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December 27, 2013 5

Campaigns In Atlanta And London Target Israeli Policy In Bethlehem

st-james-church-wall-bethlehem

St. James Church Wall

Right in time for Christ­mas, two cam­paigns have begun that demo­nize Israeli pol­icy in the West Bank city of Beth­le­hem, the birth­place of Jesus.

In Atlanta, Geor­gia, five elec­tronic bill­boards are cur­rently on dis­play for a two week dura­tion that depict Jesus’s par­ents Mary and Joseph being unable to gain entry into Beth­le­hem in mod­ern times because of Israel’s secu­rity bar­rier on the bor­der of the West Bank (the image was cre­ated by the artist Banksy). These bill­boards are spon­sored by If Amer­i­cans Knew (IAK), a vir­u­lently anti-Israel orga­ni­za­tion that has been run­ning anti-Israel bill­boards in cities across the United States over the past year.

In Lon­don, Eng­land, St. James’s Church erected a large dis­play out­side of the church to depict the secu­rity bar­rier that sur­rounds Beth­le­hem. The church’s rev­erend, Lucy Win­kett, claimed that the dis­play, which resem­bles the secu­rity wall in Israel, was designed to show passersby “what the peo­ple of Beth­le­hem are expe­ri­enc­ing today.”

The mock secu­rity wall out­side St. James’ Church is part of a fes­ti­val called “Beth­le­hem Unwrapped,” which is being spon­sored by the Holy Land Trust, a Bethlehem-based group that advo­cates for Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against Israel. The fes­ti­val will take place in Lon­don from Decem­ber 23, 2013 until Jan­u­ary 5, 2014. It will fea­ture, among other pro­grams, a com­edy show called “Stand Up Against the Wall,” a “Beth­le­hem Christ­mas din­ner,” and a debate titled “Both sides of the Bar­rier – Sep­a­ra­tion or Secu­rity?” which will fea­ture Jeff Halper, the founder of the Israeli Com­mit­tee Against House Demo­li­tions; Leila San­sour, a res­i­dent of Beth­le­hem; Yif­tah Curiel, the Pub­lic Affairs spokesman at the Embassy of Israel in Lon­don; and Alan John­son, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Britain Israel Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Research Centre.

Both the bill­board and mock wall dis­play delib­er­ately fail to account for Israel’s legit­i­mate secu­rity con­cerns. While IAK claims that their bill­boards, “will be seen an esti­mated 4 mil­lion times,” those who view the bill­boards will not receive any infor­ma­tion about why the secu­rity bar­rier was built and what it has done to thwart ter­ror­ist attacks.

Indeed, Israel’s secu­rity bar­rier was built as a defen­sive mea­sure that was first approved by the Israeli gov­ern­ment in 2002 to pre­vent Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ists from reach­ing their civil­ian tar­gets inside Israel. Since it was built, there has been a sharp decrease in Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ism – not because there have been no attempted attacks, but because the secu­rity bar­rier has impeded ter­ror­ists from reach­ing Israeli cities, or has forced them to take more cir­cuitous routes, lead­ing to their capture.

Although both cam­paigns seek to rein­force the point that Beth­le­hem has become inac­ces­si­ble because of the wall, thou­sands of Chris­t­ian pil­grims from around the world visit Beth­le­hem for Christ­mas Eve cel­e­bra­tions every year. This year was no excep­tion, accord­ing to news reports, the turnout was “the high­est in years.”

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May 3, 2013 2

Alison Weir Laments On “Jewish Power” To Anti-Semitic Newspaper

Ali­son Weir, the direc­tor of two orga­ni­za­tions that try to steer pub­lic sup­port away from Israel and traf­fic in con­spir­acy the­o­ries about the Jew­ish state, gave an inter­view ear­lier this week lament­ing the allegedly all-powerful “Israel lobby.”alison-weir-american-free-press-podcast

Weir’s inter­view was with the Amer­i­can Free Press (AFP), a Wash­ing­ton, DC-based conspiracy-oriented anti-Semitic news­pa­per pub­lished by long-time anti-Semite Willis Carto.

Dur­ing the pod­cast inter­view, titled “AIPAC Slaps Amer­ica in the Face, Again,” Weir claimed that the “Israel lobby” is pres­sur­ing Con­gress not to reduce for­eign aid to Israel despite seques­tra­tion and seem­ingly is uncon­cerned with the fact that the money could oth­er­wise be spent on domes­tic projects that would ben­e­fit Amer­i­cans. She alleged that the lobby sup­presses any oppo­si­tion to Israel, Zion­ism or “Jew­ish power.”

Her inter­viewer, Dave Gahary, read­ily agreed with her, call­ing her analy­sis “ter­rific” and reit­er­at­ing that there is strong evi­dence of “Jew­ish power.” He pointed to Jews’ “con­trol” of Hol­ly­wood and Weir agreed, say­ing that it’s an “inside joke” in LA that Jews con­trol Hol­ly­wood. She also defended Helen Thomas’s anti-Semitic remarks and claimed that Jewish-Americans are “very pow­er­ful in pol­i­tics.” Weir even reflected that she was uncom­fort­able her­self talk­ing about the sub­ject in a pub­lic broad­cast because it is “taboo.”

At one point dur­ing the inter­view, Gahary rhetor­i­cally asked “why should we have to hide dis­cus­sions about Jews or Jew­ish power? We shouldn’t. We should be able to say what­ever we want.” Weir agreed, assert­ing that even when peo­ple apol­o­gize for mak­ing anti-Semitic com­ments, their apolo­gies are some­times deemed insuf­fi­cient and they have to “grovel and grovel and grovel.”

It is not the first time that anti-Israel ide­o­logues have appeared on Amer­i­can Free Press. In August 2012, Rebecca Vilkomer­son, the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Jew­ish Voice for Peace, was inter­viewed by AFP to pro­mote JVP and the group’s boy­cott cam­paign against Israel. The par­ents of Rachel Cor­rie, a young activist who was killed while protest­ing Israeli pol­icy in Gaza, and Yis­roel Dovid Weiss, the spokesper­son for the ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta, have also been inter­viewed by AFP in recent years.

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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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