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AIPAC conference will feature lots of liberal Democratic speakers

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The premier Israel lobby group AIPAC — the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — has announced the speakers for its annual policy conference in Washington this weekend and as usual there are a lot of liberal Democrats. AIPAC is an organization that stands with Israel at all times, whether it’s building settlements in occupied Palestinian territories or opposing the Iran deal or massacring whole families in Gaza.

And yet AIPAC is still able to summon the center-left of American politics by just crooking a finger.

Adam Schiff is speaking, the big Russiagate congressman from California. So are Jake Sullivan, Hillary Clinton’s former top aide; Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Jane Harman of the Wilson Center; Tamara Cofman Wittes of Brookings; Ilan Goldenberg formerly of the Obama administration; Elizabeth Rosenberg ditto; Dan Shapiro ditto; Brian Katulis of Center for American Progress; Steven Cook of CFR, Ann Lewis the political heavyweight; Rep. Brad Sherman; Claire Shipman of ABC News; Yehuda Kurtzer the Jewish particularist; Emily Shire the feminist Zionist; Bakari Sellers the cable TV liberal; Michele Dunne of Carnegie; Yosef Abramowitz who is married to Rabbi Susan Silverman; and up-and-coming antiwar congressman Seth Moulton.

We say often here that the Democratic base is abandoning Israel. Young Dems, women, people of color — they’re gaining sympathy with Palestinians and seeking a fairer U.S. policy. But those Democrats are not represented at AIPAC, an organization that supported the Iraq War and opposed the Iran deal.

No, AIPAC’s heart is rightwing like Israel: And its coalition goes from Schiff and Wittes on the center-left to the far right. Countless neoconservatives are speaking: Bill Kristol, John Bolton, Mark Dubowitz, Shmuel Rosner, Jonathan Schanzer, Dennis Ross, and Jennifer Rubin. Not to mention Ralph Reed and Israeli rightwingers Ayelet Shaked, Naftali Bennett, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The purpose of AIPAC is to maintain US establishment support for Israel, and these centrist-liberals are serving that purpose (and surely helping their careers) by taking the podium for Israel. Lately, Wittes and Shapiro, and Kurtzer and Jane Eisner of the Forward have all praised AIPAC for just this function: sewing together both parties at a time when Israel support is fragmenting among progressives/leftwingers. The AIPAC speakers’ list makes clear that it’s working: the establishment is still pro-Israel, and support for Israel is a necessary credential for entry into the establishment. No wonder my liberal Congressman says he’s with Israel till death doth them part. The progressive base is not able to call him to account, yet.

As no one is calling Wittes and Shipman and Kurtzer for speaking alongside Ayelet Shaked, who has posted racist screeds comparing Palestinian children to snakes, or Dror Ben-Yemini, who has said that a Jewish “sickness” explains young American Jews’ sympathy for Palestinians.

Yet some folks are calling AIPAC to account. Jewish Voice for Peace actively opposes AIPAC and points out its rightwing agenda in an email today:

What has always made AIPAC so effective is their ability to repackage an ultra-conservative vision as bipartisan unity. Just like the NRA, they have perfected the art of presenting their own narrow agenda as in line with the interests and values of the American people— even though it’s anything but.

And the liberal Zionist group J Street is trying to build an Israel lobby to AIPAC’s left, by opposing Netanyahu and supporting the Iran deal. Jeremy Ben-Ami warns that AIPAC serves a rightwing function:

[Trump and Netanyahu’s] dangerous views will be on full display next month, when Netanyahu will address the AIPAC conference and hold a meeting with Trump.

They’ll heap blame on the Palestinians, ignore [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas’ proposal, and neither endorse a two-state solution nor present a viable alternative to it. Against the wishes and interests of the majority of Israelis and pro-Israel Americans, they’ll do whatever they can to prevent progress towards a viable peace.

Notice that Ben-Ami doesn’t lash out directly at AIPAC. Several speakers at AIPAC have also appeared at J Street’s conferences (Katulis, Kurtzer): Because they are both fervently Zionist organizations.

In fact, I don’t think AIPAC is practicing any deception on these liberal politicians. It is forthrightly always on Israel’s side; and liberal Democrats need the pro-Israel credential to get political funding and access. If you support BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), you instantly make yourself radioactive inside the establishment. Those are the rules.

Meantime, none of these same Democrats would have anything to do with the NRA. They can oppose that agenda; and the media can talk about NRA boycotts and United and Delta Air Lines can dissociate themselves from the gun lobby. And AIPAC smells like a rose. Being pro-Israel is still the only game in town for liberal establishment funding.

Update. David Mizner says AIPAC failed to get potential Dem presidential candidates to appear. That’s great news, and speaks to the growing power of the base.

