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(1) Anti-Semitism Rebuke Leads to Growing Discord Among Democrats

(2) Democrat Motion To Condemn Anti-Semitism Delayed As Progressives Defend Omar

(3) Omar anti-Semitism resolution axed after pressure from Blacks & AOC

(4) Jerusalem Post smears AOC over Omar

(5) Omar’s Criticism Raises the Question: Is Aipac Too Powerful? - NYT

(6) AIPAC destroys Reps & Senators, but Millenials oppose it - M.J. Rosenberg

(7) NORPAC - AIPAC's Other Half

(8) Surrealism In Omar’s Antisemitism

(9) Ilhan Omar is charged with invoking ‚'myth of dual loyalty' - but many Jewish writers say it's no myth


(1) Anti-Semitism Rebuke Leads to Growing Discord Among Democrats

By Anna Edgerton

March 6, 2019, 7:00 PM GMT+10 Updated on  March 7, 2019, 5:10 AM GMT+10


House Democratic leaders were confronted by heated objections from some factions of the party over an anti-Semitism resolution that indirectly rebukes one of their own members, Ilhan Omar, a high-profile freshman from Minnesota.

The discord delayed a vote on the measure that was set for Wednesday, prolonging the party’s internal strife as leaders sought to add language condemning other types of bigotry. It’s also soaked up attention and time as Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to move on the Democrats’ legislative agenda, including a long-promised package on ethics and ballot access.

Emerging from a closed-door meeting, some Democrats -- including progressives and members of the Congressional Black Caucus -- defended Omar and said they feared for her safety, while others spoke about the harm of historic anti-Semitic tropes and the need to take an official position.

Karen Bass, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, said her group will meet Wednesday to discuss their position on the resolution. She said she supports Omar and expressed frustration with the way the Democratic response has been handled.

Problem for Pelosi

The dispute creates a problem for Pelosi who is trying to maintain unity among Democrats, including Omar and other high-profile freshmen, as veteran lawmakers who are demanding a clear resolution denouncing Omar’s remarks. ...

Representative Elliot Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee on which Omar sits, said there is no discussion of removing her from the committee, as some Republicans have demanded. ...

Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old with an outsized social media presence, called the resolution a “nuclear option” on Twitter and urged Democratic leaders to use the moment for a lesson in inclusion, rather than censure.

“I believe that Ilhan, in her statement a few weeks ago, has demonstrated a willingness to listen+work w/impacted communities,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet. “If we called resolutions on sexist statements, a good chunk of Congress would be gone. To jump to the nuclear option every time leaves no room for corrective action.” ...


(2) Democrat Motion To Condemn Anti-Semitism Delayed As Progressives Defend Omar

by Tyler Durden Wed, 03/06/2019 - 11:25

A House vote on a resolution introduced by speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other leading Democrats to formally condemn anti-Semitism in response to recent statements by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has been delayed, after several progressive groups and lawmakers came to Omar's defense - while others have pushed for the motion to be rewritten to include all forms of prejudice. ...

Ocasio-Cortez fired off a series of tweets throughout Tuesday, criticizing what she sees as hypocrisy in Democrats' planned reprimand of Omar. She argued that Democratic leaders should have addressed the issue privately before Omar was "called out" publicly. -Politico ...

Engel did not endorse kicking Omar off the Foreign Affairs Committee, as Republicans have demanded. ...

How can anyone possibly pretend that it’s invalid or offensive to observe, as Congresswoman Omar did, that some in America demand allegiance to a foreign nation when American citizens are allowed to boycott American states but are punished for boycotting this one specific foreign nation? ...

Then there’s the fact that so many prominent American Jews have themselves explicitly and proudly acknowledged both their political activism in the U.S. is shaped by a devotion to Israel. Indeed, the leading billionaire funder of both the Democratic Party and the Clintons, Haim Saban, has previously described himself this way to the New York Times: “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel.” -The Intercept

Greenwald also notes that in 2007, Hillary Clinton's key political consultant for her 2008 presidential run - Hank Sheinkopf, said when asked hy Democratic presidential candidates who were otherwise anti-war were so hawkish when it came to Iran: "New York is the ATM for American politicians. Large amounts of money come from the Jewish community. If you’re running for president and you want dollars from that group, you need to show that you’re interested in the issue that matters most to them."

That AIPAC – along with the NRA, Wall Street and Silicon Valley – is one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, and works to ensure that members of Congress act favorably toward Israel, is so obviously true that no person in good faith could dispute it. A film about the Israel lobby produced by Al Jazeera but subsequently self-censored was leaked to Electronic Intifada and it contains multiple scenes of AIPAC and other pro-Israel activists boasting of how they use money and lobbying power to force Congress to serve Israeli interests. ...


(3) Omar anti-Semitism resolution axed after pressure from Blacks & AOC

House approves revised anti-Semitism bill after fierce debate on Rep. Ilhan Omar

Allison Deger on March 7, 2019

The House approved a revised bill on anti-Semitism early Thursday evening with an expanded focus on white supremacists, “neo-Confederates,” and violence against black and Muslim Americans, to the disappointment of many Republicans and Democrats alike who had hoped to see language pin-pointing anti-Jewish rhetoric, or a censure of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

Omar was the subject of combative in-fighting among House Democrats during closed door meetings today and yesterday. Dogged by charges of anti-Semitism for posts made to social media since taking office, the current controversy over Omar began last week when she spoke at a bookshop in Washington DC about “a powerful lobby that is influencing policy” and said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

Her remarks were promptly decried by members of Congress as an anti-Semitic statement that accused Jewish-Americans of dual loyalty, and ushered in a debate over limits of discussion on Israel and criticism of a pro-Israel lobby, as well as Islamophobia.

