It’s even worse than llhan Omar said: Time to hold CONGRESS accountable:

It’s even worse than llhan Omar said: The Israel lobby in full

Still from San Francisco Jewish Community Federation promotional video.

It’s even worse than llhan Omar said: The Israel lobby in full.

Ilhan Omar has focused public attention on the Israel lobby

Dear Ronald,

The controversy over Ilhan Omar has focused public attention on the Israel lobby as rarely before, providing an excellent opportunity to expose its destructive actions to the general public using a powerful new tool:

As some of you know, a British undercover reporter infiltrated lobby organizations for an Al Jazeera investigative report. He obtained footage of the manipulative, apparently illegal, arguably treasonous actions that promote US policies enabling Israeli oppression of Palestinians.

Israel partisans worked to suppress the film, and succeeded… for awhile.

Eventually, however, the documentary was leaked and posted online by a number of websites (we then also posted all four parts here).

This contains eye-opening information with the potential to cause Americans to end the over $10 million per day that the U.S. gives to Israel.

But the reality is that very few people will view a four-hour documentary.

1-Hour Version

Therefore, we have produced a one-hour abridged version. We showed an early cut of this to an audience in California, and it had a powerful impact.

You can view and download this abridged video here. We urge you to show this in your community – at libraries, campuses, private homes, churches, mosques, synagogues, community centers, etc.

On that same page, you can also download additional important, eye-opening videos, including the recent 5-minute UN video of Israeli forces shooting unarmed Palestinians in Gaza.

(If you need a DVD or CD in order to show these videos or to give to others, please contact us and we will work to send you some.)

Please take the time to show this 

Please keep in mind that every week for almost a year Palestinians in Gaza have demonstrated for their freedom. Many have been killed, thousands have been shot. Hundreds are now permanently disabled. Many are missing limbs and children, husbands and wives, daughters and sons.

Since our tax money is paying for this, the least we can do is try to tell other Americans what’s going on.

By exposing the lobby’s activities we can counter and perhaps eventually end its power. An official once said ‘a lobby thrives in the dark’. 

This video turns on the light.

Please make a donation, and get a copy of this video.

 Alison Weir & the If Americans Knew Team

IfAmericansKnew.org • IAK News & Analysis Blog
Israel-Palestine Timeline • Against Our Better Judgment

 

The new Congress member, a Muslim-American who has often been attacked by Israel partisans, suggested that AIPAC is responsible for U.S. politicians’ slavish support for Israel. Her very reasonable tweets caused a firestorm of controversy, powerful leaders attacking her, others supporting her. But the Israel lobby goes far beyond AIPAC and is embedded in organizations throughout the U.S.

By Alison Weir

Freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has come under fire for a Twitter exchange in which she implied that AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) is the reason that so many Congressional representatives support Israel over American interests and principles.

The Tweets

First, journalist Glenn Greenwald (who is Jewish but has also been accused of being “antisemitic”) tweeted: “GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”

Omar then retweeted Greenwald’s tweet (which linked to an Israeli news report) and commented: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby 🎶”

The musical notes at the end of her tweet were because she was referring to a song by Puff Daddy, “It’s All About the Benjamins” (“Benjamins” being a colloquial term for money, referring to the image of Benjamin Franklin on $100 bills).

Among those who immediately called her tweet “antisemitic” was the fervently pro-Israel opinion editor for the Jewish Forward, Batya Ungar-Sargon, who posted a sarcastic tweet saying she’d “like to know” who Omar “thinks is paying [sic]American politicians to be pro-Israel….”

In the tradition of short Twitter posts, Omar responded with one word: “AIPAC.”

Attackers & Defenders

Powerful members of the Israel lobby, and those who go along with it, instantly castigated her for her tweets, and have continued lambasting her ever since. Omar apologized.

Many other writers, most much less prominent, defended Omar and said there was no need for an apology.

Some Jewish organizations known for opposition to violent and illegal Israeli actions publicly supported her. One, however, still suggested she had used an antisemitic “trope” and another said she had used “an unfortunate choice of words,” emphasizing that antisemitism “is on the rise” – an ADL talking point that bolsters U.S. support for Israel. (We deeply hope that the claimed rise is not actually true, though we know that bigoted opinions, like all others, ebb and flow. The fact is that the ADL often tars activism for Palestinian rights as “antisemitic.” And there are questions about the explanations for incidents cited by the ADL, as well as about its claims. A major part of the ADL’s mission is to advocate for Israel,which it does in numerous ways.)

Some articles defending Omar describe the power and mission of AIPAC. A few of the pieces also point out that there are others in addition to AIPAC who influence U.S. politicians to support Israel, despite Israel’s systemic discriminationviolationof human rights and international law, and contravention of U.S. laws.

A Quartz article reports that Israel partisans Sheldon and Miriam Adelson gave over $123 million on behalf of Israel in the midterm elections. The article also noted: “The Center for Responsive Politics calls the overall pro-Israel politics lobby one of the most ‘active and well-financed’ groups related to international issues in America.’”

What is the Israel lobby?

As Quartz and the Center for Responsive Politics indicate, the Israel lobby includes much more than AIPAC.

