AIPAC AND ME - 1
Some years ago I went to an AIPAC fundraising dinner in Boston, specifically intending to speak out on behalf of the Palestinian people. This was not intended by me as an act of civil disobedience, but as an act of conscience. When I had travelled in the Occupied Territories/Palestine and asked the good people I met there what I could do to help end their oppression by the Israeli state, to a person they said, "Change US policy, expose AIPAC." So when I heard AIPAC would be in Boston raising money I felt a virtually uncontrollable desire to act, to speak truth to power, to be as un-good a "good German" as I was capable of being.
The AIPAC affair itself was predictable. The room was immense, with amazing loudspeakers, twin jumbo screens, senators, congressmen and women, security, free flowing alcohol, and nearly 700 wildly applauding AIPAC toadies and sympathizers. Israel was wonderful. The United States was wonderful. The terrorists, the Muslims, the Arabs, the fundamentalists, the mullahs, the leaders of Arab nations, Hamas, the protesters outside the hotel, the sponsors of divestment actions against Israel, were all detestable abominations. The words "terrorist," "9/11," "Islamic," "Arab," and "enemies of freedom" ran together repeatedly like the refrain of an advertising jingle.
During the incredibly jingoistic, intolerant, uncompromising, arrogant, ass-kicking keynote speech by U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [R-FL], lead sponsor of HR4681, the so-called Palestinian Anti-terrorism Act of 2006," (the one that will cut off humanitarian aid to Palestine until the PA halts "all anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian Authority-controlled electronic and print media and in schools, mosques, and other institutions it controls, and replaces these materials, including textbooks, with materials that promote tolerance, peace, and coexistence with Israel,") it was clear to me what I needed to say. Because believe it or not, in over two hours of speeches and declarations, the Palestinian people, the invisible people, the suffering, oppressed, subjugated, ethnically segregated people with the Israeli boot on their collective throats, had never been mentioned once!!
"The people missing from this meeting are the Palestinian people," I yelled out as loudly as I could.
"The Palestinian people are the painful crippling pebble in Israel's shoe!” I yelled out like some wild eyed schizoid street preacher.
“Without justice for the Palestinians there can be no peace for Israel," I proclaimed.
Upon which I was promptly grabbed by some heroic AIPAC supporters, the plain clothes security detail I had identified earlier, and three guys who appeared out of nowhere and were each the size of an SUV. As I was being escorted out, I placed some of the handouts I had prepared on one of the reception tables, where they were picked up by security no sooner than I had left them. I was in no position to argue.
So what can you do to help advance the cause of peace and justice in Palestine and Israel and to provide some modest support to the many Palestinian, Israeli, and U.S peace activists who labor so passionately and conscientiously to realize a new vision for Israel and Palestine? I suggest you visit the occupied territories and see for yourself what it is like there. In lieu of that, find an organization that speaks to your wishes and hopes for the mid-East here, and then support it. Or write me and we can talk together.