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Conference looks at attacks, targets, power of Israel Lobby

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: May 1, 2015 - 10:31:26 AM

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WASHINGTON ( - Far from home, New York City’s police department actually maintains an office in Tel Aviv, Israel. That’s clear evidence of the secretive and extensive reach of the “Israel Lobby” in this country, Dr. Alice Rothchild, a Boston-based physician, filmmaker, and human rights activist told 500 attendees at the National Press Club, April 10.

In addition, thousands of individual U.S. police officers from dozens of local police forces have received all-expense-paid trips to the Jewish state for Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) training from the Israel Defense Force (IDF), funded by components of the Israel Lobby.

The struggle to achieve equality for the Palestinian people who have been displaced from, and some who remain in their homeland for more than 60 years, is “the Civil Rights Movement of our time,” Dr. Rothchild told the conference, which was organized by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRMEP).


The day-long conference April 10 featured two dozen panelists who took, “an unprecedented, frank and overdue look at the power of the Israel Lobby in the United States,” the organizers declared. “But just how powerful are they? How many are there, and what do they really do? Are they good for the U.S.? Are they good for Israel?”

Dr. Rothchild, who is defamed as a “self-hating Jew,” rather than as an “anti-Semite,” because of her views, has been on the medical staff of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston since, 1978, was for a decade an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology on the faculty of medicine at Harvard University; but the harassment she’s endured has been withering.

A medical department chief once told her: “You are a danger to the Jewish people.” During a Harvard lecture—that is a lecture that was not cancelled outright by opposition from Israel Lobby factions—someone placed a leaflet on every seat in the auditorium where she appeared with gory pictures of dead Israelis, purportedly killed by Palestinian extremists, and during the question and answer session that person harangued her for 10 minutes on her “lack of compassion for Jews.”

Thanks to the efforts of the Israel Lobby, support for Zionist Israeli political policies, has now been redefined and accepted worldwide, as synonymous with the Jewish faith itself.

For those who are not Jewish, the damage that has been done to the reputations and careers of those who criticize the lock-step-support for Israel’s apartheid-like policies by the U.S. and United Nations is often much more severe. And there is no political station in Western culture, regardless of its defined purpose, or its lofty status which is immune from pressure and criticism of any behavior which is not condoned by the lobby.

“During my six years as UN special rapporteur for Occupied Palestine I had the opportunity to observe the manner in which international and national NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that give priority to meeting criticisms of Israel and discrediting those that offer critical assessments of Israel’s conduct,” Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, and the author of 20 books told the conference about the rebukes he and others suffered at the United Nations, simply trying to do their jobs.

The salvos leveled him rely, most consistently “on defamatory attacks on the person as biased and even anti-Semitic whenever someone is addressing some aspect of Israeli policy or is addressing Palestinian grievances,” he said. The distracting personal attacks invariably resulted in “an avoidance of the substantive aspects as to whether the criticisms or grievances are well grounded in international law and human rights law.

“The intended effect was to shift attention from the message containing the issues about which the UN should be focusing, to a controversy about the messenger,” he continued.

“On more than one occasion, the U.S. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon denounced me without making the slightest attempt to assess the accuracy of the presentation of the views attributed to me.”

When he sought an explanation from a highly placed representative of the secretary general, Professor Falk was told that the UN was at that time “under pressure from the U.S. Congress to show that we were not hostile to Israel.”

The ongoing repetition of the defamations against Israel’s legitimate critics—unrelated to whether or not their criticisms are true—has doomed the current system and its supporters to what Professor Falk describes as a looming “tectonic catastrophe.”

Despite what he sees as a growing “solidarity movement” all around the world with the plight of the Palestinian people, the UN remains, “an instrument ‘of statecraft,’ not an alternative to it,” Prof. Falk said.

Among the many distinguished panelists attending the conference was former Rep. Paul Findley (R-Ill.), who served in 11 terms in Congress, and is considered the “Dean” of politicians who was targeted and defeated in 1983 by the Israel Lobby for views critical of the Jewish state.

“I believe in enforcing world law through international institutions,” Mr. Findley said earlier in a statement released by the Institute for Public Accuracy. “The current war over religion in the Middle East could make the Vietnam War look like a Sunday school picnic.”

After co-founding the Council for National Interest, Mr. Findley was targeted because he complained that the pro-Israel lobby, notably the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has undue influence over the U.S. Congress.

He refers to the lobby as “the 700-pound gorilla in Washington.” His books include They Dare to Speak Out which chronicles dozens of prominent U.S. figures whose political careers have been destroyed after earning disfavor with the Israel Lobby.

But AIPAC influence takes hold of politicians long before they are elected to Congress. “What AIPAC does is start at the beginning,” Seth Morrison, who works with the Jewish National Fund and Jewish Voice for Peace told the conference. “In local communities, AIPAC is politically neutral. They recruit both Democrats and Republicans, and go to see everybody.

“So, if you run for city council, or state legislator, somebody’s going to come over to you and say, ‘Hi. I’m a Democrat,’ if you’re a Democrat. ‘I’m a Democrat. I’m from AIPAC. I just wanted to say hi, and by the way, here’s my check.’ Now, it’s somebody who was probably going to give him a check anyway, but he’s doing it through AIPAC so that he gets the influence. So that by the time they go to D.C., they’re already purchased,” Mr. Morrison said.

Jeffrey Blankfort is a photojournalist and radio host in Northern California. After his first trip to Lebanon and Jordan in 1970 to take photos for a book on the Palestinian struggle, he discovered and reported to the conference that he and tens of thousands of other individuals and organizations, including prominent leaders of the civil rights movement had been spied on in the San Francisco Bay Area by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith by a former police inspector and a phony “art dealer.”

Author and media critic Dr. Jack Shaheen presented excerpts from what he said are hundreds of racist and hate-filled, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim Hollywood films, and even popular network television shows produced openly and without any public rebuke, depicting Muslims and Arabs as hateful, remorseless murderers and terrorists—films, had they shown that same behavior perpetrated by Israelis against the unarmed Palestinian population—would have been condemned as anti-Semitic, out of hand.

The “Israel Lobby” conference at the National Press Club presented a microcosm of the battles now raging on college campuses all over the country as pro-peace and pro-Palestinian organizations work to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel over its treatment of those millions who were displaced in order to create the state of Israel.

The American public has increasingly begun to question the value of the incessant lobbying by the Israel Lobby, is it good for the United States, or is it even good for Israel? And even within the Jewish community, panelists revealed, Americans and Israelis are debating whether the lobby is helping or actually hurting Jews in the United States and Israel.