Posted by on March 02, 2012 in Blog

This weekend will be a special one for Washington, DC, as the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is about to host its largest annual policy conference here. Speakers include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Shimon Peres, a large list of high-ranking Democratic and Republican politicians, and (of course) President Obama.

Those of us who are familiar with previous AIPAC conferences have a decent idea of what to expect this time around: a lot of pandering about the unique/special/eternal/magical bond between the U.S. and Israel, allegations of Israeli self-defense with no mention of its violence or illegal occupation of Palestine, disregard for Palestinian rights, and some tough talk (more like, threats) on Iran. But what does appear to be a new step in this conference is AIPAC’s embrace of Islamophobia, as evidenced by their inclusion of Islamophobe Steven Emerson as a speaker at a workshop entitled “Home-Grown Terror: Islamic Radicalism in America.” Emerson is a paranoid character who is described as a “misinformation expert” in the Center for American Progress’s report on the anti-Muslim network in the United States.

The Republican presidential candidates are not on AIPAC’s “confirmed speakers” page, but some of them may be speaking (probably not Ron Paul). What they would say if they showed up probably wouldn’t be particularly surprising, given how they’ve dealt with the issue on the campaign trail. But with this being an election year and all, it will be interesting to see whether Obama will repeat his references to Israel’s current path being unsustainable and its need to end the occupation of the territories captured in 1967.

In the spirit of “Occupy Wall Street,” hundreds of activists will be gathering in DC this weekend to Occupy AIPAC. Occupy AIPAC will be a “policy-style summit on the issues of Iran, the Arab Uprising and Palestine and the affects of AIPAC in determining US foreign policy around those topics.” It will also include “a cultural event night, protests and creative actions, workshops, and many other events.” Occupy AIPAC is endorsed by a huge list of organizations who seek to counter AIPAC’s damaging influence over U.S. policy. You can check out their full schedule here.

For regular updates on what will surely be an exciting weekend, follow us on Twitter at @AAIUSA.

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