One take on AIPAC policy conference, a fake press release and some flaky demonstrations

You can’t turn around today without reading blogs and news items about the AIPAC policy conference, underway in Washington cavernous Convention Center; one of the most interesting comes from the Atlantic’s prolific Jeff Goldberg.

In an item headlined “The Problem with the AIPAC Policy Conference,” Goldberg  argues that “the list of speakers, apart from the usual suspects… includes analysts and advocates from such organizations as the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, CAMERA, and so on — the full range of conservative-leaning think tanks.”

Sure, there are a few “analysts not associated with Republican Party views on the Middle East,” he writes, but they are generally not talking about the “core” issues of the Middle East conflict. A panel that asks whether Israel is treated fairly in the press is dominated by leaders of organizations that already have the answer (guess, why don’tcha).

It’s not that Goldberg, not exactly a flaming leftie, disagrees with the analysis of many of these hardliners; what bothers him is “the dearth of speakers who approach the most contentious issues of the Middle East from a left-Zionist perspective… Most American Jews voted for Obama; most American Jews are liberal; and most American Jews understand the difference between the legitimate security needs of the State of Israel and the theological, political and economic needs of the small minority of Israelis who have settled the West Bank.”

Meanwhile, this morning reporters awakened to a startling press release touting a remarkable AIPAC statement calling on the Israeli government to “immediately freeze new settlement projects, both in the West Bank and Jerusalem.”

Say what? AIPAC calling for a complete settlement freeze? In Jerusalem?

Experienced reporters quickly smelled a rat, and sure enough, within an hour AIPAC spokesman Josh Block said it was a fake. National Public Radio apparently has only a superficial knowledge of AIPAC; this morning the group reported the bogus press statement as fact, leading to an embarrassing retraction later in the day.

I also received an email from Code Pink, announcing that the group is holding a press conference to “condemn AIPAC’s call for continued military aid to Israel, which last year was used in the attack on Gaza, breaking international law.” The group also plans to “stage” a settlement inside a Senator’s office,” whatever that means.

Cool; the group are now part of a long tradition of AIPAC protestors that include the anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox guys who protest outside the Policy Conference every year, and draw cable news reporters like a picnic draws flies) and guys who think AIPAC is spying on them personally, and maybe sending them messages on their tooth fillings.

Somehow I don’t think Code Pink is making AIPAC nervous.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.