For Immediate Release
Citizens Occupy AIPAC Policy Conference and Mic Check Cong. Ros-Lehtinen: Use Diplomacy, Not War on Iran
WASHINGTON - An AIPAC Policy Conference panel titled “Stopping Iran” had some unexpected speakers: activists with Occupy AIPAC who stood up and “mic checked” Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Israeli Ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff. At about 2pm on March 5, four activists called out AIPAC for pushing for American support for an Israeli attack on Iran. One activist was violently attacked by an AIPAC member who used his tie to strangle the peaceful protester. Later in the afternoon two activists unfurled a "Don't Bomb Iran" banner inside the AIPAC hall. Security promptly pushed them out of the hall, and also forcefully removed an AIPAC delegate who had nothing to do with the action, but was taken out for being a bystander.
The full People’s Microphone inside the panel said:
Ros-Lehtinen is pushing war based on lies.
We are the 99%
Wars benefit the 1%
Don’t bomb Iran!
Diplomacy not bombs.
AIPAC supports endless war.
We support peace.
Occupy Wall Street not Iran.
Occupy Wall Street not Palestine.
No war on Iran.”
Shortly after the people's mic began, the crowd of AIPAC attendees reacted forcefully. Some of them climbed over chairs to reach the demonstrators, and one of the disruptors, Rick Colbath-Hess, was violently yanked down to the floor by his necktie. After the mic-check, Laura Kacere of Occupy DC and Ridgely Fuller of CODEPINK and Occupy Boston both stood on top of chairs and chanted “Don’t bomb Iran!” The AIPAC crowd responded by singing the Israeli national anthem, led by Representative Ros-Lehtinen, and the activists were eventually escorted out.
“As an active member of the Occupy movement, I believe it is important for people to recognize that AIPAC doesn’t represent American or Jewish interests, but the interests of the 1%,” said Laura Kacere, 25 years old from Washington DC. “AIPAC demonstrates this through its powerful grip over Congress, influencing our government to make choices that do not reflect the best interest of the 99%. In this case, AIPAC is pushing for war on Iran which would be disastrous not only for Iran, Israel, and the entire Middle East, but for the US as well.”
According to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Cong. Ros-Lehtinen has received $243,240 in campaign contributions from the Israel Lobby, including $34,500 in the last election alone. She recently introduced a House companion to Senator Lieberman’s Senate Resolution 380, which seeks to lower the threshold for the US attacking Iran.
“The Obama administration needs to focus on diplomacy rather than be dragged into another war we can’t afford,” said Rick Colbath-Hess, 52 from Cambridge, MA. “In the past three years, the Obama administration has had discussions with the Iranian government for only 45 minutes –that is hardly what one would call ‘diplomacy.’”
Outside the convention center, Occupy AIPAC demonstrations continued today with a protest against war on Iran staged in front of the White House, where President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss Iran.
At 7:00PM, today, March 5, another protest will take place outside of the AIPAC conference as Congressional representatives and dignitaries arrive for the Gala night. Night visuals will include a lit-up banner and messages projected unto the Convention Center.
The Occupy AIPAC coalition is gathering to urge Obama to reject the Israeli administration’s push for war on Iran and insist on respect for Palestinian rights. Timed to coincide with the annual AIPAC policy conference from March 3-6, Occupy AIPAC aims to draw attention to the dangerous role of AIPAC as a special interest lobby that maintains a stranglehold over US policies. As the Occupy Movement has focused public ire on the role of large corporations and powerful lobby groups, hundreds have gathered in DC to protest AIPAC’s push for war.