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David Bedein

AIPAC: Lobby for Whom? A Hands On- Account of The AIPAC Annual Conference, March 2013 -- What about Incitement and why Barak?

By David Bedein, Washington, March 12, 2013

Reprinted with permission from:

AIPAC, the lobby for Israel in the United States, defines itself as an American organization which advocates for Israel. It is no small accomplishment for a lobby organization to galvanize 13,000 American citizens from all walks of life to attend an AIPAC conference in Washington, where AIPAC held dozens of sessions which focused on the existential threats to Israel at this time.

A well known policy of AIPAC is that it will always support Israeli government policy, especially when it is clearly stated by the Israeli government to AIPAC as government policy.

So it was in 1993, when Israel took the dramatic turn to recognized the PLO, and AIPAC followed suit for years to come by holding sessions at their annual conferences which recognized the PLO as a peace partner.

Indeed, the AIPAC sessions in the 1990's were a far cry from what I heard at the AIPAC conference that I covered in May 1987, when cheering AIPAC delegates stood on their feet and joined Reagan's Secretary of State George Schultz in chanting HELL NO PLO...Only 18 months later, Reagan granted recognition to the the PLO.

After Israel decided to expel the Jewish communities of Katif and Northern Shomron, I covered the AIPAC conference in May 2005, where AIPAC trotted out a few Israelis from Katif whose homes were about to be demolished who praised the Israeli government for its "actions for peace".

This year, the expectation in covering the AIPAC conference was that, once again, AIPAC would support Israeli government policy.

Indeed, over the past two years, an inter-ministerial Israeli government task force on incitement, has been operating out of the office of the Prime Minister of Israel

The Israeli government presented its case on official Palestinian Authority incitement at the UN on February 28, 2013, the week before the AIPAC conference where the Israeli government presented evidence that the the PLO and its administrative entity, the Palestinian National Authority, were carrying out a policy of war incitement to liberate Palestine, all of Palestine, in the official outlets of the Palestinian Ministry of Education, Palestinian Ministry of Communications, the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation and the three official PLO newspapers, while the Palestinian Authority was conducting a policy of increased cooperation with the Hamas, which Israel had expected the PLO and the PNA to combat.

To make sure that the pro Israel world would know more about official PLO/PNA incitement, senior Israeli government officials convened a consultation with the professional staff of AIPAC and made an official request: that AIPAC include the Palestinian incitement to war issue on the March 2013 AIPAC conference agenda

However, the official Palestinian incitement to war was not included on the March 2013 AIPAC conference agenda.

Instead, AIPAC presented Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak, with less than a week to go in his term in office, to key note the AIPAC conference, with a message that Israel will have to recognize a PLO state - unilaterally - without a word about the message of incitement that the PLO continues to convey to the Palestinian Arab people and to the entire Arab world. AIPAC did not make it clear that Ehud Barak does not speak for the policies of the government of Israel.

As if Barak's message was not a hard act to follow, AIPAC held sessions conducted by key officials of the US State Department who lauded the achievements made by the PLO and by PA Prime Minister Fayad, without AIPAC inviting anyone to present a single word about the schools and media under Fayad which continue to promote the right of return and the armed struggle to liberate Palestine, all of Palestine.

Following that, AIPAC presented the scholar of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, David Makovsky, who lauded the peaceful intentions of Machmud Abbas. Makovksy, would not answer the question about Abbas refusing to utter a word of peace in the Arabic language on the official PBC, the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, and did not see any difficulty in the fact that Abbas, in his new year's message to the Palestinian Arab people, shown on massive screen to roaring crowds in Gaza, used that opportunity to praise a litany of those who had murdered Jews and concluded his seminal message with praise for the legacy of the Hitler's ally, the Mufti.

Makovsky brushed aside the new official PA curriculum for "right of return" through the "armed struggle" by asserting that that a political agreement is more important than spending time on “such matter”

Instead of AIPAC bringing in a scholar proficient in Arabic who would balance Makovsky's "perspective" with a report for AIPAC on what Abbas's official “Voice of Palestine” does convey in Arabic, AIPAC trotted out the most articulate PLO lobbyist in Washington, Mr. Ghaith Omary, the head of the “American Task Force for Palestine.” Omary spoke convincingly in front of 1200 people at his AIPAC session and seemed to hold his own in convincing lobbyists of AIPAC that there would be peace tomorrow morning if Israel were only to relinquish the areas taken in the six day war in 1967. AIPAC did not see fit to place someone on the deis who would balance the silver tongue of a key Arab lobbyist.

On a more positive note, AIPAC did run session on UNRWA reform, since the Israeli government now deals with the subject of UNRWA reform. AIPAC featured two experts who spoke clearly about the need to revise the policies of UNRWA, which received 30% of its funding from the US, from encouraging the right of return. A subject brought up for discussion at the AIPAC UNRWA sessions was that UNRWA would have to rid itself of the Hamas terrorists, who have taken over control of the UNRWA teachers union and the and UNRWA trade union in Gaza. However, the AIPAC staffer who chaired the session became an advocate of of UNRWA, and asserted that UNRWA had ridden itself of terrorist influence. The AIPAC staff person would not accept years of research which documented that HAMAS had indeed taken over the unions and schools in Gaza. AIPAC did not see fit to call on experts to contradict the AIPAC staffers with facts, research and another perspective.

After this conference, the question remains: For whom does AIPAC lobby? And what happened to AIPAC's policy that it would “always support Israeli government policy”?

One thing for sure: The 13,000 activists who attended the 2013 annual AIPAC conference had no idea that there is a new Israeli government policy to combat the consistent Palestinian Authority incitement to war- to liberate Palestine, all of Palestine.


Ten questions to AIPAC spokespeople from David Bedein

1. Senior officials of the Israeli government requested that AIPAC include continuing Palestinian Authority incitement to war on the March 2013 AIPAC conference agenda. Why was incitement not on the agenda?

2. Why did AIPAC not make it clear to conference participants that Israel Defen

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