UT students, community members protest Israeli-American Council Summit


Julius Shieh

A protester holds a sign reading “Long Live Palestine!” as a Palestinian flag waves overhead during a protest against the IAC summit on Jan. 21, 2023.

Julius Shieh, General News Reporter

Facing the entrance to the Fairmont Hotel, over 125 students and community members gathered on Saturday in downtown Austin to demand the shutdown of the Israeli-American Council  National Summit.

The annual IAC Summit was held this year to celebrate “Israel’s 75th birthday,” which references the 75th anniversary of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, according to a statement on the IAC website

Protesters gathered on 2nd St. at Sir Swante Neighborhood Park, chanting and holding signs which read “Free Palestine” and “#ShutDownIAC.” The protest was organized by Shut Down IAC, a campaign led by UT student organization Palestine Solidarity Committee in conjunction with other pro-Palestine groups from across the state.

“Nothing about apartheid is normal, nothing about occupation is normal and nothing about the subjugation of the Palestinian people in the hands of the Israeli government is normal,” said an anonymous student organizer with Shut Down IAC. “We don’t support an apartheid regime … these institutions harm us and harm our families.”

Organizers from Shut Down IAC also said that they protested the Summit because it normalized Israeli occupation and falsely presented the Israeli state as progressive and peaceful.

“They cover up their war crimes through tactics known as rainbow washing in order to appeal to liberals and progressives,” said a member of PSC during a speech. “They’re rebranding a country founded upon the genocide of Palestinians as a welcoming place for all people.” 

The Summit also demonstrated the Texas state government’s role in supporting and funding Israeli occupation, organizers said. At the Summit, Texas Governor Greg Abbott delivered a speech detailing “Texas’ long-standing support for Israel,” according to a press release

Organizers also demanded that the University System stop supporting Israeli occupation. 

“We do want our universities to divest from many of these weapons manufacturing companies such as Raytheon and Lockheed Martin that regularly send weapons to Israel,” said a member of PSC.

UTIMCO, the investment company which manages UT System’s endowment fund, holds about $52.5 million in weapons and weapon systems manufacturers’ debt and equity securities, according to publications by the LBJ school. These investments include companies such as Raytheon, which provides military aid and equipment to the Israeli state.

At the protest, many summit-goers stood and watched as protesters chanted. Several attendees crossed in front of the protest to take photos and videos.

“I think most of them (aren’t) familiar with what they are protesting about,” said Amit Brandon Kadosh, a Summit attendee who lives in Israel as a former IDF soldier. “Not a single Palestinian has been evacuated out of their home.”

Kadosh also said that no violence by Palestinians by Israeli military forces occurred. 

“That’s made by AI,” he said, referencing photos and videos of violence experienced by Palestinians.

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, there are over 5.9 million Palestinian refugees today who have “lost both home and means of livelihood” due to Israeli occupation. Conditions faced by Palestinians under Israeli occupation are currently described by NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International as apartheid. 

At the time of publication, the IAC did not respond to requests for comment.