Me and AIPAC II
I go to the Anti AIPAC Gathering in Washington in May of 2011, drawn once again by my desire to not be a “good German.” This urge to not stand idly by and turn a blind eye when evil is being perpetuated nearby has informed and at times commanded my actions in response to gross injustice all my life. I’m now 70 years old. A grandfather. Semi retired. I am a child of the Holocaust, although I was raised exclusively in the U.S., in the Bronx, the son of a Jewish NYC fireman who was the aide and driver for the first African American NYC fire department battalion chief. My father’s best friend was killed in WWII. My uncles served in the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. My parents were liberals and Zionists. Everyone I knew was. We were told by genuine marketing geniuses that Palestine was “a land without a people for a people without a land.”
“Never again” was a rallying cry, a declaration of faith, meaning at first, never again would Jews go like lambs to slaughter. And never again would Jews be oppressed and murdered without broad and effective Jewish resistance. And never again would we be “good Germans” and, as otherwise reasonably good and moral people, stand idly by while evil was being perpetuated in our neighborhood.
I wish we would have bombed the rail lines. I wish the Israeli Jews and the Palestinian Arabs were working on the problems of being one state, but I also wish we worked as one world, and, of, course the reality is as it has been more or less since 1947.
I had a rather intense personal experience at the aipac banquet that bibi addressed on sunday evening, which i attended with 9 other anti-aipac activists, five intending to speak out and five videographers. at the banquet a crowd of over 10,000 people listened to familiar right wing israeli lies and distortions about palestinians, democracy in israel, muslim terrorists, borders, security, partnership with the U.S., the glories of warfare, the benefits of aggression, and how israel just wanted peace, although it also wanted all of jerusalem, all the land it could possibly steal west of the jordan, and to deny the internationally recognized right of return for palestinian refugees so as to maintain a jewish voting majority in a "democratic" apartheid state. there were 325 US senators and congressional reps in attendance at the banquet. all would also listen to bibi address and lie to a joint session of congress just a day and a half later. also in attendance were dozens of foreign dignitaries and over 250 college student government presidents, each of whom had been flown into d.c. by aipac , put up in hotels, and subject to the familiar miseducation that aipac is so stunningly effective at.
In advance of our attendance at the banquet we discussed and prepared for how we would exercise our constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech and dissent. because bibi had been saying for some time that a variety of things were "indefensible," the 1967 borders, for example, or israel not having a jewish majority population, we decided to make indefensibility our theme and prepared to speak out, one after another, on what was truly indefensible, i.e, stealing land as indefensible, bombing schools as indefensible, and the one i was assigned, denying the nakba being indefensible.
And so, about half way through bibi's speech we stood up, one at a time, unfurled our banners, and began to speak as the videocameras rolled. (and if you attended the banquet and were one of the little piggies who committed the assaults and batteries on any of the five protesters, denying us our civil liberties, and in some instances indecently sexually assaulting female protesters, here's where you should get just a teeny bit nervous, because we have you all on film, but i digress).
I was the last protester to speak. i stood up, unfurled my banner, and called out, "denying the nakba is indefensible." i said it loudly. i repeated it often. the banner was snatched from my hands, two paid security guards came and took me by the arms to escort me out of the hall, and that's when the assaults began. as the security men led me from the convention center floor, a phalanx of about 200 men formed between me and the exit i was being guided toward the exit, spitting on me, choking me, pulling my tie, kicking me, reliving my own little nakba.