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AIPAC: Telling a Whopper

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The conference also included fear-mongering workshops in Spanish, presumably as an attempt to reach the Latino community, on Iran's influence in Latin America via its strong ties with Venezuela, Cuba and Brazil, and concerns that this might lead to terrorism, Islamic extremism and anti-American sentiments.

Additional workshops focused on capitalizing on pro-Israel support from the Christian evangelical community as well as a 'new era of military and intelligence cooperation' with India.

However, the scope of most of the workshops was to prepare participants for the lobbying day on Capitol Hill, with the three main requests for Congress. First and foremost, AIPAC was calling for 'crippling sanctions on Iran.' Noting that it was unlikely for the UN Security Council to pass such a resolution, AIPAC called on the United States 'to lead the international community,' a euphemism for unilateral action.

The second request dealt with the current tensions between the US and Israel following the continued announcements of new illegal settlements in East Jerusalem. An AIPAC drafted letter initiated by House majority and minority leaders Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Eric Cantor (R-VA) called on Secretary Clinton to 'reaffirm our commitment to the unbreakable bond that exists between our country and the State of Israel' and to solve any disputes 'quietly, in trust and confidence, as befits longstanding strategic allies.' Over 50% of the US House of Representatives have signed onto the letter. A similar letter is circulating in the Senate.

Last but certainly not least, AIPAC urged support for continuing US military aid for Israel, which AIPAC refers to as 'security assistance,' by approving President Obama's request for $3 billion for fiscal year 2011 as part of the 10-year $30 billion package. Time Magazine was unusually candid in its coverage of this request, reporting 'the Israeli government has announced plans to replace its aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets with new, American-made F-35 fighters, a major cost that Israel hopes will be substantially borne by American taxpayers.'

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Stephanie Westbrook is a U.S. citizen who has been living in Rome, Italy since 1991. She is active in the peace and social justice movements in Italy.
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