Why did I disrupt?
(Mondoweiss) -- by Rae Abileah --
Do you know that our Congress gave 29 standing ovations to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he spoke in the Capital on Tuesday, May 24? I couldn't watch this hero's welcome for a man who supports the continued building of illegal settlements, won't lift the siege of Gaza, and refuses to negotiate with the new Palestinian unity government. During the talk, when Netanyahu was praising young people rising up for democracy in the Middle East, and I took my cue to stand up from my seat in the Capitol Gallery, unfurl a banner, and shout, "No More Occupation! Stop Israeli War Crimes! Equal Rights for Palestinians!"
Immediately, I was tackled, gagged and violently shoved to the floor by other members of the audience, many of whom were still wearing their badges from the AIPAC conference this past weekend. Police dragged me out of the Capitol gallery, and an ambulance whisked me to the hospital, where I was treated for neck and shoulder injuries and put under arrest for disrupting Congress. After I disrupted, Netanyahu said to his Congressional audience, "You can't have these protests in Tehran; this is real democracy."
Is it? What kind of a democracy do we live in when free speech is met with brutality and arrest? In a real democracy, our representatives would be looking out for our best interests, not the interests of a foreign government, ie, Israel. I want my government to take an even-handed approach that respects the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians. But in our so-called democracy, special interest lobby groups like AIPAC have enormous power because of their ability to direct campaign contributions.
So we have a very skewed policy that ignores the rights of the Palestinians, allows repeated Israeli violations of international law, sullies the U.S. reputation internationally, and gives $3 billion a year of our tax dollars to the Israel military when we need this money here at home. Before we go preaching democracy abroad, we should make our own democracy more responsive to the public good, not the wishes of wealthy lobbyists.
On Monday night, May 23, five brave activists disrupted Netanyahu's speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Gala and were also met with assaults. The young women who had spoken out were subjected not only to assault, but to sexual groping by male AIPAC attendees. But these activists felt compelled to speak out against Netanyahu’s claim that returning to the 1967 borders would be “indefensible,” when it is Israeli policies that are really indefensible: starving Gaza, occupying and stealing land, bulldozing homes, silencing dissent. (see videos here). The same day, at a press conference at the National Press Club about military aid to Israel and the dangerous role of the Israel Lobby, activist Allison Weir had her phone slugged out of her hand by an angry Zionist. This sounds eerily similar to the alleged democracy in Israel, where Palestinians and Israelis are routinely assaulted, arrested and jailed for speaking out against the Israeli occupation.
For the Palestinian people who live under Israel’s 44-year-old military occupation, violence dominates everyday life. Zinad Samouni of Gaza is a living testament to this oppressive reality. She lost 48 family members during Israel’s December 2008 bombardment of Gaza, and hers became yet another tragic story in a long history of home demolitions, land confiscation, and systematic violation of the Palestinians’ basic human rights. After the massacre of the Samouni family, Israeli soldiers left behind racist graffiti such as "Arabs need 2 die'' and "1 is DOWN 999,999 TO GO.”...MORE...LINK
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