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April 23, 2015 0

“Israel Lobby” Conference Features Anti-Israel Rhetoric

A one-day con­fer­ence titled, “The Israel Lobby: Is it Good for the US? Is It Good for Israel?” took place on April 10, 2015 at the National Press Club in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. The con­fer­ence fea­tured sev­eral anti-Israel speak­ers who chose to focus on the alleged role that the “Israel lobby” plays in the U.S.-Israel rela­tion­ship and to eval­u­ate whether it is pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive for both countries.

Miko Peled

Miko Peled speak­ing at the conference

At the con­fer­ence, there were six panel dis­cus­sions on top­ics such as “What Is the Israel Lobby and How Does It Work?,” “Are Crit­i­cal Voices Silenced?,” “Is Free­dom of Speech Encour­aged on Amer­i­can Cam­puses?,” and “Is the Lobby Good for Israel?” Speak­ers on the pan­els included Grant Smith, the founder and direc­tor of the Insti­tute for Research: Mid­dle East­ern Pol­icy (IRMEP); Israeli anti-Zionist author and activist Miko Peled; Gideon Levy, an Israeli jour­nal­ist from Ha’aretz; Richard Falk, the for­mer United Nations Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on Pales­tin­ian human rights; and Huwaida Arraf, a co-founder of the Inter­na­tional Sol­i­dar­ity Move­ment (ISM).

Dur­ing the dis­cus­sions, par­tic­i­pants spoke about var­i­ous aspects of the “Israel lobby” and groups that are involved with Israel advo­cacy work in the U.S. Below are some of the most inflam­ma­tory com­ments from par­tic­i­pants at the conference:

  • Richard Falk, in his pre­sen­ta­tion titled “Weak­en­ing and dis­cred­it­ing the UN: The work of pro-Israel NGOs,” claimed that the United Nations is biased towards Israel and that pro-Israel groups are engaged in work to dele­git­imize the UN. He spoke about the recent AIPAC Pol­icy Con­fer­ence where Sen­a­tor Lind­sey Gra­ham report­edly spoke neg­a­tively about the UN and stated that Graham’s remarks didn’t rest on facts, but instead claimed, “It rests on the rep­e­ti­tion of the defama­tion and if you repeat, as Joseph Goebbels under­stood very well…If you repeat a lie often enough it becomes a kind of pub­licly accepted truth. And that’s where the very destruc­tive effect of these kinds of tac­tics occurred.”
  • Miko Peled spoke about “How the Lobby enables Israeli Pol­icy: Views of an Israeli in Amer­ica.” In his remarks, he claimed that Israel was founded on eth­nic cleans­ing and that Israel is an ille­git­i­mate state because “Israel was cre­ated as a result of a bru­tal eth­nic cleans­ing and estab­lished itself as an apartheid regime imme­di­ately when it was formed. There was no bet­ter Israel. There was no uncor­rupt Israel. There can­not be an uncor­rupt Israel because it was built on a crime and has no legitimacy.”
  • Gideon Levy’s pre­sen­ta­tion, which was titled “Does uncon­di­tional sup­port for Israel endan­ger Israeli voices?,” addressed whether or not the U.S.-Israel rela­tion­ship is cor­rupt and whether it has had a neg­a­tive impact on both coun­tries. Levy stated, “We are deal­ing with a cor­rupt­ing friend­ship. I think that if it wouldn’t be the Israel lobby, Israel would have been today a bet­ter place to live in. Israel would have been a more just place. And I think that if there wasn’t an Israel lobby, the United States would have been a bet­ter place and a more demo­c­ra­tic place, but it’s not for me to judge the Amer­i­can politics.”
  • Grant Smith deliv­ered a pre­sen­ta­tion titled “How big is the Lobby and what does it do? An overview of the 501© uni­verse,” and in his remarks, he claimed that U.S. tax­pay­ers are “vic­tims” who are owed money from Israel for U.S. aid that he believes was deliv­ered to Israel on false pre­text. He also labeled pro-Israel groups in the U.S. as “Israel-affinity groups” and claimed that, “The edu­ca­tion and train­ing indoc­tri­na­tion seg­ment of Israel-affinity groups and orga­ni­za­tions is really involved with train­ing within the com­mu­nity, Zion­ist education.

