One of Israel's main proponents in the US, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), has come under sharp criticism over its handling of the killing of George Floyd over two weeks ago in Minneapolis by a white police officer.
The death of the 46-year old black American has sparked weeks of protest that has spread to cities around the world.
In the fierce debate on structural racism and discrimination triggered by the death of Floyd, the internet has been flooded with articles and comments drawing parallels between the injustices suffered by black Americans and Palestinians. The killing of 32-year-old autistic Palestinian man Eyad Hallaq by Israeli forces days after Floyd's brutal death, reinforced, for many, the idea that the same disease of racism was causing pain and suffering the world over.
AIPAC's silence over Floyd's death sparked outrage amongst some of its members. A petition went up on Change.org urging the pro-Israel lobby group to condemn racism, saying that its "silence is loud and glaring".
"We are AIPAC supporters, pro-Israel advocates, AIPAC Policy Conference attendees, former AIPAC campus advocates and interns, and former employees," the petition began by saying. "For over a week now, protests and outrage over George Floyd's unjust murder have taken hold of the world, and we have waited for AIPAC to reaffirm its support for the lives, safety, and equality of its Black activists and activists of color, as countless other organizations have done. We have waited to no avail," the petition added.
The petition called on AIPAC to "acknowledge the pain and suffering of the Black community."
On Sunday, nearly two weeks since Floyd's death, AIPAC released a statement condemning the killing. "AIPAC is deeply and unshakably committed to the core American values of equality, freedom and justice," the statement said. "We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Black community in its ongoing struggle for the same rights and respect to which all Americans are entitled."
AIPAC's claim to being "committed" to equality, freedom and justice, triggered a backlash. "At what point in time was AIPAC ever committed to equality, freedom, or justice?" tweeted, the Jewish-led anti-occupation group IfNotNow, accusing the pro-Israel group of hypocrisy because of its history of support in the colonisation and takeover of Palestine. "@AIPACwas too busy dehumanizing Palestinians and their allies all these decades to care about that."
Another Twitter follower accused AIPAC of targeting black Americans for supporting the Palestinian cause. "How many times has AIPAC and its affiliates smeared black activists as anti-Semites for supporting equal rights for Palestinians?" asked writer and journalist Rania Khalek.
"AIPAC actually stands for HYPOCRISY," Israeli-American journalist Mairav Zonszein tweeted in response to the group's statement.
Max Blumenthal, another journalist and political commentator pointed to the perverse relations between Washington and Tel Aviv which has seen billions of dollars being given to the Zionist state while millions of black Americans suffer due to poverty and structural racism. "Imagine what we could do with the $4 billion the US sends to apartheid Israel every year on your [AIPAC] orders. We could use it to fund our beleaguered public schools instead of buying bombs to obliterate Palestinian kids in theirs."