Read the full, comprehensive report: The Top Ten Anti-Israel Groups in America (PDF).
The ten years since the September 2000 outbreak of the second intifada have been marked by a period of highly charged anti-Israel and anti-Zionist activity in the U.S. In the last decade, hundreds of groups around the country have renewed and increased their efforts to castigate and condemn Israel through a variety of campaigns, initiatives and events.
Israel's detractors use a plethora of weapons to assault Israel's legitimacy, including drawing parallels between Israel and Nazi Germany and alleging that Israel is akin to apartheid South Africa and that its policies toward the Palestinians are motivated by racism.
They hold Israel to a different standard than other countries, condemning it for implementing policies to protect its citizens, and pursuing boycott, divestment and sanctions ("BDS") campaigns. These accusations are rarely mitigated by acknowledgement of Israel's right to protect its citizens from the constant threat of Palestinian terrorism.
While Israel and its policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians have been scrutinized since the creation of the Jewish State, the recent intensification of the American anti-Israel movement can be specifically attributed to two key factors:
- The strategy of the anti-Israel movement to point to the U.S.'s alliance with Israel as a primary factor motivating the American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This has encouraged many in the anti-war movement to adopt a core anti-Israel position and condemn the special relationship between Israel and the U.S. In addition, the anti-war movement has forged an alliance with Muslim and Arab community groups seeking to cast Israel as anathema to American interests, which had led to increased coordination and greater participation in anti-Israel activity.
- The advent and widespread popularity of user-generated content, including various social networking sites and blogs, which have provided anti-Israel individuals with the space to express and promote their views. These new media outlets have created a unique opportunity for like-minded individuals and groups to mobilize, coordinate and spread their campaigns and messages to larger audiences, thereby de-legitimizing Israel with greater ease.
Anti-Israel sentiments play out through various events and campaigns. These range from grassroots street protests against Israeli military action, to strategy conferences on college campuses that advance BDS initiatives, to widely circulated petitions calling on the U.S. to cut military aid to Israel.
Of the hundreds of groups that organize and participate in various anti-Israel activities, there are many small, local organizations that have little national reach and others that are large and well-coordinated, with an ability to organize significant campaigns with international impact.
The recent Free Gaza flotilla is perhaps the prime example of what can happen when an anti-Israel group has sufficient resources, appeal, convictions and connections to carry out its agenda. In May 2010, leaders of the Free Gaza Movement, which had the backing of many anti-Israel organizations around the U.S., joined forces with Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), a wealthy pro-Hamas Turkish organization, and sent six ships to Gaza to "break the blockade." The Israeli Navy raided the ships before they could reach the Gaza port and nine flotilla participants were killed in the ensuing confrontation, prompting widespread condemnation of Israel from many countries around the world and an enormous propaganda victory for the anti-Israel movement.
The Free Gaza Movement, however, is just one of a number of groups that play a pivotal role in the American anti-Israel movement. Spearheading this movement are ten organizations whose influence lies in their ability to coordinate events, reach thousands of supporters, forge relationships with other like-minded groups and employ various propaganda tools to influence mainstream opinion.