Tag: Congress

CODEPINK Protestor Assaulted in Congress Earns Apology, Compensation

Codepink: Women for Peace

For Immediate Release: Monday, July 30, 2012

AIPAC Volunteer Lobbyist, IDF Veteran Who Assaulted Young Jewish Peace Protestor in Congressional Gallery
Apologizes and Pays Compensation
Woman who disrupted Israeli Prime Minister was hospitalized for injuries, now satisfied by settlement

Washington, D.C.-Rae Abileah, a peaceful demonstrator from CODEPINK who was physically injured on May 24, 2011, in the U.S. House of Representative Gallery, while protesting during the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, reached a settlement in a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with defendant Stanley Shulster. The settlement provided for compensatory damages, an apology, and a joint statement.

Mr. Shulster is a professed volunteer lobbyist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces, and retired attorney. Ms. Abileah will donate a portion of the received funds to legal and medical aid for peaceful Palestinian protesters in the West Bank.

Joint Statement of Rae Abileah and Stanley Shulster:

We have reached an agreement in the lawsuit brought by Rae Abileah against Stanley Shulster. Our agreement resolves Ms. Abileah’s claim that Mr. Shulster assaulted her while she protested during a speech at the U.S. Capitol by Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Mr. Shulster’s defense that he did not assault her.

Mr. Shulster apologizes for any physical or emotional harm caused by him to Ms. Abileah. He agrees that he should have let the Capitol Police handle the situation. Ms. Abileah accepts this apology.

Mr. Shulster respects the right of Ms. Abileah to hold a different view on the Israel-Palestine conflict and believes she holds this view in good faith.

Ms. Abileah respects Mr. Shulster’s right to hold a different view on the Israel-Palestine conflict and believes that he holds this view in good faith.

Each party recognizes the right, as Americans, to agree to disagree peacefully.

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Just Foreign Policy: Want to prevent war with Iran? Engage Congress!

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As organizations like AIPAC ramp up their congressional lobbying for war with Iran, it’s of the utmost imperative that pro-peace advocates engage with their members of Congress as well. In this video, which contains highlights from a panel held during the 2012 Occupy AIPAC Policy Summit, three peace activists make the case for engaging with Congress to promote peace and prevent war.

Live Report from Occupied AIPAC

No War on Iran!

No War on Iran!

“Mic check! We are the 99%. War benefits the 1%. Don’t bomb Iran! Use diplomacy not bombs!”

Four Occupy AIPAC activists voices erupted yesterday inside the AIPAC conference when Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is pushing for a resolution which seeks to lower the threshold for the to US attack Iran, took the stage. An AIPAC delegate leaped over rows of chairs to pounce on the activists, choking one with his own tie. The People’s Microphone continued: “AIPAC wants war. We want peace.”

Today thousands of AIPAC delegates will lobby Congress pushing for military attack on Iran and more money for weapons to Israel. CODEPINK will be on the Hill too. In fact we’ve placed an ad in The Hill—the Washington newspaper read by Congress daily—with an open letter to Congress opposing AIPAC’s push for war on Iran. Thanks to everyone who donated to make this happen!

Join us in calling on Congress to use diplomacy, not bombs. Send a letter to your member of Congress today.

Like a mosquito in the ear of an elephant, this week we’ve succeeded in making a very loud and visible opposition to ongoing Israeli violations of human rights and international law, and opposing war on Iran. Watch key excerpts from the Occupy AIPAC Summit here, read the great news coverage, and see protest photos from Occupy AIPAC.

We remember what the drumbeat to the war on Iraq sounded like. The faint murmur is getting louder. We can’t afford another war. The time to act is now – please reach out to your member of Congress today! Put Peace with Iran on the table in Congress!

In Solidarity,
Occupy AIPAC activists from all over the US

PS: Don’t forget to contact your Congressperson today while we occupy the offices of those who are pushing for war!

Tweet this message.

Visiting the Office of Congressional Ethics About AIPAC Junkets to Israel

By Medea Benjamin

Two members of CODEPINK, Tighe Barry and myself, along with Grant Smith from IRmep had a meeting with three lawyers from the Office Of Congressional Ethics (including the OCE’s director) about the complaint we submitted regarding AIEF/AIPAC trips to Israel. We walked them through our complaint, including the growing body of evidence that AIEF functions more as a lobbying slush fund than a legitimate charitable nonprofit.

