American Jews Protest Pro-Israel Conference on Eve of the 50th Anniversary of the Occupation

More than 1,000 demonstrate outside annual AIPAC policy conference in protest of group’s support for occupation


March 26, 2017Contact:
Yonah Lieberman

WASHINGTON, DC – More than 1,000 Jews and allies marched on Sunday on the annual policy conference held by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest pro-Israel institution in the American Jewish community. Following the march, members of IfNotNow dropped two banners inside the conference which read “IfNotNow Rejects AIPAC and the Occupation #JewishResistance”.

This year’s conference, the first of Donald Trump’s presidency, comes during the 50th year of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. The protesters emphasized that in this time, AIPAC has done more than any other Jewish institution to entrench the occupation and normalize its effects in the American Jewish community.

“Trump’s first year in office and the 50th year of occupation are coming together to pose a unique crises for the American Jewish community,” said Mira Revesz, an IfNotNow spokesperson who came from Philadelphia, “This crisis calls for nothing less than bold, moral action that can transform our community.”

The demonstration — organized by members of IfNotNow, a national movement to end the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation — occurs amidst a sharp rise of public antisemitism and just days after David Friedman, widely considered a pro-occupation extremist, was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Israel. AIPAC congratulated Friedman over twitter and has not expressed public concern over the rise of antisemitism.

“I’ve never seen the sort of antisemitism we’re seeing today, but despite bomb threats and desecrated cemeteries, AIPAC has chosen to remain silent,” said Sara Sandmel, an IfNotNow member from Boston. “This proves without a doubt that AIPAC will be pro-Israel at any cost, prioritizing the occupation over the safety of the Jewish community and other marginalized people in America.”

The crowd rallied and marched from Franklin Square before chaining themselves to two of the primary entrances of the convention center, where the AIPAC conference is being held. The people who dropped the banner inside were roughly escorted out by AIPAC security while singing “Lo Yisa Goy”, a Jewish song about peace.

Vice President Mike Pence will be a keynote speaker at the conference. He is expected to affirm the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security while sidestepping Israel’s military control over the Palestinian population. IfNotNow protesters seek to call attention to links between inflammatory rhetoric and acts targeting minority groups nationwide, and support for Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights.

“The choice has never been clearer for the American Jewish community: We cannot oppose the Trump Administration without also opposing the 50-year-long occupation. Trump and Bibi are two sides of the same coin and we have a responsibility to resist both. We invite all Jews of conscience to be the leaders that our community needs,” said IfNotNow spokesperson Morriah Kaplan from New York City, “Those of us protesting AIPAC and supporting the broader resistance to Trump are acting on the core moral values of Judaism: freedom and dignity for all.”

IfNotNow is a Jewish movement to end the American Jewish community’s support for the Occupation and gain freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians. It is also helping to lead the #JewishResistance against the Trump administration, organizing to get the Jewish establishment to leverage its resources as part of the broader resistance. Over the past several months, IfNotNow has been organizing mass demonstrations against Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump, and the American Jewish establishment’s failure to take moral action against them. IfNotNow has chapters in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco Bay Area, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles.

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Photo credit: Gili Getz, IfNotNow

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IfNotNow members chaining themselves to the entrance door to the AIPAC policy conference.
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Banners hung inside the AIPAC policy conference by IfNotNow members.

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IfNotNow members marching on AIPAC.

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Members of IfNotNow in the process of locking themselves to the doors.

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Following the march, IfNotNow members split the Red Sea.

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