The AIPAC conference begins in Washington next Sunday, and resistance against the big Israel lobby group has already begun. Last Friday seven members of the generational Jewish group IfNotNow were arrested in an action at AIPAC’s offices in Los Angeles, and yesterday a couple of hundred mostly-young Jews marched again to say that AIPAC does not represent them. A number of groups including IfNotNow will be protesting AIPAC this coming weekend; Code Pink hopes to shut the conference down.
“We marched to bring attention to the growing crisis in the Jewish community over the occupation,” said Jeremy Oziel, an organizer of yesterday’s march in LA. “We believe we’re the generation that is going to end the support for the occupation, the ones that the community has been waiting for for a long time.”
Penina Eilberg-Schwartz said the group’s demands are centered on the Jewish community’s need to resist AIPAC, Israeli government actions, and Donald Trump’s racism. AIPAC has done more than any other organization to uphold the occupation, she said. “In its 50th year, and Trump’s first year, it is time for the Jewish community to come out against the occupation.”
The march was joyous, she said, because while the marchers have Palestinian suffering in the front of their minds, they are excited to be reclaiming Jewish identity from support for military occupation. “Our Jewish identities have been corroded by this disaster. This is where the joy is coming in: we love our Judaism, and we’re claiming it back.”
Meantime, there was also resistance to AIPAC among the chattering classes on the east coast. Leftwingers are focused on the fact that while Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, declares “Resist” on her twitter page, in fact, the word is her profile picture–
Tanden and three other officials of her Democratic Party-linked thinktank are due to speak at the AIPAC policy conference next week. They are: Brian Katulis, Hardin Lang, and Alan Makovsky.
Donald Trump represents “protofascism,” Tanden says; but at AIPAC, she will be together again with someone often charged with protofascism: Benjamin Netanyahu, the rightwing prime minister whom she hosted at the Democratic Party thinktank right after he had sought to submarine the president’s signature foreign policy achievement, the Iran Deal. Not to mention other AIPAC guests, neoconservatives Elliott Abrams and Bill Kristol.
Tanden is said to be good on economic injustice issues; so increasingly the Israel question is becoming the divide in the Democratic Party. Yesterday Tanden got into it with Linda Sarsour on twitter after Sarsour blasted the Democratic Party for continuing to seek to marginalize Bernie Sanders. At one point Tanden said the idea that the party had worked behind the scenes to knock down Sanders’s campaign last year “is an alternative fact.” (You can see Democratic Party officials trying to undermine Sanders over religion and commitment to Israel here— “for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God.”)
Having anything to do with AIPAC is all the more problematic this year because of Eli Clifton’s revelation that AIPAC gave $60,000 to an Islamophobe, Frank Gaffney.
Let’s be clear that many other liberals are speaking at the AIPAC conference, including Rob Malley, Bakari Sellers, Aaron David Miller, Daniel Shapiro, Tammy Zandberg of Meretz, and David Saperstein. They do so because AIPAC still represents the Jewish establishment, and access to power. Americans for Peace Now, the anti-occupation group, is a constituent member of AIPAC, despite the lobby’s rightwing policies, because it values the access/Jewish-solidarity.
I asked the young marchers from IfNotNow about the degree to which AIPAC is representative of American Jews over 40. They both said it misrepresents the American Jewish community, and they are going to end that imposture. Eilberg-Schwartz said the community of observant Jews of her parents’ generation are not comfortable with AIPAC’s stances in favor of the occupation, though they haven’t done all that much to resist it. “I do think that power AIPAC presents to the world is not actually due to the support of the Jewish community,” she said. “I think that is a veil.”
P.S. I’ve been denied press credentials to AIPAC yet again this year. Going to have to watch what I can being livestreamed.
Thanks to Scott Roth.