Category: Blogs

Time to call out the campus Israel Lobby

Tom Pessah | Mondoweiss

Imagine you are a student activist trying to get tobacco products banned from your university. You insist that cigarettes cause cancer, as so much research has shown. Your opponents are other students who claim the connection is tenuous and controversial, that student government should not make judgments on complex health issues, and that some students are so attached to their cigarettes that their very identities would be under attack if such a measure were passed. What if these students called themselves regular smokers, but were in fact trained and sometimes paid representatives of Philip Morris and Marlboro? How much credibility would they have on campus?

The answer depends on whether opponents of tobacco products buy into the frame of two symmetrical student groups – “pro-smokers“ and “anti-smokers,” or whether they call out their opponents for being representatives of external bodies.

One of the biggest failings of pro-Palestine student movement in many U.S. schools is buying into the symmetry frame. We’ve largely accepted the idea that efforts to divest from Israeli apartheid are promoted by pro-Palestine student groups, and opposed by pro-Israel ones (“the Zionists”) – as if these are two symmetrical parties.

But this is a completely false picture. Groups like Students for Justice in Palestine truly are grass-root organizations. Despite persistent rumors about their secret Saudi oil money, SJP chapters hold bake sales to send students their national conferences. On the U.C. Berkeley campus, attention was diverted from SJP’s cookies and brownies by the College Republicans, who put on a lavish spectacle involving students in swimsuits. The SJP sale raised a little under $6.

Continue reading »

CODEPINK protester victorious over AIPAC assailant

Medea Benjamin | Mondoweiss

Rae Abileah at AIPAC's annual conference, 2011. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

It is not every day that the voices for justice triumph over the actions of the rich and powerful, especially when it comes to the Israel-Palestine debate. That’s why it is so important to acknowledge and celebrate the settlement just negotiated by CODEPINK activist Rae Abileah and her lawyers after suing American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) volunteer lobbyist Stanley Shulster.

It all started on May 24, 2011, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington, DC speaking before a joint session of Congress. Abileah, a 29-year-old Jewish woman who has traveled to the West Bank, Israel and Gaza, was in the audience. She became more and more appalled as she listened to Netanyahu’s speech and watched our congresspeople giving him a stream of standing ovations. “I couldn’t watch this hero’s welcome for a man who supports the continued building of illegal settlements, won’t lift the siege of Gaza, and refuses to negotiate with the Palestinian unity government,” said Abileah.

So Abileah did what most people would never have the courage to do. She got up and shouted: “No More Occupation! Stop Israeli War Crimes! Equal Rights for Palestinians!” And she unfurled a banner that read: “Occupying Land is Indefensible!”

She was immediately grabbed, violently pulled toward the floor, and gagged—not by the Capitol Police but by a member of the audience, Stanley Shulster, a retired attorney from Ashland, Oregon, who had traveled to Washington DC to attend the yearly conference of the Israel lobby group AIPAC. An online bio for Shulster revealed that he was an unpaid lobbyist, a volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces, and a Navy veteran. In his bio Shulster bragged that he “grabbed the woman who heckled the Prime Minister while he was speaking.”

Abileah was rushed to the hospital, where she was treated for neck and shoulder injuries. She subsequently had to undergo months of physical therapy, chiropractic care and other treatments to heal from these injuries.

Continue reading »

44 Senators, including many Democrats, sign AIPAC letter to Obama against Iran negotiations

Phillip Weiss | Mondoweiss

A terrifying letter, signed by nearly half the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, pushing Obama toward war with Iran– and let’s see who is telling us about it.

MJ Rosenberg a few days ago:

AIPAC is still worried that there might be a breakthrough in the P5+1 negotiations with Iran. Accordingly, its staff drafted a letter to President Obama that will be circulated by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). Its goal is to have the entire Senate endorse the hardest possible line to kill the next round of negotiations which is slated to convene in Moscow next week.

The letter demands the following as “the absolute minimum steps” which Iran “must take immediately.”

  1. Shutting down the Fordow facility
  2. Freezing enrichment above 5%
  3. Shipping all uranium enriched above 5% out of the country.

In return the AIPAC/Senate letter tells the President to offer NOTHING except the continuation of negotiations. In other words, AIPAC proposes a negotiating framework under which Iran makes tangible concessions in return for our agreeing to… more negotiations. Any easing of sanctions is specifically ruled out.

Continue reading »

Palestine solidarity & Occupy Oregon activists protest AIPAC

Report from groups organizing Occupy AIPAC action in Oregon

About eighty protesters in Portland yet again protested the annual Oregon American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) gathering on April 29th. This year’s event was marked by an even greater amount of paranoia and secrecy by AIPAC: the event was not widely announced, the keynote speakers were not promoted, the media was not invited, people who tried to attend were arbitrarily refused entry, and the guests were subjected to searches of purses and metal detectors after passing checks by police and AIPAC security.

