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April 15, 2013 2

Anti-Israel Organizations Attack Israel with Tax Day-Themed Campaigns

Today, April 15, is “Tax Day,” the date by which all Amer­i­cans are required to sub­mit their tax returns to the Inter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice (IRS). While it is an appro­pri­ate day to spend a few min­utes think­ing about what our gov­ern­ment spends our tax dol­lars on, there are sev­eral anti-Israel orga­ni­za­tions that are cap­i­tal­iz­ing on today’s dead­line to ini­ti­ate cam­paigns about what the U.S. gov­ern­ment should not spend its money on: aid to Israel.

In the past week, two promi­nent anti-Israel orga­ni­za­tions have launched a new web­site and a new report call­ing for an end to U.S. aid to Israel. Although a pri­or­ity that has long been at the fore­front of the domes­tic anti-Israel movement’s agenda, it has picked up steam in recent years due to eco­nomic con­cerns caused by the Great Reces­sion, seques­tra­tion and bud­get deficits.

The first cam­paign, titled “Demand a Refund,” was ini­ti­ated by the US Cam­paign to End the Israeli Occu­pa­tion in coor­di­na­tion with Amer­i­can Mus­lims for Pales­tine, Jew­ish Voice for Peace, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Com­mit­tee (ADC) and CODEPINK. The campaign’s web­site fea­tures a peti­tion from tax­pay­ers to Pres­i­dent Obama which reads, in part, “As a tax­payer, I am out­raged that your admin­is­tra­tion is report­edly open­ing nego­ti­a­tions to give Israel up to $40 bil­lion in U.S. taxpayer-financed weapons,” an appar­ent ref­er­ence to defense weaponry and tech­nol­ogy that the U.S. sells to Israel.

The peti­tion claims that Israel uses Amer­i­can weapons to “com­mit sys­tem­atic human rights abuses” and “oppress Pales­tini­ans.” It also crit­i­cizes Pres­i­dent Obama for increas­ing the amount of aid to Israel dur­ing his admin­is­tra­tion. The orga­niz­ers of the peti­tion hoped to gain 10,000 sig­na­tures by today (the cam­paign was launched last week). At present there are a lit­tle more than 3,000 signatories.

And just last week, the anti-Israel orga­ni­za­tion If Amer­i­cans Knew (IAK) released a new report titled “The Stag­ger­ing Cost of Israel to Amer­i­cans” to coin­cide with Tax Day. Orig­i­nally pub­lished in 1998, the new ver­sion of the report was writ­ten by Pamela Olson, a new ana­lyst for IAK.

Although the report makes sim­i­lar alle­ga­tions to the anti-aid peti­tion high­lighted above – not­ing, for exam­ple, that “it is crit­i­cal to exam­ine why we lav­ish so much aid on Israel” – the lan­guage cited in this report is far more egre­gious. It claims that U.S. aid to Israel is a result of the “Israel lobby” and insists that the U.S.-Israel rela­tion­ship harms the U.S. because Israel causes “rage and resent­ment among bil­lions of peo­ple… and sells America’s mil­i­tary secrets to its enemies.”

In its men­tion of the “Israel lobby,” the report goes so far as to allege that the U.S. and Israel do not enjoy a strong rela­tion­ship because of shared val­ues or inter­ests but because “Con­gress­men receive pay­ments and sup­port from the lobby in exchange for their loy­alty.” The report also asserts that U.S. aid to Israel makes the pos­si­bil­ity for peace between Israel and the Pales­tini­ans “even more distant.”

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March 29, 2013 1

ADL Releases Report On American Muslims for Palestine

AMP press con­fer­ence at a Metro North station

The Anti-Defamation League today released a new report on Amer­i­can Mus­lims for Pales­tine (AMP), the anti-Israel orga­ni­za­tion behind this week’s ad cam­paign appear­ing on 25 Metro North train sta­tions in New York.

The ad, which was announced on the first day of the Jew­ish hol­i­day of Passover, shows an image of an Israeli aim­ing a weapon at a Pales­tin­ian child amid a back­ground of the sep­a­ra­tion bar­rier between Israel and the West Bank. The ad is indica­tive of the organization’s con­tin­u­ing efforts to pro­mote its extreme anti-Israel views to a wider Amer­i­can audience.

