While hundreds of progressives set to gather to support a new US foreign policy based on peace and justice at the historic “Move Over AIPAC” summit on May 21st, let’s take a look at who and what is being promoted at the AIPAC Policy conference itself.
Prime Minister Netanyahu. Need we say more? He’s the big speaker and his right-wing credentials are well-known. He has boasted in the past that he stopped the Oslo Accords even while pretending to support them. When he has said that “America is something that can easily be moved”; he was referring no doubt to US politicians that routinely pander to AIPAC. Despite Obama’s early insistence that Israel stop building settlements that prevent any chance for any kind of peace, the Netanyahu regime has pressed ahead with massive building of illegal settlements in the West Bank. President Obama, who wishes to raise a billion dollars for his re-election campaign, has said that Netanyahu is a “man of peace”. Netanyahu is expected to continue his deception at the AIPAC conference and a speech before the US Congress that same week.
Dan Senor, extreme neo-conservative is also a headliner. A White House advisor during the George W. Bush administration and served as Chief Spokesperson for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq under Paul Bremer. The CPA was so disastrously mismanaged and caused so much suffering for the people of Iraq the end result was a massive insurgency that resulted in thousands of US military deaths, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties. Senor’s reputation is so bad, that when AIPAC had him headlining an event in Louisville, Kentucky at Jewish Hospital in 2007, it was forced to move that event due to strong protests of the doctors.
Ralph Reed, another headliner who will speak to the full gathering, is the “Christian Coalition” founder that worked to promote extreme-right politicians. He now heads “Faith and Freedom Coalition”. FFC has a big event coming up in June, with headliner Donald Trump. Reed is known as someone who follows the money, being a former close associate of convicted felon Jack Abramoff, (Abramoff was also a paid promoter of the now-defunct South Africa apartheid regime).
“Breakout sessions” during the conference include three different leaders from an outfit called “Foundation for Defense of Democracies”, a neo-conservative “Think Tank” that has been at the forefront of efforts to pressure the United States into aggressive military intervention in the Middle East. Iran, in particular, has long been a key focus of such efforts. Another such outfit well-represented at the conference is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, or WINEP as it is popularly known. WINEP is actually a spin-off of AIPAC itself, and was founded by AIPAC staffer Martin Indyk in 1985. It is also known for its support of military action against Iran, and in 2008 distributed a paper called “The Last Resort”, supporting “preventative war” with Iran as a feasible option. More recently, a WINEP board member, Martin Kramer, got in a little hot water when he seemed to be advocating genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza.
AIPAC’s role in promoting anti-Muslim activism is seen in its welcoming of several key figures in the movement to target Muslims, both in America and abroad, as “threats to Civilization”. One that stands out is British author Douglas Murray known for his far-right anti-Muslim views, and heads the misnamed Centre for Social Cohesion. He will be co-leading a panel “Confronting Radical Islam” at the AIPAC event. It is Murray’s support for English Defence League, (EDL), an organization that is known for violent street protests and affinity for the fascist British National Party that is most disturbing. Murray welcomes the EDL as a “grassroots response from non-Muslims to Islamism ”.
That’s a brief survey of some of the people AIPAC will be working with to promote US support for the Israeli apartheid regime. It’s not surprising that an organization that is dedicated to promoting a system of racism and oppression by military force would by necessity be a haven of reactionary individuals and groups. What else could we expect?
It is up to us then to expose AIPAC for what it is, it is not merely supporting “good relations with Israel”, but it is supporting a deeply unjust system that makes peace impossible, and the only way to preserve such a system is by military force and brutal repression. That is why the “Move Over AIPAC” Summit and protests of the AIPAC Policy Conference is such an important development. This is our opportunity to demand an end to politicians pandering to this extremist group and instead support a US foreign policy where people and human rights matter. The organizers and endorsers Move Over AIPAC dare to believe it is possible for the US to have a foreign policy that is not the end result of a cold calculus of potential political contributions from the few, but to believe that someday it will be the fruit of rooting our policies that values a peaceful and just world for all of us.
—Jim Harris is a founder of the “Stop AIPAC” website that supports and documents protests of AIPAC around the country in support of peace in the Middle East.