The keynote speaker at the 2011 University of Oregon Public Interest Environmental Law Conference , US Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), caused controversy as members from the audience protested his involvement in both the acclaimed environmental law conference and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Oregon chapter meeting. Congressman Blumenauer served as the keynote speaker for both organizations in the same weekend.
banner being floated AIPAC <-- Enviro Justice -->
Halfway through Congressmen Blumenauer's speech promoting Portland's bicycle culture, protesters floated a 5 x 10 foot banner to the ceiling of the University of Oregon ballroom. The banner read "AIPAC" with an arrow pointing backwards and "Enviro Justice" with an arrow pointing forward. The group claims that being in lockstep with AIPAC contradicts environmental values.
Literature distributed by the protesters cited the environmental impacts of the occupation including the number of Palestinian olive trees uprooted by the Israeli military since the second intifada (over 500,000) and information about the Israeli bombing of the sewage treatment plant in Gaza resulting in raw sewage contaminating the Mediterranean Sea.
Suspended over the audience with 23 helium balloons, the banner remained throughout the presentation and onto the next day until it floated down on its own. The conference organizers censured audience questions during the Q & A to prevent protesters from addressing what they call "social and environmental justice contradictions."
Congressmen Blumenauer received further protest when he arrived at the AIPAC meeting on Sunday in Portland. Over three dozen protesters held signs protesting Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza and constructed a mock separation wall.