ADL’s report details AMP’s con­tin­u­ous efforts to dele­git­imize and demo­nize the Jew­ish state while pro­vid­ing anti-Zionist train­ing and edu­ca­tion to stu­dents and Mus­lim com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tion through­out the country.

Since its found­ing in 2005, AMP has at times pro­vided a plat­form for anti-Semitism under the guise of estu­dents for jus­tice in pales­tine, adl, ducat­ing Amer­i­cans about “the just cause of Pales­tine.” In more recent years, it has placed heavy empha­sis on pro­vid­ing sup­port and help­ing coor­di­nate the activ­ity of cam­pus anti-Israel stu­dent groups, includ­ing Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP), the pri­mary orga­nizer of anti-Israel events on cam­pus, as well as high school students.

Check out the full AMP report here.

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February 7, 2013 1

Free Speech Is A One-Way Street For The BDS Movement

In response to the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing a Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) event tak­ing place tomor­row at Brook­lyn Col­lege, numer­ous pro-BDS pub­lic fig­ures, activists and groups have labeled con­cerns about the event as a “smear cam­paign” designed to get the event can­celed and sup­press the expres­sion of legit­i­mate viewpoints.

A state­ment by the national coali­tion of Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) referred to oppo­si­tion to the event as an “onslaught of intim­i­da­tion.” Al-Awda and Amer­i­can Mus­lims for Pales­tine, two off-campus anti-Israel orga­ni­za­tions, con­demned the pro-Israel community’s reac­tion as a “smear cam­paign” designed to sup­press free speech. Jew­ish Voice for Peace went so far as to call for Har­vard pro­fes­sor Alan Der­showitz to be fired for argu­ing that Brook­lyn College’s polit­i­cal sci­ence depart­ment should not spon­sor anti-Israel events.

Sim­i­larly, Roger Waters, the founder and lead singer of Pink Floyd, issued a state­ment of sol­i­dar­ity with the SJP chap­ter at Brook­lyn Col­lege, the group orga­niz­ing the event, that con­spir­a­to­ri­ally claimed: “That you have come under attack from pow­er­ful polit­i­cal and media forces for try­ing to shed light on the predica­ment of the good peo­ples of Pales­tine and Israel is wrong. I stand with you. Sadly, none of us knows what lies behind the closed doors of gov­ern­ment, even though we should for we have a right to know, to speak, dis­cuss, still not your voice, be not afraid. More power to you.”

Other more main­stream com­men­ta­tors have also used abra­sive lan­guage to lam­bast those who dis­ap­prove of the department’s spon­sor­ship of the event. Glen Green­wald, in a piece over the week­end on The Guardian’s “Com­ment is Free” site, described those urg­ing the polit­i­cal sci­ence depart­ment to drop its spon­sor­ship as an “ugly lynch mob” and claimed that elected offi­cials in the U.S. sup­port Israel for less than earnest rea­sons: “It is all but impos­si­ble to suc­ceed in New York City pol­i­tics — or US national pol­i­tics — with­out faith­fully embrac­ing pro-Israel ortho­dox­ies. That’s the nature of pol­i­tics in gen­eral: it requires sub­servience to empow­ered fac­tions and majori­tar­ian sentiment.”

It is the BDS move­ment, how­ever, that is inher­ently pred­i­cated on the sup­pres­sion of speech and “free exchange of ideas,” which Green­wald claims to vehe­mently sup­port in his arti­cle. Sup­port­ing boy­cotts of Israeli aca­d­e­mics, diplo­mats and per­form­ers is sim­ply not con­sis­tent with free speech val­ues.  Fur­ther­more, anti-Israel stu­dents can­not legit­i­mately claim to sup­port a “free exchange of ideas” when they reg­u­larly dis­rupt and heckle pro-Israel speak­ers on cam­pus. One anti-Israel stu­dent who heck­led Israeli sol­diers at an event at UC Davis last Feb­ru­ary flatly admit­ted, “My only pur­pose today is that this event is shut down.”

In fact, an increas­ing num­ber of anti-Israel groups do not sup­port a free exchange of ideas and explic­itly argue that the pro-Israel voice does not even deserve to be heard. The tac­tic, known as anti-normalization, is increas­ingly being felt by pro-Israel groups on cam­puses across the coun­try whose coun­ter­parts refuse to engage in dia­logue with them and often try to dis­rupt or shut down pro-Israel events. It seems that the BDS movement’s com­mit­ment to free speech and an open exchange of ideas is only a one-way street.

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