By yesterday evening the immense pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus, liberal constituents and freshman representatives caused Dems to axe the resolution. Party leaders suggested it had morphed into a divisive and biased sanction against Omar who is naturalized citizen after entering the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia and is one of two of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand all released statements yesterday suggesting Omar had become the victim of an Islamophbic campaign.

In a surprise move, the bill was rewritten today and H.R. 183 passed 407 in favor and 23 opposed.

Nearly twice as long as the original, the measure added definitions of anti-Muslim discrimination, condemned bombings of several black churches and mosques, and the Tree of Life synagogue massacre. The bill cited FBI figures of skyrocketing hate crimes against Muslims, which increased by “99 percent between 2014 and 2016.” In 2017 hate crimes against Jews rose by 37 percent.

Here was Omar’s statement on the legislation:

Rep. Ilhan Omar ? @Ilhan Our nation is having a difficult conversation, but we believe this is great progress.

The final text of the bill repeated a rebuke of the anti-Semitic allegation of  Jewish “dual loyalty” found in an earlier version. Yet it included condemnations of similar allegations made against Japanese-American who were interned during WWII, and President John F. Kennedy who “was questioned because of his Catholic faith.” ...


(4) Jerusalem Post smears AOC over Omar

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Retweets Terror Organization Sympathizer

Yusuf Munayyer, head of a Palestinian rights organization, was weighing in on the Ilhan Omar antisemitism scandal.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known by her initials AOC, retweeted a known supporter of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a US State Department-designated terror organization.

In the tweet, first discovered by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Ocasio-Cortez wrote, “This is disappointing to see. Just last week there was all this hubbub over an untrue mischaracterization that I was threatening primaries based on pro-ICE votes. Yet there seems to be no problem at all with a zero-tolerance stance for simply asking about US foreign policy.”

She was retweeting and responding to a tweet by Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the US Center for Palestinian Rights (USCPR). In his tweet, he wrote, “AIPAC activist tells NYT the lobby is coming for Congresswomen @AOC, @RashidaTlaib and @IlhanMN,” quoting an excerpt from a New York Times article: “They are three people who, in my opinion, will not be around in several years.”

 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ? @AOC  This is disappointing to see.

Just last week there was all this hubbub over an untrue mischaracterization that I was threatening primaries based on pro-ICE votes.

Yet there seems to be no problem at all with a zero-tolerance stance for simply asking about US foreign policy.

@YousefMunayyer AIPAC activist tells NYT the lobby is coming for Congresswomen @AOC @RashidaTlaib and @IlhanMN

“They are three people who, in my opinion, will not be around in several years.” … Rashida Tlaib is the U.S. Representative for Michigan's 13th congressional district. Ilhan Omar is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 5th congressional district.

In the past, Munayyer seemed to condone the efforts of PFLP on his Twitter feed, including retweeting a PFLP announcement of a terror attack in Jerusalem on June 16, 2017. The PFLP claimed that two of the three terrorists in the attack were affiliated with its organization. That attack killed Border Police Sgt. Hadas Malka.

In another tweet from July 2014, during the height of Operation Protective Edge, Munayyer reminded followers that the military wings of PFLP and other terrorist organizations, “not just Hamas, all [are] fighting against Israel in this war.”

Munayyer’s organization, USCPR, publicly posted in 2016 about mourning the death of a different PFLP terrorist.

The NGO Monitor research institute reported that USCPR rhetoric includes accusations of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” “war crimes,” and “colonialism,” as well as supporting a Palestinian “right of return.” The organization likewise created a “political education curriculum” titled “Together We Rise: Palestine as a Model of Resistance” meant to “strengthen liberation struggles from the U.S to Palestine.”


(5) Omar’s Criticism Raises the Question: Is Aipac Too Powerful? - NYT

Ilhan Omar’s Criticism Raises the Question: Is Aipac Too Powerful?

By Sheryl Gay Stolberg

March 4, 2019

WASHINGTON — When Representative Ilhan Omar landed a coveted seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Stephen Fiske began working the phones to Capitol Hill.

Alarmed by messaging that he saw as anti-Semitic and by Ms. Omar’s support for the boycott-Israel movement, Mr. Fiske, a longtime activist with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, began texting and calling his friends in Congress to complain. He is hoping Aipac activists will punish Ms. Omar, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota, with a primary challenge in 2020.

On Wednesday, House Democratic leaders will mete out one form of punishment: Spurred by outrage over Ms. Omar’s latest comments suggesting that pro-Israel activists “push for allegiance to a foreign country,” they will put a resolution condemning anti-Semitism on the House floor.

“Many other people involved in the pro-Israel community, a lot of Aipac-affiliated members, there’s a lot of concern; there’s a clarion call for activism,” said Mr. Fiske, who is the chairman of a political action committee that backs pro-Israel candidates. “It really hit a nerve, and the grass-roots Jewish community in South Florida is not one to treat it as an ostrich, putting their heads in the sand.”

Ms. Omar’s insinuation that money fuels American support for Israel — “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” she wrote on Twitter, specifically citing Aipac — revived a fraught debate in Washington over whether the pro-Israel lobbying behemoth has too much sway over American policy in the Middle East. The backlash to Ms. Omar’s tweet was fierce, with even Democratic leaders accusing her of trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. The congresswoman apologized.

But the swirling debate not only around Ms. Omar but also around broader currents buffeting the Middle East has forced an uncomfortable re-examination of the questions that she has raised: Has Aipac — founded more than 50 years ago to “strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship” — become too powerful? And with that power, has Aipac warped the policy debate over Israel so drastically that dissenting voices are not even allowed to be heard?

Those questions have grown louder with the controversy around Ms. Omar and will grow louder still in the run-up to this month’s annual Aipac policy conference — a three-day Washington confab that is expected to draw more than 18,000 people, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and leaders of both parties in Congress. To critics, Ms. Omar had a point, even if it was expressed with unfortunate glibness. Aipac’s money does have an outsize influence.

