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AIPAC speakers say the enemy is BDS, while ‘biggest Jewish-led protest’ surges outside

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This morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by video to the Israel lobby group AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) in Washington. He bragged about his warm relationship with President Trump to great applause, and said that many states in his region were turning to Israel in the fight of modernism against medievalism. He said it was time for Palestinian Authority to “above all, once and for all, recognize the Jewish state.”

Netanyahu also addressed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement aimed at Israel, saying Israel will defend itself on the “moral battlefield… We’ll defend ourselves against slander and boycotts.”

Last night Vice President Mike Pence was introduced as an enemy of BDS. He told the AIPAC conference, “The president of the United States is giving serious consideration to moving the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv,” to huge applause. He then called on the next ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a supporter of settlements, to stand. He also got a warm reception.

Martin Indyk took a jaundiced view of Pence’s promise, saying that George W. Bush had seriously considered the move for eight years, and Trump will still be seriously considering in another four years. “We’re freiers [suckers] to think otherwise.”

Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog called on AIPAC’s followers to opposed the BDS movement. While former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper said that BDS was the most serious threat to Israel and merely the latest form of classical anti-Semitism.

“The third threat to Israel is the one we actually need to take the most seriously as Canadians and Americans, and that is the BDS movement… One can disagree with the Israeli government’s policies in this aspect or that, but the BDS is not about that. The BDS movement is about translating the old ideology of anti-Semitism into something acceptable to a new generation.”

The theme was echoed by AIPAC officials.

Democratic political consultant Paul Begala said this morning on the AIPAC stage that he was thinking of making “aliyah” to Israel because of political developments in Washington but affirmed: “I have never worked for someone who is anti-Israel and I never will… How could I and be true to my progressive values?”

As for progressive values: there was a large demonstration yesterday outside the Washington convention center by the “Jewish resistance,” led by IfNotNow. A few demonstrators from IfNotNow managed to get inside the hall and drop a banner protesting the occupation. While hundreds of others in the resistance group led a march to the convention center in an effort to stop the conference. Ben Norton said it’s the “biggest-ever Jewish-led protest” of AIPAC. Bigger than Neturei Karta.

Here’s Ahmed Shihab-Eldin’s thorough video coverage of the demonstration for AJ+.

One organizer says what makes this anti-AIPAC demonstration different is that it’s the 50th year of occupation, and these young people are not going to let AIPAC speak for the Jewish community anymore. Others emphasized the crisis inside the Jewish community. Among the soundbites:

Fifty years is too long. It’s a moral crisis for the Palestinians, it’s eroding our community. AIPAC does not speak for American Jews.

The Trump administration is forcing the American Jewish community to pick.

AIPAC stands for endless occupation. We are the Jewish Resistance.

I’m here fighting for freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians, and a Jewish community that stands up for those things.

Jews can’t have liberation if Palestinians don’t.

We refuse as Jews and humans to be part of the American Jewish establishment…. I feel heartbroken that it’s taken our community so much to move…. We have a long way to go.

At Minute 20 you can see a dozen demonstrators forming a human chain outside the convention doors.

Shortly after, a group said to be part of the Jewish Defense League attacked the demonstration.

Some shouted at IfNotNow, “sharmouta,” Arabic for prostitute.

Shihab-Eldin asked why no one from JDL was arrested.

Thanks to Annie Robbins. 

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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20 Responses

  1. on March 27, 2017, 10:44 am

    “Shortly after, a group said to be part of the Jewish Defense League attacked the demonstration.”

    That was the missed opportunity. Protesters should have fought back. Strenuously. I respect what the protesters are doing — but that was the moment to make news.

    • Mooser on March 27, 2017, 1:01 pm

      “That was the missed opportunity. Protesters should have fought back.”

      While the JDL guys fall on their ass, start smearing theatrical blood all over their faces, screaming “The bad Jews and ISIS attacked us” or something.

