So the occupation of CPAC turned out to be pretty much a blip. I was writing a story in the hotel bar at a window table when a few dozen Occupy DC and labor folks (as guessed by signs about teacher pensions) tried to get into the Marriott Wardman Park a few hours before Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker spoke. A minute of two of fighting at most. Then there was a group who started shouting in the ballroom during former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s speech, the only major speech to be interrupted by Occupy. Mostly, DC police kept them at the base of the hotel driveway, making for an entertaining and odoriferous trip from the hotel to the Metro station.
Whereas the Occupy CPAC effort was the same ragtag bunch that had been recently kicked out of their McPherson Square squat-a-thon, joined by some union helpers who just hated Walker, there’s an entire site, schedule and registration process dedicated to the protest effort this year at AIPAC.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference is March 4-6 at the Washington Convention Center, and will feature both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. It’s the last AIPAC conference before the election, and perhaps the last before Israel strikes at Iran’s rapidly blossoming nuclear program. It’s a hotly anticipated event, to say the least (and PJM will be there).
Other speakers include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
AIPAC always draws the usual cadre of pro-Palestinian demonstrators outside. Unlike the weak security at CPAC, AIPAC always has El Al quality screening of attendees coming into the conference.
The endorsers of Occupy AIPAC are the usual suspects. They tried to disrupt Netanyahu’s May address to a joint session of Congress (like he cared). They staged a flash mob protest at Union Station while dancing to “Hava Nagila” (yes, really) as the Move Over AIPAC coalition. Just this year, they’ve got the cool, omnipresent, overused Occupy label to attach to their Walt-Mearsheimer lovefest. Thus they can advertise in their event promo that “AIPAC is part of the 1%.”
“The goal is not to protest AIPAC or get into direct confrontations with AIPAC members,” Occupy AIPAC states (because they actually can’t occupy AIPAC). “The goal is to pull the rug out from under the floor of AIPAC, to expose the truth about this lobby group and its occupation policies, and to show how another policy is possible, one based in justice, international law, human rights, respect, love, and dignity.” Their weekend of events will be held a few blocks from the convention center, save for a Hill briefing to coincide with AIPAC’s lobbying day and an “All Out for NO WAR ON IRAN” rally outside the convention center on March 4.
Also on the schedule for that Sunday: “Ongoing creative actions outside AIPAC conference.” Should be fun. And creative.