By Ralph Nader
Following the heavy coverage of AIPAC’s (the virulently pro-Israeli government lobby) multi-day annual Washington convention in March, the mainstream media might have been interested for once in covering alternative viewpoints like those discussed at the April 10th conference “The Israel Lobby: Is it Good for the US? Is it Good for Israel?”. Fairness and balance in reporting should produce at least some coverage of such an event.
Organized by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, which was launched about thirty years ago by a British Army Officer who served in World War II and two retired U.S. Ambassadors to countries in the Middle East (wrmea.org), the day-long program at the prestigious National Press Club should have been intriguing to reporters. After all, are they not interested in important, taboo-challenging presentations on a critical dimension of U.S. foreign and military policy?
The presenters were much more newsworthy than most of the speakers at the AIPAC convention who redundantly restated the predictable AIPAC line. “The Israel Lobby: Is it Good for the US? Is it Good for Israel?” had presenters ranging from the courageous, principled columnist, Gideon Levy of Israel’s best and most serious newspaper, Haaretz; Princeton Professor emeritus of international law and the former UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinian territories, Richard Falk; former members of Congress, Paul Findley (R-IL) and Nick Rahall (D-WV); author and an Israeli general’s son, Miko Peled; Dr. Jack Shaheen, the award-winning author documenting stereotypes of Arabs and Arab-Americans in Hollywood and the U.S. media; and even a former AIPAC supporter M. J. Rosenberg (mjrosenberg.net) who witnessed the power of AIPAC money as both a congressional staffer and later an AIPAC senior staffer in the nineteen eighties.
Gideon Levy, the dean of Israeli Journalists, who knows first-hand the situation on the ground in Israel and occupied Palestine, referred to Israel’s intensely intrusive pressure on the U.S. during Iranian nuclear negotiations. He offered the phrase: “United States of Israel,” and said, “many times when someone looks at the relations between Israel and the United States, one might ask, who is really the superpower between the two?”
Mr. Levy described Israel as a society that “lives in denial, totally disconnected from reality” that “lost connection with the reality in its backyard, it totally lost connection with the international environment.”
The veteran journalist stunned the packed audience when he said that “the two state solution is dead.” With the Israeli occupation going “deeper and deeper,” he pointed to the “systematic dehumanization of the Palestinians,” Israelis presenting themselves as occupying victims and the belief by many Israelis that they “are the chosen people” and “have the right to do what we want,” as the basis for the occupation.
The serious, continuing breaches over decades of international law by Israel and its backer, the U.S. government, were described by Richard Falk who felt the brunt of these powers during his six-year term as the UN Rapporteur just for connecting the facts to the laws, and noting widely acknowledged continuing violations of UN resolutions and the Geneva Conventions.
Former Congressman Paul Findley spoke of politicians cowering before AIPAC because of the “anxiety over being accused of anti-Semitism.” AIPAC is a leading anti-Semitic organization against the Arab peoples and the thousands of innocent civilian Palestinians and Lebanese children and adults slaughtered by the U.S.-armed Israeli armed forces. (See Doctor James Zogby’s remarks about ‘The Other Anti-Semitism’, delivered Hebrew University in Israel in 1994.)
AIPAC, knowing that the Israeli military was engaged daily as brutalizing occupiers, has never openly disavowed its support for such destruction of innocent humans and human rights even when the videotaped devastation horrified the civilized world. AIPAC was conspicuously silent during the illegal U.S. invasion and violent sociocide of Iraq—a nation that did not threaten the U.S.
A surprise speaker was the just defeated 38-year veteran of the House of Representatives, former Congressman Nick Joe Rahall. Apparently, now extricated from AIPAC’s Congressional clutches, he is now free to stand tall for human rights and speak freely and describe the congressional obeisance to the Israel lobby from the inside.
Unfortunately, there was no panel representing either U.S. taxpayers, who foot the bill for the billions of dollars spent yearly, nor the U.S. soldiers who have been sent to kill or be killed in military invasions and other attacks backed by this self-defeating Israeli-U.S. government alliance that just worsens the insecurities in the Middle East, spreads into savage sectarian struggles and portends more boomerangs against peace and justice in the world.
So, where were the reporters of the mainstream media? Where was C-SPAN during a week when Congress was on a holiday and their cameras were not preoccupied by Capitol Hill activities—its foremost priority? Apparently, the American people were only to see and hear the extreme views of AIPAC that do not even command the support of a majority of American Jews who do favor a two-state solution, along with a majority of Arab-Americans.
It is true that a few members of the mainstream media RSVP’d to attend this conference, but they did not show up or write anything about it before or after.
Nonetheless, thanks to the Internet, you can see the entire one-day conference online.
In the meantime, how about a little retrospective evaluation, by those so authorized, in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press and Reuters to make better judgements about providing balanced news the next time around. As for the absentee “fair and balanced” Fox News—well, what do you expect?
– Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. Visit: Nader.org.