Washington, DC – March 2nd, 2014 – During the Israel lobby AIPAC’s annual policy conference, CODEPINK and other activists demonstrated outside as a part of a protest dubbed “Boycott AIPAC,” calling for an end to AIPAC policies that promote war and human rights violations. The name of the protest is a reference to the growing international movement to impose Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on the state of Israel until it ends the occupation of Palestine, complies with international law, and allows Palestinian refugees the right of return to their homeland.
Activists across the world have joined the protests through a social media campaign to jam the AIPAC conference Twitter hash tags, #AIPAC14 and #AIPACpride, and activists have effectively taken over the online conversation. A controversial parody video of the AIPAC conference promotional clip has also gone viral, and AIPAC has threatened to sue CODEPINK over it.
A themed protest took place throughout the day to expose AIPAC’s dangerous foreign policy positions. These themes included calls for no war on Iran, an end to Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, and an end to billions of US taxpayer dollars every year in military aid to Israel. Activists have been bolstered by the global expansion of the BDS movement and the weakened AIPAC stranglehold over Congress. Protesters had “boycott stations” set up to inform about which products to boycott to support the Palestinian BDS movement.
“AIPAC has pushed for US military intervention in Syria and for the ‘military option’ in Iran, but both of these positions are rejected by the American people, who want a foreign policy that focuses on diplomacy,” says CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin. “It’s time our elected officials show their independence from AIPAC’s belligerent stand.”
What is AIPAC?
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (or AIPAC) is a lobbying group that advocates pro-Israel policies to the Congress and Executive Branch of the United States.
AIPAC describes itself as the most important organization affecting the U.S. relationship with Israel. With a budget of $65 million, and membership now standing at over 100,000, it is no wonder that congressional staffers consider it one of the most powerful and effective lobbies on Capitol Hill.