AIPAC is one of the most powerful lobby organizations in the United States and promotes right-wing hard-line policies in support of Israel. Former Israeli Knesset member Avraham Burg described AIPAC as “a kind of a filter which filters only darkness through it, rather than light through it. And I would like to see the alternative American Jewry, which is expressed through the liberalism and humanism and civil rights and a total commitment toward peace, as the one which expresses me.” AIPAC is currently promoting aggressive sanctions and support for military action against Iran.

Continue reading »

Oregon’s media must cover the annual Oregon AIPAC event

Oregon Live

Time for a thought experiment. Imagine that the National Rifle Association (NRA) held a yearly policy event in Oregon that regularly attracted Democrats and Republicans from the entire spectrum of Oregon political life: our Governors, Senators, Representatives, our Attorney General and Secretary of State and many others flocking to show their support. Imagine that the Governor proudly states that support for the NRA is “an article of faith for both political parties” and imagine that an Oregon Member of Congress tells the audience that, when it comes to gun legislation, he goes to the NRA first for all his information. Would you expect the media to cover the event and find out who attended, what was said, and what the NRA was demanding of our leaders? Do you think citizens of Oregon have a compelling interest in learning more about the event?

This is the exact situation we have in Oregon with respect to the hardline pro-Israel lobby the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Politicians of all stripes, local, state and federal, Democrat and Republican flock to Oregon’s annual AIPAC events to show their support. Former Governor Kulongoski really did say in a speech there that “support for AIPAC is an article of faith for both political parties . . . this is as it should be.” Congressman Kurt Schrader really did say “If I want to learn about the Middle East, I know who to go to, I go to AIPAC.” And AIPAC really is trying to drum up support for military action against Iran.

Continue reading »

5 Questions for AIPAC Policy Conference 2012

The Institute for Middle East Understanding

1. What are the results of the almost unconditional support given to Israel by many members of Congress and the American government?

Continue reading »

10 Reasons Why the Israel Lobby AIPAC is So Dangerous

Medea Benjamin

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is one of the most powerful lobby organizations in the country. AIPAC’s clout helps fuel a never-ending cycle of violence in the Middle East.

Here are ten reasons why AIPAC is so dangerous.

1. AIPAC is lobbying Congress to promote a military confrontation with Iran. AIPAC – like the Israeli government – is demanding that the U.S. attack Iran militarily to prevent Iran from having the technological capacity to produce nuclear weapons, even though U.S. officials say Iran isn’t trying to build a weapon (and even though Israel has hundreds of undeclared nuclear weapons). AIPAC has successfully lobbied the U.S. government to adopt crippling economic sanctions on Iran, including trying to cut off Iran’s oil exports, despite the fact that these sanctions raise the price of gas and threaten the U.S. economy.

2. AIPAC promotes Israeli policies that are in direct opposition to international law. These include the establishment of colonies (settlements) in the Occupied West Bank and the confiscation of Palestinian land in its construction of the 26-foot high concrete “separation barrier” running through the West Bank. The support of these illegal practices makes to impossible to achieve a solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Continue reading »

Real News: Israel and the American Elections

The Real News Network

Max Blumenthal: A few major Jewish donors push candidates to support Netanyahu on Iran.

YouTube Preview Image

AIPAC drags Obama and the world towards war on Iran

Carlos Latuff | Latuff Cartoons

(click to enlarge)

Netanyahu and Obama approach war on Iran

AIPAC drags Obama and world towards war on Iran

No Comment Warranted on Commentary Blog

Josh Ruebner | Blog to End the Occupation

The neo-con rag Commentary had an especially tendentious post on its blog Contentions on Friday proving for themselves beyond a shadow of doubt that there exists a grand conspiracy between Marxism, anti-Semitism, the Occupy movement, and the US Campaign to “sabotage or at least overshadow the AIPAC event,” by organizing Occupy AIPAC.

Let’s leave aside for the moment the hypocrisy of a magazine formerly dominated by Communists (who then found the light in shucking for American imperialism) engaging in McCarthyite red baiting.  Um, dudes, the 1950s was like so last century.

I can’t figure out if this blog post is the result of sloppy journalism, or a hatchet job, or most likely a combination of the two.  First off, they give us credit for organizing Occupy AIPAC.  Thanks for the publicity, but we’re actually just one of more than 100 organizations endorsing the event and promoting it.  (As we mentioned in our email last week, we’ll also be doing workshops and organizing a Congressional Hill briefing for it.)

Continue reading »

Page 1 of 212