By Rob Bryan for AlterNet – To AIPAC’s 100,000 members and to the 18,000 delegates who attended its annual convention last week in DC, the organization serves a heroic purpose by securing the protection of Israel, and by extension, the Jewish people. To its detractors, it is a manifestation of the most toxic elements of Zionism and a symptom of the corruption that allows lobbying groups to further their agendas by buying politicians (though not a PAC itself, Israel lobbies politicians through a series of small affiliated PACs).
By Jack Jenkins & Alice Ollstien for Think Progress – When businessman and Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump took the stage for his controversial speech to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference on Monday evening, the largely Jewish crowd at the Verizon Center stadium erupted into raucous applause. Trump grinned as he waved and shook hands with attendees of the massive gathering convened by the influential Israel lobbying group, beaming in the spotlight as he waited several seconds to allow the cheering to subside.
By Rebecca Shimoni Stoil for the Times of Israel. Hundreds of protesters are gathering outside of the annual AIPAC Policy Conference, protesting America’s financial support for Israel. Protesters include prominent journalist Max Blumenthal, whose father, Sid Blumenthal, is a strong supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Security teams have closed the main doors to the Washington Convention Center in order to prevent friction between the protesters outside and the some 18,000 conference-goers inside. Demonstrators are carrying signs with anti-Israel slogans, including “From the river to the sea, Palestine will soon be free.” This year’s protest seems to be larger than that of previous years.
By If Americans Knew. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) will arrive in full force in Washington this Sunday for their annual policy conference. Falling in line are Vice President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Hillary Clinton—all are set to give speeches. (Bernie Sanders has not RSVP’d; sign the petition asking him to skip the conference.) The National March and Rally to Support Palestine is timed to coincide with the conference. We will gather in front of the White House this Sunday at 12:00 noon for a rally, and will march to the site of the conference at 1:00 pm.
By Redacted Tonight in Youtube – This week Redacted Tonight tackles the dangers of Virtual Reality. Technology and advertisements make it increasingly difficult to think about the pressing issues. Now virtual reality is advanced enough that we could lose our sense of reality completely. Also, this week Jeremy Corbyn was elected head of the Labour party by a landslide. Meanwhile, in the United States, the political circus continues to send in the clowns. Lee Camp asks if we will ever get our own Jeremy Corbyn, or is he already here? Then, corespondent Abby Feldman asks, why bother with health care, when you can just be sick? At the break, enjoy a commercial for a new crowdfunding site designed for bigots with no discernible talents or skills. It’s Discrimigogo!
By Ron Kampeas for Haaretz – With the influential pro-Israel lobby group pushing for Congress to reject the deal negotiated by the Obama administration, it’s all hands on deck. Lay leaders, too, are canceling their summer plans, and AIPAC activists already are calling lawmakers and hitting synagogue listservs with appeals to can the plan. The two months that Congress has to review the deal will feature a pitched battle pitting the Obama administration and backers of the agreement against opponents and the Israeli government. J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East lobby, which has largely backed President Barack Obama in all his Middle East strategies, raised $2 million to stump for the deal even before it was announced and already has unveiled a TV ad. The group’s president, Jeremy Ben Ami, who routinely bristles when J Street is likened to AIPAC, insisting that they play different fields, on Wednesday embraced a fight with the older and larger lobby. Asked on MSNBC whether he was going “toe to toe” with AIPAC, he said, “Essentially we are.” AIPAC twice has pulled out all the stops in taking on a president – and lost both times.
