Last week, we covered the June 22 planning meeting and joint effort of four anti-Israel groups — Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) — to protest the massive annual summit of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) in D.C. on July 7-9.

You can read about the background on these groups and their plans in Investigation: Anti-Israel groups plan disruption of Christians United for Israel Annual Summit.

The Counter CUFI effort is promoted not only by the sponsoring groups named above, but also by the official Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

At the June 22 meeting, we learned that these groups planned not only to stage a protest outside the summit venue, but they also plan to infiltrate the venue itself and cause a coordinated disturbance during some part of the conference.

Yet, while Counter CUFI evidently has no compunctions about causing a ruckus during a private, ticketed conference, the Counter CUFI organizers don’t seem to like it when those of us outside the anti-Israel fold attempt to observe Counter CUFI’s own public, non-ticketed events.

Indeed, today, I attempted to attend the Counter CUFI “Nonviolent direct action training and preparation” at the Mt. Vernon Place Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. The training was open to the public and widely advertised in advance.

https://www.fosna.org/countercufi

In accordance with the advertised procedure, I registered in advance:

https://www.facebook.com/events/632716650578677/permalink/663184920865183/?ref=1&action_history=null&__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARAzb2-zajEr-lR0uJamRouLwrAWnhCRIP3i1N2jqpQGSqY8Z0UVlMOKsltjrLhKvE9cqIVANVMf4Isywdvi5l9RdL8HixlWSbGVHCnIASS6MrEFeIyFbGmr7xC9zy5h8VQab2EYfb28d_ShIWHh7n2kGB4N4c7VQD5jdzSUJQPS5YtSzFfQNzkRMHyKdgKsA8zYUJ-fJLBbvG8zQuGQ6s0M2G6goe7GKL7dHumxqP-7p8xbeB1K9Gfgcc3UdyMOlirrkUO1h-7dVclfoK9bPTHbYt8W5T-02n-SFo0vVOTZf1JzyDYx0G-eUWrdku7YeU3BMzTEzBpdw6u0gf0DFtejVB5XGm-PMcuRwbcofrlJOD8j&__tn__=-R

Once inside the church, I almost immediately overheard an attendee identify himself as a “disruptor”—an indication that the planned political theater inside the summit was still on the agenda.

Among the milling Counter CUFI organizers, I spotted Tarek Abuata of FOSNA and Taher Herzallah of AMP — both long-time and well-known anti-Israel activists (and, as it goes almost without saying, BDS supporters).

A little knot of attendees gathered in front of the welcome table in the lobby, and soon, it was my turn to check in and present my I.D. Upon seeing my name, the Counter CUFI staff immediately assembled to kick me out of the event. At first, they claimed that I was not permitted because my name (though I registered) “didn’t appear on the registrants list.” I was not allowed to check the list for myself.

Then, another Counter CUFI activist approached and clarified: I was “not welcome” because of my “affiliation with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA).” (I had the pleasure of working for CAMERA from 2011 to 2015.)

Eventually, frustrated at my refusal to leave the publicly advertised event, Counter CUFI staff summoned church personnel, who claimed that Counter CUFI had rented the entire first floor of the church, including the restrooms, and that I was thus obligated to leave.

In a similar incident later in the evening, another individual was removed from a Counter CUFI event — this one a public panel, advertised on Facebook and Twitter, and live-streamed, that did not require prior registration. Linda Sarsour was a featured speaker.

In a brief exchange, Counter CUFI activists asked the person to leave the event, claiming that he was “not welcome” alleging that he was affiliated with Legal Insurrection. Eventually, Counter CUFI called local police in order to force him out of the event — despite the fact that he had disturbed no one, and had simply been listening quietly.

What we know is that these leading anti-Israel groups are preparing a disruption of the CUFI Summit, and have attempted to lock-down their preparations and planned tactics.

The Counter CUFI action continues tomorrow, and we will continue to report on it as the story develops.

[Featured Image: The author confronted in the lobby of the Mt. Vernon Place Methodist Church in Washington, D.C.]

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Samantha Mandeles is Senior Researcher and Outreach Director at the Legal Insurrection Foundation.

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