“It is so disingenuous of some of these members of Congress who are lining up to condemn these questioning voices as if they have no campaign finance interest in the outcome,” said Brian Baird, a former Democratic congressman from Washington State, who became a vocal critic of Israel, and Aipac, after a constituent of his was killed by an Israeli Army bulldozer in Gaza while protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes in 2003.

“If one dares to criticize Israel or dares to criticize Aipac, one gets branded anti-Semitic,” Mr. Baird added, “and that’s a danger to a democratic republic.”

The story of how Aipac became one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington is, in large part, the story of how it has managed to harness the passions of thousands of people like Mr. Fiske, a 54-year-old mortgage broker from South Florida who visited Nazi death camps in Poland and came back determined, he said, “to make a difference and never repeat what happened in the ’30s.”

It is also the story of how Aipac has harnessed its members’ pocketbooks. Unlike the National Rifle Association, the Human Rights Campaign and other powerful grass-roots advocacy organizations, Aipac, which is bipartisan, does not endorse or raise money for candidates. But its members do, with the organization’s strong encouragement.

Mr. Fiske’s Florida Congressional Committee is one of a string of political action committees with anodyne names — NorPac in New Jersey, To Protect Our Heritage PAC outside Chicago, the Maryland Association for Concerned Citizens outside Baltimore, among others — that operate independently of Aipac but whose missions and membership align with it.

Countless individual Aipac members and other pro-Israel donors give on their own — including megadonors like the billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a onetime Aipac backer who has started a harder-line rival to the group.

Tom Dine, who urged local activists to create the regional PACs when he ran Aipac from 1980 to 1993, summed up his “mantra” for Aipac members this way: “To be pro-Israel is to be politically active. To be politically active is to give of your time, your brain power and your wallet.”

Aipac does not lobby on behalf of Israel; it is sensitive about being characterized as an agent of a foreign power, as Ms. Omar suggested it was during her talk in Washington last week. But it almost always sides with the Israeli government, no matter who is in charge. (In a rare exception, the group rebuked a right-wing party in Israel last month, prompting a backlash from Mr. Netanyahu.)

Today Aipac boasts 17 regional and satellite offices, a gleaming headquarters building near the Capitol and an annual budget so hefty that its chief executive, Howard Kohr, earned more than $1 million in salary and benefits in 2016. Traveling to Israel on a trip financed by Aipac’s education arm is practically a rite of passage for freshman members of Congress.

Aipac’s secret has always been an impressive system of “key contacts,” local volunteers — preferably friends, community leaders or former classmates of lawmakers — assigned to cultivate each senator and House member.

“I guarantee you that every senator who’s sitting in office now, including an indirect standoffish guy like Rand Paul, they’ve got five to 15 key contacts on their scorecards at the Aipac office,” Mr. Dine said, referring to the isolationist Republican senator from Kentucky.

Aipac activists say the work they put into building relationships — more than campaign contributions — is responsible for the organization’s success.

“Call me a true believer, but my own view is that the more people understand about Israel the more likely they are to see the issues more or less the way Aipac does,” said Seth M. Siegel, an author, businessman and Aipac board member.

But in a recent article in The Nation, M.J. Rosenberg, who worked for Aipac in the 1980s and is now a critic of the organization, described how “Aipac’s political operation is used precisely as Representative Omar suggested,” including during policy conferences, when members gather “in side rooms, nominally independent of the main event,” to raise money and “decide which candidate will get what.”

Mr. Kohr declined a request for an interview. But the group’s spokesman, Marshall Wittmann, issued a statement: “Aipac does not rate, endorse or contribute to candidates. We encourage our members to participate in the legislative and political process exercising their democratic rights as Americans.”

And they have. In 1982, Aipac activists organized to oust Paul Findley, an Illinois House member who had embraced the Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat. The To Protect Our Heritage PAC, run by Aipac activists in Skokie, Ill., backed Richard J. Durbin, according to Marc Sommer, a PAC official.

Two years later, Aipac activists mobilized to replace Senator Charles Percy, then the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a backer of a deal allowing the sale of sophisticated military planes called Awacs to Saudi Arabia, with the Democrat Paul Simon. Mr. Simon wrote in his memoir that Robert Asher, an Aipac board member in Chicago, asked him to run.

The back-to-back victories established Aipac as an organization not to be trifled with. In the more than three decades since, Aipac has helped create and maintain a staunchly pro-Israel Congress, producing bipartisan support for foreign aid and military and intelligence cooperation, most recently $500 million for missile defense and $3.3 billion for security assistance. Aipac spent $3.5 million last year on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks lobbying and campaign expenditures.

But the increasing willingness of Democrats like Ms. Omar to accuse Israel of human rights abuses — coupled with the far-right policies of Mr. Netanyahu and his embrace of President Trump — is challenging Aipac’s claim to bipartisanship. Some liberal Democrats, including young Jews, are abandoning the organization.

“This split between Republicans and Democrats on Israel is real, and is mirrored in a split between the government of Israel and the American Jewish community,” said the diplomat Martin Indyk, who worked for Aipac in the 1980s and is now with the Council on Foreign Relations. “And since the American Jewish community is a pillar of the Democratic Party and is Aipac’s base, you’ve got kind of a perfect storm.”

When Israel demolished Palestinian communities in the West Bank last year, Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois, gathered signatures from 76 members of Congress to criticize the move. Aipac was silent.

When President Barack Obama secured a nuclear accord with Iran over Aipac’s vehement opposition, Senate Democrats delivered for him, despite the work of an Aipac spinoff that vowed to spend $20 million to oppose it. (Mr. Trump has since backed out of the deal.)