While AIPAC, the Adelsons, and the other billionaires who advocate for Israel are enormously significant, they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

Organizations specifically supporting Israel are active in every state in the union. They are present on most campuses, and in a multitude of towns and cities, large and small. They work to inculcate their members with a pro-Israel narrative, and oppose the dissemination of information that contradicts this.

These groups work to block events on campuses and elsewhere that provide facts about Israeli violence and oppression. They demonize those who provide information they dislike as “antisemitic,” re-writing the definition itself to center on Israel, and they work to silence an honest, full discussion of the Israel lobby.

While a number of authors have discussed the Israel lobby in detail, and described the tragedy it enables in the Middle East and the damage to our own nation, none seem to have provided a comprehensive list of its members (although one lists many of them – see update below).

Several years ago I decided to do this. I began to compile a list of all the groups that advocate for Israel, influencing American perceptions and actions regarding Israel-Palestine. In no particular order, I started an inventory of organizations that indicate on their websites that they support Israel. I also included financial information about each when possible.

I’ve occasionally added to this list through the years, but have not yet listed anywhere near all the groups I’ve discovered (such as these, and the most recent organization, which targets progressive Democrats).

Pervasive and Powerful

I’ve found the quantity, scope, and financial power mobilized on behalf of Israel that this list represents astounding. See the list here.

As I write in the introduction, the fact is that the pro-Israel special interest lobby is one of the most significant and pervasive in the United States.

It consists of numerous institutions and individuals that work to influence Congress, the President, academia, the media, religious institutions, and/or American public opinion on behalf of Israel, and It has been active in the U.S. for well over a century.

Some of the organizations are official lobbying groups whose primary purpose is to lobby governmental officials for pro-Israel policies. Others are groups or individuals that work to influence the media, academia and/or other power/opinion brokers in a pro-Israel direction.

Still others strive to develop public favor for Israel or inculcate a deep devotion to Israel within Jewish communities (an effort that has swung the numbers within those communities to almost an about-face since the pro-Israel movement began).

Some advocate for Israel full-time; others do it as one portion of a diverse array of activities.

While the entities listed span the political spectrum and range from hardcore supporters of the Israeli right to liberal critics of some Israeli policies, all support and promote Israel.

It’s essential to understand the full extent and power of this lobby. At the same time, it’s important to realize what it’s not.

While In Israel this lobby is called “the Jewish lobby” and virtually every mainstream Jewish organization in the U.S. supports Israel, often claiming to represent all Jewish Americans, the fact is that there are many Jewish Americans and Israelis who oppose Israeli governmental actions, colonialism and imperialism. In fact for many decades most Jewish Americans did not support the political movement that eventually established Israel at the expense of indigenous Palestinians.

The reality is that the Israel lobby works to propagandize Americans of all faiths, races, and political viewpoints with pro-Israel myths.

Turning on the light

The combined power of all these groups is daunting.

Others before Ilhan Omar – including Paul Findley (R-IL), Pete McCloskey (R-CA), Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Earl Hilliard (D-AL),  James Abourezk (D-SD), Charles Percy (Gov-IL), Dorothy Thompson, and Helen Thomas  – tried to oppose the Israel lobby, and were smashed by it.

The resistance to the attacks on Ilhan Omar suggest that this time around many Americans have awakened to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, and to the Israel lobby’s destructive power, and are supporting its latest victim.

As an AIPAC insider once said: “A lobby thrives in the dark.”

It’s time to turn on the light. It’s not just AIPAC.


UPDATE:

One extremely valuable book that does an excellent job of listing and describing what it calls “Israel Affinity Groups” –  these are defined as nonprofit organizations that actively and unconditionally support Israel as a major function.

In his book Big Israel: How Israel’s Lobby Moves America,  researcher Grant F. Smith, provides detailed information on over 600 such groups operating in the United States; see The Israel Lobby: Israel Affinity Organizations.

These groups are projected to have total financial resources of over $6 billion.

This is in addition to the resources of such actively pro-Israel campaign donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Haim Saban, Paul Singer, Norman Braman, and Larry Ellison, who have a combined net worth of close to $115 billion. (And this is an incomplete list of U.S. billionaires who support Israel.)

Added to the other groups that work for Israel as one of several missions and/or that are not registered nonprofit organizations, the Israel lobby would appear to dwarf any other interest group in the United states. It is little wonder that it drives U.S. policies on numerous related topics. Especially since discussing it is always labeled “antisemitic.”


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of “Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.”  Her articles have been published by The Link, Project Censored, Dissident Voice, Antiwar.com, MintPress News, CounterPunch, Z Magazine, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and others.


RELATED:

NPR misleads public in report on AIPAC vs Ilhan Omar

NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ segment underreports AIPAC’s finances, uses only Israel partisans as commentators, minimizes power of AIPAC, ignores Palestinians, and fails to inform listeners of the full scope of the Israel lobby.

