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Plenty of Benjamins here in Boston!

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Mondoweiss readers are familiar with the freakout over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s tweet earlier this year quoting  the Sean Combs song “it’s all about the Benjamins baby.”  Omar was replying to Glenn Greenwald’s remark that “It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”  She later clarified that she was referring to AIPAC.

Pro-Israel organizations and individuals were quick to claim that mentioning “money” in connection with support for Israel – and in their eyes therefore “the Jews,” who were never mentioned in any of Omar’s statements – was inherently “anti-Semitic.”

But many of these same organizations are not so reticent about money when they congratulate themselves and their funders for massive contributions to the cause.  AIPAC itself is conspicuous in this.

I recently saw an invitation to the May 5, 2019 AIPAC New England Leadership Dinner at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston’s upscale new waterfront neighborhood. Tickets were $300 per person (or $200 for Club Members who invest more than $1800 in AIPAC; contributors of $10,000 or more get a complimentary ticket).

Along with the invite came an 8-page brochure listing New England AIPAC contributors in categories ranging from “MINYAN” ($100,000+) to “WASHINGTON CLUB” ($1,800+).

There were 31 MINYAN members; 9 for “CHAIRMAN’S COUNCIL” ($36000+); 6 for “PRESIDENT’S CABINET” ($25,000+); 77 for “SENATE CLUB” ($10,000+); 143 for “CAPITOL CLUB” ($3600+); 283 for “WASHINGTON CLUB” (a paltry $1800+). Levels are capitalized as in the brochure.

Now even assuming that contributors donated only the minimum in their category, that’s nearly a cool $5,000,000 for AIPAC from just one region of the country. It’s likely that the total was considerably higher.

And what’s more, since many or most of these contributions were no doubt made to AIPAC’s money laundering charity, the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), you and I also had to make up for the tax-deductible donations of AIPAC’s generous donors. AIEF raised more than $65,000,000 in tax deductible contributions during 2017, the last year’s accounting I could find. Most of AIEF’s tax-exempt funding went directly or indirectly to AIPAC or to pay for Congressional and other AIPAC-organized “educational” trips to Israel, which would be barred if financed directly by a lobbying organization. AIPAC itself claims it spends “only” $3,500,000 in lobbying.

AIPAC says that it does not endorse or contribute to political candidates, and that is technically true.  The organization explains on its web site that it “is not a Political Action Committee. It does not rate or endorse candidates. AIPAC encourages its members to participate in the political process and support the candidates of their choice.”

But AIPAC also promotes membership in its “Congressional Club” of donors who “commit to giving political contributions in a clearly pro-Israel context to candidates running for the United States House of Representatives and/or United States Senate.”   In the New England Dinner brochure at least 85 contributors are recognized in this category.

How much all this totals, along with the various other arms of the Israel lobby and individual pro-Israel campaign donors is hard to calculate. But it is certainly an awful lot of “Benjamins.”

Jeff Klein

Jeff Klein, is a retired local union president, a long-time Palestine solidarity activist and a board member of Mass Peace Action. He has a blog:

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3 Responses

  1. marc b. on May 8, 2019, 12:27 pm

    so, where’s a link to the list of speakers and a copy of the brochure and list of contributors?

  2. Misterioso on May 9, 2019, 10:14 am

    Congratulations to Event Chairs Ellen and Steven Segal and all those wonderful dedicated people who attended the May 5th New England AIPAC Leadership Dinner in Boston! I wish I could have been there. I hear it was a glorious event and it is most gratifying and encouraging to learn that those in attendance again contributed generously.

    Setting aside the courageous accomplishments of Israel’s armed forces in occupying, dispossessing and expelling the essentially defenseless native Palestinians, here’s just a few examples that spring to mind of what your past contributions have wrought for the benefit of Zionism and Israel:

    “In Israel, 53 mosques and churches vandalized since 2009, only 9 indictments filed”

    “The number of mosques and churches attacked in Israel [and the occupied West Bank] is high, but police efforts at investigating these crimes are absurdly low. The head of monitoring group asserts, ‘Without a doubt, they aren’t looking hard enough.’” Ha’aretz, September 24, 2017)

    “Over 50 Christian and Muslim sites have been vandalized in Israel and the West Bank since 2009, but only nine indictments have been filed and only seven convictions handed down, according to Public Security Ministry data. Moreover, only eight of the 53 cases are still under investigation, with the other 45 all closed.

    “The ministry data only goes through July 2017, but the vandalism hasn’t ended.

    “The latest attack occurred last Wednesday, at St. Stephen’s Church in the Beit Jamal Monastery, near Beit Shemesh. Many items were broken, including some of the stained glass windows and a status of the Virgin Mary. Police are investigating, but so far no suspects have been arrested and the motive is said to be unknown.

    “This was the third such attack on the monastery in the last five years. In 2013, a firebomb was thrown at a door and hateful slogans were scrawled on the walls. And about 18 months ago, gravestones were vandalized in the cemetery. No suspects were arrested in those cases, either.

    “The wave of vandalism peaked in 2013, the data show. That year, 11 investigations were opened and five people were convicted. Also that year, the police opened a special hate crimes unit in their Judea and Samaria District. But judging by the data, the unit’s deterrent effect has been minimal.

    “Nine Christian and Muslim sites were vandalized in 2014 and the same number in 2015. In 2016, only three such attacks were recorded, but there were four in the first half of this year. From 2009 through 2012, there were 17 such incidents – but there wasn’t a single indictment.

