Oakland's JVP counters AIPAC's push to exempt aid to Israel from sequestration cuts


Ahead of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's three-day policy conference in Washington DC, Oakland-based Jewish Voice for Peace and Avaaz.org blanketed the DC Metro with provocative anti-AIPAC posters. The $100,000 marketing campaign features images of young Jews with the words: “AIPAC does not speak for me. Most Jewish Americans are pro-peace. AIPAC is not.” The posters, which are part of a larger campaign to counteract AIPAC's strong and hawkish influence on American foreign policy, will run for two-weeks in the DC Metro.

The March 5-7 AIPAC conference attracts pro-Israel activists from around the country and this year features an address by Vice President Joe Biden. AIPAC spends nearly $3 million a year lobbying Congress and enjoys widespread support from both major political parties. But according to JVP Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish-American frustration with AIPAC is mounting.

JVP’s high-profile ad campaign is designed to appeal to more liberal American Jews who are uncomfortable with AIPAC's continued support for conservative US foreign policy priorities. “AIPAC is the NRA of foreign policy lobbies, it pushes a right-wing agenda that in no way represents the majority of Jewish Americans,” JVP Spokesperson Sydney Levy told the Guardian.

JVP endorses the controversial Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement which seeks to isolate Israel internationally through a sustained divestment from Israeli institutions. This position has drawn criticism from other local Bay Area Jewish organizations and Levy said JVP has been barred from using space at the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council.

During the ongoing conference, AIPAC is expected to launch a campaign to convince Congress to exempt Israel aid from the sequestration budget cuts. But JVP is calling on its grassroots network of more than 35 local chapters to oppose the campaign. “In the era of sequestration, where every item is on the table – from Medicare to Head Start – why isn't aid to Israel on the table?” asks Levy.

AIPAC did not responded to requests for comment, but we'll update this post if it does.


Sequestration is the gift that just keeps on giving!

Posted by marcos on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 9:20 pm

But they're grounding the Blue Angels too!

Posted by Greg on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 12:26 am

something cut which, left to Congress, would otherwise never happen.

I oppose carve-outs though, as that is what got us in this mess in the first place. Across the board cuts in everything!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 9:05 am

Of course, the Obama Administration has already decided that aid to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt will not be reduced due to the sequester...

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

AIPAC wins votes, repeatedly and lopsidedly.

In politics power is all that matters. AIPAC has a lot of that - its opponents have very little and you'd think they'd utilize it more wisely than by spending it on a few Metro posters.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 10:08 pm

You've gotta start somewhere...

Posted by marcos on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 10:26 pm

stronger enemy - that's called suicide. You undermine your enemies in countless ways and then build them a golden bridge to retreat across.

Want to end AIPAC's influence? Build a counter-organization to AIPAC. Do not fling yourself heedlessly against its mighty walls.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 10:58 pm

From JStreet in the center to a growing BDS movement on the left. AIPAC may still be powerful, but there's a growing realization that Israel's interests are not synonymous with America's.

And then there's Chuck Hagel... he flung himself against AIPAC's mighty walls, and the walls crumbled.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 12:22 am

and JStreet (which I personally support) is not anti-AIPAC. The BDS movement is composed of fringe cranks to which no one listens.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 11:22 am

"Except AIPAC did not oppose Chuck Hagel "

If you believe that than you're very naive. After conversations with the White House, AIPAC decided against a frontal assault against a brick wall. Fearing a loss, they decided to outsource their opposition, but no one doubts where it came from.

"and JStreet (which I personally support) is not anti-AIPAC. "
If you really support it, then you must know that it was formed for the express purpose of being a counterweight to AIPAC.

"The BDS movement is composed of fringe cranks to which no one listens."
No one? Really? Well then you probably don't want to read this:

Posted by Greg on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

They never lose. Europe's largest co-op refusing to buy goods from Israeli settlements and some "Canadian academics" deciding to cut ties with Israeli universities aside - AIPAC did not oppose Hagel despite people like Jennifer Rubin begging them to do so. AIPAC has a 99% success rate in US politics - putting ads in Metro stations will not change that.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

Consciousness raising is a good start.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

It doesn't spend time "raising consciousness."

