Daniel Luban

AIPAC conference comes amid turmoil

WASHINGTON (IPS) - The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Washington’s powerful and hawkish pro-Israel lobby, kicked off its annual policy conference this weekend during a period of unusual turbulence both for the organization and for the US-Israel relationship. AIPAC won a notable victory on Friday, when prosecutors moved to dismiss charges against two former AIPAC staffers who had been accused of committing espionage violations by passing classified information to the Israeli government and to reporters. 

Amnesty: Obama administration must embargo arms to Israel

NEW YORK (IPS) - A prominent international human rights organization has called for an arms embargo against both Israel and Hamas after finding evidence that both sides used foreign-supplied arms to commit war crimes during the recent conflict in Gaza. In a report released Monday, Amnesty International found that weapons produced in the United States and Europe, including white phosphorus shells, were used in “indiscriminate” Israeli attacks that killed civilians in Gaza. 

Gaza tensions shadow UN Holocaust ceremony

UNITED NATIONS (IPS) - The president of the United Nations General Assembly was a last-minute no-show at the UN’s annual ceremony commemorating the Holocaust, following an intense lobbying campaign by pro-Israel organizations to have him removed from the program. Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann had come under fire for his harsh criticisms of Israeli policies, leading to suspicions that his failure to deliver a scheduled speech at the event was due to political considerations. 

US Jewish "peace" lobby isolated on Gaza

WASHINGTON (IPS) - The three-week-old war in Gaza — halted Saturday by an Israeli ceasefire — has had a polarizing effect on the United States Jewish community, resulting in a deeper and at times acrimonious split between dovish groups that are skeptical of the Israeli military campaign, and centrist and hawkish groups that have been broadly supportive of it. 

Olmert's claims revive specter of "Israel Lobby"

WASHINGTON (IPS) - The US State Department fiercely denied claims made by Ehud Olmert about his influence over President Bush, in an incident that has stirred up old debates about the role of the Israeli government and the so-called “Israel lobby” in formulating Middle East policy in Washington. On Monday, Olmert claimed that he demanded and received an immediate conversation with President Bush, during which he convinced the president to overrule the wishes of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and abstain from a United Nations resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. 

In Washington, all roads lead to Tehran

WASHINGTON (IPS) - As the war in Gaza approaches its third week, a chorus of influential voices in the United States media has cast the conflict as a proxy war in which the real enemy is not Hamas but Iran. The result has been a growing tendency in the US to view Gaza as simply one battleground in a larger war between Iran and the West, and to dismiss the stated concerns of the Palestinians as a mere smokescreen for Iranian influence.