An anti-Israel conference to counter this weekend’s annual AIPAC Policy Conference will begin today and includes a variety of events, rallies and public demonstrations through March 6.
This year’s protest event, titled “Occupy AIPAC,” seeks to capitalize on the success of the Occupy Movement and foster common cause between the popular social protests and anti-Israel efforts. The event’s Twitter feed tries to paint Israel and its supporters in the U.S. as part of the proverbial “1%” and the left-wing antiwar movement as the 99%, a repurposing of the Occupy Movement’s rhetoric. In addition, one of the conference sessions links the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street Movement with anti-Israel efforts.
The conference session that is likely to feature the most egregious rhetoric is titled “AIPAC: What it is, who its allies are, why it’s dangerous and how to stop it.” It will feature, among others, Hatem Bazian, the leader of the extreme anti-Israel organization American Muslims for Palestine; Jeffrey Blankfort, an anti-Israel journalist who claims that the “Israel lobby” controls U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East; and Alison Weir, the director of the Council for the National Interest. Weir’s writings and comments have at times crossed the line into anti-Semitism, including accusing Israelis of harvesting Palestinians’ organs. According to descriptions provided on the conference Web site, the session will include a segment on how AIPAC “promotes Muslim otherness.”
Conference attendees will have the opportunity to participate in several rallies and demonstrations against AIPAC events, including protests outside the White House during President Obama’s and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speeches.
Occupy AIPAC’s Twitter feed accuses AIPAC of excessive control over U.S. policy, including posts reading “We want our country back” and “End big money lobbyist control of MidEast Policy.”
The conference has already attracted at least one anti-Semitic attendee, Charles Carlson. Carlson is the co-founder and director of “We Hold These Truths,” an Arizona-based Christian anti-Semitic group that regularly protests outside Christian Zionist churches. In a message to his members inviting people to join him at “Occupy AIPAC,” Carlson wrote:
"Every political candidate for president is bowing and scraping to the state of Israel...they are not appealing for Israeli votes, but for the tens of millions of American Christian Zionist votes…Thousands of mistaken and opportunistic Pastors also fear the truth because they have mislead their congregations. Knowledge of Christian Zionism can drive a stake through it, to be someday buried in the graveyard of apostate, religious acts of war."