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Netanyahu Sparks Protests And Dissension In DC

Unprecedented coalition of 38 faith-based and social justice organizations protest Netanyahu despite rain

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to Washington, DC to seek an increase in military aid from President Obama and the Congress, as well as to speak at the Center for American Progress his visit sparked protest.

Bearing the message,No US Tax Dollars for Israel,” people protested the visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his attempts to secure a massive increase in US foreign military financing and weaponry as an appeasement for the Iran deal. The prime minister has stated he is using the trip to repair his relationship with the “American Jewish community.Yet, “a growing segment of the American Jewish population is not interested in repairing the relationship until Israel ends the occupation and oppression of Palestinians,” said coalition spokesman Seth Morrison, of the Washington DC chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Even before his arrival, the Washignton Post reported:

Eighteen organizations and 117 individuals — largely from academia and non-governmental organizations — don’t think so, and they have signed an open letter circulated by the group Jewish Voice for Peace and the Arab American Institute saying they are “dismayed that CAP will sponsor an address by Netanyahu” during the prime minister’s visit to Washington this week.

The group Jewish Voice for Peace also has circulated a petition from the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation that it says has garnered more than 26,300 signatures and was delivered to CAP last week. 

Inside CAP there was open dissent. The Nation Magazine reports:

a dozen CAP employees rose at a tense all-staff meeting to deliver a statement of dissent over Netanyahu’s talk. The statement, which was obtained by The Nation from a person who was at the meeting, elucidates the staffers’ objections to hosting Netanyahu as well as the process by which the prime minister’s offer to appear came to be accepted.  . . .

The staffers who rose to deliver the statement of dissent said they were left out of the process and now face difficulty returning to the communities from which they come and work with. “It becomes difficult to step outside of our building and say to our allies why this visit is happening, for some of us here we ourselves feel that we were not considered in that decision,” the statement reads. The authors cited, for example, the strong relationships built between Palestinian protesters, who face routine tear-gassing at their demonstrations, and Black Lives Matter activists in places like Ferguson, Missouri. “[I]t’s hard to separate American progress from world progress when young people in Palestine are advising young people in Ferguson on how to deal with tear gas and flash grenades,” they wrote. . . .

. . . according to Foreign Policy, the statement earned a round of applause during the meeting. “There weren’t just isolated pockets of disapproval, among the staff—it was practically the whole room clapping for 10-15 seconds,” one staffer told Foreign Policy.Israel no US tax dollars for Israel

There were multiple protests in Washington, DC in various locations. Outside the White House groups protested Israeli occupation in Palestinian territory as well as U.S. foreign aid to Israel as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Obama. See tweets and photos below.

Netanyahu who is seeking $4.5 billion annually in  aid from the United States for a ten-year period 2018-2027.  The current aid budget is around $3.1 billion, and the planned hike was to get it in the range of $4-$4.1 billion per year. Israel, with a population of only 8 million people,  is already the largest recipient of foreign aid. 

At protest at the National Building Museum where the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank considered to be part of the pro-Israel lobby, was honoring the Israeli Prime Minister protestors, focused on preventing increased aid to Israel. The broad coalition of 38 faith-based and social justice group called for an end to the occupation of Palestinian lands.

“We are a diverse coalition of organizations and supporters who are coming together on international law and human rights,” said coalition spokeswoman Kristin Szremski, media director of American Muslims for Palestine. “American foreign policy coupled with billions of dollars in aid make us complicit in the longest-lasting military occupation in the world. It boggles the mind that in the 21st century, we’re still demanding an end to the occupation of Palestinian lands.”

Protests at the White House. Photos by Ted Majdosz.

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Protests at National Building Museum

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DC Protest Tweets

 

 

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