This Is How AIPAC Really Works

An AIPAC and Capitol Hill veteran explains the lobby’s tactics of reward and retribution.


M.J. Rosenberg, February 14, 2019

Senators at AIPACUS. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (right) join hands as they take the stage to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, on March 1, 2015. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

One thing that should be said about Representative Ilhan Omar’s tweet about the power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (more commonly known as AIPAC, or the “Israel lobby”) is that the hysterical reaction to it proved her main point: The power of AIPAC over members of Congress is literally awesome, although not in a good way. Has anyone ever seen so many members of Congress, of both parties, running to the microphones and sending out press releases to denounce one first-termer for criticizing the power of… a lobby?

Somehow, I don’t think the reaction would have been the same if she had tweeted that Congress still supports the ethanol subsidy because the American Farm Bureau and other components of the corn/ethanol lobby spend millions to keep this agribusiness bonanza going (which they do). Or that if she had opposed the ethanol subsidy, she would have been accused of hating farmers.

That’s American politics; the only difference between all the domestic lobbies that essentially buy support for their agenda is that AIPAC is working for a foreign government, a distinction but not much of a difference when the goal is to maintain a status quo that is not necessarily in the national interest.

What did Omar tweet that was so terrible, anyway? Actually it was two tweets that produced the unsettling but oh-so-telling coming together of President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in common denunciation of the first-term member of Congress. Omar’s crime: daring to suggest that campaign contributions orchestrated by AIPAC play a large part in achieving bipartisan support for anything proposed by the Israeli government and/or its lobby, AIPAC.

This is, of course, something everyone knows and which even a former president of AIPAC once admitted in a conversation that was recorded by an interlocutor. In fact, as early as 1988, 60 Minutes did a segment on how AIPAC divvies up the money. (Moreover, I, as an employee of the lobby from 1973 to 1975 and 1982 to 1986, repeatedly and personally witnessed the whole process of funding and defunding, which is anything but a secret within the organization. Additionally, I spent close to 20 years as a legislative assistant to Democratic House and Senate members and saw AIPAC’s tactics of reward and retribution from that vantage point too.) Continue reading

Death of Detainee Fares Baroud: An Example of Deliberate Negligence


Palestinian Center for Human Rights
Ref: 16/2019, February 7, 2019

 

Yesterday, 06 February 2019, a Palestinian detainee who spent 28 years in Israeli jails, Fares Mohammed Baroud (51), from al-Shati’ refugee camp in western Gaza City, died only hours after transfer from “Ramon” Prison to “Soroka” Hospital in circumstances raising suspicions of deliberate medical negligence by the Israeli authorities, especially since he suffered problems in the stomach, heart and liver. PCHR calls for an immediate and impartial investigation into the death circumstances of Baroud and is concerned that the Israeli authorities might have procrastinated in providing Baroud the immediate and appropriate medical treatment. PCHR also condemns the Israeli authorities’ neglect of the recurrent calls to release him though they knew of the deterioration of his health condition.

The Israeli forces arrested Baroud on 23 March 1991 and issued a life imprisonment sentence against him in addition to 35 years. Baroud had suffered many health problems during his detention in the Israeli jails, including problems of the stomach, kidney, liver and chest, in addition to suffering asthma. He was also placed for years in solitary confinement; the last was for 4 years consecutively between 2012 and 2016, causing a deterioration of his health condition. Last year, he underwent a surgery to remove part of his liver and suffered complications; however, the Israeli authorities did not offer him adequate treatment. Yesterday, 06 February 2019, his health condition rapidly deteriorated and he was taken to “Soroko” Hospital in Beersheba in Israel where his death was declared only hours after his arrival at the hospital.

The death of Baroud sheds light on the general deterioration of Palestinian detainee conditions in Israeli jails, showing the extent of the punitive measures taken against them, particularly the medical negligence they undergo and the inadequate treatment hundreds of patients receive, particularly those suffering from chronic and serious diseases.

