AIPAC: What it is, who its allies are, why it’s dangerous and how to stop it

AIPAC: What it is, who its allies are, why it’s dangerous and how to stop it
A workshop with dinner included organized by Council for the National Interest (CNI), If Americans Knew, and Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) as part of Occupy AIPAC

Participants in this working dinner will receive:

  • Knowledge of AIPAC’s history. Where AIPAC came from, how it works, and where it’s headed now.
  •  How AIPAC fits into the Israel lobby ecosystem: How it interacts, coordinates and channels the collective might of a larger network of US and foreign organizations and institutions.
  • SWOT: What are AIPAC’s relevant strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
  • Moving from AIPAC policies toward a just and peaceful foreign policy: Non-violent tactics for exposing, challenging and eliminating AIPAC over time.

When: Saturday, March 3rd, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Where: Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church (900 Massachusetts Ave)

Workshop outline

Segment 1: AIPAC History with Grant F. Smith (IRmep)
1. Incubation in the Israeli Embassy (1948)
2. Seedling: The Israel Office of Information, AZC, AZCPA to AIPAC
3. Key challenges to rule of law and governance. (FARA, Logan Act, Espionage Act, Election law)
4. The fight for transparency, legal and regulatory oversight of AIPAC

Segment 2: AIPAC Political Power – Janet McMahon (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs)
1. AIPAC and US politicians
2. Individual contributors
3. PACs and Super PACs
4. Draft legislation
5. Compliance
6. Challenging AIPAC political power

Segment 3: AIPAC and the Media – Alison Weir (CNI)
1. The most dangerous AIPAC policy frames
2. AIPAC – Media tactics
3. Long term effect on US discourse
4. Attributes of effective counteraction

Segment 4: Promoting Islamophobia – Hatem Bazian
1. AIPAC’s role in promoting Muslim otherness
2. The Clash of Civilization Policy Framework
3. Islamophobia in election 2012
4. Same hate, new target: Impact on the U.S.

Segment 5: Exposing, Challenging and Stopping AIPAC – Jeffrey Blankfort
1. Think tanks (WINEP, FDD, FPI, AEI, JINSA), key political appointees and shadow governance.
2. Improving atmosphere to diminish AIPAC
3. Learning from past mistakes: where have we gone wrong?
4. Picking the right fight: where can we win
5. How to win: what has worked before and what will work in 2012.

Hatem Bazian

Hatem Bazian received his Ph.D. in Philosophy and Islamic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Currently, Bazian is a senior lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies. Dr. Bazian between 2002-2007, also served as an adjunct professor of law at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He teaches courses on Islamic Law and Society, Islam in America: Communities and Institutions, De-Constructing Islamophobia and Othering of Islam, Religious Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies. In addition to Berkeley, Dr. Bazian is a visiting Professor in Religious Studies at Saint Mary’s College of California and adviser to the Religion, Politics and Globalization Center at UC Berkeley as well as Academic Affairs Chair at Zaytuna College of California. In Spring 2009, Dr. Bazian founded at Berkeley the Center for the Study and Documentation of Islamophobia, a research unit dedicated to the systematic study of Othering Islam and Muslims. Dr. Bazian is known for being an organic intellectual, a term used for academics directly connecting their research to the people; rather than looking down from the ivory tower. Dr. Bazian’s published book, Jerusalem in Islamic Consciousness, is a reflection of his desire to contribute to a better understanding of Muslim attachment and informed political attitudes toward the Sacred City and Palestine in general. Currently, Dr. Bazian is working on two books, Silicon Rush: Documenting Muslim Communities in the the Silicon Valley; and Virtual Internment: Muslims and the War on Terrorism. Bazian most recent publication is a chapter contribution in French on Islamophobia and an entry to Oxford’s Human Rights Encyclopedia covering the HR under the Palestinian Authority. As an activist, Dr. Bazian has played a significant role almost in every human and civil rights movement in the Bay Area, nationally and internationally including the defense of Affirmative Action in California, American With Disabilities Act, Anti-Apartheid, Anti-Globalization Movement, and Central American Solidarity struggles. Dr. Bazian worked as Editor in Chief of Discourse Magazine, a monthly progressive publication in SF and post 9-11, co-hosted “Islam Today,” a 94.1 KPFA, KBFB in Berkeley and KFCF in Fresno weekly radio magazine show covering Islam and its diverse people around the world. Since September 11, he has appeared in many TV and Radio interviews, offered frequent commentary on current affairs and is a regular consultant for the San Francisco Chronicle on stories relating to Palestine, the Arab world, Islam, Muslims and world politics.