And when the Senate last month passed an Aipac-backed bill aimed at crippling the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement to hurt Israel’s economy, roughly half the Senate Democrats — including most of those running for president — voted against it.

Aipac’s allies on Capitol Hill say the group is an invaluable resource for information. Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida, said Aipac “gives its members an opportunity to meet with elected officials, often in Washington, to talk about an issue that they feel deeply about.”

But other lawmakers bristle at Aipac’s tactics. In 2006, Representative Betty McCollum, Democrat of Minnesota, who has advocated humanitarian aid for Palestinians, wrote an angry letter to Mr. Kohr saying Aipac would be barred from her offices until it apologized for the behavior of one of its representatives who had berated her chief of staff, Bill Harper, and said Ms. McCollum’s “support for terrorists will not be tolerated.”

Mr. Harper said he took it as an effort “to intimidate” Ms. McCollum, “including threatening to take care of her in the next election.” He said Aipac’s members subsequently stopped donating to her.

Aipac instructs its volunteers never to bring up politics or donations in lobbying meetings. But Mr. Baird, the retired House member, said it was “a fairly common experience” for three or four members of a state congressional delegation to be invited outside the Capitol to meet with “some potential high-dollar individuals affiliated with Aipac.”

“And if one were to say, ‘You know, this is a pretty complex issue; I think the Palestinians have some legitimate concerns,’ your pile of envelopes at the end of the event would be substantially smaller than the next guy’s envelopes,” he said.

So far, no organized effort to field a primary challenger against Ms. Omar has begun, although Rudy Boschwitz, a former Republican senator from Minnesota who served on Aipac’s board in the 1990s, said he had “suggested that to some people.”

In Florida, Mr. Fiske said it was time for “pro-Jewish voices to speak up” about Ms. Omar and two other Democratic freshmen who have been critical of Israel: Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

And he offered a prediction: “They are three people who, in my opinion, will not be around in several years.”

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Concerns Raised Over Power Wielded by a Pro-Israel Lobbying Giant.


(6) AIPAC destroys Reps & Senators, but Millenials oppose it - M.J. Rosenberg

This Is How AIPAC Really Works

An AIPAC and Capitol Hill veteran explains the lobby’s tactics of reward and retribution.

By M.J. Rosenberg

February 14, 2019

One thing that should be said about Representative Ilhan Omar’s tweet about the power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (more commonly known as AIPAC, or the “Israel lobby”) is that the hysterical reaction to it proved her main point: The power of AIPAC over members of Congress is literally awesome, although not in a good way. Has anyone ever seen so many members of Congress, of both parties, running to the microphones and sending out press releases to denounce one first-termer for criticizing the power of… a lobby?

Somehow, I don’t think the reaction would have been the same if she had tweeted that Congress still supports the ethanol subsidy because the American Farm Bureau and other components of the corn/ethanol lobby spend millions to keep this agribusiness bonanza going (which they do). Or that if she had opposed the ethanol subsidy, she would have been accused of hating farmers.

That’s American politics; the only difference between all the domestic lobbies that essentially buy support for their agenda is that AIPAC is working for a foreign government, a distinction but not much of a difference when the goal is to maintain a status quo that is not necessarily in the national interest.

What did Omar tweet that was so terrible, anyway? Actually it was two tweets that produced the unsettling but oh-so-telling coming together of President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in common denunciation of the first-term member of Congress. Omar’s crime: daring to suggest that campaign contributions orchestrated by AIPAC play a large part in achieving bipartisan support for anything proposed by the Israeli government and/or its lobby, AIPAC.

This is, of course, something everyone knows and which even a former president of AIPAC once admitted in a conversation that was recorded by an interlocutor. In fact, as early as 1988, 60 Minutes did a segment on how AIPAC divvies up the money. (Moreover, I, as an employee of the lobby from 1973 to 1975 and 1982 to 1986, repeatedly and personally witnessed the whole process of funding and defunding, which is anything but a secret within the organization. Additionally, I spent close to 20 years as a legislative assistant to Democratic House and Senate members and saw AIPAC’s tactics of reward and retribution from that vantage point too.)

Officially, of course, AIPAC does not engage in political fundraising; it would be illegal for it to do so, and the lobby is vehement on the point that it doesn’t. And it is true that, to my knowledge, it does not directly raise money to support or defeat candidates. But that is just a technicality. Political fundraising is a huge part of AIPAC’s operation. One of the three top positions in its massive Washington, DC, headquarters is that of political director, who runs both the Washington political operation (his annual salary is over $450,000) and deputy regional directors around the country. Here is how AIPAC describes what these officials do, as described in a “help wanted” description for a Los Angeles deputy regional political director:

    Help track House and Senate races in the region

    Assist with planning and executing local Congressional Club events and Congressional Club components in local events

    Attend and assist in regional events

    Establish and maintain contact with House and Senate campaigns to assist in the scheduling of candidate meetings and facilitate the submission of position papers

    Solicit financial support for AIPAC’s Annual Campaign

    Conduct candidate meetings

    Research, track and record FEC and polling data

    Work with colleagues to increase pro-Israel political participation in the region (Solicit Congressional Club commitments)

    Assist with AIPAC legislative grassroots mobilizations

    Assist with scheduling and organizing of caucuses in the regions and lobbying appointments during the AIPAC Policy Conference

    Assist with the integration of AIPAC’s activist bases in the Jewish and Outreach communities

    Promote participation at local and national AIPAC events including regional events and national political training conferences

    Research, gather and deliver information requested by pro-Israel political activists

    Other duties as assigned

Not mentioned is what all the information is used for: political fundraising. That means making sure that pro-Israel PACs know what to do with their money. And making sure that individual donors know what to do with theirs. That is why AIPAC has a large national political operation. If it were not in the money-distribution business, it would simply rely on its legislative department to lobby for and draft legislation for members of Congress. Nor would its political director make a half-million dollars a year. In short, AIPAC’s political operation is used precisely as Representative Omar suggested.