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December 3, 2014 9

Calls for Violence against Israel at Annual AMP Conference in Chicago

bannerCalls for vio­lence against Israel were heard at the 7th annual Amer­i­can Mus­lims for Pales­tine (AMP) con­fer­ence, which took place over Thanks­giv­ing week­end at the Hyatt Regency Hotel out­side of Chicago. The con­fer­ence, billed as “Ris­ing from Ashes: Gaza Teaches Life!,”  addressed a num­ber of top­ics, such as, “Do Occu­pied Peo­ple Have the Right to Resist their Occu­pa­tion?,” “Islama­pho­bia and Pales­tine,” and “Cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the chang­ing Amer­i­can sen­ti­ment toward Israeli aggression.”

AMP is the lead­ing orga­ni­za­tion pro­vid­ing anti-Zionist train­ing and edu­ca­tion to stu­dents and Mus­lim com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tions in the U.S and its con­fer­ence fea­tured a num­ber of U.S. and inter­na­tional anti-Israel activists as guest speak­ers, includ­ing Hatem Baz­ian, a co-founder of AMP; Josh Rubener, the National Advo­cacy Direc­tor for the US Cam­paign to End the Israeli Occu­pa­tion; and Rashid Kha­lidi, the Edward Said Pro­fes­sor of Mod­ern Arab Stud­ies at Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity and an Advi­sory Board mem­ber of the US Cam­paign to End the Israeli Occupation.

The most extreme com­ments at the con­fer­ence came from Taher Herza­l­lah, AMP’s national Cam­pus Coor­di­na­tor. Dur­ing his remarks, Herza­l­lah claimed that, “The State of Israel is a lie,” and spoke about how the “Israel lobby” works to ensure that Israel’s legit­i­macy is not chal­lenged. He also claimed that the focus of anti-Israel groups should be on the younger gen­er­a­tion and ended his com­ments with a call for vio­lence, stat­ing, “Israelis have to be bombed, they are a threat to the legit­i­macy of Pales­tine, and it is wrong to main­tain the State of Israel. It is an ille­git­i­mate cre­ation born from colo­nial­ism and racism.”

Mads Gilbert, a Nor­we­gian triage spe­cial­ist and pro­fes­sor of emer­gency med­i­cine who recently was banned from enter­ing Gaza by Israel, also sup­ported a call for vio­lence when claim­ing that the Nor­we­gian peo­ple do not sup­port Hamas or Fatah, but that they do “sup­port the fight with arms.” Gilberts, added that the strug­gle in Gaza is one against racism, apartheid, and polit­i­cal Zion­ism, and he also spoke pos­i­tively of rocket fire into Israel, claim­ing that, “When we heard of each rocket from Gaza [into Israel] that gave us hope and strength.”

One speaker, Sheikh Abdelfat­tah Mourou, a Tunisian lawyer who founded the Tunisian Islamic Ten­dency Move­ment, remarked that Israel was “defend­ing itself by killing inno­cents” dur­ing the most recent round of fight­ing between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. He also stated that, “When an Israeli pilot kills a fam­ily of 25, when he knows the head of Hamas is not home, it is shame­ful of the whole world to accept this claim of self-defense…The claim of Israeli secu­rity is a shame­ful one.”

Other speak­ers at the con­fer­ence dis­cussed the “Israel lobby” and its alleged role in “look­ing to pro­tect the Zion­ist nar­ra­tive.” Israeli anti-Zionist author Miko Peled claimed that the lobby stretches far and that, “There are spheres of Jew­ish influ­ence here in the U.S., like AIPAC and the Jew­ish Fed­er­a­tion.” Fol­low­ing Peled’s com­ments, Dima Kha­lidi, Direc­tor of Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Legal Sup­port and Coop­er­at­ing Coun­sel with the Cen­ter for Con­sti­tu­tional Rights, stated that, “Jew­ish Zion­ists are a pow­er­ful force, not just AIPAC.”

