Though I’ve been a community organizer for several years, Monday night was the first time I was willing to get arrested for an action. Though unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to finish performing our dance and sharing our message before we got ‘escorted’ out, I felt we accomplished our mission. As I sat in jail, with the 6 additional activists, for 6 hours Monday night, I had a chance to reflect on why I was willing to risk arrest to disrupt AIPAC’s annual dinner in Oakland.
I, as well as the hundreds of protesters present last night, wanted to make a statement that AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, was not welcome here in the Bay Area. We wanted to send a loud and clear message that though (for now) they may be able to get away with their domination and intimidation in DC, proudly boasting on their website that they are “the most important organization affecting America’s relationship with Israel”, we were there to say a loud no, to the lobby for war and occupation. We also wanted the elected officials who went, or sent a delegate in their place, to think twice next time they accept an invitation from those who advocate sending our hard earned and desperately needed tax dollars-here in our communities, to Israel….while they hob nob in their fancy suits and dresses, seemingly oblivious to the policies that they represent.
As if supporting and representing the criminal policies of the Israeli government wasn’t bad enough, it is common knowledge that AIPAC was one of the main proponents of the war in Iraq and escalating the ‘wars on terror’. In fact, despite the transparent veil of WMD’s as the justification to bomb Iraq, they have the audacity to hope for and be mobilizing their vast arsenal of funds and power to urge the US Congress to attack Iran for exactly the same ‘justification’. In fact, if they had it their way, we would’ve been there and done that, long ago (as they publicly boast on the front page of their website http://www.aipac.org/) and are in addition, plotting how to pursue Syria and Lebanon with their dreams of more unending war: http://www.aipac.org/Legislation_and_Policy/default.asp. For more on the policies and politicians that support them you can go to: http://www.stopaipac.org/policies.htm.
However, ironically, those who are most affected by these bankrupt policies are the ones who know the least about the pariah lobby – mainly poor people of color here, who are bombing poor people of color there. As was also evidenced by many of the officers that arrested and booked us, that asked what AIPAC was, not knowing that perhaps they had no small part to play as to why 80 Oakland cops have been laid off just this year. If (as it seems) those in Washington – Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike, do not challenge such viscous policies – then that is where they (AIPAC) should stay – and we will keep our tax dollars for our local communities! For more on ending US aid to Israel see: http://www.twopeoplesonefuture.org/
Here in the Bay Area, folks who know what this lobby is responsible for came together as a coalition of dozens of diverse and local community groups, from all different economic, ethnic and religious backgrounds. We wanted to send a message to say we will confront and challenge AIPAC as they continue with their business as usual, and say that we believe that their criminal policies are leading to the economic and moral collapse of the US, and our universal human values.
As the senseless and reckless wars rage on indefinitely, endangering the lives of people of the Middle East, and Americans – we hope that you will join the growing numbers of those who and stand up and say NO to the lobby for more war, the destruction of local communities, and of future generations being able to live in peace.
‘Together we can break down the wall. Yes together we will break down Israel’s wall’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbIbnkL7t3Y&feature=player_embedded
Noura Khouri is with American Friends Service Committee and a community organizer in the Bay Area.