Again, I know this because I witnessed it over and over again. I sat in AIPAC staff meetings at which the political director discussed whom “we” would be supporting in this campaign and whom “we” were going to “destroy” in that one. I also sat in on meetings at AIPAC’s huge annual policy conference, attended by as many as 20,000 AIPAC members and virtually the entire Congress, at which fundraising pitches were made.

AIPAC, of course, denies that anyone raises money at its policy conference. And it’s true. No one does… in the official AIPAC rooms. However, there are also the side rooms, nominally independent of the main event but just down the hall, where candidates and invited donors (only the really wealthy donors get the invites) meet and decide which candidate will get what. This arrangement is almost a metaphor for the whole AIPAC fundraising operation. The side rooms are nominally not AIPAC, so AIPAC can deny that any fundraising takes place at their conference. But in fact, they are the most exclusive venues in the country for candidates to raise money in the name of advancing the AIPAC cause.

AIPAC denies fundraising precisely the way Captain Renault in the film Casablanca declared he was “shocked, shocked, to find that gambling is going on” in his establishment. As he is saying it, one of the club’s crooks hands him a wad of cash, saying, “Your winnings, sir.”

Same with AIPAC: “We don’t donate to campaigns. Here’s your check.” Or, more usually, a bundle of checks that are not traceable back to AIPAC because, on paper at least, they come from individuals who like a candidate’s stand on Israel or Iran sanctions (as told to them by AIPAC’s political operatives).

So enough about AIPAC’s fundraising denials, which insult the intelligence of anyone who hears them. Except, check this out: Political activist Ady Barkan describes how a congressional candidate he worked for scored $5,000 from an AIPAC representative just by promising to support AIPAC’s pet issues. Easy money!

Back to Representative Omar. The first tweet, which resulted in ominous storm clouds over her head, was her response to a journalist who asked, by tweet of course, what accounted for such fierce defense of a foreign country by US political leaders even if it meant attacking the free-speech rights of Americans. Omar responded, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” breezily referring to $100 bills. This was bad enough, suggesting that campaign contributions plays a part in AIPAC’s success at garnering support for legislation that reads like it’s written by the Likud Central Committee.

But that was nothing compared to the monsoon of invective produced by her response to a reporter from the Jewish newspaper Forward, Batya Ungar-Sargon, who (again in a tweet) disingenuously asked Omar who she thought is “paying American politicians to be pro-Israel.”

Even before Omar responded “AIPAC!” Ungar-Sargon had resorted to the lobby’s (and its media friends’) favorite tactic when exposed or criticized: charging Omar with anti-Semitism; specifically, for using what Ungar-Sargon described as an “anti-Semitic trope.” That opened the floodgates for the full “she’s an anti-Semite!” onslaught. One by one, other Jewish organizations weighed in (AIPAC is designated by virtually all the mainstream Jewish organizations as their official lobby, and they invariably jump when AIPAC tells them to). And then AIPAC’s congressional enforcers weighed in, led by Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader, who has been AIPAC’s man on the House floor for decades, Pelosi, and others. They all said the same thing: that Omar’s tweet was anti-Semitic, with many adopting Ungar-Sargon’s characterization of Omar’s words as “an anti-Semitic trope,” by which they seem to mean using the words “Jewish” and “money” in the same tweet.

But that is not what Omar said. She wasn’t even talking about Israel per se. When asked whom she is accusing of buying members of Congress, Omar responded with one word: AIPAC. Period.

And here’s the thing: AIPAC is not synonymous with Jews. By its own admission, AIPAC has 100,000 members out of an American Jewish population of about 6 million. Of that number, most are Jewish but, as it proudly proclaims, many are evangelical (and other) Christians. Implying that criticizing the power of a predominantly Jewish organization is anti-Semitic is like saying that those who point to the Catholic Church’s pedophile scandal are anti-Catholic, or that condemning violent Islamist extremists is tantamount to hating Muslims. It is ridiculous. It is also clever, because it deters legitimate criticism of Israel or, God forbid, of the lobby by sending a clear message to politicians that any such criticism will cost them mightily. Watching what the lobby and its acolytes, in Congress and out, are saying about Omar would cause anyone in politics to think long and hard before saying anything at all about Israel, other than the effusive statements of praise AIPAC wants. And that is the lobby’s goal: to ensure that Congress never questions Israel about anything, that it just shuts up and keeps the billions of dollars in aid coming. And above all, without conditions, like requiring Israel to take steps to end the occupation, the blockade of Gaza, or to grant equal rights to Palestinians inside Israel and in the occupied territories.

The only thing wrong with Ilhan’s tweets about AIPAC is the seeming suggestion that money is all there is behind US support for Israel. There are many, many reasons why the United States supports the existence of the State of Israel and the security of its people. One of them has always been the Holocaust, which demonstrated that Jews do need a secure refuge because, as has been dramatically illustrated in the United States since the rise of Donald Trump, anti-Semitism remains a contagion that can infect a xenophobic population anywhere. Tell me that there is no need for a Jewish state anymore, and I’ll point to the massacre at the kosher supermarket in Paris or, even more frightening, the slaughter of 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh (the worst act of anti-Jewish terrorism in the history of the United States).

But believing that Israel has every right to exist in peace is not the same as saying that it should continue to occupy or blockade Palestinian lands or deny full democratic rights to the people who live there. It does not mean that we should enact laws that penalize people who choose to boycott Israel because they oppose its policies toward the Palestinians. It does not mean that we should continue to support members of Congress who refuse to put conditions on our aid to Israel, just as we impose conditions on other congressional appropriations, including those that go to our own states and local governments. It certainly does not mean that we have to embrace AIPAC’s number-one priority of recent years: preventing and then destroying President Obama’s nuclear pact with Iran simply because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prefers to deter an Iranian nuclear bomb through war (preferably an American attack) rather than diplomacy.

