Institute for Research:
Middle Eastern Policy

"Research - Awareness - Accountability"


CIA Fights Disclosure of Secret Aid to Israel: Legality of aid uncertain amidst public opposition - 4/24/2017

On March 30 Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan found it "neither logical nor plausible" for the CIA to claim it had no intelligence budget expenditure data of support to Israel between the years 1990 and 2015. The court then ordered the Department of Justice legal counsel to "meet and confer" about responding to the original Freedom of Information Act request for the data and file a response by April 24.

The original FOIA request sought public disclosure of the secret portion of US taxpayer-funded foreign assistance delivered to Israel. (PDF) Although "memorandum of understanding" packages, the most recent guaranteeing $3.8 billion per year over a decade, and additional Israel-bound appropriations passed by Congress are publicly known, secret US intelligence aid is not.

On September 11, 2013 journalist Glenn Greenwald revealed that the National Security Agency was pumping electronic intercepts of communications of American citizens to Israel, with no legally binding limits on how the data could be used.

On August 5, 2015 President Barack Obama quantified the possible dollar value boundaries of intelligence aid during a speech at American University, claiming "…due to American military and intelligence assistance, which my administration has provided at unprecedented levels, Israel can defend itself against any conventional danger…" Given historic military aid is publicly known, secret intelligence aid to Israel in 2015 was either an additional $1.9 billion per year or $13.2 billion if the president adjusted for inflation. These are the amounts Obama would have had to provide to meet "unprecedented" combined levels of military and intelligence assistance. More

CIA Hammered After Shrug on Israel Records - 3/31/2017

WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge called it “neither logical nor plausible” Thursday that the CIA has no information about intelligence budget-line items earmarked for Israel between 1990 and 2015.

The March 30 ruling came in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy who asked for the information back in March 2015.

Citing the underlying complaint, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan says Grant Smith originally sought “the information ‘for use in vital public interest research into how nuclear weapons related know-how, material and technology have been unlawfully diverted into Israeli entities conducting clandestine nuclear weapons-related research and development.'”

In response to Smith’s request, the CIA issued what is known as a Glomar response, neither confirming or denying the existence of such information. More

New Polls: Americans oppose key Israel/lobby programs - 3/26/2017

Solid majorities of Americans do not approve of major Israel/lobby programs, how they are won, and the vast amount of unconditional US diplomatic commitments and funding they consume. However, only by transforming into active opposition, rather than passive opposition, will Americans be able to get their government into the business of representing them, rather than the small—but unquestionably influential—Israel/lobby. For news media and analysts to be taken seriously, they must begin to discuss the Israel/lobby as the primary force behind outcomes most Americans—quantifiably—oppose.

Title: American attitudes about Israel/loby programs

Surveys fielded through Google Analytics Solutions
Principal Investigator: Grant F. Smith

Full Report (PDF) (HTML)


Watch "The Israel Lobby and American Policy" - 3/24/2017


Conference Program

8:00-9:00 AM Registration and “Two Blue Lines”: A documentary film screening in the Ballroom. Exhibition hall opens in adjacent Holeman Lounge.

9:00 AM Conference Organizer Welcoming Remarks

9:10 AM Grant Smith: The series of stunning—but underreported—polls revealing true American attitudes about U.S. aid to Israeland other top American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) programs.

9:40 AM Keynote—Professor John Mearsheimer: What has changed in the decade since his book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy was published. Subsequent findings, foreign policy choices the U.S. makes that it otherwise would not—if not for Israel—and what the new administration could do differently in the future that would better serve broader American interests.

10:30 AM Professor Maria Lahood: Recent legislation that threatens the First Amendment rights of Palestinian solidarity activists in the U.S. and the legal challenges thereto.

11:00 AM Morning Break

11:15 AM Former Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA): What it takes to beat the Israel lobby in Congress.

11:40 AM Former Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV): How to support the members of Congress who are beginning to listen to their constituents on Middle East policy issues.

