I missed the small demonstration – around 1,000 people – against the strike on Iran yesterday, but one thing that caught my eye this morning were a couple of pictures of signs denouncing AIPAC that friends shared on Facebook. It seems that more Israelis are becoming aware that AIPAC is not simply a “pro-Israel” lobby, but a rightwing group that defends the settlement policy and is currently pushing for war with Iran.
Protesters are not the only ones to point out the role that AIPAC plays in shaping the lives of Israelis. In a recent Haaretz op-ed titled “AIPAC, Buy me,” playwright (and former Maariv correspondent in Washington D.C. Boaz Gaon wrote:
… these “lovers of Israel,” those who like to stand next to gigantic blue and white flags, have no interest in improving education in Israel, or bettering the country’s housing or health-care systems, or improving its culture and scientific research. They have no interest in honing the country’s legal system, particularly on matters of religion and state, nor do they care about narrowing gaps between rich and poor, men and women, or Jews and Arabs. In short, they care little about the prosaic realities of daily Israeli life. These realities can’t be seen from the lobby of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, and they are obscured by the cherry blossoms in the Washington area. These are the realities of my Israel. That’s not the same thing as the Israel that is supported by the Yesha Council, which is, in turn, funded by the evangelical Christian right.
…I’ve come to understand that my own existence, and that of my children, merely shatters the sweet illusion of Israelis as matchsticks used to build a spectacular model of Noah’s Ark. Our lives belie the illusion that Jerusalem is a composite of Judaica items, each costing $30,000 in Zurich Airport’s duty free store. This is the illusion that allows people to call for the bombing of Iran while they sit in a mansion in Dallas. Or for the eradication of Israel’s democracy while lounging in a winter retreat in Miami. Or the annexation of Judea and Samaria while having a drink at the blackjack table in Las Vegas.
After AIPAC’s recent annual conference, +972’s Mairav Zonszein also pointed out the impact it has on the lives, whether we like it or not:
For those of us who live here, Palestinians and Israelis alike…We have no say in how the lobby operates and are subject to the whims of its wealthy donors – and yet it has such an enormous impact on our lives, since AIPAC’s power in Congress translates directly into bolstering the Israeli military industrial complex with the help of American money.