    • JeffB on March 27, 2017, 5:26 pm


      Make news as what, a group of violent rioters who attacked AIPAC and were halted by police? The reason even people like me support IfNotNow as a legitimate protest organization and not a hate group is in large part that they don’t attack the Jewish community. The challenge their conscience of Jews but they don’t attack Jews. That’s very different from BDS which is a clear and obvious attack on Jews. Just as IfNotNow is part of the Jewish community JDL is part of the Jewish community. The way IfNotNow handled the JDL by raising their hands and showing non-violent intent was exactly the right way for a peaceful protest group to handle a violent protest group.

      IfNotNow may be mistaken in their politics, but they aren’t evil. JDL may be mistaken in treating IfNotNow like JVP/SJP, but their intent likely emerged from confusion. Acting like a violent group won’t correct JDL’s mistake it would exacerbate it.

      IfNotNow has a legitimate point about AIPAC, growing distance from American Jewish opinion (one that AIPAC itself agrees with incidentally). I wish they were engaging with AIPAC rather than protesting AIPAC but that probably happens when they are about 15 years older.

      • talknic on March 27, 2017, 7:55 pm

        @ JeffB March 27, 2017, 5:26 pm

        “The reason even people like me support IfNotNow as a legitimate protest organization and not a hate group is in large part that they don’t attack the Jewish community. The challenge their conscience of Jews but they don’t attack Jews. That’s very different from BDS which is a clear and obvious attack on Jews”

        Jeffy honey, take a seat, because I’d hate for you to fall over as you scuttle away, trembling with fear. If Not Now take no position on the BDS movement. IOW’s they let it pass

        Why is it that Zionist apologists never seem to check before they make fools of themselves?

      • JWalters on March 27, 2017, 9:17 pm

        JeffB thoroughly shredded his credibility, unable to deal honestly with facts or logic, in an extended discussion here:

        His repeated purpose is to give the appearance of thoughtful objections to the facts and logic presented in Mondoweiss articles, while actually clouding the discussion.

      • Misterioso on March 28, 2017, 3:51 pm

        Patent nonsense.
        Unworthy of further comment!!

    • just on March 29, 2017, 7:13 pm

      Mairav Zonszein:

      “WATCH: Jewish Defense League activists beat Palestinian-American at AIPAC
      Wearing shirts and carrying flags bearing insignia of the JDL, the violent men and women also attacked left-wing Jewish activists. At least one was arrested.

      Members of the Jewish Defense League severely beat a 55-year old Palestinian American man and assaulted several American Jewish activists with IfNotNow outside the AIPAC Conference in Washington, D.C. Sunday, new video footage provided to +972 Magazine shows.

      Kamal Nayfeh, a father of four and an instructor at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC, was reportedly visiting his daughter Danya, a student at Georgetown University in Washington at the time.

      He was punched and kicked and clobbered with flag poles, leaving him with cuts and bruises all over his face and body. He was taken to George Washington University Hospital and treated for his injuries. He had to have 18 stitches around his eye.

      His daughter Danya, who can be heard screaming in the video “that’s my dad!”, recalled the attack in a statement provided to the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU):

      When I heard the screams and found out my father was being beaten nearby, I was horrified. I ran to him as quickly as I could. He appeared stunned and his eye looked awful, all swollen and cut up. They beat him after they heard he was Palestinian. He was not threatening at all, it’s perfectly clear that my father was brutalized simply because of who he is.

      Two of the JDL members who attacked Nayfeh were eventually arrested by the police and released, according to the IMUE. One was charged with a misdemeanor and another with felony assault.

      Speaking via phone with +972 Magazine, Danya Nayfeh said she had to repeatedly plead with police to arrest her father’s attackers, screaming “who did this?” and that officers threatened to arrest her instead for if she didn’t stop demanding they take action against the JDL men. She said the first people to pull JDL guys off her dad were other protesters, she assumes from IfNotNow.

      The violent confrontations went largely unreported in the coverage and social media buzz surrounding the IfNotNow protests against AIPAC.

      A second video shows his eventual detention after appearing to assault IfNotNow activists:

      In a Facebook status published Tuesday, IfNotNow member Shana Shawn Salzberg described a very scary confrontation with mostly “huge muscular white men”:

      One of them took a pole smashed it on a tall person’s forehead, which started bleeding. I was shoved hard with a closed fist and a pole in such a way that my head ended up behind someone’s arm which ended up cutting off my wind pipe for a second…. These were Jews shoving and stabbing other Jews in the name of Jewish protection.