AIPAC couldn’t get a single one of the presumed Dem 2020 presidential candidates to speak at its conference. Its (oft-overstated) power is decreasing.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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32 Responses

  1. Maghlawatan
    February 26, 2018, 11:42 am

    “Adam Schiff is speaking, the big Russiagate congressman from California. So are Jake Sullivan, Hillary Clinton’s former top aide; Jane Harman of the Wilson Center; Tamara Cofman Wittes of Brookings; Ilan Goldenberg formerly of the Obama administration; Elizabeth Rosenberg ditto; Dan Shapiro ditto; Brian Katulis of Center for American Progress; Steven Cook of CFR, Ann Lewis the political heavyweight; Rep. Brad Sherman; Claire Shipman of ABC News; Yehuda Kurtzer the Jewish particularist; Emily Shire the feminist Zionist; Bakari Sellers the cable TV liberal; Michele Dunne of Carnegie; Yosef Abramowitz who is married to Rabbi Susan Silverman; and up-and-coming antiwar congressman Seth Moulton.”

    Never heard of any of them.
    It doesn’t matter how many soi disant liberals turn up at AIPAc when the Israeli leadership is wall to wall asshole including such prize specimens as Lieberman and Bennett who deserve their own entries in the DSM-V

    Meanwhile back in the real world dem voters are sick of Israel.
    Netanyahu is very disturbed and he led Isral very far away from the reasonable space where most Dem voters hang out. Israel is doomed.

    • john douglas
      February 26, 2018, 4:00 pm

      Moulton entered Congress by defeating long-time Dem incumbent John Tierney, lazy and ineffectual, except that he crossed the lobby a couple of times. Moulton carries a “Vote for Me for President” sign across his front teeth. He’s not going to make Tierney’s mistake.

    • festus
      February 26, 2018, 4:23 pm

      No liberal goes along with AIPAC.

      Only cynical careerists posing and sold to us as liberals.

    • genesto
      February 27, 2018, 1:40 pm

      “including such prize specimens as Lieberman and Bennett who deserve their own entries in the DSM-V”

      One of these two is likely to lead Israel once Bibi is gone, which could be very soon! Talk about going from bad to worse!!

      • yonah fredman
        February 27, 2018, 8:38 pm

        where i come from “likely” means better than 50%. It is 8-1 against bennet and about 10-1 against lieberman. Which means 4.5 to 1 against either.

  2. pabelmont
    February 26, 2018, 11:53 am

    Ka-ching!!

    Some DEMs may be honest true-believing hard-right Zios (NY Sen. Schumer comes to mind), but I bet most are just fearful of [1] losing actual, historic AIPAC (BIG-ZION = AIPAC et al.) contributions — or, much worse, [2] finding BIG-ZION funding opponents in primaries and elections.

    So the “base” (or young, non-“white”) base of the DEMs may be sliding out from under BIG-ZION, but the normal DEM pols, the pro-imperialism pro-war pro-neoliberalism DEMs cannot but succumb. Where would they be and what would they be if they abandoned these things? And with $$$ flowing to reactionary REP candidates these days, can we be surprised?

    • genesto
      February 27, 2018, 1:43 pm

      Remember that 10 of the 12 largest billionaire donors to the HRC campaign were/are right wing Zionists. The only way to get around these creeps us to target individuals, multi millions of them ,as did Bernie. And even that may not be enough!

  3. ckg
    February 26, 2018, 1:20 pm

    Adam Schiff? I sincerely hope Glenn Greenwald has some fun with this bit of news.

    • broadside
      February 26, 2018, 3:09 pm

      I’d be very careful w Glenn Greenwald, if I were you, he seems to have followed the path Poitras took. First exuberant, over-the-top praise for James Risen, and now, today, even worse: praise for the incredible, wonderful, looking hot, can’t see no stains on that dress Monica Lewinsky!

      • Tuyzentfloot
        February 27, 2018, 6:00 am

        I’d be very careful w Glenn Greenwald, if I were you, he seems to have followed the path Poitras took.

        I for one am impressed by the level of his thinking. The high standards you hold people to suggest your level is even more impressive.

      • broadside
        February 27, 2018, 12:00 pm

        Tuy: Among other red flags, Greenwald routinely praises James Risen. Risen wrote a long piece in the Intercept which mostly served to make himself look good. He had the scoop of scoops — NSA spying — and sat on it for 14 months. Bush’s re-election during this time, while Risen played malcontent, is almost beside the point. What kind of reporter would do nothing, for 14 months, w the scoop of scoops? (Yes, I’m thinking London Review of Books.)

      • Keith
        February 27, 2018, 5:48 pm

        BROADSIDE- “What kind of reporter would do nothing, for 14 months, w the scoop of scoops?”