Thus, PCHR holds the Israeli government fully responsible for the death of detainee Baroud and lives of dozens of sick detainees who would face the same fate if the policy of medical negligence continued while detaining them in inhuman and tough conditions, being subject to physical and psychological torture and not receiving adequate healthcare. At this time, PCHR:

Continue reading

Honor Dr. Angela Davis

This February, join USCPR and the Dream Defenders by showing solidarity with all the radical voices that continue to be silenced for speaking up against injustice, from the US to Palestine.

On January 4, 2019, bowing to pressure from Zionist members of the Birmingham community, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) voted to rescind its decision to bestow its highest honor, the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award, on renowned Black scholar and activist Angela Davis. Dr. Davis is the latest in a long line of Black internationalist voices to be attacked for their support of Palestine.

Leaders like Dr. Davis are targeted because they articulate the connections between global systems of oppression bearing down on Indigenous, Black, brown, queer, and other marginalized communities. They recognize that white supremacy, settler colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy all reinforce each other and cannot be fought in isolation. Work for justice for one community must be part of a vision of justice for all.

“Black solidarity with Palestine allows us to understand the nature of contemporary racism more deeply.” – Angela Davis

Since the BCRI’s decision to revoke the Shuttlesworth Award was announced, there has been an outpouring of support for Dr. Davis from progressives and activists across movements. The BCRI has reconsidered its decision, and a diverse, intergenerational cross-section of grassroots and community leaders in Birmingham announced an alternative public event to honor Dr. Davis on February 16, the day she was supposed to receive the BCRI award.

Continue reading

March 1, 2019
Hashtag to Headlines Speakers on WORT


Friday, March 1
12 noon to 1 pm

The speakers for Madison’s 2019 tribute to Rachel Corrie, Ahmed Abu Artema and Jehad Abusalim, will be interviewed live on A Public Affair with host Esty Dinur.

Listen to the WORT interview on 89.9 FM or live online.

Their talk at the Rachel Corrie tribute will be Hashtag to Headlines: How the Gaza Great March of Return Challenged the World, March 3 at 900 University Bay Drive from 2 pm to 4 pm.

Hello from Palestine

Operation Dove, 2/13/19


Facebook video: Israel Destroys South Hebron Hills Water Piping

Today Israeli forces destroyed and confiscated underground pipes in the Palestinian villages of Jinba, Khallet Athaba, Ar Rakeez and Al-Mufaqarah. Soldiers detained the mayor of the Palestinian village of Tuwani and the head of the council of Masaffer Yatta. The confiscation has disrupted the water supply to villages and schools throughout Masafer Yatta.

The eight villages in Masafer Yatta lie within an area of Palestinian land claimed by Israel as Firing Zone 918, and used by the Israeli military as a practice area. Many of the villages within the zone have received Israeli demolition orders for homes, agricultural buildings and schools.

ADC Stands With Congresswoman Ilhan Omar!

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), February 12, 2019

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) unequivocally condemns all attacks and mischaracterizations against Representative Ilhan Omar for her outspoken position in support of Palestinian human rights. It is absurd that Representative Omar is being targeted for exercising her legal right to question the influence of AIPAC, one of the most influential special interest groups in the U.S. for the last twenty years.

The American people expect elected representatives to be transparent on special interest funding, and most polls show support for campaign finance reform. Representative Omar has the responsibility as a member of Congress to use her platform to question the influence that special interest groups have on U.S. policies; it is precisely why she was elected by her constituency.

Let us be clear, these attacks are not new and have absolutely nothing to do with anti-Semitism. The fictitious statements including those coming from one of the most xenophobic and racist Presidents in history, confirms that these attacks are rooted in a continued pattern and practice of vicious, bigoted, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-Black rhetoric that started before Representative Omar was elected. To falsely conflate anti-Semitism, is dangerous to the victims of true anti-Semitism, as we tragically saw in Charlottesville and at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Ohio.

ADC is equally disturbed by the growing trend in the U.S. to undermine civil liberties when it comes to engaging in Palestinian human rights work. This is best exemplified in the recent congressional efforts to punish those who peacefully exercise their First Amendment right to boycott. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) is not anti-Semitic, in fact it is against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism. Indeed, the U.S. Palestinian human rights movement condemns the very hate that it is being falsely linked to.

