Thursday, April 2, 2015

“The Israel Lobby: Is It Good for the US? Is It Good for Israel?”

Join us at the National Press Club on April 10 from 8 AM to 5 PM for an unprecedented, frank and overdue look at the power of the Israel Lobby in the United States.

Pro-Israel lobbying organizations and individuals were at the forefront of the push for a US attack on Iraq.  Most have now set their sights on Iran. Since Israel’s founding, the United States has provided it unprecedented military, financial and diplomatic support.  Many in Israel and within the Lobby expect the United States to unconditionally support anything Israel does, from expanding its illegal settlements to flouting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

While many attribute Israel’s influence over the US to Israel’s value as an ally, others point to American lobbying organizations, such as AIPAC.  But just how powerful are they?  How many are there, and what do they really do? Are they good for the US?  Are they good for Israel? 


Current students and facultynews media and congressional and other federal government employees may apply online for a free conference pass.
Members of the public may register online for the program and lunch for $75 at until April 9. Same-day registration is available for $99 on a limited first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8 AM on the 13th floor of the National Press Club. For more information call (202) 939-6050.

“The Israel Lobby: Is It Good for the US? Is It Good for Israel?” Panels

Registration 8:00 to 8:55 AM (Bookstore open)

1.0 What Is the Israel Lobby and How Does It Work? 9:00 AM

    1. Grant Smith: How big is the Lobby and what does it do? An overview of the 501(c) universe.
    2. Seth Morrison: From the Jewish National Fund to Jewish Voice for Peace and BDS.
    3. Jeffrey Blankfort: The ADL: Covert action, censure, and courting law-enforcement.

2.0 Are Critical Voices Silenced? 10:10 AM

    1. Prof. Richard Falk: Weakening and discrediting the UN: The work of pro-Israel NGOs.
    2. Dr. Alice Rothchild: Silencing voices that question Israeli actions.
    3. Dr. Jack Shaheen: The use of cultural stereotypes to shape policy.

3.0 Is Freedom of Speech Encouraged on American Campuses? 11:35 AM

    1. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh: Daring to speak out on campus.
    2. Dima Khalidi: Pressures on universities to discipline and punish students and faculty for speech activities.
    3. Ahmad Saadaldin: Overcoming obstacles: SJP successes.

4.0 Is the Lobby Good for Israel? 1:15 PM

    1. Miko Peled: How the Lobby enables Israeli policy: Views of an Israeli in America.
    2. Gideon Levy: Does unconditional support for Israel endanger Israeli voices?
    3. Huwaida Arraf: The situation of Arab citizens of Israel: Views of an Arab citizen of Israel.

5.0 How Does the Lobby Influence Congress? 2:25 PM

    1. Former AIPAC employee M.J. Rosenberg: Is it all about the money?
    2. Former Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV): My experience with the Israel Lobby; The use of dark money.
    3. Former Rep. Paul Findley (R-IL): What I should have done, and what Congress can do today.

6.0 Is There an Iraq-Iran Continuum? 3:50 PM

    1. Gareth Porter: The push for war on Iran.
    2. Reza Marashi: The Iran nuclear deal.
    3. Paul Pillar: AIPAC/Netanyahu objectives and the American interest.

Conference Organizers are:

Speakers include (in alphabetical order):

Amani Alkhatahtbeh is the founding editor-in-chief of, a blog aimed at eliminating stereotypes surrounding Islam and promoting the place of Muslim women in Western societies. She ran into trouble with Rutgers University trustees and its daily newspaper, The Daily Targum, which decided that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. In June 2014, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee named Alkhatahtbeh its media relations specialist.

Huwaida Arraf is a Palestinian-American lawyer and human rights advocate. As the daughter of an Israeli-born Palestinian, she is also a citizen of Israel.  In 2001 Arraf co-founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Arraf was one of the initiators and organizers of a delegation of American lawyers to Gaza in February 2009, and co-authored the report on their findings. She is the former chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement, and led five successful sea voyages to the Gaza Strip to challenge Israel’s illegal blockade. Arraf was one of the primary organizers of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and was traveling with it when Israeli forces lethally attacked it on May 31, 2010.

Jeffrey Blankfort is a photojournalist and radio host. It was his first trip to Lebanon and Jordan in 1970 to take photos for a book on the Palestinian struggle that led to his involvement in their cause. He became a founding member of the November 29th Committee on Palestine and a co-founder of the Labor Committee on the Middle East. Blankfort currently hosts a twice-monthly program on international affairs for KZYX, the public radio station for Mendocino County in Northern California.

Richard Anderson Falk is professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. He is the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 volumes, including Achieving Human Rights, Israel-Palestine on Record: How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East with Howard Friel, and The Costs of War: International Law, the UN, and World Order after Iraq. From 2008 to 2014 Falk served as UN Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”

Paul Findley served the 20th District of Illinois as its Republican representative during 11 terms in Congress, from 1961 to 1983. He wrote the very first book to analyze the pervasive influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on U.S. politics, policy, and institutions from the perspective of Congress. Carefully documented with specific case histories, They Dare To Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby reveals how the Israel Lobby works to shape important aspects of U.S. foreign policy and influences congressional, senatorial, and presidential elections. Findley is co-founder of the Council for the National Interest.

