News Release

Rep. Omar and the Truth About AIPAC

ALI ABUNIMAH, director at electronicintifada.net, @AliAbunimah
Abunimah wrote the piece “Ilhan Omar under attack for telling truth about Israel lobby.” He is co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, which recently released the documentary “The Lobby,” a four-part undercover investigation into Israel’s covert influence campaign in the United States. The documentary was produced by Al Jazeera, but it was censored after Qatar, the gas-rich Gulf emirate that funds Al Jazeera, came under intense Israel lobby pressure not to air the film. See “Watch the film the Israel lobby didn’t want you to see.”

He said today: “Rep. Ilhan Omar apologized under pressure for supposedly using ‘anti-Semitic tropes’ to criticize the powerful Israel lobby group AIPAC. But the apology was entirely unnecessary. Omar said nothing anti-Semitic, yet the new member of Congress was unable to stand alone against the racist, Islamophobic smear campaign targeting her, not just from the usual quarters — the Republicans and the far right — but from her own party leadership, starting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Despite that ‘apology,’ Omar is standing by her call for a public discussion of the role of AIPAC in U.S. politics, a taboo subject the bipartisan establishment is desperate to avoid.” Abunimah’s books include One Country and The Battle for Justice in Palestine.

[See Twitter thread from Lara Friedman: “Over 15+ yrs working the Hill on Israel-related issues from a non-AIPAC point of view, members/staff (both parties) told me over & over that they agreed with me but didn’t dare say so publicly for fear of repercussions from AIPAC et al. …”]

ABBA SOLOMON, abbasolomon at gmail.com, @Abba_A_Solomon
Solomon is author of The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein’s Speech “The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews.” Solomon said today: “When ‘anti-Semitic tropes’ match with facts, there is a dilemma. Is it possible that it is anti-Semitic to tell the facts of the case of Israeli and Zionist co-option of United States legislators and executive branch? The annual AIPAC Policy Conference has featured astounding numbers of American legislators and cabinet members making obeisance to Israel. The charitable interpretation is that principle drives this behavior. The human Palestinian experience has a difficult time being heard in the halls of the U.S. government in these circumstances, when reward and punishment is well-organized to enforce Israeli ends. The upcoming AIPAC extravaganza is scheduled March 24-26 this year at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.”

SAM HUSSEINI, sam at accuracy.org, @samhusseini
Senior analyst with the Institute for Public Accuracy, Husseini said: “I can see the case for Rep. Omar offering an apology, but a very different one than what she did. It’s shallow to simply reduce U.S. government support for Israel to money to members of Congress or AIPAC, but it’s ridiculous to pretend it’s not a major factor. As Grant Smith has noted, the U.S. government could have effectively marginalized AIPAC by declaring it a foreign agent at any point since it was a project of the American Zionist Council in the 1960s. It didn’t and Israel’s influence on the U.S. now far exceeds that of Russia, despite the current obsessions of many. The U.S. government’s backing of Israel more than anything has to do with geopolitics, most obviously Israel effectively crushing Arab nationalism in 1967, preventing the development of the region along lines remotely responsive to the people of the region. Noam Chomsky has argued that ultimately the tie is based on the settler colonial nature of the two states. Some ask why we can talk about the influence of the NRA and not AIPAC and it’s a good question, but also ironic since talking about the NRA, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz has argued, similarly distracts from the settler origins of the Second Amendment.”