12:15 PM Lunch Break & Screening of selections from the four-part Al Jazeera six-month undercover investigative series “The Lobby.” Jack Shaheen and John Mearsheimer book signings.

1:00 PM Keynote—Hanan Ashrawi: The Israel lobby and the “peace process" from a Palestinian perspective.

1:40 PM Tom Hayes: Challenges and changes in 25 years working on Israel-Palestine issues and advice for independent filmmakers. The documentary producer screens and comments on selections from his latest film, “Two Blue Lines.”

2:10 PM Jack Shaheen: Strategies to successfully push back against harmful Hollywood stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims, and the work new generations must now take on.

2:40 PM Wajahat Ali: The intersection of pro-Israel organizations & donors and Islamophobia uncovered as the lead author and researcher of the report "Fear, Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America."

3:15 PM Afternoon Break

3:30 PM Khalil Jahshan: The Israel lobby and “fake peace processing.”

4:00 PM Conference organizer remarks

4:15 PM Keynote—Professor Ilan Pappé: The value of viewing Israel-Palestine through the lens of settler-colonialism, how Zionist myths have been shaped and/or perpetuated by the Israel lobby, and what framework is necessary to overcome these myths and ensure that efforts to resolve the "conflict" are grounded in reality.

5:00 PM Clayton Swisher: The director of investigative journalism for Al Jazeera Media Network screens and comments on selections from “The Lobby," the four-part series about the Israeli Embassy’s covert influence campaign in Britain. This undercover investigation reveals how the Israeli Embassy sought to establish supposedly "independent” pro-Israel groups in England, AIPAC's efforts to establish itself in London, unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism lodged against Labour Party members, and discussions by disgraced former Israeli diplomat Shai Masot to "take down" UK lawmakers deemed hostile to Israel.

5:30-7:30 PM Networking Reception & Book Signings: Wajahat Ali, Hanan Ashrawi, Ilan Pappé and Clayton Swisher.


$254 Billion in Unconditional US Aid to Israel Is Unique - 2/23/2017

On February 10, 2017 Professor Hillel Frisch of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies staked a claim. Contrary to many media reports – some aimed at discrediting Israel claims Frisch – Israel is in fact not the biggest beneficiary of U.S. military aid. According to Frisch, Israel trails far behind Japan, Germany, South Korea and Italy. Israel aid more resembles that given to Kuwait and Bahrain, according to Frisch...

...The process by which Israel obtains aid – through the activities of a vast domestic lobby it helped establish – reveals why the funds it extracts from taxpayers should not be compared to equally troubling military alliance expenditures. A $3.7 billion, 14,000 employee, 353,000 volunteer Israel affinity nonprofit ecosystem has been built in the United States to provide Israel with the support that following America’s own interests would not. The approaching annual spectacle of thousands of AIPAC lobbyists subtly threatening to withhold vast amounts of campaign contributions from members of Congress if they don’t provide billions in unconditional taxpayer-funded aid – portrays an entirely accurate picture about the means through which it is obtained.

This Israel lobby-driven process and lack of reciprocity is why US aid to Israel cannot seriously be compared to mutual expenditures – equally unpopular and in need of reexamination – with treaty-bound US allies. More

Most Americans don't want US embassy moved to Jerusalem - 1/30/2017

An IRmep poll fielded by Google Consumer Surveys January 27-29 reveals 56.2 percent of the US adult Internet user population prefers the US keep its Israel embassy in Tel Aviv. Only 38.3 percent prefer moving it to Jerusalem, while 5.5 percent are either uncertain or have other responses. The statistically-significant survey has an RMSE score of 3.3%.