Dima Khalidi is the founder and director of the Palestine Solidarity Legal Support (PSLS), and cooperating counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). Her work includes providing legal advice to activists, engaging in advocacy to protect their rights to speak out for Palestinian rights, and educating activists and the public about their rights.

Gideon Levy is a columnist for the Israeli daily Haaretz and a member of its editorial board. Levy joined Haaretz in 1982, and spent four years as the newspaper’s deputy editor. He is the author of the weekly “Twilight Zone” feature, which covers the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza over the last 25 years, as well as the writer of political editorials for the newspaper.

Reza Marashi joined the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) in 2010 as the organization’s first research director. He came to NIAC after four years in the State Department’s Office of Iranian Affairs. Marashi is frequently consulted by Western governments on Iran-related matters. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and The Atlantic, among other publications.

Seth Morrison has held leadership posts in various local, regional and national Jewish organizations, starting in college as a youth leader in Young Judea. He is currently active in Jewish Voice for Peace, serving on the DC Metro Chapter Steering Committee and on the national Congressional Outreach Committee. In 2011, Morrison resigned from the Washington, DC board of the Jewish National Fund in protest over Israel’s repeated evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.

Miko Peled is an Israeli writer and activist living in the U.S. He was born and raised in Jerusalem. Driven by a personal family tragedy to explore Palestine, its people and their narrative, he has written a book about his journey called The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. The book covers Peled’s family history since his grandparents immigrated to Palestine in the early 20th century. Peled’s maternal grandfather was a signer of the Israeli Declaration of Independence; his father was a general in the Israeli army.

Dr. Paul Pillar is a Nonresident Senior Fellow of the Center for Security Studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He retired in 2005 from a 28-year career in the US intelligence community, in which his last position was National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia. Earlier he served in a variety of analytical and managerial positions, including chief of CIA analytic units, covering portions of the Near East, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia.

Gareth Porter is an investigative journalist and historian who specializes in U.S. foreign and military policy. He has written five books, including Perils of Dominance, Imbalance of Power and The Road to War in Vietnam. His most recent book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. The book highlights the impact that the United States alliance with Israel had on Washington’s turning the International Atomic Energy Agency into a tool of its anti-Iran policy. In 2012 Porter was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Investigative Journalism by the UK-based Gellhorn Trust. 

Former Democratic Congressman Nick Rahall, a grandson of Lebanese immigrants, represented West Virginia in the U.S. Congress from 1977 to 2015. When he was elected, the 27-year-old became the youngest member of Congress. Rahall has repeatedly expressed concern about America’s relationship with Israel, stating, “Israel can’t continue to occupy, humiliate and destroy the dreams and spirits of the Palestinian people and continue to call itself a democratic state.” Rahall was one of only 8 House members to vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq in 2002 that preceded the Iraq War.

M.J. Rosenberg is a writer, primarily on matters relating to Israel. He is a regular contributor to The Nation and theHuffington Post, and his writings are widely reprinted throughout the world. He has special expertise on the Israel Lobby, having been employed by several pro-Israel organizations between 1973 and 1975, and 1982 and 1986. His last post was as editor of AIPAC’s Near East Report and as senior adviser to then-Executive Director Thomas Dine.

Alice Rothchild is a Boston-based physician, author and filmmaker who, since 1997, has focused on human rights and social justice in the Israel/Palestine conflict.  Her early political interests involved opposing the Vietnam War, and working for women’s reproductive rights and health care reform. Dr. Rothchild is an active member of Jewish Voice for Peace, American Jews for a Just Peace, Workmen’s Circle Mideast Working Group, and the Gaza Mental Health Program. In 2003 Dr. Rothchild began co-organizing health and human rights delegations to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. She has just returned from one of those delegations.

Ahmad Saadaldin is a filmmaker/producer, creative writer, actor, and grassroots organizer. He is dedicated to sharing untold stories in order to raise awareness and create positive change. Through grassroots organizing and filmmaking, he does his best to bring attention to deserving topics. As a public relations major at the University of South Florida, Saadaldin organized the largest grassroots campaign in the university’s history, collecting more than 10,000 signatures calling on the school to divest endowment funds from corporations complicit in human rights violations (#USF4HumanRights).

Jack Shaheen is an acclaimed author and media critic. His lectures and writings illustrate that damaging racial and ethnic stereotypes of Arabs, blacks, and others injure innocent people. He defines crude caricatures, explains why they persist, and provides workable solutions to help shatter misconceptions. Dr. Shaheen, a distinguished visiting scholar at New York University (NYU), served as a CBS News Consultant on Middle East Affairs from 1993-98. As a professional film consultant, he has consulted with writers and producers.

Grant F. Smith is the director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) in Washington, DC. He is the author of two unofficial histories of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, as well as books about Israel’s spying and nuclear weapons programs. Smith has initiated lawsuits against the Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency under the Freedom of Information Act for public release of files officially acknowledging Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program and unprosecuted weapons-grade uranium diversions from the United States.

More detailed speaker biographies, as well as information about the moderators (Helena Cobban, Delinda Hanley, Janet McMahon, Askia Muhammad, and Dale Sprusansky) are available at

More Information

See and @IsraelLobbyUS on Twitter for final updates.
Speakers’ books will be available at the conference for sale and signing. Those unable to attend can purchase the books from AET’s Middle East Books and More.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @IsraelLobbyUS and on <>.

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