Portuguese / Spanish / English

Israel's US Lobby rocked by hate-filled tweets

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an AIPAC conference in Washington, US on 6 March 2018 [Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an AIPAC conference in Washington, US on 6 March 2018 [Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

One of the most influential donors to the powerful AIPAC pro-Israel lobby group will not be speaking at its annual conference this weekend after being taken to task for sending out a string of hate-filled tweets aimed at two of America's rising Muslim politicians, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

This is not the first time arch-Zionist Adam Milstein has been caught out and reprimanded for hate-tweeting. In 2017, he was forced to apologise for tweeting an anti-semitic graphic targeting liberal Jewish philanthropist George Soros. The image served to fuel speculation about a growing affinity between the anti-Semitic far right and Israel's staunchest backers. Journalist Max Blumenthal exposed the offensive Milstein tweet, which depicted the face of Soros superimposed on an octopus straddling the globe.

According to Haaretz, Milstein – the chair of the Israeli American Council – reckons his latest tweets have been taken out of context and "mischaracterised." In a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency he said that he would not, as a result, be attending as a moderator at this weekend's AIPAC conference. "My social media postings represent my views — and my views alone. I have no interest in allowing this mischaracterisation of me to distract from the important work of AIPAC. For this reason, I will not be moderating a panel at this year's AIPAC Policy Conference."

It is, as yet, unclear if Milstein was pushed or jumped for the offensive tweets which have clearly caused unrest among AIPAC members. A spokesman for the group, Marshall Wittmann, said that Milstein's views were not those of AIPAC. He insisted in an email that Milstein "is not a representative of AIPAC and his views are not ours."

READ: Netanyahu's adventures in the AIPAC wonderland

The tweets attempted to connect Somali-born Congresswomen Omar and American Palestinian Tlaib to the Muslim Brotherhood, citing little or no evidence. "The Muslim Brotherhood is now part of Congress," he said in one tweet. "New Reps. like @IlhanMN @RashidaTlaib," he claimed in another, "are known as #AntiSemitic and Anti #Israel. Moreover, they both are representatives of #CAIR and #MuslimBrotherhood and their values clash with American values."

One tweet was linked to a site that did not offer any evidence that either of the Congresswomen are allied with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is often linked to the democratic election-winning political group Hamas currently controlling the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. Hamas and its military wing are regarded as sworn enemies and terrorist entities by both Israel and America.

Milstein's tweets urged followers to sign a petition calling on Attorney General William Barr and Elan Carr, the State Department envoy monitoring anti-Semitism, to "investigate #Hamas affiliated #CAIR's Ties in US Congress." The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has hosted events for both congresswomen who have also shown support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, to varying degrees.

Omar, a Democrat who arrived in the House last year, has faced a barrage of accusations that she is anti-Semitic after she said that she felt pressured to pledge "allegiance" to Israel. While she has apologised for some of her statements she has also received a great deal of public support for her congressional work. Earlier this month, a resolution in Congress overwhelmingly condemned both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, equally, including particular reference to the invocation of dual loyalty.

US congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar of Minnesota delivers a speech at the event that was held by Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington DC, United States on January 10, 2019 [Safvan Allahverdi / Anadolu Agency ]

US congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar of Minnesota delivers a speech in Washington, US on 10 January 2019 [Safvan Allahverdi/Anadolu Agency ]

Undeterred by this support, Milstein retweeted a video claiming that Omar "admitted" to taking "terrorism classes". In the video, she is referring to classes about terrorism that she took at North Dakota State University when she obtained a political science degree. When challenged about the content and nature of his tweets, Milstein said: "My tweet today, which shared news articles and social media postings that others wrote about CAIR and Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, has been used to mischaracterise me and my views.

"Let me be clear. I believe that America as a country is made stronger by our diversity and deep commitment to freedom of speech, tolerance and religious pluralism. Whether you are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, or Hindu, I believe that Americans of all faiths should not have their loyalty questioned. I believe that our country is stronger when people of all backgrounds and faiths are represented in public life.

He insisted that it is "specifically because of these beliefs that I continue to speak out against CAIR as an organisation, and against Representatives Omar and Tlaib, who have long been associated with this extreme and patently intolerant group, which has a well-documented track record of spreading anti-Semitism and fundraising for the Hamas terrorist organisation."

READ: US Orthodox Jews express support for Ilhan Omar

According to the pressure group Jewish Voices for Peace, Milstein's family foundation funds a veritable Who's Who of right-wing anti-Palestinian groups, including AIPAC affiliate the American Israel Educational Foundation. When Milstein was convicted of tax evasion in 2009, Israel's consul-general in Los Angeles wrote a glowing reference to the court in a bid to secure a more lenient sentence.

Apart from his abusive tweets to both Muslim congresswomen, back in 2014 Milstein used social networks to accuse the then US President, Barack Obama, of "cuddling up to Islam".

US President Donald Trump L) with former US President Barack Obama R) [US Air Force/ Wikimedia]

US President Donald Trump (L) with former US President Barack Obama [US Air Force/ Wikimedia]

Zionist fanatics like Milstein are becoming increasingly emboldened and desperate to silence criticism of Israel, so his absence from this weekend's AIPAC gathering will be seen as a blow to like-minded activists who have a history of censorship and harassment around the world in the name of advocacy for their favoured state.

The truth is, in America, Israel's image among the general population and young Jews in particular is in terminal decline, as was revealed in a leaked report co-authored by Israeli think tank the Reut Institute and America's Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in 2017. While the Zionist lobby has no shortage of funds to spread its pro-Israel propaganda, it seems as if it is losing its influence and sway over American citizens. The politicians on Capitol Hill who are in thrall to AIPAC and, by extension, Israel, need to understand this.

Moreover, JVP, which is running an advertising campaign using #skipAIPAC, says in its most recent campaign literature: "AIPAC doesn't speak for us – and we know from polling that they don't speak for an increasing number of Jews who want freedom, justice and equality for all in Israel/Palestine. AIPAC knows that young Jewish Americans are abandoning them like never before and that their power is waning. So they're desperate to make the conference this weekend an enormous public demonstration of their political power – and we can flip that on its head."

READ: How AIPAC-Israel agenda became US priority

Accusing AIPAC of being "morally bankrupt" and being the biggest obstacle "to justice and equality for all in Israel/Palestine", the group is erecting billboards and advertising hoardings across Washington urging US politicians to boycott the event, hence the hashtag campaign #skipAIPAC. Its most powerful tools appear to be the words of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu who recently tweeted that Israel is a "Nation-State of the Jewish people and them alone."

As the foundations of AIPAC begin to crumble, it is ironic that its power and influence are being eroded by Zionist extremists like Milstein and Netanyahu who are openly proclaiming what AIPAC claims every year is simply not true: Israel is, indeed, an apartheid state. Nevertheless, AIPAC still boasts that Israel is a democracy, even though this flies in the face of the Prime Minister who insists that Palestinian land is for the "Jewish people and them alone." Maybe the Lobby should invite Palestinian representatives who make up 20 per cent of the population of Israel and ask them why they insist on calling it an Apartheid State. Listening to the people and acting for the people is, after all, what democratic states are supposed to do, isn't it?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

AIPACArticleInternational OrganisationsIsraelMiddle EastOpinionPalestine
Show Comments
Show Comments