by Rae Abileah (Originally posted on MondoWeiss.)
One year ago this week, on April 14, 2010, I was pulling a bleary-eyed all-nighter at the heated divestment on the UC Berkeley campus about divestment from US corporations profiting from the Israeli occupation. I was there to testify in support of the bill as a young Jewish-American of Israeli descent. On March 18, UC Berkeley’s student senate had voted 16 to 4 in favor of divestment. A week later, the vote was vetoed by the student senate president. What was behind the defeat of the resolution? One primary influence: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee – AIPAC.
In a shocking video, top AIPAC official Jonathan Kessler responded to a question about the divestment fight at Berkeley by saying, “We’re going to make sure that pro-Israel students take over the student government and reverse the vote…This is how AIPAC operates in our nation’s capital. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation’s campuses.” And indeed, this year, the perfect AIPAC-Manchurian candidate has taken office: UC Berkeley student body president Noah Stern is a former AIPAC intern (who committed well-documented voter fraud to get elected).
This year, from May 21-24, AIPAC will hold its annual convention, bringing more than 8,000 people from all over the country to our nation’s capital to discuss, commemorate and strengthen the special relationship between Israel and the United States. In addition to AIPAC’s die-hard supporters, more than 1,000 of those attending will be college students representing over 300 campuses from all 50 states, over a quarter of whom are student body presidents selectively targeted by AIPAC. Each year these students receive formal invitations in the mail, offering them a free trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in the weekend-long AIPAC seminar followed by a full day of lobbying on Capitol Hill. The goal of this gathering: To secure the relationship between Israel and the United States, to promote further sanctions on Iran, and to ensure continued- if not increased- military aid to Israel. “A great resume builder,” the invitations typically say.
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