Protesters held a number of events over the weekend to challenge the annual meeting of the largest Zionist lobby in the US, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). A group called ‘Move Over AIPAC’, supported by over 100 civil society organizations, organized the largest protests to date against the Zionist lobby in Washington DC.According to the group’s website, “Move Over AIPAC is a campaign that aims to wean U.S. policy away from AIPAC’s grip towards an even-handed position that respects international law and the human rights of all people in the region.”
The protests included a mock checkpoint and Wall set up at the entrance to the AIPAC conference, to emphasize the imprisonment and humiliation of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers in Palestine; a singing and dancing ‘flash mob’ to raise awareness of AIPAC’s influence in Washington DC, and a ‘die in’ staged by progressive Rabbis and other members of the Jewish community to oppose Israeli killings of Palestinian civilians.
One protester was arrested as the presidential motorcade entered the Convention Center. Brian Van Slyke, a 23 year old student from Chicago, was detained after unintentionally entering the street as the motorcade passed. Witnesses claim he was roughed up by police officers during the arrest.
At least a dozen protesters with the MoveOver AIPAC conference and protests, funneled into the street after Van Slyke’s arrest, effectively closing down the intersection while performing a “die-in” covered in bloody cloths.
Activists from the group US Boat to Gaza also entered the street with a ‘boat float’ with dozens of people, singing and chanting. This group will travel by boat to Gaza in June, along with a flotilla of boats from around the world bringing humanitarian aid to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. A similar flotilla last May was attacked by Israeli forces in international waters, killing nine humanitarian aid workers and sparking international outrage.