OCE explained the rules from their more narrow perspective. They said that while AIPAC might be taking advantage of every loophole, the trips may not be illegal. OCE explained that without documentable “factual evidence” of wrongdoing, they won’t initiate an investigation— and that it is up to us to provide that evidence.

Such evidence could include proof of AIPAC lobbyists contacting members to arrange the trips, AIPAC lobbyists traveling with members on the same jet liner, or AIEF “retaining or employing a lobbyist.” The OCE’s definition of a lobbyist is extremely narrow—and AIPAC claims to employ only nine such individuals on its domestic disclosures.

While OCE agreed that AIPAC may quite likely have had a hand in these trips, and may even be overstepping the lines of legality, we simply need more proof to trigger OCE action.

When we revealed the fact that AIEF has no employees, that 66% of its board are also AIPAC directors, and that the trips were organized by AIPAC staff, OCE claimed that was not illegal. Employees, if they are not registered lobbyists but simply “work for” a lobbyist group, are allowed to “volunteer their time” to work for AIEF. We were told that it is also legal for the executive director of AIEF to have his salary paid by AIPAC (which is the case now), because he is not a registered lobbyist. If any of the AIPAC lobbyists were involved in any aspect of the trip, that would be illegal, but this would also be pretty much impossible for us to prove. (And OCE clarified that if any proof were obtained illegally/or involved attorney/client privileged information, they would not be allowed to accept it as evidence.)

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Congress Sees Middle East Through AIPAC-Colored Glasses

During August recess this year, 81 members of Congress went on a junket to Israel funded by the Israel lobby group AIPAC (well, funded by the American Israel Education Fund, but they are really one and the same) to “learn first-hand about one of our closest friends and allies.” While the representatives insist they got a balanced view, their itinerary belies that claim: 95% of their time was spent hearing the Israeli government point of view, with only one token meeting with Palestinian reps.

CODEPINK has filed a complaint with the Congressional Ethics Committee stating that these trips—and the upcoming ones scheduled for December–violate the Congressional prohibition on traveling with a lobby group. We feel these Potemkin voyages are part of AIPAC’s grand plan to control and monopolize Congress, which is not just unethical, but dangerous. Their bias reinforces a disastrous U.S. policy of unconditional support for Israel that obstructs peace and runs counter to our national interests.

At a recent Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, entitled “Promoting Peace? Reexamining US Aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA)”, we got a glimpse of what happens when Congress views the Middle East through AIPAC-colored glasses. Here are a few of examples of their tunnel vision:

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CODEPINK’s Complaint to the Congressional Ethics Committee

I would like to file a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against the Congressional trips to Israel organized by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF). These trips violate the Congressional Ethics Rules and should be prohibited.

1. Person filing the complaint:

Medea Benjamin, medea@codepink.org
Affiliated with CODEPINK: Women for Peace

2. American Israel Education Fund (AIEF) trips to Israel

3. Three trips during August recess

—one delegation for Democrats headed by Cong. Steny Hoyer
–two delegations for Republicans headed by Cong. Eric Cantor and Cong. Kevin McCarthy

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CODEPINK Files Complaint with Congressional Ethics Committee Against AIPAC-Funded Junkets to Israel

Calls for end to loophole that allows front group to act as conduit for Lobby trips

The peace group CODEPINK has filed a formal complaint with the Congressional Ethics Committee, calling for an investigation of the junkets to Israel paid for by the powerful Israel lobby AIPAC but channeled through their educational front group, The American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF). This summer recess, a staggering 81 Congresspeople—one out of five members—are participating in these trips.

According to the House Ethics Rules, Congress is prohibited from participating in any multiple-day trip that is planned, organized, requested, or arranged by a lobbyist. AIPAC skirts the law by funneling the trips through AIEF.

According to the latest publicly available tax returns, in 2009 AIEF did not even have paid staff, relying on AIPAC employees to do its work. AIPAC contributed more than $3.2 million of employee salaries to cover the staff costs of AIEF in 2009. In other words, a 501(c)(4) organization with registered lobbyists is paying for the staff of a 501(c)(3) organization to run congressional delegations that cannot legally be funded by an organization that employs registered lobbyists.