Israel’s policy since its founding in 1948 has been to locate foreign embassies in Jerusalem rather than Tel Aviv. However, the original 1947 UN agreement partitioning Palestine into Arab and Jewish states required that Jerusalem be “internationalized.” Israel’s US lobby began laying the groundwork for moving the US embassy—in hopes that others would follow and stay—in the late 1970s. In 1979, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) submitted a petition with 100,000 signatures to President Jimmy Carter—who had campaigned in favor of a move—asking him to formally withdraw the US from the 1947 UN Agreement and relocate the embassy. Carter refused. Full Analysis

Lawsuit: Israel nuclear gag order part of an unlawful foreign aid scheme - 1/18/2017

memOn January 18 IRmep urged Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan to block unlawful US foreign aid disbursements to Israel. We also further exposed and refuted the Justice Department's legal campaign to protect an unlawful legislative rule that attempts to punish all who speak or write about Israel's clandestine nuclear weapons program.

The delivery of U.S. foreign aid to Israel depends on the federal government's ability to silence internal and external dissenters who raise the issue of Israel's nuclear weapons program as a disqualifying factor. On Wednesday, IRmep filed its most important motion to date—questioning the Justice Department's claims that the president and his agencies can plead "willful ignorance" about Israel's nuclear weapons program—by claiming what is broadly known in the public domain is "government classified information." Read the entire 41-page brief from the Center for Policy and Law. (PDF)

ytBeholden to Israel and AIPAC even before running for office - 1/7/2017


Who wants Obama to pardon Lawrence Franklin? - 1/4/2017

Larry_FFormer Defense Department analyst Lawrence A. Franklin was convicted of felonies for passing in 2004 classified military information to two American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobbyists and an Israeli diplomat. Franklin worked for Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, a major proponent of the disastrous US Iraq invasion. The AIPAC officials tried to use Franklin’s information to get the US to militarily “pivot” toward Iran by getting coverage that Iran was attacking the US in the Washington Post. The two AIPAC officials—Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman—were charged but avoided conviction. Shortly after Obama took office, the Department of Justice abruptly dropped a very solid criminal case developed by the FBI.

Israel affinity organizations and their leaders generally lobby hard to get non-prosecution (urging “prosecutorial discretion”) for cases of major U.S. crimes that benefitted Israel. When that fails, coordinated efforts are made to overturn felony convictions.  On October 18, 1961 JFK pardoned “Hank” Greenspun’s felony conviction for smuggling arms during Israel’s War of Independence after intense lobbying. On January 20, 2001 Bill Clinton pardoned “Al” Schwimmer, founder of Israel Aircraft Industries, for similar crimes.  On January 1, 2009 George W. Bush issued a posthumous pardon for B-17 bomber smuggler Charles T. Winters after intense lobbying by more than 28 members of congress, the American Jewish Committee, and Jewish federations. Many of them argued that crimes committed for Israel should not be punished and that many others had done much more and not been punished.

In December, the US Pardon Attorney took a hard line and refused to release any correspondence under the Freedom of Information Act for a handful of convicts who recently attempted to engage in similar activities. After an appeal, the Pardon Attorney did disclose that only Lawrence Franklin (PDF) currently has an open petition seeking a pardon from President Obama before he leaves office. Others petitioning in support of his pardon have not gone public—as was the case of Jonathan Pollard—and will likely remain unknown absent a speedy FOIA remand from the Department of Justice Office of Information Policy.

US Aid Package to Israel Incentivizes War - 1/2/2017

MOU_tab...That MOU, like its predecessor, continues to permit lavish subsidies for basic supplies – food and fuel – core to the offensive needs of the IDF, rather than the purely high-tech "defensive" infrastructure touted by the White House, is troubling. At its worst, the MOU could incentivize Israel to engage in offensive war, in order to be permitted to lobby congress for funding framed as "key to its survival." In the MOU, Israel pledges not to seek additional funding "except in exceptional circumstances…such as in the event of a major armed conflict involving Israel." The MOU is silent on whether Israel is allowed to seek addition funding if it is clearly the aggressor. The only requirement is that it is "jointly agreed by the US administration and Israel" that there are indeed "exceptional circumstances" that demand MOU limits be broken. In the decades spanning Israel’s existence since 1948, military conflicts have been much more the rule than exception. More

2019-2028 US-Israel MOU (PDF)




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