Grant Smith

Grant F. Smith is the Director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) in Washington, DC. He is the author of two unofficial histories of AIPAC–America’s Defense Line and Foreign Agents, as well as the books Divert, Spy Trade, Deadly Dogma, Visa Denied and editor of the book Neocon Middle East Policy. Before joining IRmep, Smith was senior analyst and later program manager at Yankee Group Research, Inc. in Boston. He has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Minnesota and a Masters in International Management from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Jeff Stein of the Washington Post designated Smith “a Washington D.C. author who has made a career out of writing critical books on Israeli spying and lobbying.” James Petras, Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York claims “Grant F. Smith is without peer as an archival scholar.” Author, journalist and blogger Philip Weiss claims that “the best investigative work is being done by Grant Smith…” Nathan Guttman of The Jewish Daily Forward recognizes Smith as leading a public effort to “call attention of the authorities to AIPAC’s activity and demands public scrutiny of the group’s legal status.” John J. Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago claims “Grant Smith’s new book is a major step forward in correcting that problem. He provides a fascinating–and disturbing–account of how I.L. Kenen laid the groundwork for AIPAC, the most powerful organization in the lobby.”

Alison Weir

Alison Weir is president of the Council for the National Interest, created by ambassadors and former Congressmen in 1989 to counter special interest lobbying, and executive director of If Americans Knew, a nonprofit organization she founded following an independent investigation as a freelance journalist to the West Bank and Gaza in early 2001. She writes and speaks widely on Israel-Palestine, and is considered the foremost analyst on media coverage of the region. Her articles have appeared in Censored 2005, The Encyclopedia of Palestine-Israel, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, CounterPunch, Editor & Publisher, The Link, and other books and publications. She has given two briefings on Capitol Hill, presentations at the Asia Media Summit in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, conferences in the West Bank, Harvard Law School, Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the Naval Postgraduate Institute, Georgetown, and elsewhere. Alison has received national awards from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Council for American Islamic relations (CAIR), and in 2004 was inducted into honorary membership of Phi Alpha Literary Society at Illinois College. The award cited her as a: “Courageous journalist-lecturer on behalf of human rights. She is the first woman in history to receive an honorary membership in Phi Alpha.” The New York Times reported of her presentation: “When the speech ended, Ms. Weir was met with thunderous applause, and across the room there was a widespread sense of satisfaction that someone was saying what needed to be said.” Former US Senator Tom Campbell stated: “Ms. Weir presents a powerful, well documented view of the Middle East today. She is intelligent, careful, and critical. American policy makers would benefit greatly from hearing her first-hand observations and attempting to answer the questions she poses.” The Salem-News called her “the most well-known U.S. activist in exposing Israel.”

Janet McMahon

Janet McMahon is the managing editor at the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. She earned her B.A. in English at Reed College and has a graduate diploma in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo. She is an expert on the Israel lobby and pro-Israel political action committees (PACs). She co-edited Seeing the Light: Personal Encounters With the Middle East and Islam, and Donald Neff’s 50 Years of Israel, both compilations of feature articles from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. In addition to her editorial duties, she has written special reports on Israel and Palestine, and has contributed articles to special issues of the Washington Report on Iran, Tunisia, Cyprus and Libya.

Jeffery Blankfort

Jeffrey Blankfort is a journalist and radio programmer with a 40-year history of activity around the Palestinian cause. His articles have appeared in CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Mondoweiss, Pulse Media, Left Curve, and the Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. He was a founding member of the November 29th Committee on Palestine, a co-founder of the Labor Committee on the Middle East and editor of its publication, the Middle East Labor Bulletin (1988-1995). He currently hosts a twice monthly program on international affairs for KZYX, the public radio station for Mendocino County in Northern California where he now lives.