If Americans Knew
Alison Weir runs If Americans Knew (IAK), an organization she founded following a trip to the Palestinian territories in 2001. Established to monitor the U.S. media for what Weir has described as “highly disturbing patterns of bias” in Israel’s favor, IAK produces and disseminates propaganda intended to de-legitimize U.S. support for Israel. The group’s Web site provides a Portland, Oregon, mailing address.
While Paul Findley and Andrew Killgore – both from Council for National Interest (CNI) – are listed as “new” board members, IAK appears to function primarily as Weir’s personal propaganda machine.
IAK frequently lends support to individuals that it deems are being unfairly attacked by the pro-Israel establishment in the U.S. When former White House correspondent Helen Thomas delivered a speech rife with anti-Semitic remarks at a gathering of Arab Americans in Detroit in December 2010, IAK wrote a letter to its supporters defending Thomas and arguing that it is “important” to stand by her.
The organization also published a handout defending Thomas’s statements the previous June when she had remarked that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to “Germany, Poland, America, and everywhere else.” IAK countered that Thomas’ remark was reasonable because Jews in Israel are “settlers” who came from elsewhere and that because the “Nazi holocaust ended well over half a century ago” it is not inappropriate to insist that Jews return to areas in Europe where they were formerly persecuted and killed en masse.
IAK not only disregarded the blatant anti-Semitic nature of Thomas’ comments but also seemed to consider the whole affair, including Thomas’ decision to resign after her comments were made public, a manipulation by the pro-Israel lobby in an attempt to cast out anyone who does not support Israel. The final statement of IAK’s handout is, “It is likely that Israel partisans are breathing a sign of relief…One more obstacle to the Zionist juggernaut has just been removed.”
In addition to IAK’s defense of abhorrent statements made by others, it also propagates its own anti-Israel theories, including the notion that the U.S.’ relationship with Israel is detrimental to American interests. In a statement available on its Web site, IAK charges that U.S. support for Israel is “increasingly imperiling American lives and is driven by “special interest lobbying and high-powered neoconservatives in the U.S. government. This support “interferes with American relations with the oil-producing nations, with whom we previously had friendly ties…with Muslim consumers…and removes much-needed money from domestic American requirements—tax revenues that could be addressed to domestic needs are instead sent abroad to prop up a system of discrimination.”
The group seeks to educate the American public “on issues of major significance that are unreported, under-reported, or misreported” in the American media, in the hopes of mobilizing people to demand an end to U.S. support for Israel. “It is our belief that when Americans know the facts on a subject,” the IAK’s mission statement reads, “they will, in the final analysis, act in accordance with morality, justice, and the best interests of their nation, and of the world.”
In a September 2003 poster display at the “UN International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People,” IAK sought to portray Israel as committing terrorism and harming Palestinian children as a matter of policy (pictured on right).
IAK further attempts to discredit Israel by promoting the widely debunked USS Liberty conspiracy theory, which alleges that Israeli forces intentionally attacked an American vessel during the Six Day War in 1967, as well as the 2003 death of Rachel Corrie, an American college student and International Solidarity Movement volunteer crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer while trying to block the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza.
A message on the IAK Web site cites both the USS Liberty and Corrie incidents as evidence of Israel’s “brutality.” Addressing Corrie’s death, the message reads: “If the world – in particular, if Americans – allow this incident to go virtually unnoticed, then our lack of outcry will give a green light to an Israeli regime known for its brutality: If Israel can get away with using an American financed, American-built bulldozer to kill a young American woman, then it will feel it can get away with anything.” The letter concludes, “It is time for Americans to turn the light bright red…No longer will we look the other way. No more may you use American money to kill children, American money to kill Americans, American money to crush young women to death, American money to kill peace.”
IAK compiles statistical information on what it claims is a pro-Israel bias among major U.S. print and TV media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It has targeted several network news stations and newspapers, including The New York Times and The San Francisco Chronicle, and alleges that the Associated Press bureau in Israel unfairly controls the information coming out of its bureau in the occupied territories. The group’s findings are available on its Web site and are distributed at lectures, rallies and conferences across the U.S.
IAK also produces documentaries that support its positions on Israel, which are widely available at anti-Israel events and for purchase on the group’s Web site. One IAK documentary, titled “The Easiest Targets: the Israeli Policy of Strip Searching Women and Children,” dismisses Israel security measures as cruel and perverted. The documentary alleges that unbeknownst to the American public, border guards and airport security officials perform illegal strip searches on women and children, whom they harass and humiliate.
The IAK Web site has a trailer for its new documentary featuring interviews with individuals Weir describes as having “very strong, very patriotic credentials, experts in the Middle East [who] are all telling us that the policies in Israel are disastrous.” Several of those interviewed are involved with Council for National Interest (CNI), including Paul Findley, former U.S. Congressman and CNI founding chairman; and Eugene Bird, U.S. Foreign Service Officer and CNI president.