Seven young Jewish Americans were arrested Tuesday at former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign headquarters in Philadelphia, where they staged a public action demanding Biden skip the annual conference held by right-wing anti-Palestinian rights lobbying group AIPAC.
The protest was part of the #SkipAIPAC campaign led by IfNotNow, MoveOn, Indivisible, and the Working Families Party ahead of the annual meeting, which will take place from March 1-3 in Washington, D.C. The groups are calling on all Democratic candidates in the presidential race to skip the conference and condemn AIPAC’s longtime support for the Israeli military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, and the ongoing subjugation of Palestinians.
At the demonstration, IfNotNow members held signs reading “Biden and AIPAC’s Destructive Legacy” and spoke about the impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinians, including children.
“Hundreds of Palestinian children are arrested, often in the middle of the night,” one member said. “In many cases neither they nor their parents are told why they’re being arrested. The soldiers who carry out these abuses the military detention centers where these children are held—the U.S. government writes the checks: $10 million a day.”
Biden has rejected calls to boycott the meeting this year, claiming he would go to “convince them to change their position.”
“Biden and AIPAC have built a shameful, destructive legacy of permanent occupation in Israel/Palestine,” said Philadelphia IfNotNow member Theo Toler in a statement. “It’s time to end that legacy and work towards a new vision.”
Contrary to Biden’s claim that he aims to steer AIPAC and the Israeli government away from their position on Palestinian rights, the former vice president has a long history of vocal support for the occupation.
He has regularly attended the AIPAC conference and said at the 2013 meeting that he “did more fundraisers for AIPAC in the ’70s and early ’80s than just about anybody.” Last November, Biden tweeted, “Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorist threats” after the Israeli military launched dozens of missile strikes into Gaza, killing dozens of people including children.
IfNotNow said Biden has joined AIPAC in leaving “a legacy of destruction and violence in Israel/Palestine.”
“For decades, establishment leaders like Joe Biden have aligned themselves with AIPAC and parroted AIPAC talking points—with no accountability or political consequences,” said Becky Havivi, a Philadelphia IfNotNow member who was arrested at the action. “Now Biden wants to lead the Democratic party, even as he plans to attend AIPAC’s annual conference and perpetuate this broken status quo. We won’t stand for that.”
So far, only Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have committed to skip the AIPAC conference.
Sanders said he was “concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.”
IfNotNow is also planning an action at Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) presidential campaign headquarters in Minneapolis on Friday, and will demonstrate against AIPAC in Washington during the conference next week.
Main Image: Protesting AIPAC and Israeli Treatment of the Palestinians Chicago Illinois 5-30-19 | Charles Edward Miller