No, supporting Israel has very little, if anything, to do with keeping quiet about the dangers represented by its out-of-control lobby. In fact, it more likely represents the opposite. AIPAC is bad for America, but it could well be catastrophic for Israel, if it hasn’t been already. This is something more and more Jews (particularly the young) now understand, which is why groups like J Street, IfNotNow, Americans For Peace Now, and Jewish Voice for Peace have come to the fore in recent years and have grabbed their share of the congressional turf, which was once exclusively owned by AIPAC. Joining them are the newly energized Arab American Institute and a significant new player, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, as well as various Palestinian student groups which are ensuring that Palestinian voices are heard, sometimes in concert with the progressive Jewish groups and sometimes on their own. But finally heard.

The bottom line is that despite all the congressional denunciations of Omar and the hysterical denials that AIPAC buys support for Israel with its “Benjamins,” the times are changing. On February 5, when AIPAC’s “Combating BDS” bill passed the Senate, 22 Democrats voted against it. That is a decent number, but the real sign that AIPAC’s power is on the wane is that every Democratic senator who is a candidate for president (except Amy Klobuchar) voted No. They voted No because they are seeking to win support from the Democratic grassroots, which, naturally enough, skews younger and younger, more and more progressive, and less and less white, leading naturally enough to more sympathy for Palestinians and less for Netanyahu’s Israel. That wouldn’t have happened before 2016, when Bernie Sanders embraced Palestinians and their cause as part of his coalition and not only did not lose support because of it but gained it. By 2020, it will be close to impossible for any Democrat to claim the progressive mantle while aligning with AIPAC.

For now, with the Baby Boomers still the most influential segment of the population, AIPAC is holding its own, even happily raising money over the whole Omar incident. But its future looks dim, especially its post-Trump future. And that is very good news.

M.J. Rosenberg

During a long career in Washington, M.J. Rosenberg worked as a Senate and House aide, at the State Department, at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), at Israel Policy Forum, and at Media Matters For America.


(7) NORPAC - AIPAC's Other Half


February 4, 2013

by Marsha B. Cohen

The hearings to confirm Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense seem to have been obsessively focused on Israel, and on the threat Iran poses to Israel, with little interest on the part of most senators on Hagel’s views of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North Korea. Several senators seemed clueless that many of the candidate’s views, expressed in speeches, votes, etc. were the purview of the Secretary of State, not the Secretary of Defense.

Why the obsession with Israel? The quick and easy answer  is AIPAC, which claims the title of “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby” on every page of its website and in all of its publicity. But there’s more to pro-Israel lobbying than AIPAC. Unless you live in New Jersey or Rockland County, New York, and read the New Jersey Jewish Standard — or are a member of the House or Senate — you’ve probably never even heard of NORPAC.

NORPAC is a proudly bipartisan, relatively small and somewhat obscure Political Action Committee (PAC) which has been supporting pro-Israel congressional candidates from both parties for nearly two decades that has joined ranks with right-wing, rabidly partisan Republican neoconservative groups such as the Emergency Committee for Israel in opposition to Hagel’s nomination.

But there’s something truly, totally and uniquely bizarre about NORPAC’s anti-Hagel stance. In order to fully appreciate its monumental cognitive dissonance, it’s necessary to know a bit more about NORPAC, AIPAC and the internal politics of the “pro-Israel community.”


AIPAC, which boasts 100,000 members, receives most of the credit — and blame — for the legislation agenda of “the Israel Lobby.” Despite the widespread misperception — based largely upon the last three letters of the acronym — AIPAC isn’t a Political Action Committee. Contributions to AIPAC go toward the organization’s lobbying activities on behalf of its legislative agenda, not to specific candidates. AIPAC’s Press Office “assists the media with frequently updated briefs on important issues affecting the Middle East and United States/Israel relations” (i.e. churning out statements, memos and tweets that reduce the messy complexities of Middle East politics to straightforward AIPAC talking points) and getting college students of all faiths and backgrounds “politically engaged.”

AIPAC provides seminars in Washington, DC, and trips to Israel for members of Congress and even has its own spinoff think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which regularly participates in AIPAC briefings. It anticipates that its 2013 Annual Policy Conference in Washington, DC, (on March 3-5) will be “the largest gathering of the pro-Israel movement,” to which “thousands of participants come from all 50 states to take part in ‘three of the most important days affecting Israel’s future.’”

But there are things that AIPAC does not do, which NORPAC does, fitting it neatly into the “pro-Israel lobbying” matrix. As an organization, AIPAC doesn’t endorse political candidates, and it doesn’t give them any money. AIPAC also “does not take positions on presidential nominations,” according to spokesman Marshall Whitman. Eli Lake of the Daily Beast reports that AIPAC is staying officially neutral on the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, much to the outraged chagrin of Breitbart’s Joel Pollak. [...]

Michael Lewis (the son of historian Bernard Lewis) who headed — and still heads — AIPAC’s Policy Analysis office, wrote in an internal memo,”There is no question that we exert a policy impact, but working behind the scenes and taking care not to leave fingerprints, that impact is not always traceable to us.”

The North Jersey PAC (NORPAC) was founded in 1992 by Rabbi Menachem Genack, the rabbinic administrator of the Orthodox Union’s kashrut division, just as AIPAC’s political fortunes seemed headed into a tailspin from which many feared (and others dared hope) it might not recover. By 1993, AIPAC was refocusing its attention on lobbying Congress, leaving the presidency to Israel’s Prime Minister, and building an infrastructure for “grass roots lobbying.”

