Oakland, California: At AIPAC (Israel Lobby) Gala, Seven Arrested for Calling for End to US Military Aid to Israel

6 activists and a journalist were arrested December 13 in Oakland, when they performed this dance at the Marriott Hotel, where the American Israel Public Affairs Committee was having a fundraiser.

On December 13, when the American Israel Public Affairs Committee  (AIPAC) held its annual dinner in Oakland, a group of activists performed a flashmob inside the Marriott hotel to the tune of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall,” addressing Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. Six activists and one writer were arrested.The activists were charged with trespassing and were held at the North County jail for over six hours, released in the wee hours of the morning.  After arrest, Janet Kobren was searched without consent by an Alameda sheriff.  Gene St. Onge was held longer in solitary confinement for refusing to eat a baloney sandwich.

The flashmob was coordinated by activists representing CODEPINK Women for Peace, American Friends Service Committee, US Boat to Gaza, Students for Justice in Palestine, Queers Undoing Israeli Terror and Don’t Buy Into Apartheid.

On December 14, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee will hold its annual dinner in San Francisco, and a coalition of peace and justice groups, including CODEPINK, are coordinating a protest about the use of our tax dollars to fund apartheid and war on the Palestinian people.

In addition, activists, some dressed in spa attire,  will gather at a retail store that carries Ahava products to tell the store: No more Ahava cosmetics. Activists won’t just be holding signs and chanting, as the event will feature original parodies of “Jingle Bells“ and “Chanukah oh Chanukah“ sung by caroling demonstrators.

AIPAC lobbies annually for Congress to approve a $3 billion gift of military aid to Israel, much of which goes into demolishing Palestinian homes, uprooting thousand-year-old olive orchards, and pauperizing the people living in the Occupied Territories.

“While people in our communities are suffering in the worst economy since the Great Depression, we are outraged that some local politicians will still pander to a lobby that wants to divert billions of American tax dollars to enforce a brutal occupation in the Middle East,” said Jim Harris of Stop AIPAC.

The AIPAC protest is being coupled with an Ahava boycott action.  Activists want to illustrate how individuals can use their purchasing power to boycott and divest from Israel’s war crimes, modeling what they believe the US government should do as well: divest by ending US military aid to Israel.

Since June, 2009, activists have been pressuring stores around the world to stop carrying products made by the Israeli cosmetics manufacturer Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories because of the Ahava’s illegal practices. Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories is an Israeli cosmetics company that has its manufacturing plant and visitors center near the shores of the Dead Sea in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank.

All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law.  Although its goods are manufactured in the West Bank, Ahava labels them as “products of Israel,” a practice that is illegal under European Union law and is currently being investigated in the UK and Holland.  For more info visit http://www.stolenbeauty.org.

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