Direct Action Against Discrimination and the American-Israeli Lobby – San Francisco
There we are, an American Muslim girl, a Mexican Sikh girl, and a white Israeli man, two American friends filming us and live-streaming, as we walk right into the middle of an AIPAC (American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee) party with fliers telling them their contributions are funding war crimes. Our best information says that the last person to do something like this was in the hospital for a week. We march right in anyway. We also know that if they get violent, I will be the first target, since my crimson hijab marks me clearly as a Muslim. Needless to say, we are all quite nervous and have to try to calm each other down.
Once we get into the room, my companions are able to distribute some of our fliers (there’s a photo of them in the attached video), but of course the attendees won’t accept anything from me. An AIPAC woman grabs me like a bird-of-prey, her claws digging into my shoulders, and tries to shove me out of the room through the closed door. Having finally succeeded in ejecting me, they slam the door behind me and my friends ask, “Just you?” “Just me,” I reply. “Racist,” they exclaim. Shortly thereafter, the Mexican girl is thrown out of the room screaming “Free, free Palestine!” and the Israeli, close behind her, is pushed out, shouting at the guards who are forcing us out about “water apartheid” and “home demolitions.” My silence is broken and I yell at the top of my lungs for all to hear, “Bismi Allah alrahman alrahim, Palestine will be free!” Nothing AIPAC did will be able to stop that, not their blatant racism, not their control of campaign funding or the hideous lies they told the American public, nothing.
We’ve been out on the streets for weeks shouting slogans like “Netanyahu you can’t hide; we charge you with genocide!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “Wake up, open your ears, count the murders over the years,” but now it was time to make the message much more personal. The AIPAC attendees in the hotel were those who contributed at least $1500/year to AIPAC, money that would be spent keeping American candidates in office who support Israeli expansion and stand by silently while Israel commits breach after breach of international law. No way were we going to let them come crashing through our city picking up thousands of dollars in contributions without us having a say.
Now let’s look for a minute at the reasons behind the obvious differential treatment we received at AIPAC’s hands. Why are Muslims a threat to them? The reasons that Israel supporters give the American public to hate Muslims are that we are uncivilized, anti-Semitic savages – just look at the ads posted in cities across America by the American Freedom Defense Initiative saying “In a war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel, defeat jihad,” and the recent HR 35 ballot measure passed in California equating student activism in solidarity with Palestine to anti-Semitism. However, you need only read a history book, to see how blatantly false these claims are.
Muslims welcomed the Jews into Andalusia and the Ottoman Empire and coexisted peacefully and harmoniously with them while they were being driven out of Europe in the name of Christianity. We also invented algebra and made huge advances in medicine during what Europe refers to as the “Dark Ages.” We sheltered the Jews in Albania and Palestine during the Holocaust. And now we’re being called anti-Semitic savages because we stand up to a brutal occupation of Zionist extremists on our land? Even though entire Jewish organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace, B’Tselem and the Neturei Karta were created to oppose the Israeli occupation? Even though fifteen Christian churches joined together and wrote the Kairos document condemning Israeli aggression? Could the racism and historical inaccuracy in the Israeli lobby’s claim get any more apparent?
The diversity of people who support the liberation of Palestine speaks to the universality of the struggle. During Operation “Pillar of Defense,” I found the Latino community marching with us in downtown San Francisco yelling “Viva, viva Palestina!” People from Native tribes have come to our gatherings and spoken about the brutality of American imperialism. They understand. As Muslims, it is particularly difficult to watch our brothers and sisters in faith being beaten down and oppressed by the Israeli regime, but that does not make us savages. It makes us human.
By Saeeda McMullin