Left-wing Israeli Lawmaker Blasted by Israeli Right for Rallying Against Occupation at AIPAC

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg was in the U.S. capital to participate on a panel at pro-Israel lobby AIPAC's annual conference.

Lawmaker Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) participates in a demonstration against the occupation outside AIPAC's annual conference in Washington.
Screenshot / IfNotNow / Twitter

Lawmaker Tamar Zandberg of the left-wing Meretz party outraged right-wing activists in Israel by participating in a demonstration against the occupation in Washington on Sunday.

On AIPAC’s dollar, Zandberg flew to Washington to participate on a panel at the pro-Israel lobby’s annual conference. On her visit to the U.S. capital, the lawmaker also addressed a demonstration outside the conference that was organized by IfNotNow, a group which opposes AIPAC and urges all American Jews to stop supporting the occupation.

“I was the first Meretz member invited by AIPAC in a long time, thanks to AIPAC’s desire to include an array of Israeli opinions and ensure that a broad range of the political spectrum received expression,” Zandberg told Haaretz. “I am sure that even AIPAC knows that support for the two-state solution and opposition to the occupation are legitimate and even vital positions.”

At the demonstration, protesters carried signs in both English and Hebrew with slogans like “Reject the occupation,” “Reject AIPAC” and “Reject Trump.” Another sign urged “Free Palestine.”

Zandberg appeared briefly before the demonstrators and spoke through a megaphone. 

“I told them what I also said at the AIPAC panel: Support for Israel means coming out against the occupation,” she recounted. “There is no more patriotic action than opposing the occupation.”

But her participation in the protest sparked criticism in several media outlets as well as denunciations and curses on social media. The rapper and media persona known as The Shadow published a Facebook post in which he called the lawmaker a “sleezebag.” One media website headlined an article about her participation, “Shame has no limits.”  

Army Radio wondered why she had taken AIPAC’s money to attend a demonstration where protesters carried signs against the organization. To that, Zandberg replied, “I came as a public representative, and AIPAC knows who I represent. What, do you [at Army Radio] think my views can be bought by financing my trip?”

Even less tolerance for Zandberg’s behavior was demonstrated on social media. “This human trash, Tamar Zandberg, flew there for what? To promote the boycott against Israel,” The Shadow said in a video posted on Facebook. “Hasn’t the time come to put some brakes on her? This beast, this organic waste, this sleezebag named Tamar Zandberg?”
 
“We all get angry at Haneen Zoabi and Ahmad Tibi,” he continued, referring to two Arab lawmakers. “But they’re at least working for their own people. She’s a real traitor. A traitor. A Jewish girl who demonstrates in favor of boycotting Israel.”

Zandberg said she wasn’t surprised by the angry response, charging that Netanyahu’s government has been trying for some time to make the public identify opposition to the occupation with opposition to Israel. As for The Shadow and those like him, she said, “I don’t call such talk right-wing talk. It’s an insult to the right if that’s what represents it. The hatred of the left has long since passed the bounds of incitement in the classic meaning of the term.

“This talk receives polite encouragement, to a very great extent, from the prime minister and senior ministers on the right who are riding the tiger, thinking they’ll manage to control it,” she added. “But it keeps escaping their control.”