It is not every day that the voices for justice triumph over the actions of the rich and powerful, especially when it comes to the Israel-Palestine debate. That’s why it is so important to acknowledge and celebrate the settlement just negotiated by CODEPINK activist Rae Abileah and her lawyers after suing American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) volunteer lobbyist Stanley Shulster.
It all started on May 24, 2011, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington, DC speaking before a joint session of Congress. Abileah, a 29-year-old Jewish woman who has traveled to the West Bank, Israel and Gaza, was in the audience. She became more and more appalled as she listened to Netanyahu’s speech and watched our congresspeople giving him a stream of standing ovations. “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 Palestinian unity government,” said Abileah.
So Abileah did what most people would never have the courage to do. She got up and shouted: “No More Occupation! Stop Israeli War Crimes! Equal Rights for Palestinians!” And she unfurled a banner that read: “Occupying Land is Indefensible!”
She was immediately grabbed, violently pulled toward the floor, and gagged—not by the Capitol Police but by a member of the audience, Stanley Shulster, a retired attorney from Ashland, Oregon, who had traveled to Washington DC to attend the yearly conference of the Israel lobby group AIPAC. An online bio for Shulster revealed that he was an unpaid lobbyist, a volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces, and a Navy veteran. In his bio Shulster bragged that he “grabbed the woman who heckled the Prime Minister while he was speaking.”
Abileah was rushed to the hospital, where she was treated for neck and shoulder injuries. She subsequently had to undergo months of physical therapy, chiropractic care and other treatments to heal from these injuries.