A former Ithaca College professor was arrested March 1 in Washington, D.C., for taking part in a protest against the occupation of Palestine.
Beth Harris, a retired associate professor in the Department of Politics, was arrested along with Ithaca resident Ariel Gold and three others for attempting to block the entrance to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on March 3.
Harris and Gold are members of the Ithaca Chapter of the Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that speaks for social justice with regard to U.S. foreign policy — specifically, an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
The demonstration was organized by Code Pink a national organization working to end U.S. militarism. Gold said she and Harris identified themselves as individual members of Jewish Voice for Peace. Upon arriving at the protest, she said, they sat down in front of the doors of the AIPAC and locked arms.
“Our purpose in doing so was to draw attention to AIPAC’s complicity in the occupation of Palestine and brutal human rights violations against the Palestinian people,” Gold said.
In front of about 300 activists at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Gold gave a speech in which she cited her personal motivations for opposing the AIPAC’s lobby agenda, including being a mother of two Jewish children and hearing of the Jewish casualties in Palestine each year.
“I am here because AIPAC demands that the U.S. give Israel unconditional support, despite Israel’s continuous violations of international law and human rights,” she said in her speech. “I am here today to say no to AIPAC for the sake of peace and justice and in the pursuit of safety and security for all children.”
Harris said though the Ithaca JVP did not organize the demonstration, it was disturbed by Speaker of the House John Boehner’s decision to invite the Israeli prime minister.
“We wanted to expand the public discussions about the partisan character of this invitation to address the war crimes and violations of international law that are being committed under Netanyahu,” she said.
The five who were arrested refer to themselves as The D.C. Five, according to a press release provided by Gold.