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April 7, 2016 62

Alison Weir’s New Billboard Campaign Promotes USS Liberty Conspiracies

Ali­son Weir, the direc­tor of the anti-Israel orga­ni­za­tions If Amer­i­cans Knew and the Coun­cil for the National Inter­est, is behind a series of bill­boards that read “Help the USS Lib­erty Sur­vivors Attacked by Israel.”

Billboard in Pennsylvania

Bill­board in Pennsylvania

The bill­boards, which have appeared so far in Cal­i­for­nia, Con­necti­cut, Mass­a­chu­setts, North Car­olina and Penn­syl­va­nia, are “paid for by www.honorlibertyvets.org,” a web­site that pro­motes the anti-Israel con­spir­acy the­ory that Israel inten­tion­ally tar­geted a U.S. war­ship dur­ing the height of the 1967 Six-Day War. This web­site as well as the GoFundMe page rais­ing money for the bill­boards are linked to anti-Israel activist Ali­son Weir.

The tragic assault by Israeli forces dur­ing the Six Day War in 1967 on an Amer­i­can ves­sel, the USS Lib­erty, has been a source of con­tro­versy and con­spir­acy the­o­ries since it occurred. Sev­eral gov­ern­ment inves­ti­ga­tions have con­cluded that the attack, in which 34 Amer­i­can ser­vice­men were killed and many more injured, was car­ried out in error. Fur­ther­more, every piece of infor­ma­tion declas­si­fied to date has sup­ported this conclusion.

Nev­er­the­less, the Honor Lib­erty Vets web­site claims Israel had a “motive” for attack­ing the Amer­i­can ship, stat­ing “One hypoth­e­sis is that Israel intended to sink the ship (with no sur­vivors) and blame Egypt because this might have brought the United States into the 1967 war.” The site also paints Israeli inter­ests as trump­ing America’s: “No nation or peo­ple should be above the law; nor should Amer­i­can inter­ests be sub­or­di­nated to the inter­ests of any for­eign nation. Those Israelis respon­si­ble for order­ing the attack and the result­ing mur­der of Amer­i­can sailors must be held account­able for their actions.”

For Weir, and oth­ers who sub­scribe to the belief that Israel inten­tion­ally tar­geted the ship with the goal of killing Amer­i­can ser­vice­men, the inci­dent and the alleged U.S. gov­ern­ment cover-up that fol­lowed pow­er­fully demon­strate the sup­posed treach­ery and power of the Jew­ish State and its Amer­i­can sup­port­ers. The story, told from this per­spec­tive, has become a pro­pa­ganda tool to under­mine the legit­i­macy of Israel.

These the­o­ries about the USS Lib­erty fit into Weir’s world­view, in which the Jew­ish State is a vio­lent aggres­sor that cor­rupts the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal sys­tem and pre­vents crit­i­cism of its con­duct from being voiced by the main­stream media. As a result, she con­tends, Amer­i­cans are kept in the dark about how their taxes fund Israeli mis­treat­ment of Palestinians.

In Weir’s dis­cus­sions of Israel’s influ­ence, she often employs anti-Semitic imagery and por­trays Israel as a ruth­less force that con­trols Amer­i­can pol­icy through bru­tal intim­i­da­tion and decep­tion. Weir views her­self and her orga­ni­za­tions as part of a grow­ing move­ment to pro­mote U.S. inter­ests by edu­cat­ing Amer­i­cans about the vast con­spir­acy to keep the truth about Israeli prac­tices hid­den from them.

Weir’s Coun­cil for the National Inter­est, an anti-U.S. aid to Israel group based in DC, pre­vi­ously employed bill­boards to dis­sem­i­nate its mes­sag­ing with a 2013 cam­paign called “Stop the Blank Check to Israel.” At least ten such ads, which read, “$8 Mil­lion a day to Israel just doesn’t make sense! STOP The Blank Check.org,” were erected in Atlanta.

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March 11, 2016 5

In Iran, Holocaust Denial and Mockery are Alive and Well

Despite the inter­na­tional community’s reen­gage­ment with a more “open” and “mod­er­ate” Iran, some things in Iran­ian soci­ety haven’t changed, includ­ing the preva­lence of Holo­caust mock­ery and denial. While Pres­i­dent Rouhani hasn’t touted the issue like his pre­de­ces­sor Ahmadine­jad had, recent announce­ments indi­cate that the ques­tion­ing of the Holo­caust is very much alive and well within Iran­ian society.

In Decem­ber, the Tehran Inter­na­tional Car­toon Bien­nial announced an inter­na­tional Holo­caust car­toon con­test, with the win­ning entry get­ting a $50,000 reward. Now, the Islamic Asso­ci­a­tion of the Uni­ver­sity of Isfa­han has announced that it will hold its own Holo­caust car­toon con­test. The Islamic Asso­ci­a­tion held a sim­i­lar con­test in 2015. In announc­ing this year’s con­test, the Islamic Asso­ci­a­tion explained that its goal is to demon­strate sym­pa­thy with oppressed Pales­tini­ans and show hatred towards the Zion­ist regime and “the child killer Israel.” The orga­niz­ers claim the con­test is “not anti-Semitic,” but rather an effort to ques­tion such a dis­grace­ful and false phe­nom­e­non – the Holo­caust — some­thing which no one in the West­ern world dares to do.