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February 27, 2013 1

University Sponsorship Of Anti-Israel Programs On The Rise

Update 3/14/13:  Two more uni­ver­si­ties in Michi­gan plan to host anti-Israel pro­grams in the next few days. Naim Ateek, the founder and direc­tor of the Sabeel Ecu­meni­cal Lib­er­a­tion The­ol­ogy Cen­ter in Jerusalem, is sched­uled to speak at West­ern Michi­gan Uni­ver­sity and Grand Val­ley State Uni­ver­sity.

In recent years, the num­ber of highly politi­cized anti-Israel pro­grams that have been spon­sored by uni­ver­sity depart­ments has increased quite dra­mat­i­cally. To date, 22 anti-Israel events have been spon­sored by uni­ver­si­ties and/or aca­d­e­mic depart­ments across the U.S. dur­ing the cur­rent school year. In the 2011-12 school year, the total was 10; and in the school year before that, it was just five.

The university-sponsored event that has received the most atten­tion was the Boycott Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) event at Brook­lyn Col­lege three weeks ago. But other events that are almost as con­tro­ver­sial have got­ten much less atten­tion. Miko Peled – an Israeli who advo­cates for BDS cam­paigns against Israel, calls for a one-state solu­tion and holds Israel cul­pa­ble for Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ism – has been spon­sored by aca­d­e­mic depart­ments at the Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and Haver­ford Col­lege in Penn­syl­va­nia in recent months. Peled, a draw as an anti-Israel speaker because of his nation­al­ity, has also been invited to speak at Cen­tral Con­necti­cut State Uni­ver­sity in two weeks.  His pre­sen­ta­tion there is being spon­sored by the Inter­na­tional & Area Stud­ies Com­mit­tee and Peace Stud­ies, two inter­dis­ci­pli­nary pro­grams at the university.

In his recently pub­lished book, The General’s Son: Jour­nal of an Israeli in Pales­tine, Peled calls Gaza an “enor­mous con­cen­tra­tion camp,” an inac­cu­rate and offen­sive effort to cheapen the mem­ory of the Holocaust.

While not all anti-Israel speak­ers that have been spon­sored by aca­d­e­mic depart­ments hold views as hos­tile as Peled’s, many use the oppor­tu­nity to call for out-and-out anti-Israel advo­cacy like BDS, which ren­ders the sup­port they receive from aca­d­e­mic depart­ments even more rep­re­hen­si­ble. Some of these events have drawn con­tro­versy in the past, includ­ing the “one-state solu­tion” con­fer­ence at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity last year (which was spon­sored by the Weath­er­head Cen­ter for Inter­na­tional Affairs and the Office of the Provost) and a March 2011 con­fer­ence at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Hast­ings Col­lege of the Law called “Lit­i­gat­ing Pales­tine: Can Courts Secure Pales­tin­ian Rights.” Although the title of the con­fer­ence sounded benign, the con­fer­ence was actu­ally meant to be a strat­egy ses­sion about ways to bring Israel to the Inter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC), issue arrest war­rants for Israeli diplo­mats trav­el­ing abroad, and engage in inter­na­tional BDS campaigns.

The approx­i­mately two dozen university-sponsored anti-Israel events this school year have also included per­for­mances by Remi Kanazi, an anti-Israel poet who is a leader of the BDS move­ment; a panel dis­cus­sion fea­tur­ing only anti-Israel speak­ers talk­ing about how the “Jewish-American rela­tion­ship with Israel” is at a “cross­roads;” and a screen­ing of a new film called “Roadmap to Apartheid,” which analo­gizes Pales­tin­ian refugees to Jews in the War­saw Ghetto and par­tially con­dones ter­ror­ism as a “symp­tom” of the conflict.

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