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Minnesotans Protest the Zionist Lobby, AIPAC, and U.S. Aid to Israel

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead |
July 3, 2010
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Protest outside of AIPAC meeting at University of Minnesota
Protest outside of AIPAC meeting at McNamara Alumni Center at University of Minnesota (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN - About 100 anti-war activists protested outside of the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) annual meeting at the University of Minnesota on June 30 to oppose the U.S. unconditional support for Israel. The Coalition for Palestinian Rights organized the protest. This protest was a part of a series of protests organized in response to the massacre of the Gaza flotilla Memorial Day weekend.

The Coalition of Palestinian Rights issued a statement that said, “AIPAC supports endless conflict in the Middle East by lobbying for billions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Israel and continued occupation of Palestinian land. AIPAC works to insure that Israel is provided with U.S. military aid and weapons at the cost of more than $3 billion each year. Our helicopters, bullets and bombs are killing Palestinians. Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” attack on Gaza, which killed 1400 civilians including 352 children, was carried out with U.S.-funded and manufactured helicopters, tanks, rockets and phosphorus bombs. AIPAC also regularly provides a platform for Christian Zionist extremists to foment their anti-Muslim/Arab racism and their call to unbridled militarism.”

Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota organizer Tracy Molm started off the rally, “The media and government in the U.S., with the pressure of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the people meeting inside as I speak, are responsible for ensuring that despite these horrendous atrocities…the U.S. still sends billions of dollars to the Israeli government. We believe this is unacceptable, and now more than ever it is time to stand up. As a member of Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota, I am really happy to see all of you here to help us let AIPAC know that their agenda of hatred and bigotry against the Palestinian people and their stranglehold on American politics will not come to the University of Minnesota campus without a fight!”

Protesters surrounded the entrance to the event and lined the stairwell from the parking ramp to the rally. AIPAC supporters had to walk through a gauntlet of pro-Palestine support to get their event. Many choose to enter the event through the basement to avoid being seen by protesters. However, former senator and Democratic candidate for governor Mark Dayton did walk through protesters to go to the AIPAC event. Supporters chanted “Shame!” at Dayton.

Margaret Sarfehjooy, from Women Against Military Madness, explained, “We are here to tell our politicians that AIPAC does not speak for us. You were not elected to pass AIPAC-written resolutions and bills. You were not elected to enable Israel to continue its illegal occupation of Palestinian land. You were not elected to defer to AIPAC, a non-registered agent of the state of Israel. It’s time to listen to people who want peace in the Middle East, who want to spend our tax money on housing, health care, schools, jobs, not endless wars and occupation.”

Jennie Eisert, a member of the Anti-War Committee, concluded the rally, “AIPAC thinks that they are unstoppable, but they are wrong. They are a racist organization that has too much voice in U.S. foreign policy. We are here to challenge their voice with our own.”