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April 15, 2013

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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December 12, 2012

New Anti-Israel Ad Hits The New York Times

A blatantly misleading and anti-Israel advertisement appeared in the national section of The New York Times today. The ad, which attempts to show that much of Palestinian land has disappeared since 1946, was sponsored by the Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine (COPIP) and If Americans Knew, a virulently anti-Israel organization run by a former journalist named Alison Weir.

The half-page color ad is identical to a series of billboards that appeared at MetroNorth stations in Westchester over the summer.

The ad’s attempt to boil down what is an extremely complex conflict into four simple maps with differently shaded regions appears to be a deliberate attempt to demonize Israel and place the entire onus of responsibility for the conflict on the Jewish state. The first map is particularly egregious: It seems to depict that all of Israel was owned by Pales­tini­ans pre-1948 when, in real­ity, much of the land was owned by non-Palestinian absen­tee land­lords who lived elsewhere in the Middle East, including Cairo, Bagh­dad, Dam­as­cus and Beirut. The ad also ignores the historic Jewish connection, physical and spiritual, to the land of Israel.

The MetroNorth ads were sponsored by COPIP’s chairman, Henry Clifford. This latest ad is co-sponsored by Clifford/COPIP and Weir, who has previously sponsored anti-Israel ads and billboards with different themes elsewhere across the country. In fact, Weir sent an e-mail to her supporters yesterday announcing that her organization’s campaign to end U.S. military aid to Israel, called “Stop the Blank Check,” plans to launch additional anti-Israel billboards and newspaper ads across the United States.

Billboards and publicly placed advertisements have become a more popular tool used by the anti-Israel movement in the past year. Anti-Israel billboards have appeared in Den­ver, Detroit and Los Ange­les since last March.

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March 14, 2012

Anti-Israel Billboards Surface in Denver and Detroit

Pay much attention to the billboards you see on the highway? Well, some anti-Israel groups in the United States are betting you do and paying to advertise their message on prominent billboards.

Last week, three anti-Israel organizations  – If American Knew, Deir Yassin Remembered and Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends – responded to a pro-Israel billboard in Detroit by securing billboard space of their own with the message, “$8 million/ Day to Israel? Our money is needed in America!” Another billboard that recently appeared in Denver read, “Tell Congress: Spend Our Money at Home Not on the Israeli Military.” The Denver billboard was paid for by the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion, a New Mexico-based group that first displayed a similar message on a billboard in Albuquerque in 2009.

In addition to these new billboards, anti-Israel signs and advertisements have regularly appeared  on buses and subways in large metropolitan areas since 2010, including New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Chicago. The ads, which call for an “End [to] U.S. military aid to Israel,” were organized by a coalition of national anti-Israel organizations operating under the umbrella of a campaign called “Be On Our Side.”

It seems likely that the activists paying for and placing these ads are newly optimistic that their message will resonate in light of the fragile state of the U.S. economy and the national debt. The Coalition to Stop $30 Billion, for example, explains: “All this money is flowing away while America is suffering the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression.”

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