Although the two organizations have remained separate and distinct, there’s been an overlap of talking points, priorities and modus operandi. NORPAC’s leaders describe it as a “single issue” organization, dedicated exclusively to promulgating the passage of Israel-related legislation, of which anti-Iran sanctions have become an integral part. NORPAC has an annual Mission to Washington each May that brings busloads of activists — well over a thousand participants in recent years — to Washington, DC, to meet personally with members of Congress, armed with NORPAC’s talking points and an agenda of legislative priorities on behalf of the “pro-Israel community.” [...]

Here’s how it works: donors give up to the maximum individual contribution of $2,500 to a political candidate through NORPAC, which aggregates it with other donations that are earmarked for that candidate. A single larger and therefore more significant check, channeled through a pro-Israel organization, is then sent to the candidate, with expectations and an agenda. [...]


(8) Surrealism In Omar’s Antisemitism

Brother Nathanael

March 9, 2019

Salvador Dali couldn’t have drawn a more “surreal” painting than this.

For with a montage of faces, accusations, inflated exaggerations, and even spontaneous blessings over Ilhan Omar’s ‘anti-Semitic’ tropes, a bizarre exhibition takes shape.

It opens with—who could’ve predicted this?—a tweet feud between a Somalian and a Jewess.

[Clip: “Congresswoman Ilhan Omar sparking bi-partisan backlash again for anti-Semitic comments. This time, igniting a Twitter feud over the weekend with a fellow Democrat from New York, Nita Lowey, after suggesting US politicians were being forced to quote ‘pledge allegiance to Israel,’ unquote. Congresswoman Lowey fired back Sunday tweeting, “I believe we can debate important policy without using offensive, painful stereotypes.”]

No ‘types’ here since Omar never cited Jews, Jewish, or Judaism, but rather named AIPAC as the ‘all-about-the-Benjamins’ gifters in slanting foreign policy toward Israel. [...]

Got it Jake, try this.

[Clip: “One of our colleagues invokes the classic anti-Semitic tropes, the anti-Semitic language, that Jews control the world, Jews care only about money, Jews cannot be loyal Americans if they also support Israel. This too must be condemned.”]

Oops, wrong clip.

That’s Jewish Congressman Ted Deutch putting words in Omar’s mouth she never said.

If she did who could accuse her of touting old wives’ tales of stereotypes and tropes?

Even I don’t have to say a thing. Let them hang themselves by their own ropes.

It’s all so surreal, with a cast of characters plunging deep within the American psyche that rises from the subconscious into a display that only Salvador Dali could’ve portrayed.

But the heck with it. The House finally passed their Resolution.

It’s not against Anti-Semitism but against “Hate” that protects Gays, Hindus, Mexicans, Muslims, LGBTQs, and…yes, Jews!

Were you left out? Almost every folk and trope is sheltered and roofed.

Don’t worry, it’s okay to be white. I was once a teenage werewolf too.


(0) Ilhan Omar is charged with invoking ‚'myth of dual loyalty' - but many Jewish writers say it's no myth

Philip Weiss on March 1, 2019

In an appearance at Busboys and Poets two nights ago Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar called out Israel supporters for advocating for a foreign country:

"I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country."

Omar's critique is similar to Rep. Rashida Tlaib saying in January that Senate supporters of anti-boycott legislation "forgot what country they represent."

Both congresswomen have come under a rain of attack from Israel supporters for these comments. Which is no surprise, given that the two Muslim women are Israel's strongest critics in the Congress.

Jonathan Chait writes at New York Magazine that Omar's statement is "much worse" than her last controversy, when she ascribed Israel support to financial contributions from the lobby and then apologized for doing so.

Accusing Jews of "allegiance to a foreign country" is a historically classic way of delegitimizing their participation in the political system ....Omar is directly invoking the hoary myth of dual loyalty, in which the Americanness of Jews is inherently suspect, and their political participation must be contingent upon proving their patriotism.

But many Jewish writers and thinkers have raised precisely this "hoary myth" very seriously. They have cited "dual loyalty" as a real factor in the Israel-supporting community, and some have termed it a potential problem. Here's a list:

 - John Judis said in The New Republic in 2007 that the Israel lobby demands "dual loyalty"  - and said the Chaits of the world are operating with bad faith when they attempt to blackball the issue:

[Jewish leaders] want to demand of American Jewish intellectuals a certain loyalty to Israel, Israeli policies, and to Zionism as part of their being Jewish. They make dual loyalty an inescapable part of being Jewish in a world in which a Jewish state exists ...

Many Jews now suffer from dual loyalty - the same way that Cuban-Americans or Mexican-Americans do. By ignoring this dilemma - and, worse still, by charging those who acknowledge its existence with anti-Semitism - the critics of the new anti-Semitism are engaged in a flight from their own political selves. They are guilty of a certain kind of bad faith.

 - Joe Klein cited the supposed myth of "divided loyalties" in 2008 in the context of the push for the Iraq war by the neocons:

The fact that a great many Jewish neoconservatives  -  people like Joe Lieberman and the crowd over at Commentary  -  plumped for this war, and now for an even more foolish assault on Iran, raised the question of divided loyalties: using U.S. military power, U.S. lives and money, to make the world safe for Israel.

 - Rabbi Melissa Weintraub cited the supposed myth when she told a Jewish panel in 2014 that the Iran Deal was a "dual loyalty test" for American supporters of Israel:

Are Israeli interests and American interests actually aligned here? If our American interests do diverge from Israeli interests, what then for us as American Jews? ... There are several positions that have been articulated in the American Jewish community around this agreement, one of which is that this was the ultimate dual loyalty test actually because what arose here was actually a divergence between American and Israeli interests, in which the agreement helped America avert a war and did place Israel in existential danger.

