Protests Greet Israel Lobby’s Annual Gathering
With Palestine remaining an open-air concentration camp under Israeli occupation, protests were held Washington D.C. outside the annual AIPAC convention. Among many others worldwide, increasing numbers of Jews, including in Israel, oppose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s heavy-handed, violent tactics.
By Mark Anderson
Palestinian activists and supporters, including the Right to Return Coalition (Al-Awda) and the ANSWER Coalition, held several protests before and during the March 4-6 national convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC—one of Washington D.C.’s most powerful lobbies.
“For over a century, the Palestinian people have been struggling against colonial rulers for . . . self-determination,” noted a news release announcing these groups’ opposition to “the racist American Israel Public Affairs Committee.”
The large annual AIPAC gathering at the Mount Vernon Convention Center included remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He also met with President Trump at the White House mainly to discuss the perceived Iranian threat to Israel and Trump’s stated intent to back out of the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran.
Netanyahu, hamstrung by scandals at home, has proven himself to be a particularly militant aggressor against Palestinians. Even some liberal Jews, in Israel and abroad, as well as anti-Zionist orthodox rabbis who take part in the Washington protests, disapprove of the Netanyahu regime’s documented and disproportionately deadly attacks against Palestinians and the imposition of a police state over them.
A young girl whose plight was recognized during a March 3 “Free Ahed” D.C. rally has come to symbolize that tyranny.
The “Free Ahed” movement refers to Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl reportedly taken in the dead of night by Israeli soldiers. After her mother, Nariman, produced a video that went viral—showing an altercation involving soldiers trying to enter the family dwelling—the girl was arrested.
According to “FreeAhed.org,” “Ahed is accused of slapping a soldier and faces 12 charges in Israel’s military court, which has a conviction rate of 99%. Ahed’s mother is being charged with incitement for posting the video.”
Ironically, while the protestors also held a forum on the history of Palestine’s liberation struggle, from Israel’s 1948 founding to the present, University of Oslo history professor Ken Rossinow, writing March 6 in The Washington Post, of all places, put forth one of the most critical articles of Israel ever to appear in a major mainstream newspaper in recent memory.
Under the jolting headline, “The Dark Roots of AIPAC, ‘America’s Pro-Israel Lobby’ “—underscored by the subheading, “The group was formed to spin positive PR after Israeli atrocities”—Rossinow outlined the lengths to which the Israeli state has gone to stay on good terms with its ultimate benefactors: U.S. taxpayers.
AIPAC’s beginnings as the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs, renamed AIPAC in 1959, “reveal the long journey the group has traveled. . . . It once operated in obscurity; now its influence lies partly in its genius for publicity. . . . It has always responded to Israeli actions, working to mitigate their impact on the American scene,” Rossinow wrote.
That mitigation keeps the $3.8 billion a year in official U.S. foreign aid flowing mainly to Israel’s military, enabling it to continue oppressing Palestinians.
According to Rossinow, in latter 1953 President Dwight Eisenhower “briefly suspended the delivery of U.S. aid to Israel after it violated the terms of a UN-brokered armistice agreement with Syria . . .”
And while Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles tried to get Israel to back down, on Oct. 15, 1953 a special Israeli army unit “had struck into the Jordanian-occupied West Bank and committed a massacre in the Palestinian village of Qibya, killing more than 60 civilians indiscriminately” in retaliation for the reported Oct. 12 murder of a Jewish woman and her two children in Israel.
Rossinow stressed that after the Oct. 12 killings, then-Israeli PM Ben-Gurion and top colleagues chose nearby Qibya “to suffer retribution” in an intentionally disproportionate and brutal manner, launching what has become standard Israeli policy.
In response, yesteryear’s American media wasn’t so reticent on revealing Israeli terror. Even Time magazine, wrote Rossinow, “carried a shocking account of . . . casual mass murder by Israeli soldiers at Qibya —‘slouching . . . smoking and joking.’ ” Moreover, The New York Times—you read that correctly—published what Rossinow described as “extensive excerpts from a UN commission that refuted Israeli lies about the incident.”
Since AIPAC is an unregistered agent of a foreign power, the proper mitigation is to require that AIPAC register as a foreign agent under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act. AIPAC would then have to publicly acknowledge it’s working on behalf of a foreign government and submit its income sources for review.
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. He invites your thoughtful emails at email@example.com.