#23... June 5,
HITS BACK AT AIPAC
Rep. Betty McCollum
Wants a Written Apology or Else
tactics employed by the most powerful Israeli lobbying groups
in Washington — an organization recently targeted in a Pentagon
spy scandal — has backfired and gotten AIPAC’s lobbyists
banned from one U.S. legislator’s office. Could they finally
have gone too far this time, even for our spineless Congress?
Well, they went too far for gutsy Betty McCollum of Minnesota.
Read Michael Collins Piper’s report.
P. 5, AMERICAN
FREE PRESS * June 5, 2006 Behind
with Michael Collins Piper
Smear of Rep Draws Stiff Response
Minnesota's Betty McCollum demands written
apology from AIPAC or her office will remain closed to its lobbyists
By Michael Collins Piper
waves recently reverberated across Capitol Hill and among the ranks
of the elite group of wealthy families who fund the powerful Washington
lobby known as AIPAC — the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee — the frontline lobby for Israel. For the first
time in history, a member of Congress not only barred AIPAC from
her office on Capitol Hill, but also made a public spectacle of
Rep. Betty McCollum is a very liberal Democrat from Minnesota —
who once even refused to use the phrase “under God”
when she publicly led the pledge of allegiance. Rep. McCollum, however,
recently took offense when an AIPAC representative told her chief
of staff that the congresswoman’s “support for terrorists
will not be tolerated.”
According to many Capitol Hill veterans, AIPAC’s lobbyists
traditionally feel that they can speak to members of Congress and
their staffs in commanding tones.
The AIPAC operative who was implicitly threatening the congresswoman’s
political future was angry that Rep. McCollum was one of two members
of the House International Relations Committee who voted against
an AIPAC-backed measure — the so-called “Palestinian
Anti-Terrorism Act” — that would, in McCollum’s
judgment, interfere with the ability of the United States to work
with the Palestinians.
The Bush administration’s State Department shared McCollum’s
concern that the bill, which would place restraints on U.S. aid
to the Palestinians, would be problematic.
Even a number of Jewish groups, such as the Israel Policy Forum,
Tikkun and Jewish Voice for Peace, urged Congress to vote against
the bill. According to Jewish Voice for Peace, “more than
300 organizations and businesses, including about a dozen small
Jewish groups, signed a letter opposing the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism
The bill was approved by the House on May 23. See page 6 of this
issue for the vote.
After Rep. McCollum’s chief of staff told the congresswoman
of the threats from AIPAC, Rep. McCollum fired off a forceful letter
to AIPAC’s executive director, Howard Kohr. Then — to
the outrage of AIPAC’s supporters — a copy of the letter
was leaked to the prestigious New York Review of Books.
The publication ran the text of the congresswoman’s provocative
letter alongside an extended article, which concluded that a recent
report critical of the Israeli lobby by two eminent academics, based
at the University of Chicago and Harvard, “has performed a
very useful serving in forcing into the open a subject that has
for too long remained taboo.”
Describing herself as a “supporter of a strong U.S.- Israeli
relationship,” Rep. McCollum nonetheless adamantly demanded
an apology and took AIPAC to task for its tactics.
During my 19 years serving in elected office,
including the past five years as a Member of Congress, never has
my name and reputation been maligned or smeared as it was last
week by a representative of AIPAC. . . .
I call on AIPAC to immediately condemn this un- American attack
and disavow any attempt to use this type of threat and intimidation
to stifle legitimate policy differences. I will not stand to be
labeled or threatened in a manner that questions my patriotism
or my oath of office. . . .
You and your colleagues at AIPAC have the right to disagree with
my position on any piece of legislation, but for an AIPAC representative
to say that I would ever vote to support Middle East terrorists
over the interests of my country will never be tolerated by me
or the families I serve. This incident rises to a level in which
a formal, written apology is required. Mr. Kohr, I am a supporter
of a strong U.S. – Israeli relationship and my voting record
speaks for itself. This will not change. But until I receive a
formal, written apology from your organization I must inform you
that AIPAC representatives are not welcome in my offices or for
meetings with my staff.
Although pro-Israel forces are publicly saying
there are efforts to make amends and work out a truce between McCollum
and AIPAC, to the point that even a Jewish member of Congress, Rep.
Gary Ackerman (DN. Y.) has come to her public support, those knowledgeable
of the Zionist lobby’s method of operation, based on a theme
of “Never Again,” believe that whatever accord is reached,
McCollum will be in the gunsites of the supporters of Israel. The
Israeli lobby never forgets when a member of Congress dares to cross
(Issue #23 June 5, 2006, AMERICAN