An artist’s collage juxtaposes the real-life conditions Palestinian workers face in the occupied West Bank with Scarlett Johansson’s role as SodaStream spokesmodel. (Courtesy Electronic Intifada)
Outside the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, activists demonstrate against U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his peace proposal, Jan. 29, 2014. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images)
A Jewish settler (unseen at left) places the Israeli flag on a road sign as Israeli troops encircle Palestinian villagers protesting the army’s cutting branches off olive trees on a road leading to the illegal Jewish settlement of Tekoa, south of Bethlehe
Dr. Eyad El Serraj at a 1993 press conference in East Jerusalem denouncing Israel’s use of torture. (Ruben Bittermann/Photofile)
U.N. and Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (l) and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Jan. 22 press conference closing the Geneva II peace talks on Syria. (Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 30, 1984, Page 5
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has, in recent weeks, been putting its full weight behind attempts to block legislation to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But many observers believe its efforts, along with those of other like-minded groups, may not be enough to defeat even a weakened version of the bill.
An Administration official overseeing the issue told The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, that if the bill reaches the full House and Senate—which he said could happen as early as June—he expects that Congress will change the bill into a non-binding resolution and approve it. The Administration would not be bound legally by the resolution to move the embassy, but says it would oppose this version, too.
The ADC began its campaign in early April, and is calling it "the first major thrust by ADC members into domestic politics." To assist chapter coordinators and other leaders across the country, it mailed out over 1,500 manuals containing step-by-step instructions on planning activities to build up public opposition. ADC officials say that all of their more than 40 chapters have become involved. Many chapter representatives have either arranged meetings with Congressmen locally or phoned them in Washington. Petitions are being circulated—in such places as shopping malls and college campuses—and a goal of obtaining 50,000 signatures has been set. Holding vigils, writing letters to the media, and distributing bumper stickers are among the other activities being undertaken, ADC officials say.
In Washington, ADC arranged a briefing for a dozen Congressional staff members, and two of its board members gave testimony at a House hearing. It also sponsored—along with the Palestine Human Rights Campaign—an evening program celebrating "the cultural and historical richness of Jerusalem."
The National Association of Arab Americans, which has launched a campaign of its own, says it will oppose even a non-binding call to move the embassy because Congress should not "lend its moral authority to illegal Israeli claims on Jerusalem."
A campaign by the American Jewish Congress (AJC) to require colleges and universities to disclose substantial contributions from foreign governments and foreign-oriented corporations has so far had mixed results.
The AJC achieved a major victory late last year, when Illinois became the first state to approve a disclosure law—a bill which the AJC says it "sponsored." But in Maryland—one of the nine states it has targeted to win the bill's approval—lawmakers defeated it in committee. Will Maslow, general counsel to the AJC, argued unsuccessfully before Maryland lawmakers that the law was needed to counter "crude attempts by some Arab governments to influence improperly academic teaching and research on Mideast problems by (making) huge gifts." These grants, the AJC alleges, are often given under conditions which have the effect of "undermining faculty autonomy in setting standards and making academic appointments."
The eight other states in which the AJC is trying to implement the legislation are: California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Under a "model" bill drafted by the AJC, both public and private schools would be required to publicize gifts—and contracts—which exceed $100,000 in value per year. Registered foreign agents, and corporations which do the majority of their business abroad, would also be bound under the AJC's proposal. Schools receiving grants or contracts would have 120 days to provide state officials with information on any "conditions" imposed by the giver, as well as the "name, title and qualification of any person or group whom the grant is explicitly intended to benefit," according to an AJC bulletin.
Meanwhile, at its annual policy conference in early April the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) devoted considerable attention to the issue of so-called "pro-Arab propaganda" on college campuses. Three separate meetings were held on the subject, and the nearly 1,000 members in attendance were encouraged to obtain copies of AIPAC's newest monograph, The AIPAC College Guide: Exposing the Anti-Israel Campaign on Campus. The 196-page guide lists prominent individuals and student organizations considered by AIPAC to be "anti-Israel," and identifies existing groups at various schools which can be called upon to counter them.
In preparing the guide, AIPAC sent questionnaires to students and faculty members at some 100 schools, asking them among other things to assess the general sympathies of campus organizations such as the student newspaper and government—as being either pro- or anti-Israel or somewhere in between. Respondents were also asked to "name any individual faculty who assist anti-Israel groups" and to describe how the assistance was given. An author of the guide, Jonathan Kessler, heads AIPAC's Political Leadership Development Program, which has more than 5,000 student members and claims to be active on over 350 campuses in all 50 states.