AIPAC’s Banned Journalists Weekend

The American Library Association may have Banned Book Week, but this weekend, AIPAC kicked off its first banned journalist weekend. That’s right, AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which claims to represent American Jews, but only represents the most hawkish, jingoistic and myopic among us, banned or revoked the press credentials of writers from Alternet, Philip Weiss from Mondoweiss, and Mitchell Plitnick from The Third Way for their yearly conference in Washington D.C. And, what’s more, they haven’t explained why. While I don’t support AIPAC’s decision, I see the logic behind blocking Weiss, Plitnick (after all, why would AIPAC support a blog committed to “Finding Balance In Mideast Analysis”), and Alternet’s world affairs editor, Alex Kane. These three journalists have all been critical of Israeli policy (as have some of the most pro-Israel people out there.) But their banning of Alternet’s Washington DC correspondent Adele Stanmakes no sense, given that she doesn’t even write about Israel. Stan writes: “On the surface, this looks simply like AIPAC refusing to credential a bunch of writers whose views run counter to its own. But here’s the flaw in that reasoning: I have never written anything particularly critical of Israel. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever written anything about Israel, period. I’m just a campaign-trail reporter trying to cover a pretty big event in the U.S. presidential campaign — an event called Super Tuesday.” So what’s behind her being denied access? “Since AIPAC is stonewalling me, I have been left to my own devices. I could be totally off-base here, but how am I to know? Perhaps the issue is simply the range of AIPAC-critical pieces run on AlterNet, starting with Holland’s work, and include articles by Max Blumenthal and opinion pieces by Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin.” But all signs point to  a case of guilt by association and revenge:

… these rejections aren’t specifically about any of the journalists who were rejected, but are about a battle being waged by Josh Block, a former AIPAC staffer, against several bloggers at Middle East Progress, part of the ThinkProgress blog of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, as well as bloggers at Media Matters. It may entail a bit of misplaced retribution for the dumping of Block as a member of the Truman Security Forum, a liberalish national security group, after Block initiated a smear campaign against ThinkProgress and Media Matters bloggers. (After all, we lefties all look alike, non?)
Stan points out that over her career she’s covered all manner of right-wing conferences, from the Family Research Council’s annual Values Voter Summit to  “various events sponsored by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation: The communications folks at these organizations all know who I am and know they can expect coverage from me that will not present their organization quite the way they would like it to be viewed by the general public. And yet, they grant me credentials.”
Of course, AIPAC’s resistance to what it considers to be critical is, in itself, bad press for the lobby. As Stan concludes,
As for me, I’m going to be just fine. Since being banned by AIPAC, I’ve picked up a rack of new Twitter followers and gained new exposure in the Israeli and American Jewish press, where my work was never visible before. The real casualty here is to AIPAC’s reputation.. when its leaders choose to freeze out a highly selective and tiny group of progressive writers because they have a colleague in common whose views contradict AIPAC’s, well, big, bad AIPAC just looks petty and small.

How ironic that the lobbying group, which constantly claims Israel is a beacon of democracy, is so afraid of a little free (in both senses of the word) press.

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Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/sarahlin/ S.

    Mondoweiss is a great source. This past week’s AIPAC conference was as hawkish/jingoistic/myopic as always. I wish they hadn’t blanketed the city with advertisements trying to convince me to declare war on Iran.