During the past week, we have witnessed the desolate state of the peace process in Israel/Palestine. We grimaced at the sight of Vice President Joseph Biden landing in Israel, as his host country announced the building of 1600 units in an illegal settlement in East Jerusalem. We have winced in shame as the Lancet journal reported definitive signs of starvation in 20% of Gaza children as measured by stunting, due to the Gaza siege.
We have been subjected to a barrage of commentary about why the United States should bomb Iran, or at least allow Israel to do so, with utter disregard for the 200,000 American soldiers that surround Iran to its east and west. The U.S. Congress is perceived as a rubber stamp for AIPAC’s policies as they pertain to American foreign policy in the Middle East — policies that are detrimental to the United States’ national interests as well as Israel’s, to say nothing of the wider Middle East.
All the while the pro-peace community has been silenced, subjugated, and defeated. It has long been noted that our foreign policy in the Middle East is rigged against our own interests by a powerful domestic lobby that unconditionally defends Israel’s actions on Capitol Hill. Little regard is paid to how destructive or damaging our Middle East foreign policy is to America’s moral standing, American security, Middle East peace, or the prospect of an Israel integrated into the wider Middle East.
While ignored by mainstream media outlets, the reasons behind the success of AIPAC are clear and have been documented in countless articles, policy papers and books. The strategy behind AIPAC’s influence on Capitol Hill is simple: it funds campaigns of members of Congress who support its hardline, uncompromising positions and funds candidates that oppose members of Congress who speak their conscience on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the United States’ appropriate pro-peace role.
Perhaps, it is precisely the knowledge of AIPAC’s strength and its hundreds of allied political action committees that lull the pro-peace camp into inaction. However, it is increasingly apparent that AIPAC is not invincible. AIPAC’s near absolute hold on the U.S. Congress on all matters pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict derives from the fact that it is unopposed.
According to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, a reputable and scholarly periodical, all AIPAC-allied PACs contributed a sum of $3.5 million in total to campaigns of Representatives and Senators, quite a meager sum considering its effective stifling of the opposition in Congress. The power of AIPAC does not stem from its large donations but rather from its potentially devastating threat. We all know that many members of Congress oppose Israel’s actions but will not vote their conscience without assurances of funds from the pro-peace camp. The choice for the many pro-peace elected officials is bleak: vote with AIPAC or go home next election.
The pro-peace community must speak out and support a political action committee that is neither pro-Israel nor pro-Palestinian but works for America’s national interests in the Middle East. It is not sufficient for Arab Americans to lament the treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories as second-class citizens. They must also directly fund Congressional campaigns of pro-peace candidates.
So long as America’s foreign policy rewards Israel with billions of dollars a year in return for its intransigence, Protestant churches’ divestment of a few thousand dollars from Israel will not effectuate change in Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights. It is time that American Muslims recognize that only by ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will Islamic radicalization be subdued. And it is imperative for every American to realize that we cannot stem the tide of terrorism without ending the root cause of terrorism, the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
There is now a lobby ready to take action. NewPolicy.org is an advocacy group that is affiliated with New Policy PAC, a political action committee that funds Congressional campaigns. If you are pro-peace, whether you are sympathetic to Israel’s plight, the Palestinian predicament, or simply pro-American security, you should support NewPolicy.org because peace will benefit all.
If you do not contribute today to support the brave members of Congress so they may speak their mind on this issue, you have already forfeited this fight. If you are one of the thousands of Americans who are reading this open letter, you must speak out with your own contribution to NewPolicy.org.
This letter is a call to action. It seeks solidarity. In solidarity we will support members of Congress who speak their conscience on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and vote for peace!
Sama Adnan, Ph.D. is executive director of NewPolicy.org.