    “The Tag Meir organization, which monitors hate crimes, keeps its own records. It says there were 44 attacks on Christian and Muslim sites between the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2016.

    “Tag Meir said many arson attacks on mosques have never been solved. These include mosque attacks in the West Bank villages of Kafr Yasif, Luban al-Sharqiya, Beit Fajjar, Hawara and Qusra, as well as one in the Israeli Bedouin town of Tuba-Zangaria and some in Jerusalem.

    “The ministry’s data doesn’t specify the location of the vandalized site, the severity of the damage or whether an indictment was filed in any given case.

    “Asked who the seven convicted people are and which cases it considers solved, Judea and Samaria District Police referred questions to the Justice Ministry.

    “The Justice Ministry said it didn’t have this information and couldn’t extract it from its computer system. It said the data would have to be compiled manually and suggested that Haaretz file a freedom of information request for it.

    “Tag Meir said it knows of only two cases that were solved: an arson attack on a Christian seminary near the Abbey of the Dormition, Jerusalem; and an arson attack on the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha, on the Lake Kinneret shoreline. The Israel Religious Action Center, which also tracks hate crimes, said it was also unaware of any other cases being solved.

    “Tag Meir Chairman Gadi Gvaryahu said he believes the many unsolved crimes are a question of police priorities. “Without a doubt, they aren’t looking hard enough,” he said, adding that some crimes remain unsolved despite security camera footage that included images of the suspected vandals’ cars.

    “’We know that after the Church of the Loaves and Fishes, someone – apparently the prime minister – decided they had to find them. So they found them,’ Gvaryahu added.

    “The ministry data were divulged in response to a parliamentary question filed by MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) at Tag Meir’s request. Shmuli also said that when ‘about 85 percent of the cases in such serious crimes are closed with nothing,’ this should ‘sound an alarm about the order of priorities.’

    “The data Shmuli received was accompanied by a letter from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan that included an odd statement. Though all these cases involve suspected arson, Erdan said the investigations had concluded that ‘they were perpetrated from various motives, ranging from negligence through mental illness and, in extreme cases, incidents of arson that appear deliberate.’

    “This seems to contradict the fact that most of the cases were closed on the grounds of ‘perpetrator unknown.’

    “Gvaryahu said this also contradicts the fact that most of the arson attacks were accompanied by hateful graffiti. Erdan’s letter, he said, is ‘disconnected from reality.'”

    “Slo-Mo Ethnic Cleansing: Israel has forced 3,000 Palestinians from their Jerusalem Homes in 15 Years” MA’AN NEWS AGENCY 05/02/2019

    JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — “Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem revealed that Israeli authorities forced around 3,000 Palestinians from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem between 2004 and 2019.

    “B’Tselem published a report, stating, ‘The Jerusalem Municipality demolished 830 residential units, and 120 more were demolished by their owners on the municipality’s orders.’
    “B’Tselem stressed, ‘The municipality deliberately left 2,927 people homeless, 1,574 of them minors.’

    “The report points out that the Israeli-run municipality adopts policies which have deliberately created an acute construction crisis for the city’s Palestinian population, while Jewish neighborhoods enjoy massive development and substantial funding.

    “B’Tselem explained, ‘Israel has expropriated more than a third of the land it annexed from the West Bank and has built 11 neighborhoods exclusively for Jews.’

    “The report noted that these neighborhoods are as ‘illegal under international law as Israel’s settlements are in the occupied West Bank.’

    “Israeli authorities use a number of strategies to block Palestinian use of the land, thus according to the report, the authorities either declare Palestinian-owned land as ‘open scenic areas, where development is forbidden, or as national parks, where construction and urban development are almost entirely forbidden.

    “In other parts of the occupied Palestinian territories, large areas, including towns and villages, are declared to be ‘military zones’ almost as a matter of routine, and residents have to leave their homes for set periods when the army moves in.

    “B’Tselem said that Palestinians in East Jerusalem ‘have no choice’ but to build without permits since the Israeli municipality rarely grants the right to build homes.

    “Israeli authorities estimate that between 15,000 and 20,000 Palestinian-owned homes have been built or extended without planning permission in the past five years.

    “B’Tselem stated, ‘Thousands of Palestinians in the city are living under constant threat to their homes and businesses; in many cases, the authorities follow through on this threat or force residents to demolish the structures themselves.’

    “’Israel does not see the residents of East Jerusalem [the Palestinians] as human beings with equal rights, but as people it strives to remove from their homes, as they are an obstacle to Judaizing the city.’

    “The human rights organization stressed that the measures adopted by Israel to achieve that end are all illegal.”

    “More than 50,000 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank have been detained by Israel since 1967, according to the Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs.”

  3. YoniFalic on May 11, 2019, 12:46 pm

    This dinner seems to mobilize middle-tier contributors. In Boston the Big Three for filling coffers to support Zionism and to incite Islamophobia are probably Adelson, Kraft, & Klarman.

    BTW, Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone article on Goldman Sachs was widely accused of antisemitism even though he never mentioned Jews. While ethnic business networks of interest still play an large role on Wall Street, the firms are no longer as ethnically characterized as they once were.

    For example, as Jewish as Solomon Brothers was considered to be, Ranieri was the major player at the firm in developing the mortgage backed security financial instrument.

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