This is politics - politicians fear the wrath of voters and loss of contributions - they could give a shit less about "consciousness." That's one reason there's no "left" in this country - they want to spend too much time raising people's consciousness.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

They began to raise consciousness a century ago and took a wrong turn 40 years ago. It has to be made acceptable to be a Jew who is not supportive of Israeli militarism, occupation and apartheid before action can be taken. That has to be disarmed of its alleged anti-semitism before political power can be organized. I wish there was a way to move it farther faster but I don't see one.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

and pro-two state solution. You're anti-Zionist - there are groups for you Marcos. Try Neturei Karta or QUIT - Queers United against Israeli Terrorism.

Anti-Zionist Jews usually portray strong elements of anti-semitism BTW - they're the kapos of the movement - an anti-semites best friend.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 10:59 pm

Jews survived quite well over the millenia in a state of diaspora, in spite of facing unspeakable terrors the likes of which Israel has never seen. Concentration in a camp-like apartheid state is what has drawn antagonism.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

If AIPAC was really so invincible then you wouldn't be bending over backwards trying to convince everyone that resistance is futile. That's why AIPAC didn't want to risk a frontal assault on Hagel. They realized they were going to lose, and they didn't want to shatter their veneer of invincibility. So they outsourced the battle to surrogates.

Fact is, there's a growing realization that AIPAC's agenda is unjust and that AIPAC can be beaten. The BDS movement is growing in strength and becoming mainstream.

In the end, the whole Zionist project is unsustainable, and everybody knows it. The fall of the Soviet Union provided a temporary assist to the Zionist project, but that card has been played. Even Jewish Israelis know it, though of course they won't admit it in so many words. If you have friends and relatives in Israel, I'm sure you're aware that half of them are looking for ways to get out. They see what's coming down the road, they may not like it, but they've always been practical folks, and they don't want to fight a losing battle. As sure as South African Apartheid fell, so will Israeli Apartheid. You're older than I am, so I'm not sure you'll live to see it in your lifetime (a pity, from my perspective). But I'm convinced that I'll see the end of Israeli Apartheid in mine.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 11:26 pm

Keep telling yourself that.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

30,000 have fled just to... Berlin!!!

This is consistent to with what I've heard from very reliable sources. Pretty much anyone young and not Haredi is looking for a way out. But holy shit! If more than 1/2 of 1% of the entire Jewish population of Israel has now relocated just to Berlin -Berlin!!! -to say nothing of London or Los Angeles or New York, well then I think the trend is even stronger than I imagined.

And here's the kicker... it can only accelerate. The more young, ordinary Israelis leave, the faster Israel becomes a society dominated by the 3 demographic groups: Haredi parasites, pensioneers... and Palestinians. And the more that demographic reality sets in, the faster everyone else is going to want to leave.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 09, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

Too bad they're leaving since I thought some of them had been making strong demands from their government for lower housing costs and lower taxes, just like the youth in many places across the globe.

With high housing costs, high taxes on labor, and government debt that will take generations to pay off, the majority of youth in the world are really screwed. At least sex and drug laws are being liberalized in many places so they'll have some diversions to an otherwise bleak economic existence.

In some parts of Europe unemployment is over 20%, and over 35% for those under 25. Governments won't be very stable if the economic climate continues, but as long as the wealthy don't face higher taxes or riots in front of their houses, the status quo should continue indefinitely. We'll likely see endless coalitions trying to form a government and failing, followed by more voting, and more failed coalitions, ad infinitum. Israel, Italy, Bulgaria, and many other countries are facing a sharply divided public and little consensus on what policies and programs should be adopted or changed. Much like the US where the wealthy - Dems and Reps alike - are very happy to have a dysfunctional government that maintains the status quo, I suspect we'll see similar dysfunction in much of Europe and eventually in much of Asia as education increases and wealth concentrates there too.

