, “Where else can you find so many elected officials willing to forgive and forget Israel’s defiance of international law?”
Codepink co-founder Medea Benjamin said in response to the threatened lawsuit, “It is absurd for AIPAC to threaten legal action over such an obviously satirical video. It is interesting that they are reacting so strongly to the clip, though. Perhaps it’s because the content is really an accurate reflection of AIPAC’s dangerous foreign policies. AIPAC does, in fact, advocate for bombing countries such as Iran and Syria; it fails to condemn Israel’s continued building of settlements and its human rights abuses against Palestinians; and, it lobbies Congress to send billions of taxpayer dollars to Israel to continue the occupation of Palestine.” She added, “What are they trying to hide by silencing this video?”
Protest organizers say that the purpose of the protest is to raise awareness of the disproportionate influence that AIPAC has over U.S. policymakers. In their organizing materials, they write, “We want to wean U.S. policy away from AIPAC’s grip towards an even-handed position that respects international law and the human rights of all people.”
Among the critiques that the protesters have of AIPAC is that “AIPAC’s call for unconditional support for the Israeli government undermines a possible negotiated solution between the Israelis and Palestinians. AIPAC promotes Israeli policies that are in direct opposition to international law, including the establishment of settlements in the Occupied West Bank, and the confiscation of Palestinian land, in its construction of the 26-foot high concrete “separation barrier” running through the West Bank. On February 27, Amnesty International published a report called Trigger Happy providing chilling detail of Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank. AIPAC’s support of these illegal practices is in direct opposition to a negotiated solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict. AIPAC has also been pressuring Secretary of State John Kerry to keep the political representatives of Palestinians in Gaza — Hamas — completely out of the peace talks. How can you come to a negotiated solution if 40 percent of all Palestinians are not represented?”
The protesters will be gathering Sunday, March 2nd, from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm across from the Convention Center in Washington DC, where the AIPAC annual meeting is taking place. This year, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will not be attending the AIPAC convention — a fact which protesters claim is a sign of AIPAC’s waning influence in Washington.
Satirical video, to promote protest against AIPAC:
Celine Hagbard, IMEMC