      The Washington Jewish Week spoke with Meir Weinstein, who described himself as the coordinator of the JDL — before most of the violence occurred that day. He said that his organization was “primarily here to counter the anti-Israel mobs that are going to show up” and to protect Jews attending the conference, who he said were in danger of being attacked.

      The Jewish Defense League, founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, has been described as a terrorist organization by the FBI. The group is believed to be behind several fatal bombings in the United States several decades ago, although it was largely dormant until recently.

      The group’s Israeli affiliate, Kach, is outlawed in Israel and is listed as a terrorist organization in Israel, Europe and the United States. Kahane, who advocated the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Israel and the West Bank, was later assassinated in New York City. …”

      wth were the DC police thinking?????

  2. pabelmont on March 27, 2017, 12:17 pm

    “Bibitybipity: “We’ll defend ourselves against slander and boycotts.”

    Against slander?

    oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed.

    That’s OK, because BDS tells “inconvenient truths”, not “untruths”. But against boycotts? Anybody would want to, of course, so of course Israel will defend itself.

    Somebody teach me the raised fist salute (or whatever) of BDS !

  3. eljay on March 27, 2017, 12:29 pm

    … Also last night at AIPAC, former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper said that Israel was profoundly threatened by BDS, which he said was merely the latest form of classical anti-Semitism.

    “The third threat to Israel is the one we actually need to take the most seriously as Canadians and Americans, and that is the BDS movement… One can disagree with the Israeli government’s policies in this aspect or that, but the BDS is not about that. … “

    Shame on you, Steve – you Zionist kiss-ass – for anti-Semitically singling out the “Jewish State” for special treatment. When we disagree with the Iranian or Syrian or Iraqi or Afghani governments’ policies in this aspect or that, we alienate them politically, strangle them economically and/or decimate them militarily. There’s no reason to treat the “Jewish State” any differently.

    • DaBakr on March 28, 2017, 1:31 am


      ‘There’s no reason to treat the Jewish state any differently’…..

      Delicious irony from a MW true believer. Point taken.

      • eljay on March 28, 2017, 9:38 am

        || @aa: Delicious irony from a MW true believer. Point taken. ||

        What you appear to be tasting is your own Zionist hypocrisy (which would explain why you like the flavour).

        The point – which you clearly did not take – is that all states should be held to the same standard of justice, accountability and equality. If the way to do that is through economic sanctions and bombing campaigns – which is what Zionists like you and Harper seem to believe – then Israel should not be exempted.

  4. amigo on March 27, 2017, 12:45 pm

    I watched the whole tape and have to give praise to these young people.

    The JDF obviously hired some thugs to create trouble.Why would anyone who is protesting peacefully feel the need to cover their face.

    The JDF crowd knew they were on the losing side as evidenced by the pint sized female antagonist who claimed she was Palestinian but kept repeating there was no such place as Palestine and referring to Palestinians as donkeys.

  5. Maghlawatan on March 27, 2017, 3:42 pm

    “We’ll defend ourselves against slander and boycotts.” –

    Israel creates the moral turpitude 24/7 that leads people to support BDS.
    BDS is a moral response to a moral collapse.
    Hillel would recognise it for what it is. Shammai would not.

  6. Sulphurdunn on March 27, 2017, 6:44 pm

    I thought the JDL was considered a terrorist organization. I also understood that they have no active presence in the US. If they have returned, why haven’t the feds rounded these brown shirt rat bastards up?

  7. HHM on March 28, 2017, 10:22 am

    ANSWER and Al-Awda also led an organized protest against AIPAC, but I didn’t see any reporting of this. Does anyone happen to know if US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and JVP were represented as such at the protest as well? US Campaign is D.C. based. This video just mentions a newer group, IfNotNow. Does anyone know if IfNotNow endorses BDS and the Palestinian right of return? The featured rabbi in this video represents Jews United Against Zionism.

