Friday, May 27, 2011

Why did I disrupt?

By Rae Abileah of CODEPINK, a US Campaign member organization
From, May 26, 2011
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.