Islamic Association of  Isfahan University Holocaust Cartoon Contest

Islamic Asso­ci­a­tion of Isfa­han Uni­ver­sity Holo­caust Car­toon Contest

They also claim their goal is to empower tal­ented indi­vid­u­als with skills they can use to edu­cate stu­dents and oth­ers about the fal­lacy of the Holocaust.

Addi­tion­ally, a recent con­fab for NGOs includ­ing social ser­vice agen­cies in an unnamed Iran­ian city titled “The Inter­na­tional Con­fer­ence on Coop­er­a­tion and Human­i­tar­ian Aids”, which included a ses­sion pro­mot­ing Holo­caust denial. A report pub­lished fol­low­ing the ses­sion stated that there is “no proof for Zion­ist claims about the Holo­caust and Jews.” Moham­mad Javad Khos­rave, a Holo­caust “expert” and Emad Najar, Zion­ist and Media “expert”, were among the attendees.

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March 10, 2016 2

The Economic Costs Of Boycotting Israel: An Arab Perspective

Anti-Israel activists have often argued that the goal of the Boy­cott, Divest and Sanc­tion (BDS) cam­paign is to encour­age Israelis to think crit­i­cally about the “eco­nomic cost of the Occu­pa­tion,” but a recent arti­cle pub­lished by Al-Hayat, one of the lead­ing daily pan-Arab news­pa­pers, may be chal­leng­ing them to con­sider think­ing about the costs some Arabs endure as a result of calls to resist nor­mal rela­tions with Israel.al hayat

“Resist­ing Nor­mal­iza­tion [with Israel] in Jor­dan adds eco­nomic losses to the defeat” by Jor­dan­ian jour­nal­ist Ibrahim Gharaiba, which appeared on the inter­na­tional edi­tion of Al-Hayat on March 7, offers a real­is­tic pic­ture of the real price Jor­da­ni­ans are pay­ing as a result of calls to boy­cott Israel.

Accord­ing to Gharaiba, the Israel–Jordan peace treaty, known as Wadi Araba, could have trans­formed the sta­tus of war between the two coun­ties into great eco­nomic and devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties for Jor­dan. “Israel, which its sta­tus has changed into a non-enemy coun­try is located at the same geo­graphic region as Jor­dan, and it has an advanced econ­omy which achieves very high lev­els of human development.”

This Israeli suc­cess story, accord­ing to the arti­cle, is focused around areas with strate­gic impor­tance for Jor­dan, such as water desali­na­tion and agriculture.

“Jor­dan, which suf­fered a mil­i­tary defeated in 1967 and regional crises cre­at­ing a refugee pro­por­tion close to 70 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, is also plagued by bizarre polit­i­cal trends work­ing against its best inter­est in a puz­zling way. [This polit­i­cal trend] turned work in Israel, export to and import from it, and train­ing and tech­ni­cal coop­er­a­tion with it into some­thing taboo.”

Israeli goods burned as part of the BDS activities in the Arab world

Israeli goods (and goods per­ceived as Israeli) burned as part of the BDS activ­i­ties in the Arab world

The author also defends his fel­low Jor­dan­ian cit­i­zens who seek work oppor­tu­ni­ties in Israel against attempts to crim­i­nal­ize their actions. “Cit­i­zens who work in Israel are try­ing to pre­serve their [human] dig­nity, espe­cially as the unem­ploy­ment rate [in Jor­dan] is too high.”  Gharaiba also responds against those who label coop­er­a­tion with Israel as “trea­son” by offer­ing a para­dox­i­cal real­is­tic def­i­n­i­tion: “Trea­son is when a gov­ern­ment aban­dons the inter­ests and eco­nomic oppor­tu­ni­ties of its people.”

The arti­cle com­pares the con­se­quences of such polit­i­cal rhetoric about boy­cotting Israel with the sit­u­a­tion in 1967 when Jor­dan joined sev­eral other Arab coun­tries in attack­ing Israel. Many in the Arab world remem­ber the polit­i­cal rhetoric in these years, which rejected any com­pro­mise with Israel. Accord­ing to the author, today’s calls to boy­cott Israel would add an eco­nomic defeat to the mil­i­tary defeat of the Six Day War.

Gharaibah is not the only one in the Arab world who empha­sizes the eco­nomic hard­ships that are shap­ing the future of the Arab world. A num­ber of Arab intel­lec­tu­als have chal­lenged attempts to mask the role of eco­nomic con­di­tions in trig­ger­ing frus­tra­tions of the Arab youth.

While many who sup­port the BDS move­ment may be moti­vated by what they believe to be the human rights agenda of its lead­ers, they often choose to dis­re­gard real­i­ties on the ground when it comes to the real bur­den endured by the aver­age Arab cit­i­zen. This arti­cle is a sober­ing reminder that the BDS movement’s rhetoric is dis­con­nected  from the real­ity of the cit­i­zens of Jor­dan and poten­tially oth­ers in the Arab world, many of whom are in seri­ous need of the eco­nomic ben­e­fits that could come from fur­ther coop­er­a­tion with Israel.

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