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Thinskinned AIPAC blackballs Jim Lobe

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Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe

The other day I learned that AIPAC won’t give me press credentials to its annual policy conference, which begins tomorrow. Misery loves company; and it turns out that Jim Lobe, the venerable Washington bureau chief of the international news agency Inter Press, has been turned down too.

Lobe says the only other body that’s refused to let him in over 30 years of reporting in D.C. is the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute.

Here’s the beginning of Lobe’s post, “Blackballed by AIPAC?” He points out that the JTA covered the censorship two years back.

In my 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service, only one institution has denied me admission to their press or public events. That was the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) shortly after the broadcast in 2003 of a BBC Panorama program (its equivalent, more or less, of our “60 Minutes”) on neoconservatives and their promotion of the Iraq war. The segment was entitled “The War Party” and I was interviewed at several intervals during the program. In that case, I was told forthrightly (and somewhat apologetically) by the think tank’s then-communications chief, Veronique Rodman, that “someone from above” had objected strongly to the show (I had my own reservations about it) and my role in it and had demanded that I be banned from attending future AEI events. My status as persona non grata there was reaffirmed about five years later when LobeLog alumnus Eli Clifton went there for an event and was taken aside by an unidentified staffer and told that he could attend, but that he should remind me that I was still unwelcome.

Now it seems I’ve been blackballed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, although, unlike AEI, AIPAC has so far declined to give me a reason for denying me accreditation for its annual policy conference, which runs Sunday through Tuesday. All I’ve received thus far is this email that arrived in my inbox Thursday morning from someone named Emily Helpern from Scott Circle, a public relations firm here in DC.

“Thank you for your interest in attending this year’s AIPAC Policy Conference as a member of the press. However, press credentials for the conference will not be issued to you. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.”

I emailed Emily back as soon as I received it to ask for an explanation and pointed out that this is the first time in a decade that I’ve been denied credentials to cover the AIPAC conference. When no reply was forthcoming, I sent a second email to her and to Marshall Wittmann, AIPAC’s communications director, seeking an explanation, but, alas, it seems I’ve become a non-person.

Now, it bears mentioning that I am not the first to be blackballed by AIPAC, apparently for political reasons. As the JTA’s Ron Kampeas reported in 2012, three journalists were denied credentials to the policy conference that year:

“Journalists turned away include Mitchell Plitnick, a liberal blogger who has sparred with right-wing pro-Israel groups as well as anti-Zionists, and who was going to provide coverage for Inter Press Service, which emphasizes developing nations coverage as well as what it calls marginalized groups; Adele Stan of AlterNet, a news site that says it encourages advocacy in a number of areas, including human rights and social justice; and Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss, an anti-Zionist site.

“Plitnick had been cleared for coverage, only to be told that it was rescinded, and Weiss has covered AIPAC policy conferences at least three times without incident.

“Barring coverage in Washington is rare; Government institutions in Washington are known for accommodating a broad range of journalists, including those adamantly hostile to the government of the day.”

Actually, at least four journalists were barred from the 2012 conference. Alex Kane, who writes for both Mondoweiss and Alternet, was also denied credentials….

Now, however, it seems I’ve been added to AIPAC’s blacklist.

This raises a lot of questions, not the least of which is how thin has AIPAC’s skin become in light of itsrecent defeats on Capitol Hill.

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22 Responses

  1. just
    March 1, 2014, 11:19 am

    See, Phil?

    Told you that you were in good company!

  2. March 1, 2014, 12:06 pm

    I believe I can top that: Harvard, Yale, and MIT have all rejected ads for my book, Malvern. ( Harvard twice asked me to explain my book. I complied. I have yet to hear back from them. Yale emailed me that my ad had been processed and would run as scheduled. Weeks later, when I saw that my credit card still hadn’t been charged, I inquired as to whether the ad ever ran. Only then was I informed that the editorial board had rejected it. MIT’s explanation for not running my ad was so preposterous I won’t waste anyone’s time here giving it.

    The New York Times, I was led to believe, had accepted my “And you thought Alan Dershowitz was the worst thing about Harvard” ad. I was then told the ad must be changed to “And you thought Alan Dershowitz was the most outrageous thing about Harvard” if I wanted it to run.

    Yes, it’s gotten that bad in America: you can take out an ad. Just don’t make it an ad that creates any interest in your product — in this case, a book.

    Incidentally, the ads Harvard rejected simply featured lines from the book. (Sample: “It’s better than the hairy yarmulkes for bald Jews idea, isn’t it?”) Brandeis accepted the ads with no hesitation, let alone demands for an explanation of the book. Cal, Columbia, BC, and Princeton have also run ads.

  3. justicewillprevail
    March 1, 2014, 12:22 pm

    Yep, banning people is really going to help their public relations. As if the war gaming, anti-democratic, apartheid supporting rally won’t further damage itself as the leaks come out anyway. Anyone would think that they had something to hide.

