Why pro-Israel lobby group Aipac is backing election deniers and extremist Republicans
The group places support for Israel over all over considerations, endorsing extreme rightwing candidates in the midterm election
The US’s largest pro-Israel lobby group is backing dozens of racists, homophobes and election deniers running for Congress next month because they have pledged to defend Israel against stiffening criticism of its oppression of the Palestinians.
The powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) has justified endorsing Republicans with extremist views, including members of Congress with ties to white supremacist groups and representatives who attempted to block Joe Biden’s election victory, on the grounds that the singular issue of support for Israel trumps other considerations.
But Aipac’s support for rightwing politicians has privately embarrassed some Democrats also endorsed by the powerful group and drawn accusations from more moderate pro-Israel organisations that it is attempting to stifle legitimate criticism of hardline Israeli policies.
Logan Bayroff, a spokesman for J Street, a group campaigning for Washington to take a stronger stand to end the occupation of Palestinian territories, accused Aipac of attempting to impose a narrow definition of what it is to be pro-Israel amid shifting views in Democratic ranks.
“Their actions have made clear that they view pro-Israel, pro-peace progressive Democrats as threats – and Trumpist Republicans as allies. That worldview could not be more out of touch with the vast majority of American Jews,” he said.
“Aipac may hope to silence and intimidate political leaders who believe that settlement expansion, endless conflict and permanent occupation are harmful to Israel, the Palestinian people and US interests. Ultimately, however, these common-sense views are too popular, widespread and important to be suppressed, and will continue to gain strength within American politics and among the American Jewish community.”
Aipac’s backing of extreme rightwing Republicans follows its $27m advertising campaign during the Democratic primaries to defeat candidates who spoke up for Palestinian rights, mostly with attacks over issues that had nothing to do with Israel.
US senators refuse to let killing of Shireen Abu Akleh drop with Israel
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Article on The Guardian: US senators refuse to let killing of Shireen Abu Akleh drop with Israel
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Biden:
June 23, 2022
It has now been over a month since American citizen and journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot to death while reporting on an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin. Since that time, there has been no significant progress toward the establishment of an independent, thorough, and transparent investigation into her killing. We believe that, as a leader in the effort to protect the freedom of the press and the safety of journalists, and given the fact that Ms. Abu Akleh was an American citizen, the U.S. government has an obligation to ensure that a comprehensive, impartial, and open investigation into her shooting death is conducted — one in which all parties can have full confidence in the ultimate findings.
It is clear that neither of the parties on the ground trust the other to conduct a credible and independent investigation. Therefore, at this point, we believe the only way to achieve that goal is for the United States to be directly involved in investigating Ms. Abu Akleh’s death. Last month, 57 members of the House of Representatives requested that the State Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launch an independent investigation under U.S auspices to determine the truth. We join in that request, which has been made even more urgent by the new information that has emerged in recent weeks.
Video footage confirms that Ms. Abu Akleh and her journalist colleagues were wearing helmets and protective blue vests identifying themselves as members of the press at the time of the shooting. According to one of her colleagues, the group stood in front of the Israeli military convoy to ensure the soldiers knew they were members of the news media before moving toward the entrance of Jenin refugee camp.1 Minutes later, Ms. Abu Akleh was fatally shot in the head, and another journalist, Ali al-Samoudi, was wounded by a shot in the back.
Israeli authorities have said that Ms. Abu Akleh was killed in an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants.2 However, since Ms. Abu Akleh's death, a number of respected independent news organizations have reached a different conclusion. These organizations, including The Washington Post,3 CNN4 and the Associated Press5, reviewed video feed, photos and geospatial images of the scene; interviewed individuals present; and consulted with outside experts. They have concluded that there was no Palestinian gunfire emanating from the location of the shooting at the time of Ms. Abu Akleh’s killing.
