Expose AIPAC kicked off at the Palestine Cultural Center for Peace in Allston with teach-in.. Denise Provost (Massachusetts State Representative from the 27th Middlesex District) discussed her experiences dealing with the Israel Lobby, describing an AIPAC-push to divest Massachusetts’ pension funds from Iran. Stephen Walt followed with an overview of AIPAC and the role of the Israel Lobby in shaping the relationship between the US and Israel. Jamal Abdi (National Iranian American Council) discussed the importance of working to counter AIPAC and other groups that provide a dangerously narrow approach to US relations in the Middle East, particularly regarding Iran. He discussed the reality that many legislators on Capitol Hill lack an understanding on the particulars of certain policies that are pushed by AIPAC – giving the distinction between legislating around Iran’s nuclear weapons ‘capability’ as opposed to its ‘acquisition’ as an example. Finally, Kristin Szremski (American Muslims for Palestine) overviewed the organizational linkages between AIPAC and Islamophobic activity and propaganda. There was an extensive Q&A session following the panel presentations, as audience members dug deeper into the substance and implications of the topic.
Sunday’s protests got off to a drizzly start, but ,thanks to the creativity of protestors, ended up a rousing success. Initially, we were turned away from the park where we’d planned to congregate, but we responded quickly and moved to the sidewalk in front of the hotel where AIPAC donors were walking between the hotel and the conference center. After fifteen minutes of lively protest supplemented by signs, banners, and chants that organizers had crafted on Tuesday evening, police officers – who at this point outnumbered protesters – informed us that we were on a private sidewalk (leased by the hotel), and that we should cross the street and stand on the public sidewalk (in front of the conference center). We were soon told that, in fact, only eight people would be allowed on that public sidewalk, and the rest would have to move onto city (rather than state) property down at the end of the block. Soon after, orange cones were set up in two ~4′x6′ areas designated as “free speech zones,” which designated where the eight demonstrators could stand with their signs (and a floating banner, held up by balloons, that read AIPAC = War).