  4. LeaNder
    March 1, 2014, 12:36 pm

    and it turns out that Jim Lobe

    Jim fully deserves the attention he gets, here, there and got at AEI. I remember that well.

    In any case good company. Congratulations, Phil. ;)

    Maybe this would have escaped my attention.

    How are the “crazies in the basement” and their scions doing nowadays anyway?

  5. American
    March 1, 2014, 1:07 pm

    Well I guess there’s no chance whatsoever that Max Blumenthal will be allowed in the AIPAC conference…
    AIPAC has probably already snatched a dirty sock of his for their Doberman’s stationed at the door to sniff him out if he tries to get in in a disguse.

  6. James Canning
    James Canning
    March 1, 2014, 2:54 pm

    Someone needs to commission a medal, for presentation to journalists with integrity who are barred by Aipac.

  7. David Doppler
    David Doppler
    March 1, 2014, 5:29 pm

    It’s all “valuable hatred,” and thanks to Phil Weiss and Jim Lobe and others for enduring it so that the rest of American society can learn from the hostility and further assess the merits of the considerable influence AIPAC continues to wield in the halls of power.

  8. Kathleen
    March 1, 2014, 8:07 pm

    Anyone willing to contact Huff Po and ask them whether they will report something about Phil Weiss, and Jim Lobe being turned down entry to Aipac.
    I have all ready contacted and linked to Phil’s piece about not getting credentials twice. Will anyone join me in making this request?

    Anyone hear Chris Matthews, Rachel, Chris Hayes, Steve Kornacki, Sharpton etc even whisper about the Aipac conference this weekend? The power of this lobby? NPR did not touch the conference? Now if 14,ooo NRA members were coming to D.C. to hold a conference and lobby their Reps for maintaining gun rights just the way they are that so called “liberal” Rachel Maddow etc would be all over that story. But the power of the Israel lobby they will not touch. Talk about some pathetic cowards

    • Citizen
      March 2, 2014, 4:24 am

      Haven’t heard a word about Aipac conference from the main media. Here’s data on some of the speakers this year–you won’t be surprised:

      According to the AIPAC conference schedule, the day’s big speakers (Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew, Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog and AIPAC President Bob Cohen) will have wrapped up by 7 p.m. — early enough for them to catch the Oscars on TV.

      This year’s AIPAC conference continues on Monday and Tuesday, starring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Secretary of State John Kerry, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and musician David Broza.

      • Kathleen
        March 2, 2014, 10:16 am

        Menendez, McCain, Schumer, Cantor, Hoyer no surprise. Will be interesting to hear what Kerry has to say. Will he completely roll over or only partially roll over. Wonder if he can even consider calling them out as he did by warning about a “boycott” or as he has stated that this is a last ditch effort. Closer and closer to one state solution. Will he say it? Doubt it. Will more than likely do the “you are our best friend ” shuffle.

      • just
        March 2, 2014, 10:23 am

        5 of the very worst congresscritters/turncoats around… no surprise at all.

      • Citizen
        March 2, 2014, 10:51 am

        Actually, they are traitors.

      • marc b.
        marc b.
        March 2, 2014, 12:46 pm

        Kerry was on with the chimp-faced David Gregory this morning. He was aghast at the Russian intervention in Ukraine, what he called an ‘invasion on phony pretexts’. That’s not how international relations work in the 21st century, says he. Funny stuff.

      • RoHa
        March 2, 2014, 7:16 pm

        “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests,” John Kerry said during an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press. “This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. It’s really 19th century behaviour in the 21st century.”

        [Cough] Iraq? [Cough]

      • Citizen
        March 3, 2014, 5:14 am

        @ RoHa
        Amazing what politicians say to the public without a shred of shame, eh?

      • Citizen
        March 3, 2014, 5:43 am

        Here’s the transcript of Gregory’s interview with Kerry (and Rubio):

        Gregory never follows up with the most obvious point, most exemplified by Bush Jr’s attack on Iraq. As if our last decade of that war has not happened in the 21st Century. Nothing putting context to Kerry’s hypocritical assertion. Instead he just tries, repeatedly, to get Kerry to say the US needs to go to war or none of our declared red lines mean anything except to spell out P A P E R T I G E R. And Gregory ends up with Kerry, talking about Israel….

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      March 2, 2014, 1:25 pm

      Bravo, Kathleen.

  9. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    March 2, 2014, 1:27 am

    Jim Lobe, Alex Kane, and Phil Weiss ought to brag about being banned by AIPAC, and advertise any public talk or appearance as…


    It ought to boost interest and attendance.

  10. Citizen
    March 2, 2014, 4:28 am

    Outright rejections…wonder if there will be last-minute retractions of press credentials too–like AIPAC did last year?

  11. Talkback
    March 2, 2014, 4:46 am

    Maybe AIPAC only allows “embedded journalists” which is code for propaganda whores.

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