July 30, 2012

AIPAC member admits assaulting CODEPINK protestor, apologises and pays compensation

Here's CODEPINK back in February this year:
A recent response to a subpoena from the United States Capitol Police has revealed the main assailant of a peaceful demonstrator who was physically attacked and injured on May 24, 2011, to be Stanley Anthony Shulster, allegedly a member of the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  According to the lawsuit, Mr. Shulster, a retired lawyer, admitted to assaulting Rae Abileah, a member of CODEPINK, in the House of Representatives while she protested the Israeli occupation of Palestine during the speech by Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel. The Capitol Police issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Shulster for this attack.  

Mr. Shulster's biography on the Jackson County, Oregon Republican Women website identifies him as "an Unpaid Lobbyist," and a "Volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces Medical Unit and a member of AIPAC." The bio states: "At the last AIPAC meeting in May of 2011 Stan was present to hear the stirring address that Prime Minister Netanyahu gave to Congress and he grabbedthe woman who heckled the Prime Minister while he was speaking."  

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach also attested to the assault when he wrote in his blog, "The elderly gentleman to my right, whom I had been talking to just before the speech started, pulled the flag out of her hands, cupped his hands over her mouth, and assisted in subduing her." Additional witnesses have been identified by the U.S. Capitol Police.

According to the complaint, Mr. Shulster grabbed the banner held by Ms. Abileah, used his hand to attempt to gag and suffocate Ms. Abileah, and yanked her head back, injuring her neck. As a result of the attack, Ms. Abileah sustained a neck strain, swollen neck and muscle strain, and has since suffered from frequent head and neck aches as well as emotional trauma.

Ms. Abileah is a 29-year-old American Jew of Israeli descent, who works as the Co-Director of CODEPINK, a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice organization that seeks to end U.S. wars and the U.S. funded occupation of Palestine.  

"I was shocked that the biography of the person who attacked me would brag about his use of violence. This lawless behavior echoes the routine actions of the Israeli government and military in carrying out violent acts daily against the Palestinian people. I am hopeful that my filing suit will be a clear signal to those who attempt to silence peaceful protesters, that they will be held accountable for their illegal actions," said Ms. Abileah. 

Photos of the action and assault can be found here:

AIPAC's 2012 annual policy conference will be held from March 4 to 6 in Washington, D.C.  It is expected that peaceful protesters will challenge AIPAC's policies of supporting Israel's ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people and its threats of attacking Iran.  
And here's CODEPINK now:

Rae Abileah, a peaceful demonstrator from CODEPINK who was physically injured on May 24, 2011, in the U.S. House of Representative Gallery, while protesting during the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, reached a settlement in a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with defendant Stanley Shulster. The settlement provided for compensatory damages, an apology, and a joint statement.

Mr. Shulster is a professed volunteer lobbyist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces, and retired attorney. Ms. Abileah will donate a portion of the received funds to legal and medical aid for peaceful Palestinian protesters in the West Bank.

Joint Statement of Rae Abileah and Stanley Shulster:

We have reached an agreement in the lawsuit brought by Rae Abileah against Stanley Shulster. Our agreement resolves Ms. Abileah's claim that Mr. Shulster assaulted her while she protested during a speech at the U.S. Capitol by Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Mr. Shulster's defense that he did not assault her.

Mr. Shulster apologizes for any physical or emotional harm caused by him to Ms. Abileah. He agrees that he should have let the Capitol Police handle the situation. Ms. Abileah accepts this apology.
Mr. Shulster respects the right of Ms. Abileah to hold a different view on the Israel-Palestine conflict and believes she holds this view in good faith.

Ms. Abileah respects Mr. Shulster's right to hold a different view on the Israel-Palestine conflict and believes that he holds this view in good faith.

Each party recognizes the right, as Americans, to agree to disagree peacefully.

"The settlement of my case has led to accountability for the assault against me intended to silence me from expressing my opposition to Israel's violence against the Palestinians," said Rae Abileah, who is a Jewish-American of Israeli descent and is the co-director of CODEPINK. 

"Today, the justice system worked to protect non-violent protestors and promote dialogue rather than violence," said Lynne Bernabei, one of Ms. Abileah's attorneys.

Incidents of violence toward advocates of human rights for Palestinians have been on the rise in recent years. In 2010, an AIPAC conference attendee elbowed a protester in the face as he walked into the D.C. Convention Center, and video footage of the 2011 AIPAC Annual Gala shows the assault of a young woman who held a banner reading "Silencing Dissent Delegitimizes Israel".

On November 14, 2010, members of the pro-Occupation group Stand With Us (SWU) entered a meeting of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and sprayed pepper spray into two JVP members' eyes. "When our regular chapter meeting suddenly filled with furious, disruptive Jews, I wondered what about us bothered them so much," Glen Hauer, a longtime JVP member, said. "We are only doing what our tradition teaches all Jews to do-seeking justice."

Attacks on peaceful protesters in the West Bank by the Israeli Defense Forces and Israeli settlers have lead to severe injuries and death. Demonstrators in Palestinian villages such as Bil'in are frequently subjected to tear gas, rubber bullets, and arrest. 

Ms. Abileah's protest and subsequent assault was widely covered by news sources including CNN, ABC, NBC, San Francisco Chronicle, Yediot Ahronot, Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, and Aljazeera. Ms. Abileah is available for interview upon request.
Hmm, a zionist holding beliefs in good faith? I'll have to think about that one but it's a great result for non-violent activists.


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