Six activists from the Bay Area were arrested at the Los Angeles offices of AIPAC Friday morning. They are part of a contingent of protesters in Los Angeles this weekend with IfNotNow, a grassroots group of millennials that aims to end American Jewish support of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
The protesters were arrested attempting to occupy the lobby of 1801 Century Park East, home to the West Coast office of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
“Friday’s action aimed to challenge the notion that AIPAC represents a majority of American Jews when it supports endless occupation and Islamophobia,” IfNotNow said in a press release.
Fewer than 20 protesters were present. Police arrested seven, including Bay Area residents Ben Koatz, Sam Gest, Alex Leichenger, Oak Loeb, Ethan Buckner and Alysha Schwarz.
They arrived around 9 a.m. and blocked the lobby entrance for about 40 minutes while singing and chanting. Protesters wore white T-shirts that said, “Moral Jews must resist AIPAC” and chanted slogans like, “Shabbat shalom! AIPAC go home!”
The Jewish Journal reported that, according to Capt. Tina Nieto, area commanding officer for West L.A. for the Los Angeles Police Department, they were arrested for trespassing.
“We’re reminding AIPAC of the lessons Jews learn from two of our holy days that converge around this action: Purim and Shabbat,” said IfNotNow spokesperson Michal David, 26. “Shabbat, the day of rest, is an opportunity to refrain from work and reflect. We want AIPAC to reflect on the work they’re doing and come to see the trurth: that the occupation must end.”
AIPAC could not be reached for comment.
On Sunday, March 19, IfNotNow plans to send hundreds of protesters to the L.A. AIPAC office. On March 26, they say, “thousands will protest” at AIPAC’s national conference in Washington, D.C.