    • JeffB on March 28, 2017, 11:31 am


      IfNotNow engages from inside the Jewish community with the Jewish community. They are an internal protest group, they seek reform. BDS claims to seek external pressure to coerce Israel into changing its policies, they are an external group.

      JVP vs. INN rhetoric is where you see this mostly cleanly.

      INN talks about AIPAC as “claiming to speak for our community”

      JVP talks about AIPAC “peddling in Islamophobic and racist tropes against Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs for decades as part of their work in securing unquestioning US support for Israel”

      INN talks about themselves using Jewish symbolism: Just as Moses was commanded to return to Egypt and fight for the liberation of his people, we too feel called to take responsibility for the future of our community. We know the liberation of our Jewish community is bound up in the liberation of all people, particularly those in Israel and Palestine. The bush burns bright but is not consumed – the fire is not a mechanism of destruction, but rather a force of inspiration and transformation.

      The JVP talks about themselves as part of a broad alliance on the left. INN won’t participate in joint protests with groups that don’t agree to their principles.

      INN: We, us, our… what we did
      JVP: Them, their… what Zionist did

      INN doesn’t outright reject BDS, that’s the main distinguishing characteristic between INN and J-Street U. They consider BDS a legitimate position to hold. The leader of the movement is in Israel right now and writes for a liberal Zionist newspaper. But what’s important about them is they do outright reject the hatred that underlies BDS protests. They reject BDS’ savage rhetoric. They reject threats and intimidation, “ Our community is paralyzed with the fear of violence and betrayal. To raise a hand against our community would feed all of these fears.“. They aim their political protests at groups that are openly lobbies: AIPAC, WZC, ADL, ZOA… they don’t target individual Jews, even if those Jews belong to organizations they oppose. So they protest AIPAC but not individual appearances by Howard Kuhr. They participate in, they don’t blockade Jewish social or religious events even if those events have Zionism as part of their theme. Etc… They conduct non-violence training prior to events (the way Martin Luther King did) to make sure that their protests remain peaceful. They seek to engage with the conscience of America’s Jews, they don’t seek to become an enemy that they have no choice but to oppose.

      Tone wise INN endorses the Jewish concept of teshuva, that sin can be overcome by acknowledging the sin and working to rectify it. So they reject individual shaming much less the idea of intergenerational shaming which is intrinsic to BDS’ charges against Israelis / Jews.

      They are only against the occupation. As for right of return, Zionism, BDS… they take no position.

      So I guess the answer to your underlying question is no they are not part of the left’s pro-Palestinian anti-Zionist movement. And while they wouldn’t classify themselves this way, they are part of the Jewish left’s pro-humane Zionist movement.

      • Mooser on March 28, 2017, 3:09 pm

        “IfNotNow engages from inside…”

        “JeffB” is a member of “Not Now !!”

  8. iResistDe4iAm on March 30, 2017, 9:14 am

    Israel will defend itself on the “moral battlefield”…

    A country that is built on the RUBBLE & ASHES of another country, and the CORPSES BLOOD & TEARS of another people, has no morals.

    Israel has lost all claims to morality.

    • eljay on March 30, 2017, 9:51 am

      Israel will defend itself on the “moral battlefield”…

      You bet it will! Israel is going to grab the world by the lapels, slap it around a bit, drag it to the bottom of the barrel and show – no, prove! – that it isn’t quite as bad as Saudi Arabia, Mali and African “hell-holes”.

      Israel: “Say it! SAY IT!!”
      World: “You’re…you’re not quite as bad as S-Saudi Arabia, Mali…*cough*…and African ‘hell-holes’.”
      Israel: “See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

  9. Kathleen on April 3, 2017, 8:10 am

    So wonderful so many (including young Jews) have joined the anti Israeli apartheid movement. A welcome shift.

    Some years back while attending the anti Aipac protest out in front of the Aipac conference talked with many of the students from campuses who had had their travel cost and cost for conference paid for by Aipac. Their abilities to think more honestly about what is really going on in the decades long occupation were expanding based on facts not Aipac propaganda.

    Had several of them come across the street to speak at length with human rights activist Hedy Epstein (bless her soul). Hedy turned some of their heads towards justice for Palestinians

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