Activist files suit against Netanyahu supporters who attacked her in Capitol

on 13 Comments

Code Pink announces a lawsuit filed by Rae Abileah stemming from an incident during the Israeli prime minister’s speech to Congress. The defendants are unnamed in the suit because if the suit goes forward, Abileah willl seek to discover their names in police records.

Rae Abileah, a peaceful demonstrator who was physically attacked and injured on May 24, 2011, while protesting the occupation and oppression of Palestinians during the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, filed a civil action in District of Columbia Superior Court [Thursday] against the unknown individuals who attacked her in the House Gallery, and caused her serious physical injury.

Ms. Abileah is a 28 year old American Jew of Israeli descent, who works as the Middle East Campaigns Coordinator for CODEPINK, a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice organization that seeks to end U.S. wars and the U.S. funded occupation of Palestine. After a security check by the Capitol Police, she was given a seat in the House Gallery, as were other individuals who were given passes by members of Congress for the May 24, 2011 session. About 10 minutes after Mr. Netanyahu began speaking, Ms. Abileah stood up from her seat in the Gallery and opened a banner that read “Occupying Land is Indefensible,” and shouted, “No more occupation. Stop Israeli war crimes! Equal rights for Palestinians! Occupying land is indefensible!”

Four to five other persons sitting in the House Gallery began to attack her, including one man who used his hand to attempt to gag and suffocate Ms. Abileah, and then violently yanked her head back, injuring her neck. As a result of the attack, Ms. Abileah suffered severe emotional trauma and sustained a neck strain, swollen neck and muscle strain, and has since suffered from frequent headaches.

The Capitol Police, who witnessed the attack, have begun an investigation into her assault. One of the police officers present during the attack told Ms. Abileah that it was clear that some of the people present had “roughed [her] up.”

“I am hopeful that my filing suit will be a clear signal to those who attempt to silence us from protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine, that they will be held accountable for their illegal actions,” said Ms. Abileah.

“Ms. Abileah’s actions were in a long line of peaceful actions intended to bring public attention to grave injustice. The violence against Ms. Abileah mirrors the ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine against peaceful demonstrators,” said Lynne Bernabei, one of Ms. Abileah’s attorneys.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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13 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    August 20, 2011, 10:58 am

    Good luck, Rea. The capitol police might have done the same violence to silence her, but the vigilantes who “got there first” assaulted here illegally and should pay her for her injuries. Hope someone was videotaping it all.

  2. DICKERSON3870
    August 20, 2011, 12:10 pm

    RE: “Activist files suit against Netanyahu supporters who attacked her in Capitol” – Annie
    MY COMMENT – I hope she is able to obtain a significant judgement against the thugs! Otherwise, I fear more and more of this type of behavior on the part of Israel’s more rabid supporters.
    Stand With Us’ Assault on the Jewish Peace Movement »
    link to
    The Pogromists at Stand With Us » link to
    Video: Pro-Israel Activist Knocks Camera Out of Hands of Alison Weir » link to

    • lsavage
      August 21, 2011, 7:58 am

      AIPAC thugs also physically attacked and even sexually assaulted a young woman who protested at another event during their lobbying week. Bullying tactics that are no doubt meant to intimidate us into silence. But we will not be silent.

      Every successful non-violent movement in history has been the target of thuggery similar to that of AIPAC. Ironically, such attacks usually serve to further the cause of dissent.

      I am extremely proud of Rae Abileah, and of the other young woman who suffered for standing up to the racist, violent policies of the state of Israel. These policies are enabled and partially funded by the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration. For shame!

  3. annie
    August 20, 2011, 12:15 pm

    “I am hopeful that my filing suit will be a clear signal to those who attempt to silence us from protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine, that they will be held accountable for their illegal actions,”

    this has the potential to be a very important lawsuit. i’m sorry about what happened to rae and hope it doesn’t cause long term injury/pain so i am hesitant to say ‘it is worth it’. but this isn’t the first time rae and other palestinian activists have been assaulted while protesting. this kind of thuggish behavior needs to cease.

    as activists we have a long road ahead and if we are acting non violently our rights need to be defended and those who violate them need to pay the consequence.

  4. American
    August 20, 2011, 12:43 pm

    What were the thugs doing there to begin with?
    Does AIPAC have people in the gallery every day for just such possible protest?

    • annie
      August 20, 2011, 12:55 pm

      What were the thugs doing there to begin with?

      presumably they were there to cheer on netanyahu. i think the famous rabbi schmuly was standing right next to her (he wrote a column about it). i should dig up the photo. it was an old guy who put her in a choke hold. i’m sure they probably know who he is. but then, as i recall she was ushered out and physically abused along the way. they could have been bodyguards from israel for all i know.

      as rae explains here on democracy now:

      I just wanted to say that the people that were sitting around me in the gallery of Congress yesterday were mostly wearing badges from the AIPAC Israel lobby conference. And I did not expect that people holding such power and representing such a huge lobby group would respond so violently to my peaceful disruption.

      • American
        August 20, 2011, 4:30 pm

        Ah…I see.
        I hope the man that choked her can be identified for her law suit.

  5. Charon
    August 20, 2011, 4:49 pm

    The AIPAC thugs who injured her neck while roughing her up were not within their right. Leave that to actual police and security forces. Best of luck to Rae, AIPAC is not above the law even if somebody is disrupting congress.

  6. eGuard
    August 20, 2011, 8:51 pm

    The Capitol Police […] have begun an investigation

    Wow. Already! They sure know how to get evidence.

  7. GuiltyFeat
    August 21, 2011, 6:11 am

    Only in America. I’m not sure disrupting congress was ever going to be the smartest or most democratic way of protesting, but the response of those around her, putting a young woman in the hospital just for heckling a moron like Netanyahu is shocking in the extreme. If Ms. Abileah ever decides to make Aliyah, she would find people here a lot more sympathetic to her disgust at the Israeli Prime Minister.

    What happened to the charges of Disorderly Conduct that were brought at the time of Ms. Abileah’s arrest? Have they been dropped? Has Ms. Abileah had a chance to plead one way or the other before a judge?

  8. mymarkx
    August 21, 2011, 7:50 am

    Just as Jews were not able to obtain justice against Nazis in the courts of Nazi Germany, I really doubt that a Jew can obtain justice against Zionists in the Zionist courts of the United States. Politicians are elected and judges appointed here on the basis of their loyalty to Israel, not to the U.S. or our Constitution. I expect the Capitol Police investigation to turn out to be nothing more than a cover-up. If there was a semblance of justice in this country, Rae’s attackers would have been arrested on the spot. They knew, as the state of Israel knows, that they can act with impunity and the US will stand back and do nothing.

    Rae Abileah and CODEPINK continue to mistakenly think that they can work within our totally corrupt system instead of opposing it. I’m sorry that they will have to learn otherwise the hard way, but I hope they will learn.

  9. CigarGod
    August 21, 2011, 9:13 am

    Choking women, running over them with bulldozers….yet zionists want us to be blind to that and instead look at women in Arab society.

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