A one-day conference titled, “The Israel Lobby: Is it Good for the US? Is It Good for Israel?” took place on April 10, 2015 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The conference featured several anti-Israel speakers who chose to focus on the alleged role that the “Israel lobby” plays in the U.S.-Israel relationship and to evaluate whether it is positive or negative for both countries.
At the conference, there were six panel discussions on topics such as “What Is the Israel Lobby and How Does It Work?,” “Are Critical Voices Silenced?,” “Is Freedom of Speech Encouraged on American Campuses?,” and “Is the Lobby Good for Israel?” Speakers on the panels included Grant Smith, the founder and director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRMEP); Israeli anti-Zionist author and activist Miko Peled; Gideon Levy, an Israeli journalist from Ha’aretz; Richard Falk, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights; and Huwaida Arraf, a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).
During the discussions, participants spoke about various aspects of the “Israel lobby” and groups that are involved with Israel advocacy work in the U.S. Below are some of the most inflammatory comments from participants at the conference:
- Richard Falk, in his presentation titled “Weakening and discrediting the UN: The work of pro-Israel NGOs,” claimed that the United Nations is biased towards Israel and that pro-Israel groups are engaged in work to delegitimize the UN. He spoke about the recent AIPAC Policy Conference where Senator Lindsey Graham reportedly spoke negatively about the UN and stated that Graham’s remarks didn’t rest on facts, but instead claimed, “It rests on the repetition of the defamation and if you repeat, as Joseph Goebbels understood very well…If you repeat a lie often enough it becomes a kind of publicly accepted truth. And that’s where the very destructive effect of these kinds of tactics occurred.”
- Miko Peled spoke about “How the Lobby enables Israeli Policy: Views of an Israeli in America.” In his remarks, he claimed that Israel was founded on ethnic cleansing and that Israel is an illegitimate state because “Israel was created as a result of a brutal ethnic cleansing and established itself as an apartheid regime immediately when it was formed. There was no better Israel. There was no uncorrupt Israel. There cannot be an uncorrupt Israel because it was built on a crime and has no legitimacy.”
- Gideon Levy’s presentation, which was titled “Does unconditional support for Israel endanger Israeli voices?,” addressed whether or not the U.S.-Israel relationship is corrupt and whether it has had a negative impact on both countries. Levy stated, “We are dealing with a corrupting friendship. I think that if it wouldn’t be the Israel lobby, Israel would have been today a better place to live in. Israel would have been a more just place. And I think that if there wasn’t an Israel lobby, the United States would have been a better place and a more democratic place, but it’s not for me to judge the American politics.”
- Grant Smith delivered a presentation titled “How big is the Lobby and what does it do? An overview of the 501(c) universe,” and in his remarks, he claimed that U.S. taxpayers are “victims” who are owed money from Israel for U.S. aid that he believes was delivered to Israel on false pretext. He also labeled pro-Israel groups in the U.S. as “Israel-affinity groups” and claimed that, “The education and training indoctrination segment of Israel-affinity groups and organizations is really involved with training within the community, Zionist education.