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AIPAC is a ‘hate group’ ‘weaponizing anti-Semitism’, says US Congresswoman

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]

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, better known as AIPAC, has been condemned as a “hate group” by US Congresswoman Betty McCollum. The Democratic representative for Minnesota denounced the pro-Israeli group in a scathing response to an advert which she described was “weaponizing anti-Semitism” to “incite followers” of the lobby group to attack her and other Democratic colleagues.

McCollum expressed outrage at having her image plastered on the controversial AIPAC advert which labelled Democrats “anti-Semites” for their support of the Palestinians. “Radicals in the Democratic Party are pushing their anti-Semitic and anti-Israel policies down the throats of the American people,” the lobby group had said on Facebook. “America should never abandon its only democratic ally in the Middle East.” It urged its supporters to sign a letter of protest and not “abandon Israel”.

Read: The pro-Israel lobby is on the decline; let’s help it on its way

“The decision by AIPAC to use my image in paid Facebook ads weaponizing anti-Semitism to incite followers by attacking me, my colleagues, and my work promoting human rights for Palestinian children detained in Israeli military prisons is hate speech,” McCollum said in her response to the advert.

The statement expressed dismay at a petition linked to the add describing McCollum and her Democratic colleagues as being “more sinister” than the Daesh terror group. The AIPAC petition linked to their ads designed to mobilise supporters stated: “It’s critical that we protect our Israeli allies especially as they face threats from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and – maybe more sinister – right here in the U.S. Congress.”

“This is not a call to action, it is incitement,” said McCollum. “Elected representatives in Congress “more sinister” than ISIS?” added the 65-year-old in disbelief.

Read: AIPAC is in a losing battle to preserve Israel’s bipartisan status in America

McCollum believes she is being targeted by AIPAC because of a bill she has sponsored that seeks to protect Palestinian children from Israeli torture. “AIPAC wants its followers to believe that my bill, H.R. 2407, to protect Palestinian children from being interrogated, abused, and even tortured in Israeli military prisons is a threat more sinister than ISIS,” said McCollum. “This is not empty political rhetoric. It is hate speech.”

Promising not to be cowered by AIPAC’s hateful ad McCollum said: “I will not back down from my commitment to peace, justice, equality, and human rights for Palestinians and Israelis. I want Jews, Muslims, Christians, and all people to be safe, secure, and able to find hope and opportunity – in the U.S., in Israel, and in Palestine.”

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