WASHINGTON – Rae Abileah, a woman of Israeli descent who interrupted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before the US Congress Tuesday, claims she was beaten by AIPAC activists.
"I yelled 'Stop the occupation' and immediately they jumped on me," she told Ynet.
Abileah, a 28-year old Jewish daughter of an Israeli, is a member of Code Pink, a pacifist organization. She told Ynet that she had disrupted another speech by Netanyahu at the Jewish Federations General Assembly in New Orleans in November.
"We are a young generation of Jews who don't intend to sit by in silence and allow prime ministers who commit crimes against humanity speak," she said. "As far as we're concerned he can speak at the International Criminal Court in the Hague."
Abileah says she used a card procured by a friend to sneak into the House of Representatives. "When Netanyahu began to speak about Israel and democracy a got up to speak against its anti-democratic operations," she said.
"I yelled, 'Stop the occupation, stop Israeli war crimes' and I called out for equal rights for Palestinians."
Abileah: I called for equal rights for Palestinians (Photo: EPA)
But the disruption won no support from Netanyahu's audience. The prime minister also shrugged off the display, and took advantage of it to praise the democratic values of freedom of speech and protest. "You can't have these protests in Tehran," he said. "This is real democracy."
Abileah claims that immediately after her protest she was attacked by activists belonging to the Jewish lobby.
"They assaulted me and I fell on the floor. The activists strangled me and beat me. Then I was dragged out by police who arrested me," she recounted. She claims she sustained injuries to the neck and shoulders which required hospitalization.
After she was released from the hospital she was detained for a few hours by police.
Abileah says she visited Gaza a year ago and witnessed the destruction caused by Operation Cast Lead, afterwards deciding to devote her life to countering "Israel's war crimes".
"Bibi says the 1967 borders are indefensible and I say the occupation and starvation in Gaza are indefensible," the activist said, adding criticism over Cast Lead and the IDF's use of weapons purchased "at the expense of the US taxpayer".
Abileah was born in California to an Israeli man from Ramat Gan. She declined to comment on her family's feelings over her outspokenness against Israel.
She says she has chosen to focus her protest against AIPAC in the US because "it is a lobby that silences any opposing opinion". Abileah added that financial pressure should be leveraged against Israel and "its leaders should be persecuted".