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List of Representatives Going on an Israel Lobby Junket

Partial list of the 81 Congresspeople touring Israel on an AIPAC-affiliate junket during the August Congressional Recess:

First NameLast NamePolitical PartyState (District)
DanBenishekRepublicanMI (1)
MoBrooksRepublicanAL (5)
Anne MarieBuerkleRepublicanNY
CantorRepublicanVA (7)
CarnahanDemocratMO (3)
CicillineDemocratRI (1)
ClarkeDemocratNY (11)
CritzDemocratPA (12)
JeffDenhamRepublicanCA (15)
ScottDesJarlaisRepublicanTN (4)
FleischmanRepublicanTN (3)
GaramendiDemocratCA (10)
GrangerRepublicanTX (12)
MichaelGrimmRepublicanNY (12)
HahnDemocratCA (36)
Herrera BuetlerRepublicanWA (3)
HoyerDemocratMD (5)
Jesse Jr.JacksonDemocratIL (2)
Eddie BerniceJohnsonDemocratTX
MikeKellyRepublicanPA (3)
KevinMcCarthyRepublicanCA (22)
GwenMooreDemocratWI (4)
OwensDemocratNY (23)
PalazzoRepublicanMS (4)
ErikPaulsenRepublicanMN (3)
EdPerlmutterDemocratCO (7)
TomPriceRepublicanGA (6)
TomReedRepublicanNY (29)
RoskamRepublicanIL (6)
SanchezDemocratCA (47)
SchweikertRepublicanAZ (5)
TimScottRepublicanSC (1)
SmithDemocratWA (9)
SoutherlandRepublicanFL (2)
BettySuttonDemocratOH (13)
ScottTiptonRepublicanCO (3)
AllenWestRepublicanFL (22)
WilsonDemocratFL 17()
KevinYoderRepublicanKS (3)

Is your congressperson going to Israel instead of working in district during the recess?
Take action!

1. Tweet Congress with this message: Represent America, not Israel!

2. Send a letter to the editor of your local letter expressing your outrage if your Representative is going to Israel.

3. Visit your Congressperson’s office this month during the August Recess (when your Rep should be home).

Does Your Congressperson Represent You — or Israel?

9 August 2011 | AlterNet

In this time of economic austerity, when jobs are being slashed and Americans are fearful about their future, the Congressional recess is the time for our elected representatives to be home in their districts, reaching out to their constituents and servicing the people they are paid to represent. Instead, this August one out of every five representatives will be taking a junket to Israel, compliments of an affiliate of the Israel lobby AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) but still clocked in on the taxpayer’s dime.

Americans who have lost their jobs and seen their life savings evaporate because Congress can’t seem to get it together deserve an explanation of how this crisis will be solved. Following the recent debt debacle, the public is hungry for information about the mysterious 12-person “super committee” that will slash over one trillion dollars from the federal budget. But instead of opening their doors to their constituents, 81 members of Congress will be getting briefings from Israeli government officials, touring historic religious sites, and perhaps “seeking a salty dip in the Dead Sea.” Representative Steny Hoyer, who is leading the Democratic delegation, said he is pleased members of Congress have this opportunity “to gain a deeper understanding of the issues involved in increasing stability in the region.” One has to wonder whether our elected officials are more concerned about the stability of Israel or the well-being of American families.

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Rae Abileah: Why Did I Disrupt?

Rae Abileah protesting in Congress

Rae Abileah protesting in Congress

Do you know that our Congress gave 29 standing ovations to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he spoke on Tuesday? I couldn’t watch this hero’s welcome for a man who supports the continued building of illegal settlements, won’t lift the siege of Gaza and refuses to negotiate with the new Palestinian unity government. During the talk, I got up from my seat in the Capital Gallery and shouted, “No More Occupation! Stop Israeli War Crimes! Equal Rights for Palestinians!”

I was tackled, gagged, tossed to the floor and ended up in the hospital. You can read more about my experience here. The outpouring of support I have been receiving from all over the world has been astounding. A woman in Iraq said she was moved to tears seeing a Jewish-American speaking out. A man in Gaza wished me a speedy recovery and quoted the civil rights song “We Shall Overcome.” I even got a message of gratitude from Brad Pitt!

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