Donald Trump will be giving an address at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference in the nation’s capital on Monday, a move that has set off promises of protests and boycotts targeting the real estate mogul. But while AIPAC has rolled out the red carpet for the GOP frontrunner, it has moved to block activists from attending the conference and shut down planned protests.
Immediately following the decision to host Trump, a group of expected AIPAC attendees started a Facebook group called “Come Together Against Hate” to plan protests against his speech. On March 14, a number of the planned attendees involved in organizing the protests received an email from an AIPAC staffer warning them about the ramifications of engaging in a protest against Trump. Among other consequences, the staffer said they’d be barred from the organization’s future events.
Zach Reizes, a college student from Ohio, posted it in the Facebook group. Read it below:
The next day, a committee official called Reizes and walked back the email, saying that it was not authorized. AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Whitman told the Times of Israel, “There is only one policy concerning disruptive behavior at Policy Conference — which has been our policy for the past four years — and it applies to all delegates whether students or non-students. That policy has been indicated on delegate badges this year and in past years, ‘AIPAC reserves the right to deny access to participants who behave in a manner AIPAC deems disruptive.’”
AIPAC isn’t just denying activists access. A number of journalists and outlets that have been critical of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories were denied access to cover the conference this year.
Salon contributor Ben Norton received an email on March 16 telling him he would not be allowed to cover the conference:
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) March 17, 2016
The next day, Mondoweiss’ Scott Roth received the same message:
— Scott Roth (@scottroth76) March 18, 2016
Journalist Tamar Auber, who writes frequently on Israeli science and technology, was denied:
Luke Rudkowski, who helms video interviews for the website We Are Change, was also denied:
guess which journalists was denied entry to and told not to cover AIPAC this year? well don't guess it was me, lol
— Luke Rudkowski (@Lukewearechange) March 18, 2016
The Intercept received its rejection email, identical in wording, on March 15. As of this writing, AIPAC did not respond to requests for comment, or provide an explanation for why it denied The Intercept access.