Netanyahu Congress speech interrupter sues four she says ‘roughed her up’


(JTA) — A Jewish activist who protested during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the U.S. Congress is suing four people who she says attacked her.

Rachel Abileah of El Grenada, Calif., the Middle East Coordinator for CODEPINK, a peace and social justice organization, has filed a lawsuit in the District of Columbia’s Superior Court against the four unnamed people for $500,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages for assault, battery and false imprisonment.

Abileah, a U.S. citizen of Israeli descent, stood up in the House Gallery during the May 24 speech and opened a banner that read "Occupying Land is Indefensible" and shouted, "No more occupation. Stop Israeli war crimes! Equal rights for Palestinians!"

The guest of a member of Congress, Abileah says in the complaint filed Aug. 18 that she was seated among many people wearing badges showing that they were attendees of the 2011 American Israeli Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference.

The three John Does and one Jane Doe "roughed her up" following her protest, according to the complaint. One of the men tried to gag her with his hand and injured her neck by violently jerking back her head, Abileah alleges, and the other defendants pushed and pulled her, and threatened her with bodily harm before plainclothes policemen pulled her away.

Abileah’s complaint states that the attacks have "caused her to suffer severe emotional distress, including trouble sleeping, nightmares, a heightened emotional state, increased stress, fear and anxiety, especially when around large groups of people."

A criminal investigation into the attack is pending, according to the complaint.

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