The annual policy conference for the premier Israel lobby group earlier this month featured lip-service to the two-state solution, an indication of how a once-taboo idea has become the dominant model for ending the Israel/Palestine conflict. “We have worked for the day when a Jewish state of Israel is living in peace and security with a non-militarized Palestinian state,” said Bob Cohen, the president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in his remarks to the conference.
But the showcasing of Ariel University at AIPAC’s big event exposes how the lobby group does little more than voice rhetorical support for a two-state solution. In reality, AIPAC, by making any criticism of the state over its settlement policy anathema, has played a key role in allowing Israel to consolidate its control over the West Bank. Ariel University’s featured status at the AIPAC village is a telling example of how the lobby group has no interest in a viable two-state solution–and is bent on legitimizing the most damaging illegal settlements.
Earlier this month, the Tazpit Press Service, an Israeli communications company, reported on how Ariel University‘s Research and Development Department attended the conference to show off its research. According to Friends of Ariel–a U.S. non-profit that supports the mega-West Bank settlement–it was the first time AIPAC had invited the school to their confab. Ariel University–recognized as an official Israeli university in 2012–is located in the settlement of Ariel, which juts deep into the West Bank and blocks the territory’s contiguity. The official conferral of university status was a first for any school located in a settlement, and sparked a controversy in Israel, with 165 academics pledging to boycott Ariel University.
But AIPAC sees no problem with the school, despite the group’s on the record commitment to a two-state solution. The lobby group did not return a request for comment.
“We thank AIPAC for their hospitality,” Ariel University Professor Avrahami said in a statement, “and for enabling Ariel University to share the latest innovations developed by its students.”
Those innovations were “projects for water preservation and purification.” Ariel University sure has the credentials to talk about water. The settlement its located in–built on Palestinian land–sits on top of a huge water basin. 80 percent of its water goes to Israelis, while 20 percent goes to Palestinians.
The support for Ariel University is just one example pointing to AIPAC’s support for a Greater Israel. In 2012, The Daily Beast‘s Peter Beinart reported on how “AIPAC isn’t as hostile to the one-state agenda as it first appears”–though AIPAC’s “one-state agenda” is recipe for permanent apartheid. He cited the group’s support for total Israeli control of Jerusalem.
The icing on AIPAC’s one-state cake came during a meeting to endorse the group’s 2012 “action principles,” which made no mention of a Palestinian state. As Beinart reported then, the liberal Zionist group Ameinu, which is a member of the National Council that approves those principles, offered up an amendment to declare that AIPAC is opposed to settlement outposts–those minority of settlements that are illegal under Israeli law, set up by wildcat settlers. But even that mild amendment was voted down.