Assailed by other panelists for using the words "dual loyalty," Weintraub doubled down:

The importance of the phrase is that it gets at something that has been articulated in those terms by many Jews whether we use those terms or not, which is a sense of real competing interests ....a real sense of being torn. Because there are those who think that American and Israeli interests don't align here.

 - MJ Rosenberg said in 2014 that dual loyalty is a legitimate issue:

I most certainly do believe that dual loyalty is a valid consideration when any group knowingly chooses the interests of a foreign country over their own. Like Israel Firster, it describes reality. The good news for me is that this is not a Jewish community problem but rather the problem with a small group of Jewish organizational hacks, neocons, and rank-and-file true believers (mostly old), etc. The reason [some] go nuts about "dual loyalty" and "Israel Firster" is because they know how valid the charge is when, as with Iran, people knowingly put the interest of Israel's Likud government above America's.

 - Douglas Rushkoff said he was confused by dual loyalty issues as a boy attending Larchmont Temple and looking at the flags on the altar. (From "Wrestling With Zion," 2003).

The flag on the left was American, and the one on the right was Israeli Which one was I supposed to be looking at when I worshiped? Which one deserved our allegiance ...

I figured the one we Jews really believed in was the Israeli flag. The one with the Jewish star. That was our country, after all ....

So the Jewish flag was our real flag - our secret flag - and the American flag was our conspicuous nod to the nation that we called home ...

The dual flags in temple became a metaphor for me of the role of Jews in America.

 - Eric Alterman made extended remarks in 2009 at the 92d Y, celebrating his dual loyalty:

You know, one of the touchiest words you can say when you're discussing Jews and Israel is the word dual loyalty. It's sort of one of those words that American Jewish officialdom has ruled out of the discourse. If you say dual loyalty, you're playing into the hands of anti-semites, because it's been a consistent trope among anti-Semites that you can't trust Jews. etc. etc. And I find this very confusing because I was raised dually loyal my whole life. When I went to Hebrew school, the content of my Hebrew school was all about supporting Israel. When my parents who I think are here tonight sent me to Israel when I was 14, on a ZOA [Zionist Organization of America]-sponsored trip ... [laughter/backtalk] that was a bad idea, yeah -  it was drummed into me that I should do what's best for Israel.

I was at the Center for Jewish History not long ago where I heard Ruth Wisse, the Yiddishist professor at Harvard who happens to be the Martin L. Peretz professor, instruct a group of young Jewish journalists that they should think of themselves as members of the Israeli army.  ...

I am a dual loyal Jew and sometimes I'm going to actually go with Israel, because the United States can take an awful lot of hits and come up standing. Whereas if Israel takes one serious bad hit it could disappear. So there's going to be some cases where when Israel and the United States conflict I'm going to support what's best for Israel rather than what I think is best for the United States.

Then-editor of the Forward Jane Eisner: Can you imagine a time where you would feel that dual loyalty and go with Israel?

Alterman: I just said, there are many occasions.

Eisner: Can you give us an example?

Alterman: ... I think that bin Laden and 9/11 were to some degree inspired by U.S. support of Israel. I think a great deal of the terrorist attacks and the sort of pool of potential terrorists who want to attack the United States are inspired by the United States support for Israel. I'm not saying we shouldn't support Israel for that reason. I'm saying, Dammit if that's the price we have to pay, then I'm willing to pay it. I'm just saying Let's be honest about it.

 - Alterman named Harvard Yiddish Professor Ruth Wisse as a fellow dual loyalist, for her comments in 2007 at the Center for Jewish History that American Jewish students should serve in the Israeli army:

Every Israeli has to be in the Army for two or three years of his training at least and then a month of every year at least afterwards. I think that American Jews ought to think of themselves the same way, that for a certain part of your life you are just part of that army. Now army life is rotten, it asks you to do things like this [Wisse uses her hands], not to keep thinking. You're not asked to analyze every situation from anew. You have to exercise, you have to learn. That kind of fight that we have to wage takes a totally different kind of advocacy training, of systematic thinking  ...

Wisse gave as an example of serving in that army, countering "Arab students" on a college campus.

 - Gary Rosenblatt in the NY Jewish Week in 2016 described many Trump voters as "Israel Firsters."

Among "Israel firsters" - those who vote primarily on what they believe is best for Israel - I find more and more people saying they may well vote for Trump, based on their dislike and distrust of Clinton and their reasoning that Trump will stand up for Israel more forcefully and openly than Clinton.

 - Elliott Abrams wrote in 1997 that Jews must "stand apart from the nation in which they live":

Outside the land of Israel, there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live. It is the very nature of being Jewish to be apart - except in Israel - from the rest of the population ...

 - In 2016 Dennis Ross told a NY synagogue that American Jews must be advocates for Israel, not for Palestinians:

when we raise questions about what Israel needs to do it shouldn't be seen as if somehow we're advocates for the Palestinians. Plenty of others are advocates for the Palestinians. We don't need to be advocates for Palestinians. We need to be advocates for Israel.

What all these writers and thinkers are saying is that allegiance to Israel is actually an important factor in the support for Israel in the United States, to the point that some support Israel's interests over America's.

None of them is saying that it's treasonous, by the way; some praise that allegiance, some regard it as problematic. But all think it's a real issue. Just as Theodor Herzl and later Arthur Balfour did when they assured British Jews that establishing a Jewish state in Palestine would not undermine their British loyalty.

And Judis makes the necessary correlation: When you characterize such discussion as anti-Semitic, you're acting in bad faith, denying something you know to be true, and seeking to set a redline on an important argument.

That's just what is happening to Omar and Tlaib. Because they have taken the historic step of supporting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) targeting Israel, a first for American politicians, they must be maligned at every turn.


-- Peter Myerswebsite: