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NIACampus.org Student Reporting

Occupy AIPAC: Sign Language

Cross posted from NIACampus.org Student Reporting:

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Occupy AIPAC was a summit timed to coincide with the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference. Occupy AIPAC participants gathered to discuss issues, such as Iran, the Arab Uprising, Palestine and the affects of AIPAC in determining U.S. foreign policy on these topics. On Sunday, Occupy AIPAC activists rallied outside of the Walter E. Washington convention center, where hours earlier, President Obama and important names in the foreign policy world gave their speeches to the AIPAC Policy Conference attendees.

The purpose of the rally was to warn the American people of what the activists saw as the dangerous and overwhelming influence that AIPAC was having on United States’ foreign policy. Messages of justice for the Palestinian people and peace with Iran echoed throughout the event. Keynote speakers from activist organizations, musical performances, and poetry readings accompanied the long day of protest.

Although tensions were high between the opposing sides earlier that day, a patient few waited to the end of the AIPAC conference and greeted the AIPAC members as they exited the building. Despite the high emotions and impassioned speeches from earlier in the day, people from both sides of the issue came together on the sidewalks and began to respectfully share ideas, opinions, and stories.

I had the opportunity to speak with the diverse group of activists at the event. The following profiles present the various perspectives of these activists:

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Name: Grant

Age: 46

From: Washington, D.C.

Occupation: Director of Research Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

Why are you out here today?

“Because you can’t just sit in an office and blog all day, you have to come out into the street you have to take actions that are visible you have to bring people out to protest in a peaceful, non-violent way and show, in this case AIPAC attendees, that we are opposed to their initiatives to launch war on Iran, to illegal settlements, to unwarranted influence in Congress that has no regulatory oversight whatsoever.”

Advice for Obama Administration on Iran:

“He needs to open a diplomatic presence. Why don’t they open up an embassy like the one they just built in Iraq in Iran—it is an extremely important country. They need to stop taking advice from the Israelis, who are absolutely hysterical about their IAEA regulated civilian nuclear program. They need to disregard AIPAC’s political pressure and go straight to the American people and say we’re not going to let Israel drive our foreign policy; we’re going to talk to Iran.”