The sad part is that when the youth do riot, which is inevitable in most countries sooner or later since their future economic prospects are so bleak, they don't seem to have very coherent strategies for how they'd rule any differently, leading to a further continuation of the status quo.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 09, 2013 @ 10:26 pm

As one of the people interviewed points out, they did try to protest, but the government didn't do anything. Nor are they doing anything for peace. But I'm actually sanguine about Netanyahu. Time was when I liked the Israeli left. I thought that people like Rabin and Peres actually wanted peace. Well, not only has the "Zionist left" all but disappeared from the Israeli political scene, as the country tilts ever rightwards, but I've come to realize there never really was a Zionist left.

The so-called Zionist left was based on a contradiction from the start- they cling to the idea that the nation can be simultaneously a Jewish state and a democracy, now and forevermore. The real left realizes this is a fantasy. You have to choose, and if you're a progressive, you choose justice and democracy. But then it becomes an *anti*-Zionist left. The Netanyahu-Leiberman right also realizes the utter stupidity of this fantasy. They have just decided that it's going to be a Jewish state and to hell with democracy. But they're going to fail. The world won't let them ethinically cleanse the ever-increasing Palestinian population. In fact, the more they crack down, the more strife they create, the more ordinary Jews won't want to live there (not out of a great sense of justice, but just because they don't want to deal with the stress), and the more Jews don't want to live there, the faster this whole thing resolves due to demography.

And that's why I'm sanguine about Netanyahu. The more he makes a two-state solution impossible, the more a one-state solution becomes inevitable. And frankly, a two-state solution probably isn't viable any more at this point. The South African model of one democratic state for all the people living there is really the only solution now. The sooner, the better.

As for the problems with Europe and austerity, those problems are real but that's a whole other discussion. It's not really a problem in Germany or France, though. But long-term, those countries could always use some young immigrants. So young Israelis moving to Berlin is ultimately a win-win for everyone.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 09, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

If the Zionist project were legitimate on its face and on the merits, then there would be no need for AIPAC.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 09, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

AIPAC needs to know that mainstream Americans do not agree with our country being controlled from behind the scenes. Thank God, finally those of all faiths, persuasions and ethnicities have a place to go to show their support of efforts to stop the blind allegiance to Israel "Right or Wrong".

I am a 64 year old Caucasian Protestant grandmother, married 45 years supporting the causes of peace, prosperity and justice - not the interests of an apartheid, segregationist State that through its lobby in the United States and its appeal to collective guilt is forcing America to condone unjust oppression.

The truth needs to be set forth. All Americans deserve to know what and who is controlling foreign policy. It takes an organization like JVP to help us all to stand up and be counted.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

Putting up ads is the first step toward raising awareness and drawing like minded people together. I was thrilled to see this happening.

I have been seething for many years over the power of the AIPAC lobby. Now I have a constructive outlet for my indignation.

I foresee peaceful protests throughout America, letter writing campaigns and heightened awareness of the actions of AIPAC controlling our money, our foreign policy and our politicians.

Perhaps only then will America stop being perceived as a puppet and act in the best interests of Americans as well as those in Israel and Palestine.

A Protestant Caucasian grandmother married 45 years in California.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

The article is excellent, but gets JVP's BDS policy wrong. BDS can take different forms. For JVP, and its coalition partners it is not "divestment from Israeli institutions", but from companies that profit from and support the occupation, such as Caterpillar, Veolia, Hewlitt Packard, and others. The campaign seeks to get TIAA-CREF, one of the largest financial services company in the US, to create occupation-free portfolios in keeping with its claim to be a socially responsible investment company.

Check out WeDivest.org for more information.

Posted by Guest gitelsura on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 10:59 am

AIPAC dominating the Israeli foreign policy discussion is like the NRA dominating the 2nd Amendment discussion. Other more progressive voices on the matter should be heard. It's a start.

Posted by City Hall & Oats on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

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