I have researched and written extensively about American Muslims for Palestine, a key connector of anti-Israel Islamist and radical leftist groups, including fringe anti-Zionist Jews who provide cover.

You can read more about AMP and the groups it works with in these posts by me:

I have spent years following AMP’s activity, including while I worked at the Middle East Forum.

When AMP announced its annual conference in Chicago (starting Thanksgiving Day through Saturday) with the theme of influencing the 2020 elections, I was intrigued.

The conference featured notorious anti-Israel speakers like Linda Sarsour, Hatem Bazian, Marc Lamont Hill, and Ariel Gold. This year, Rep. Rashida Tlaib is featured as a Guest of Honor. and is delivering the Keynote Speech.

Not surprisingly, the conference is devoted to the singular notion of destroying Israel. I’ll have more on the conference in a later post.

I signed up to attend, paid the registration fee, and booked a room at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago, the official conference hotel, where the conference took place. I entered the event on Friday and received the final itinerary packet and swag bag without a problem.

My companion and I entered the morning English-language session: “Palestine 102: Post-Nakba to Oslo” presented by Rawan Aldamen. We settled quietly in the back of the room to listen to the lecture.

https://www.facebook.com/PalestineConvention/photos/a.1697156540597534/2370177203295461/?type=3&theater

[A photo of the Nakba 102 session published by the convention. I am pictured sitting quietly in the back of the room, circled in blue. Screenshot from Facebook, November 29, 2019.]

We’d barely been there 10 minutes when we were approached by a group of AMP officials who asked us to leave our seats and follow them. They led us down the hall and back into the open space full of organization booths, and explained that we were being asked to leave.

When I asked why, an AMP official explained that I had written negatively about AMP in the past, and that I thus could not possibly be interested in simply hearing what conference speakers had to say. He said I was “totally biased” and declared that I clearly had “no intention of writing anything positive” or “fair.”  Thus, I had “no choice” in the matter. I was being forced to leave, like it or not.

I asked the AMP officials what they were afraid of. I was not planning to disrupt the event at all. None would answer.

Nor would they answer when I asked if, perhaps, they didn’t really feel that their claims about Israel were compelling enough to convince me. I inquired: Were they really so insecure about their own messaging?

The men expelling me from the conference demanded I not photograph them, claiming (falsely) it would be illegal. They even demanded my phone, which I refused to hand over. I did manage to snap a quick selfie as I was being whisked away. [See Featured Image]

They summoned a hotel representative and threatened to call the police. I told them they were welcome to do so. The Hyatt hotel representative demanded, in the midst of the crowd of AMP mostly male officials, that I divulge my room number. Again, I refused. In response, the hotel representative sneered that he knew my name, so he already had my room number. When I asked him why, then, he felt he needed to demand the number, he did not say. He did, however, threaten to kick me out of the hotel entirely.

One of the AMP marchers continued to follow me around the hotel lobby at a distance of about 20 feet. I waved at him and asked if he was planning on trailing me all day long. He refused to answer but continued to stare. The Hyatt staff apparently felt that this, at least, was beyond the pale, and informed AMP that their employees were not permitted to stalk me in the hotel lobby. They continued to use a walkie-talkie system to monitor and communicate about my movements in the hotel’s public spaces, and the hotel was forced to reprimand them once again.

There is much more to this story, which I will publish in a later post, but for now it is worth reflecting on the reason for my expulsion. AMP equated “fair” reporting with “positive” reporting; similarly, anything negative about AMP—whether argued with evidence and facts or not—was unacceptable to them and necessitated my exclusion.

AMP positions itself as at the forefront of the ‘intersectional’ fight against Israel, helped along by radically anti-Israel activists from other groups. Not surprisingly, AMP’s conduct in trying to stifle unflattering but accurate coverage confirms my prior reporting about AMP’s true intentions.

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

 
 
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