Israeli military authorities have stated that it is vital to their investigation that the Palestinian Authority provide them with the bullet removed from Ms. Abu Akleh’s head. The Palestinian Authority has refused this request, stating that it will only provide the bullet to an outside third party or UN investigation.6 On May 26, the Palestinian Authority’s investigation concluded that an Israeli soldier deliberately shot Ms. Abu Akleh in the head with an armor piercing bullet. Israeli Minister of Defense Gantz responded that, “Any claim that the IDF intentionally harms journalists or uninvolved civilians, is a blatant lie.”7 This impasse further underscores the need for the U.S to be directly involved in any investigation.
On the day Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed, an Israeli military spokesperson, Ran Kochav, stated that Ms. Abu Akleh and her film crew “were armed with cameras, if you’ll permit me to say so.”8 We know you agree that journalists must be able to perform their jobs without fear of attack. As you stated just weeks ago on World Press Freedom Day: “The free press is not the enemy of the people. Quite the opposite...the free press is the guardian of truth.”9 In order to protect freedom of the press, a thorough and transparent investigation under U.S. auspices must be conducted to get to the truth and provide accountability for the killing of this American citizen and journalist.
Thank you for your timely consideration of this matter. We respectfully look forward to your response.
Chris Van Hollen, United States Senator
Tammy Baldwin, United States Senator
Sherrod Brown, United States Senator
Tammy Duckworth, United States Senator
Martin Heinrich, United States Senator
Angus S. King, Jr., United States Senator
Patrick Leahy, United States Senator
Thomas R. Carper, United States Senator
Richard J. Durbin, United States Senator
Tim Kaine, United States Senator
Amy Klobuchar, United States Senator
Ben Ray Luján, United States Senator
Edward J. Markey, United States Senator
Christopher S. Murphy, United States Senator
Jack Reed, United States Senator
Brian Schatz, United States Senator
Tina Smith, United States Senator
Jeffrey A. Merkley, United States Senator
Patty Murray, United States Senator
Bernard Sanders, United States Senator
Jeanne Shaheen, United States Senator
Raphael G. Warnock, United States Senator
Elizabeth Warren, United States Senator
Sheldon Whitehouse, United States Senator
Secretary of State, Antony Blinken
Attorney General, Merrick Garland
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director, Christopher Wray
1 https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/24/middleeast/shireen-abu-akleh-jenin-killing-investigation-cmd-intl/index.html 2 https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/2022-05-11/ty-article/.premium/initial-idf-probe-not-clear-if-reporter-was- killed-by-israeli-or-palestinian-fire/00000180-d633-d572-aba5-debf984c0000
4 https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/24/middleeast/shireen-abu-akleh-jenin-killing-investigation-cmd-intl/index.html 5 https://apnews.com/article/politics-west-bank-middle-east-israel-8df6c999627efcef2fe0ca2b401e7a2c
- . 6 https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/article-706666
- 7 https://www.timesofisrael.com/pa-probe-claims-idf-deliberately-shot-journalist-as-she-fled-israel-a-blatant-lie/
- 8 https://www.timesofisrael.com/veteran-al-jazeera-journalist-shot-dead-during-israeli-raid-in-jenin/
- 9 https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/05/03/statement-by-president-joe-biden-on-the-occasion-of-world-press-freedom-day-2022/
Pro-Israel lobbying group Aipac secretly pouring millions into defeating progressive Democrats
American Israel Public Affairs Committee has disguised its efforts to undermine pro-Palestinian candidates
The US’s most powerful pro-Israel lobby group is pouring millions of dollars into influencing Democratic congressional primary races to counter growing support for the Palestinian cause within the party, including elections today in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s money is focused on blocking female candidates who, if elected, are likely to align with “the Squad” of progressive members of Congress who have been critical of Israel.
But it is funneled through a group, the United Democracy Project (UDP), that avoids mention of its creation by Aipac and seeks to decide elections by funding campaign messages about issues other than Israel.
Read the full article on The Guardian.
