Five protestors were arrested at a Pro-Palestine rally on Sunday afternoon in front of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest DC. The protestors were arrested while blocking the entrance to the center where the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is holding its annual policy conference.

About 150 people attended the rally organized by CODEPINK–a women-led NGO that organizes anti-war protests across the country. Coined #ShutDownAIPAC, the rally’s purpose was to draw attention to AIPAC’s role as a pro-Israel lobby in US policies, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the US as a guest speaker for both AIPAC, and a joint session at Congress taking place tomorrow.

“Its important to challenge AIPAC’s influence in Washington DC, and to show our strength in numbers today,” says Alli McCracken, CODEPINK’S National Organizer. CODEPINK and other pro-Palestine organizations are urging the US government to advocate for diplomacy with Iran and condemn Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip.

Madea Benjamin, CODEPINK”s Founder, believes that Diplomacy with Iran is key to keeping peace in the region.

“If you look at where we stand as a nation right now, and with all the violence that’s happening in the middle east, it’s a very scary time” Benjamin says. “If these negotiations with Iran don’t come to fruition, that could mean a war with Iran. Unfortunately, AIPAC is adding fuel to the fire.”

Some have criticized the Pro-Palestine movement as anti-Semetic. McCracken says this is not the case. “Criticizing the government policies of another country isn’t the same as criticizing an ethnicity or a religion” McCracken says. “You cannot conflate anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.” More demonstrations will take place throughout the week, including another rally during Netanyahu’s appearance at AIPAC on Monday, and a march to House Speaker, John Boehner’s house on Tuesday.

Produced, filmed and edited by Ford Fischer

Additional video submitted by contributor Kristine Untalan

Photos and Article submitted by contributor Sam Ufret