A coalition of human rights organizations, led by CODE PINK, have organized four days of political action in Washington DC to oppose the policies of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) during its annual policy conference. Coined #ShutDownAIPAC, activists are hosting a variety of creative events: protests outside the DC Convention Center and Netanyahu’s speech in Congress; events critiquing AIPAC policies; and a lobby day in Congress to call for no more sanctions on Iran. The tweets below focus on the protest at the DC Convention Center where people gathered, many wearing Netanyahu masks and proclaiming him a war criminal, others blockaded the doors resulting in arrests. The #ShutDownAIPAC coalition is drawing attention to AIPAC’s role as a special interest lobby that maintains a dangerous stranglehold over US policies. Activists are urging the US government to continue to pursue diplomacy with Iran and to end to the brutal occupation of Palestine.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today launched a frontal assault on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. “One movement that’s definitely on the wrong side of the moral divide is the movement to boycott Israel, the so-called BDS,” Netanyahu told the cheering delegates, in his keynote speech to the annual gathering of the powerful Israel lobby group AIPAC in Washington, DC. “That movement will fail,” Netanyahu predicted. While claiming that people were “flocking to Israel” for its technology from all over the world, Netanyahu warned, “I don’t want you to get complacent – because the fact that they’re going to fail doesn’t mean that the BDS movement shouldn’t be vigorously opposed.”
During the Israel lobby AIPAC’s annual policy conference, CODEPINK and other activists will demonstrate outside as a part of a protest dubbed “Boycott AIPAC,” calling for an end to AIPAC policies that promote war and human rights violations. The name of the protest is a reference to the growing international movement to impose Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on the state of Israel until it ends the occupation of Palestine, complies with international law, and allows Palestinian refugees the right of return to their homeland. Activists across the world have joined the protests through a social media campaign to jam the AIPAC conference Twitter hashtags, #AIPAC14 and #AIPACpride, and activist have effectively taken over the online conversation
On February 25th, an AIPAC member called a CODEPINK staffer threatening legal action in response to a controversial video clip that he alleges was made by the peace group CODEPINK. The video is a satirical version of an AIPAC policy conference promotional video. In response, CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin commented, “It is absurd for AIPAC to threaten legal action over such an obviously satirical video. It is interesting that they are reacting so strongly to the clip, though. Perhaps it’s because the content is really an accurate reflection of AIPAC’s dangerous foreign policies. AIPAC does, in fact, advocate for bombing countries such as Iran and Syria; it fails to condemn Israel’s continued building of settlements and its human rights abuses against Palestinians; and it lobbies Congress to send billions of taxpayer dollars to Israel to continue the occupation of Palestine.” She added, “What are they trying to hide by silencing this video?”
The defeat of AIPAC’s ill-advised push for new sanctions on Iran in the midst of successful negotiations is nothing short of historic. The powerful and hawkish pro-Israeli lobby’s defeats are rare and seldom public. But in the last year, it has suffered three major public setbacks, of which the sanctions defeat is the most important one. AIPAC’s first defeat was over the nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense. In spite of a major campaign defaming Hagel, even accusing him of anti-Semitism, his nomination won approval in the Senate. The second was over President Barack Obama’s push for military action against Syria. AIPAC announced that it would send hundreds of citizen lobbyists to the Hill to help secure approval for authorization of the use of force.
“It is time for American Jews to take a stand against AIPAC, to put America first, to put peace first. “This is the time of the Jewish High Holy Days– Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, when many Jews go to synagogue, for some, the only time of year they go. “They are getting messages from their rabbis. Some are being asked to tell their congressmen to support Obama’s call for support for an attack on Syria.Others are being told the exact opposite, that an attack on Syria is a bad idea. “I’ll wrap up this piece with these words. I am a Jew and I totally oppose the attack on Syria. I also totally oppose AIPAC. I support Israel’s right to exist, but oppose many of its policies, just as I have opposed policies of the recent presidents of the United States.
“One administration official, who, like others, declined to be identified discussing White House strategy, called AIPAC ‘the 800-pound gorilla in the room,’ and said its allies in Congress had to be saying, “If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line” against the catastrophic use of chemical weapons, ‘we’re in trouble.’” That bit in bold is absent, completely, from the NYT version. For it sins, the NYT was called out by Israel policy critic M.J. Rosenberg; for now, it hasn’t explained why the grafs were cut. You could argue that the section wasn’t key, I suppose, but it was more interesting than the lede news that the Syria strike plan had “tentative support of one of President Obama’s most hawkish critics, Senator John McCain.” He’d been calling for this for months! The appeal to pro-Israel sentiment in this campaign is just dead-bang obvious, from John Kerry putting Assad in the same sentence as Hitler to the references to “Munich” and appeasement.