Democracy on the Ballot
If we are ever going to help bring justice and democracy to places like Palestine, we need to make sure it survives here in the US. Very shortly, Americans will vote in the most important election of their lives. All elections matter, but rarely is Democracy itself on the ballot. Those who know some history will know that both Mussolini and Hitler came to power through elections. Many other countries have let their freedoms slip away like this. Elections are great—if people pay attention and put aside petty grievances for the sake of the common good…
Across the nation, some 60% of Americans will have an “election-denier” on the ballot. These are either insurrectionists or their quieter, but equally dangerous supporters. They will almost all be Republicans. Across the nation, Republicans have proposed, or enacted, hundreds of new laws designed to limit the rights of all Americans to vote. The people doing this pretend to believe the “big lie” that Biden didn’t win the 2020 election. There is no evidence to support their claims. Courts have thrown out their filings time and time again. Yet almost all the laws the GOP has supported to suppress voter participation are founded on the idea of widespread voter fraud. Their efforts are themselves a fraud.
Meanwhile, for the first time in modern history, a rightwing supreme court has actually taken a long-established right away from women—the right to control their own bodies. Most of these judges testified under oath that they believed Roe v. Wade was established law--until they got into power. A few lies and democracy disappears. It is easy to see where the Maga-Republicans are headed.
As we head into the elections it is essential that voters understand what two much used terms really mean.
- To be “woke” merely means you have woken up to the historical reality of the inequality experiences by women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ communities. There is nothing sinister about waking up. It means you have learned something. The facts about inequality are facts and won’t go away even if you bury you head in the sand.
- To be a “white supremacist” means you believe that white people should have rights (like voting) that other people shouldn’t have. This is what “Maga-Republicans” apparently believe. It means that you are fundamentally racist, xenophobic, and anti-democratic. A supremacist ideology of any kind can not co-exist with a real democracy. This is also a fact that won’t go away.
What Ukraine and Palestine Have in Common (Written in honor of Shireen Abu Aqla and Nakba Day)
I thought I would take some time to share my recent reflections on two continuing conflicts that trouble the world (or should). These are the ongoing aggressions in Ukraine and Palestine. The brutal, naked aggression of Russia in Ukraine has captivated the world for almost three months. The recent killing of the noted and much beloved journalist for Al-Jazeera, Shireen Abu Aqla, a 51-year-old Palestinian American, has also shocked many. She was a correspondent for Al Jazeera's Arabic news channel and had reported on the Israel-Palestinian conflict for two decades. Her killing has reignited some attention for the long-standing aggression against the Palestinian people.
It is laudable that the US and Europe have responded so promptly and vigorously to Russia’s gross violation of international laws and norms and the enormous suffering they have imposed on the people of Ukraine. Though they differ in significant ways, the situation for Ukrainians and Palestinians is much the same. In both cases, civilian populations are bearing the brunt of the struggle. In both cases the aggressors (Russia and the Zionists in Israel) began their assault with only the flimsiest of arguments and proceeded to seize territory with brutal disregard for civilians. The actions of both have displaced countless refugees.
When one views photos, there is little discernable difference between the pictures of the destruction Russia has levied in Mariupol, Kiev, and Kharkiv, and pictures of the aftermath of Israeli assaults on Gaza over the last 20 years. The level of civilian deaths compared to those of armed combatants in both cases is far out of line with most average military operations. I can only surmise that both Israel and Russia are conducting “special operations.” And after all, to the victims (if they survive) does it really matter whether their homes were destroyed by Russian artillery or by an Israeli bulldozer bought with US taxpayer dollars?
The Zionist landgrab in Palestine began around 1895, well over a hundred years ago. It has been a slow-motion deconstruction of an indigenous culture and people. The Russian adventure in Ukraine began just a few months ago—it is an application of blunt force to seize land. Yet the objectives in both cases are the same. It is also interesting that both aggressors started with the claim that their proposed victims were cultural or ethnic “cousins” and would welcome them. They were, in both cases, simply denying their identity and legitimacy as peoples, as cultures, and as nations.
Read more: What Ukraine and Palestine Have in Common (Written in honor of Shireen Abu Aqla and Nakba Day)