        The same kind who would jump on the Russiagate bandwagon. Risen works for the Intercept founded by billionaire Pierre Omidyar. Glen Greenwald works there too. Pilpul has replaced rationality as public intellectuals earn their living in the time honored fashion of giving the wealthy and powerful what they want. And what the Deep State wants is Putin out and Russia down. One of the characteristics of capitalism is that money almost always gets what it wants. Co-optation is built into the system. People go along to get along without conscious awareness. People like Christopher Hitchens and James Risen are the rule, not the exception. For them, truth is whatever serves to pay their salary. A quote and a link.

        “Americans must live with the uncertainty of not knowing whether Trump has the best interests of the United States or those of Russia at heart.” (James Risen) https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/is-donald-trump-a-traitor/

      • Tuyzentfloot
        February 28, 2018, 4:27 am

        What kind of reporter would do nothing, for 14 months, w the scoop of scoops?

        You want me to keep Greenwald in low esteem because he’s too complimentary about Risen? I don’t consider that a good criterium.
        As for Risen ‘making himself look good’, ‘playing malcontent’ and ‘sitting on it’, that’s a bunch of lousy perceptions. It’s a legitimate argument to say that he should have gone out on his own and publish quickly, like Hersh(although Hersh at least got a clear ‘no’ from the Newyorker). Instead he stayed inside the system, he put up a long fight about it while the others were stalling and he only got the NYTimes to publish once he told them it was going to be in his book by that date. But he certainly wasn’t sitting on the info and-I read State of War but I forgot the exact timeline-I also have my doubts about whether he would have taken in account the elections. Pushing to publish yes, but before the elections, that would be political and I think his interpretation of journalism is that he should not do that. I appreciate Risen even though I believe his view on journalism is too timid and conformist and I believe there is a strong need for Greenwalds more activist approach to journalism.
        So I think you mischaracterize Risen, but I also use different standards for ‘deserving praise’.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        February 28, 2018, 7:02 am

        People like Christopher Hitchens and James Risen are the rule, not the exception. For them, truth is whatever serves to pay their salary.

        No. I don’t doubt the integrity of James Risen but it is inherent in the journalistic guidelines of impartiality and objectivity that it can be ‘played’ so that even the most conscientious become an extension for propaganda, its ideas and its agenda.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        March 1, 2018, 4:15 am

        I just looked at the book title, I have it in my bookcase and it’s not ‘State of War’ but ‘Pay Any Price’.

  4. LHunter
    February 26, 2018, 3:02 pm

    Bari Weiss, Adam Schiff, Bret Stephens and other Zionist Jews are all making their rounds in what is supposed to be left leaning media outlets. All have appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher in the last half year and both right wingers Bari and Bret work for the NYT now. When it comes to Israel they are nothing shy of activists the three of them. Glen Greenwald did pieces on both Bari and Bret that made that fact crystal clear.

    It’s amazing how the Zionists are able to infiltrate MSM outlets (right or left) to push Israel’s agenda. It used to be that no one noticed or cared but that is thankfully changing. People are noticing and speaking out against it. The internet is the great equalizer – thankfully.

    The day will come when Bari, Bret, Adam and the like will be looked at by the great majority with disdain.

    Any thoughts on whether Bari, Bret or Adam are liberal Zionists and if so – why?

    • Annie Robbins
      February 26, 2018, 6:48 pm

      lhunter, bari weiss seemed to have come out of nowhere and exploded onto the scene, she’s everywhere now and all i can ask is — why? she’s already made several media blunders. i watched a video, i think phil linked to it, of her telling her israel activism story. that’s how she because a journalist, through israel activism. so i’d just imagine she was raised with zionism in her breastmilk.

      • LHunter
        February 27, 2018, 11:35 am

        Hi Annie – Like you i am also trying to understand Bari’s rise to power and why. Glen Greenwald is not smitten neither am i for obvious reasons.

        I often think people are selected by the Zionists more on looks than substance. She presents well and looks the part but what she says and her actions are deplorable. Not sure she has ever been tested in a debate setting – be nice to see someone trip her up on the issues but once again they often only preach/speak to the choir.

        Can you imagine, as i think someone else did from Mondoweiss, Bari Weiss against Linda Sarsour in a debate about I/P conflict – why aren’t more debates organized like the ones held by the Oxford or Cambridge Unions in England? I really believe there is an audience for well organized televised debates on a variety of pressing issues.

      • RoHa
        February 27, 2018, 7:25 pm

        I’ve never heard of Bari Weiss before. The name makes me think of Barry White. No relation, I assume.

  5. broadside
    February 26, 2018, 3:07 pm

    Seems all second-tier to me. W one exception.

    Jane Harman.

    Ah, yes. Jane “This phone call never happened” Hartman. But what did happen? Has the truth ever come out? NSA meet with her privately, silently, play some other recordings, suggest this might be a good time to resign from Congress?

    Only one story I know of disappeared faster than that. Fort Hood. Where, we are to believe, Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others.