There Is a Taboo Against Criticizing AIPAC — and Ilhan Omar Just Destroyed It

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 24: U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) (R) speak to members of the media after a news conference January 24, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Democratic Congresswomen held a news conference on legislation providing childcare for workers affected by the ongoing government shutdown. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks to members of the media after a news conference on Capitol Hill on Jan. 24, 2019.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

IN 2005, STEVEN Rosen, then a senior official with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, sat down for dinner with journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, then of the New Yorker. “You see this napkin?” Rosen askedGoldberg. “In twenty-four hours, [AIPAC] could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin.”

I couldn’t help but be reminded of this anecdote after Rep. Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, was slammed by Democrats and Republicans alike over her suggestion, in a pair of tweets, that U.S. politicians back the state of Israel because of financial pressure from AIPAC (“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” she declaimed). Was the flippant way in which she phrased her tweets a problem? Did it offend a significant chunk of liberal U.S. Jewish opinion? Did it perhaps unwittingly play into anti-Semitic tropes about rich Jews controlling the world? Yes, yes, and yes — as she herself has since admitted and “unequivocally” apologized for. But was she wrong to note the power of the pro-Israel lobby, to point a finger at AIPAC, to highlight — in her apology — “the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry”?

No, no, and no.

Rosen, after all, wasn’t the first AIPAC official to boast about the the raw power that “America’s bipartisan pro-Israel lobby” exercises in Washington, D.C. Go back earlier, to 1992, when then-AIPAC President David Steiner was caught on tape bragging that he had “cut a deal” with the George H.W. Bush White House to provide $3 billion in U.S. aid to Israel. Steiner also claimed to be “negotiating” with the incoming Clinton administration over the appointment of pro-Israel cabinet members. AIPAC, he said, has “a dozen people in [the Clinton] campaign, in the headquarters … and they’re all going to get big jobs.”

Go back further, to 1984, when Sen. Charles Percy, a moderate Republican from Illinois, was defeated in his re-election campaign after he “incurred AIPAC’s wrath” by declining to sign onto an AIPAC-sponsored letter and daring to refer to Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat as more “moderate” than other Palestinian resistance figures. AIPAC contributors raised more than a million dollars to help defeat Percy. As Tom Dine, then-executive director of AIPAC, gloated in a speech shortly after the GOP senator’s defeat, “all the Jews, from coast to coast, gathered to oust Percy. And the American politicians —  those who hold public positions now, and those who aspire — got the message.”

NEARLY FOUR DECADES later, as members of the U.S. political and media classes pile onto Omar, are the rest of us supposed to pretend that AIPAC officials never said or did any of this? And are we also expected to forget that the New York Times’s Tom Friedman, a long-standing advocate for Israel in the American media, once described the standing ovations received by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, from members of Congress, as having been “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby”? Or that Goldberg, now editor-in-chief of The Atlantic and dubbed “the most influential journalist/blogger on matters related to Israel,” called AIPAC a “leviathan among lobbies, as influential in its sphere as the National Rifle Association and the American Association of Retired Persons are in theirs”? Or that J.J. Goldberg, former editor of the Jewish weekly newspaper The Forward, said in 2002, in reference to AIPAC, “There is this image in Congress that you don’t cross these people or they take you down”?

Are we supposed to dismiss Uri Avnery, the late Israeli peace activist and one-time member of the Zionist paramilitary, the Irgun, who once remarked that if AIPAC “were to table a resolution abolishing the Ten Commandments, 80 senators and 300 congressmen would sign it at once,” as a Jew-hater? Or label Jan Harman, a former member of Congress and devoted defender of Israel, an anti-Semite for telling CNN in 2013 that her former colleagues on Capitol Hill had struggled to back Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear diplomacy to due “big parts of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States being against it, the country of Israel being against it”?

To be clear: AIPAC is not a political action committee and does not provide donations directly to candidates. However, it does act as a “force multiplier,” to quote the Jewish Telegraph Agency’s Andrew Silow-Carroll, and “its rhetorical support for a candidate is a signal to Jewish PACs and individual donors across the country to back his or her campaign.” As Friedman explained to me in an interview in 2013: “Mehdi, if you and I were running from the same district, and I have AIPAC’s stamp of approval and you don’t, I will maybe have to make three phone calls. … I’m exaggerating, but I don’t have to make many phone calls to get all the money I need to run against you. You will have to make 50,000 phone calls.” (Is Friedman an anti-Semite too? Asking for a friend.)

WHAT MAKES THIS whole row over Omar’s remarks so utterly bizarre is that so many leading Democrats, loudly and rightly, decry the pernicious and undeniable impact of special interests, lobbyists, and donations on a whole host of issues — from the role of Big Pharma and Big Finance; to influence-peddling by Saudi Arabia; to the “grip” that the NRA has on the debate over gun control, to quote Democratic senator Richard Blumenthal. But any mention of AIPAC and lobbying in favor of Israel? “Anti-Semitism!

Do they have no shame? Take Donna Shalala, a new member of Congress from Florida’s 27th District (and a former cabinet member under Clinton).

Rep. Donna E. Shalala

@RepShalala

There is no place in our country for anti-Semitic comments. I condemn them whatever the source. To suggest members of Congress are “bought off” to support Israel is the truth of the matter. In fact if investigated, which won’t happen, treason by 70 members would be indictable.

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