WASHINGTON — Rabbis, Palestinians, activists with the peace group CODEPINK and others from the Jewish peace community protested outside of AIPAC Conference as President Obama gave his keynote speech; one protester was arrested as the presidential motorcade entered the Convention Center. Brian Van Slyke, a 23 year old student from Chicago, currently being detained after unintentionally entering the street as the motorcade passed, was roughed up by police officers, his charges are yet to be disclosed.
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 have mounted a boat float with dozens of people, singing and chanting.
The protests at the DC Convention (9th St and Massachusetts Ave, NW ) will continue throughout the day.
“The Obama Administration must encourage an end to illegal settlement construction and support the Palestinian unity government,” says Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK and co-organizer of the MoveOverAIPAC conference and protests. “His ‘mutually agreed upon swaps’ for land won’t get us anywhere closer to peace if Israel does not have to acknowledge the Palestinian’s legitimately elected government.”
“This conflict has been going on for longer than I can remember; it’s time for a paradigm shift. Unfortunately the President’s speech did not have more substance to actually get Palestinians and Israelis to the peace he insists is possible. The speech did not go to the heart of the conflict, which is the occupation” says Andy Shallal, DC artist and activist.
This day-long event is part of a conference that calls for a new American foreign policy in the Middle East and challenges the Israeli lobby’s siege of Congress. Termed “Move Over AIPAC,” the Conference is organized Organized by CODEPINK: Women for Peace and endorsed by over 100 peace and justice groups.