Israel Lobby Watch

Why Isn't Israel Talking to Hamas?

The blinkered government of Israel continues to undermine normalcy in Palestine and the peace process as the world is slowly but surely reaching out to initiate a dialogue with a new unity government of Palestine still dominated by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas). It is painfully obvious that Israel is no longer interested in a peace process leading to a two-state solution, and in any event won’t make a move in that direction without a push from the US. Meanwhile, the blurring of lines between legal and illegal foreign aid has been made clear for several years. 

Subcommittee hosts anti-Palestinian threesome

Hubris leads directly to disrespect. Back in power for just a handful of weeks, Rep. Gary Ackerman, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, is already displaying his disregard for the Peace Movement, Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, the unfairly maligned progressive Jewish community, and, well, generally anyone who favors a fair debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No such debate will occur on Valentine’s Day when Ackerman’s Subcommittee hosts a stacked and biased witness list. None of the three witnesses who will be present can be described as a vigorous advocate on behalf of Palestinian rights and freedom. 

Media fall for pro-Israel hate group's "Terror Free Oil"

National Public Radio and the BBC have been among the countless media outlets to give prominent publicity to an organization calling itself “Terror Free Oil,” (TFO) which has established gasoline filling stations in several US cities. Much of the coverage has read like a press release for the organization, or treated it as a cute feature story. The fundamentally racist nature of the claims the company makes, and the long history of anti-Muslim statements and activities of its founder have been ignored. EI co-founder Ali Abunimah investigates. 

Silencing critics not way to Middle East peace

Last Sunday in San Francisco, the Anti-Defamation League sponsored “Finding Our Voice,” a conference designed to help Jews recognize and confront the “new anti-Semitism.” For me, it was ironic. Ten days before, my own voice was silenced by fellow Jews. I was to give a talk about our Middle East policy to high school students at the Harker School in San Jose. With one day to go, my contact there called to say my appearance had been canceled. He was apologetic and upset. He expected the talk would be intellectually stimulating and intriguing for students. But, he said, “a certain community of parents” complained to the headmaster. He added, without divulging details, that the Jewish Community Relations Council of Silicon Valley had played a role. 

Pro-Israel Censorship Hurts Us All

One day in 1981, my late father, Maurice Hanna Bisharat, returned from a long day at his Sacramento, Calif., medical office with an extra bounce in his step, his eyes dancing with excitement. His friend, Michael Himovitz, the young owner of a local art gallery, had called, offering to hold a one-person show of my father’s paintings - mostly California landscapes. My father had taken up painting after immigrating to this country from Palestine in the late 1940s, and although an amateur, had won a national art award within two years. 

The hidden cost of free congressional trips to Israel

Democrats in Congress have moved quickly — and commendably — to strengthen ethics rules. But truly groundbreaking reform was prevented, in part, because of the efforts of the pro-Israel lobby to preserve one of its most critical functions: taking members of Congress on free “educational” trips to Israel. The pro-Israel lobby does most of its work without publicity. But every member of Congress and every would-be candidate for Congress comes to quickly understand a basic lesson. Money needed to run for office can come with great ease from supporters of Israel, provided that the candidate makes certain promises, in writing, to vote favorably on issues considered important to Israel. 

Debate? What debate?

There is a misperception in various world locales of Washington’s debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Namely, that substantive debate exists at all. In fact, the debate in the power corridors of Washington is highly constrained, almost non-existent. Should we engage with President Mahmoud Abbas now or require him to leap through several more hoops — including civil war — first? Serious argument on the injustice of Israel’s long-running occupation simply does not take place other than at the margins. The reason for the silence has become increasingly clear with the publication of President Carter’s courageous book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid

Academic Freedom and Professional Responsibility after 9/11

The Taskforce on Middle East Anthropology is pleased to announce a practical handbook for those facing politically motivated infringements on their teaching or scholarship. Attempts to undermine professors’ abilities to teach and do research are increasingly directed at scholars who seek to provide a contextualized and critical view of recent international developments and their interaction with US foreign policies and practices. This handbook provides an overview of the range and nature of recent challenges to academic freedom. It provides concrete suggestions for how to respond to such attacks and to avoid them in the first place. 

Israel Looking for an Extreme Makeover

OAKLAND, California (IPS) - It hasn’t been the easiest year for Israel. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s strongly criticised Israel in his new bestselling book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, and a recent international consumer survey found that Israel has the worst “brand name” of any country in the world. Finally, The Sunday Times of London reported this week that the Israeli Air Force may be preparing to use low grade, tactical nuclear weapons to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities. So perhaps it is not surprising that Israel — whose international image is of a country in continuous conflict — would engage in a serious long-term effort to reshape global perceptions of itself. 

Sole protester greets otherwise unchallenged Lieberman

Every once in a while I end up at precisely the right spot at precisely the right time. Sunday 10 December 2006 was one such instance. I raced over that morning to the Ritz-Carlton at 22nd and M Street in Washington, DC with the hope that Member of Knesset Avigdor Lieberman was indeed speaking at 8:30 am. I parked, charged up the stairs, and then calmly walked in. I was sporting my wedding suit and a classy yellow tie. Hair cut short. Other than the touch long beard and some scuffs on my black dress shoes, I very much looked as though I belonged. And, in fact, it’s a shame I was not invited to the Saban Forum 2006 on “America and Israel: Confronting a Middle East in Turmoil.”