    However, according to google and some other source (as I recall): a soldier was videotaping the shooting w his phone. His superior approached him and ordered him to erase the videotape. The soldier testified to that. What the story, and trial, failed to report: Well, soldier, what DID you see?

    • Kathleen
      February 28, 2018, 11:40 am

      Jane (waddling on over to interfere in an intelligence investigation into Aipac’s espionage acts) Harman operated in Congress as a domestic agent for a foreign nation. She was more than willing to use her influence and power to stop that Aipac espionage investigation. She definitely should have been required to sign up under FARA.

      Would love to have been a fly on the wall when FBI cornered her on her efforts to undermine that investigation. Hey the investigation into Aipac officials Rosen and Weissman…dropped…trial dropped “No one is above the law” Bet there is not one person in the U.S. who actually believes this bs.

  6. Keith
    February 26, 2018, 3:21 pm

    PHIL- “That’s great news, and speaks to the growing power of the base.”

    The faithful follower Democratic base has suddenly come into a lot of money? The Jewish Zionist fat-cats who own the Democratic party have lost a bundle? Consequently, pro-Palestinian Democratic politicians are coming out of the woodwork? Name one. In the age of neoliberalism, money power grows stronger while citizen input declines. A few politicians decline speaking at AIPAC and David Mizner takes this as proof that AIPAC’s power is “overstated.” And, in a way, it is. Zionist power extends well beyond AIPAC. A person cannot even run for office as a Democrat without pledging fealty to Israel. No? A quote and a link.

    “In fact, Hayden had to, in his words, be “declared ‘kosher’ by the ultimate source, the region’s representative of the state of Israel,” Benjamin Navon, Israel’s Counsul-general in Los Angeles.

    In other words, in this article Hayden was describing, in an unusually concrete way, how the state of Israel, through its state officials and their compliant American partners, was effectively managing—exercising veto power over Democratic Party candidates, at the very least—American elections down to the level of State Assembly. In any constituency “attuned to the question of Israel, even in local and state elections,” Hayden knew he “had to be certified ‘kosher,’ not once but over and over again.” (Jim Kavanagh) http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/27/tom-haydens-haunting/

  7. Rusty Pipes
    February 26, 2018, 5:07 pm

    In the age of you-tube, potential 2020 Democratic contenders may not want clips of an AIPAC speech circulating among potential primary voters, especially former Bernie supporters. That doesn’t mean that those contenders have stopped soliciting funds from AIPAC’s donors or ceased rubber-stamping the vast majority of bills that AIPAC sends to congress.

  8. LHunter
    February 26, 2018, 7:20 pm
  9. Citizen
    February 27, 2018, 4:30 am

    You are blocked from following @AIPAC and viewing @AIPAC’s Tweets.

  10. hophmi
    February 27, 2018, 11:44 am

    “David Mizner says AIPAC failed to get potential Dem presidential candidates to appear. That’s great news, and speaks to the growing power of the base”

    It’s nonsense. Amy Kobuchar has been spoken of as a candidate, and she’ll be there.

    But more generally, AIPAC generally focuses on Congress, not the Executive Branch, and this is a midterm year. As usual, a wide array of members of Congress from both parties will be there.

    In 2014, the only potential candidate to speak was Martin O’Malley. In 2007, none of the prospective Democratic or Republican candidates spoke.

  11. Maghlawatan
    February 27, 2018, 1:14 pm

    AIPAC tacked with Israel to the far shore of authoritarianism. It is hardly surprising Dem voters are leaving. There is only so much L’Oreal can do for that pig. Israel is running the trauma iterations. Nobody else is.

  12. Henry Norr
    February 27, 2018, 2:15 pm

    >>AIPAC couldn’t get a single one of the presumed Dem 2020 presidential candidates to speak at its conference.

    Who are the presumed Democrat presidential candidates who supposedly declined AIPAC’s invite?

  13. Kathleen
    February 27, 2018, 7:06 pm

    If the FBI, CIA other intelligence agents wanted to round up agents for a foreign nation who do not sign up under FARA…they could set up a huge dragnet at the Aipac conference.

    Phil do you k now if there has ever been any group who has named an award for activism the “Hedy Epstein” award. Spent an afternoon at the last Anti Aipac conference (Move Over Aipac)with her (about four hours) talking with her and then recruiting young college students whom Aipac had paid for to attend the conference to sit down and have conversations with her about why she was an activist etc. What a dear sweet, kick ass gal. What a conscience!

  14. Kathleen
    February 28, 2018, 8:50 am

    One would think Jared Kushner would be receiving an award at Aipac for his foreign agent operative work. Trying to convince Russia to abstain in that UN vote to call out the Israeli’s illegal settlements and then convincing Trump to make his Jerusalem belongs to Israel blunder

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