Activists confront AIPAC donors with checkpoint outside fundriaser

Activists set up a mock Israeli checkpoint outside the AIPAC fundraiser. (Roxane Auer)

Dozens of Los Angeles-area Jews, Palestinians and other allies erected a mock checkpoint at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual Valley Fundraiser in protest of AIPAC’s attempt to steer US policy makers to ignore recent Israeli war crimes in Gaza and the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. Cars were confronted by people dressed as Israeli soldiers and those attending the event were “allowed to pass through” after receiving a new program for the event that exposes AIPAC support for Israeli policies which contravene international law. A boisterous crowd also chanted “Angelenos choose a side, human rights or Apartheid!” at AIPAC donors as they approached the hotel entrance.

“At a time when President Obama’s administration seeks to restart peace talks with Palestinians and Israelis, AIPAC advocates a one-sided US policy of supporting Israel at any cost,” said Julie Hey, a graduate student. “As a Jewish American, I am particularly appalled that my tax dollars are funding Israel’s apartheid policies.”

AIPAC is self-described as “America’s leading pro-Israel lobby,” and as such has supported Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, including the use of military checkpoints and the erection of a 450-mile-long wall that has encircled entire communities, leaving Palestinians prisoners in their own land. The South African apartheid regime broke the country into 10 noncontiguous Bantustans made of 13 percent of the total land —“homelands” for the black population. Israel’s “separation wall” and settlements have broken the Palestinian territories into 12 noncontiguous cantons representing only 12 percent of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

“Tonight we are exposing AIPAC’s support of Israel’s Apartheid system and are letting the high-donors and political leaders of Los Angeles know that is it unacceptable to support Israel’s separate and unequal treatment of Palestinians,” said Lisa Adler, an LA-based community organizer and Jewish leader. “Just as the movement for end South African apartheid required boycott, divestment and sanctions, people of conscience around the world are increasingly supporting the Palestinian struggle for freedom and self-determination by boycotting all things Israeli.”

AIPAC also supported Israel’s recent offensive in Gaza, which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians and wounded more than 5,000, the vast majority civilians. “We found strong evidence that Israel committed war crimes during its 22-day offensive,” said human rights attorney Radhika Sainath, who recently returned from a fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip. “Israeli forces repeatedly violated international law by targeting civilians, blocking medical access to the wounded, and using weapons that cause needless suffering.”

AIPAC wants Obama to agree to almost $3 billion in new military aid to Israel. US law forbids assistance to governments that engage in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights

Mostly recently, AIPAC, praised the Obama Administration’s decision to boycott the World Conference Against Racism in Geneva next month, unless its final document drops all references to Israel and reparations for slavery. In 2001, Bush administration diplomats walked out of the conference in Durban, South Africa after delegates proposed a resolution likening Zionism to racism.

Many of the same participants in today’s demonstration also were part of an ad-hoc group of Los Angeles Jews that shut down the Israeli consulate for three hours on 14 January 2008 during Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

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