As, Palestinians continue to endure violations committed by Israel with impunity, Representative Omar’s questioning of the U.S. role should be applauded. Just last week, Israel shot and killed two Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip, including a 14-year-old Palestinian boy. In 2018 alone, Israel killed 57 Palestinian children. It is the duty of all members Congress to question AIPAC’s substantial influence on U.S. policies and its role to shield Israel from accountability.

We commend Representative Omar and other members of Congress that stand up for the values that this country claims to uphold, justice and dignity for all. Thank you for taking a principled position in defense of human rights and justice for all. ADC is proud to stand with you.

Continue reading

February 23, 2019
International Festival at Overture Center

201 State Street
Madison
10 am – 5 pm

Once again Overture celebrates the rich cultural heritage within our community with more than 30 FREE performances by artists who call Dane County home. Indulge in cuisines from around the world, browse stunning arts and crafts available for purchase and learn about the many local businesses with global connections.

Be sure to check out MRSCP and Playgrounds for Palestine’s table where you can buy delicious Palestinian olive oil, zaatar, and olive tapenade as well as our fantastic assortment of embroidery, wood products, olive oil soap, earrings, keffiyehs and more. Hope to see you there!

March 3, 2019
Hashtag to Headlines: How the Gaza Great March of Return Challenged the World


 

Join us for the 2019 tribute to Rachel Corrie
with Ahmed Abu Artema
Writer, refugee and peace activist from Rafah

 

First Unitarian Society
900 University Bay Drive
Madison
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Ahmed Abu Artema wrote a Facebook post on January 7, 2018 from his home in Rafah, Gaza that echoed an idea that has reverberated throughout Palestinian history: What would happen if Palestinians marched nonviolently and in large numbers towards the boundary fence with Israel to demand respect for their rights and call attention to the Israeli-imposed blockade that has created hardship for millions of people for more than a decade?

On March 30, 2018, the #GreatMarchofReturn became a reality, grabbing headlines around the world. Ahmed Abu Artema will share his experience with the Great March of Return, his views on the future of nonviolent actions in Palestine, and his vision for a just and lasting peace. He will be joined by fellow Gaza native Jehad Abusalim, Chicago-based scholar and program associate for the American Friends Service Committee’s Gaza Unlocked campaign.

Free and open to the public. Refreshments and desserts including baklawa will be served. Palestinian olive oil, olive oil soap, crafts, and food items will be for sale. Please join us as we honor Rachel Corrie and welcome Ahmed Abu Artema to Madison.

    Sponsors: American Friends Service Committee, First Unitarian Social Justice Ministry, and Madison-Rafah Sister City Project.

    Continue reading

Caves in the south Hebron Hills bring villages back to life

Ahmad Al-Bazz and Anne Paq, Mondoweiss, February 11, 2019

Anne Paq presented Intimate Portraits of Gaza’s Lost at the 2017 Madison-Rafah Rachel Corrie Commemoration. Based on the #ObliteratedFamilies project by Paq and Palestinian-Polish journalist Ala Qandil, the project profiled the annihilation of Gaza families during the Israeli bombardment in 2014.


Mahmoud Abu Arram, 72 (left) and his family stand in front of a renovated cave in the West Bank hamlet of Ar-Rakeez in the South Hebron Hills. (Photo: Activestills.org)

For weeks under the cloak of night Palestinians secretly renovated four caves and built a tin-roofed house in the West Bank hamlet of Ar-Rakeez where only a handful of residents live. Last week they opened the homes in a “bringing life back” ceremony.

The event was not announced in advance as to avoid any potential disruption by the Israeli army, locals said.

The caves were refurbished by Palestinians from the southern West Bank villages of Susiya, Masafer Yatta and At-Tuwani who are part of the Protection and Sumud Committee, a local group that seeks to prevent home demolitions, and with support from the Palestinian Authority.

Continue reading