CODEPINK Protests Netanyahu inside AIPAC Gala

Contact: Rae Abileah, CODEPINK (415) 994-1723
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK (415) 235-6517

March 22nd, 2010

Activists call for end to siege on Gaza and illegal settlements

Washington D.C.: Shortly after announcing Israel's commitment to defense in his address to the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Gala, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was disrupted by a demonstrator.  Rae Abileah, 27, from Half Moon Bay, CA, jumped onto AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr's private table alongside the stage and unfurled a pink banner that said “Netanyahu: Build Peace Not Settlements!”  Abileah shouted, “Lift the siege of Gaza! No illegal settlements!” as she was forcefully removed from the building.  A second disruption came moments later from Joan Stallard, from Washington, DC, who shouted, “Stop the settlements!”

CODEPINK's protests of the policies of AIPAC during their national conference this week have included daily morning protests, staging of a checkpoint for attendees, an afternoon press conference announcing the launch of a city-wide boycott of products illegally made in the settlements, and the release this morning of a spoof press release from AIPAC announcing that the organization was calling for a settlement freeze.  Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 23, at noon CODEPINK is planning to build a settlement (including homes and beds) inside Senator Schumer's and Senator Lieberman's offices (Hart Senate Building, offices 313 and 706).

CODEPINK condemns AIPAC's silence on the illegal settlements and calls for continued military aid to Israel, which last year was used in the attack on Gaza, breaking international law.  With the new tensions between the Obama administration and the Israeli government over settlements, activists believe that now is the time to stop AIPAC from dictating US foreign policy in the Middle East.  “The timing is right to the break the detrimental influence of AIPAC, which demands unquestioning public and financial support for Israeli despite its illegal actions,” said Rae Abileah, a national organizer with CODEPINK and a Jewish-American of Israeli decent. 

American Jewish peace activists are outraged at the influence that AIPAC has on U.S. policy. “AIPAC supports policies of aggression that damage Israel's reputation, harm innocent Palestinians, and contribute to making America less safe in the world,” said Jewish-American activist Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK. ”