Tax-exempt research institute focusing on alleged “pro-Israel bias” in the American media
Charges Israel with war crimes and human rights abuses
If Americans Knew (IAK) describes itself as a “research and information-dissemination institute, with particular focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, U.S. foreign policy regarding the Middle East, and media coverage of this issue." The organization was founded in 2001 by freelance journalist Alison Weir to counter what she deemed a pro-Israel bias coloring U.S. media coverage of Mideast events.
The group's website contains a number of glaring inaccuracies. It states, for example: "When the inevitable (1948) war broke out, the outcome was never in doubt … The Zionist army consisted of over 90,000 European-trained soldiers and possessed modern weaponry, including up-to-date fighter and bomber airplanes. The Arab forces, very much a Third World army, consisted of approximately 30,000 ill-equipped poorly trained men." Actually the reverse is true. The Arab League -- representing five neighboring Arab states, several of which had fought alongside Hitler -- declared war on Israel on the day of its creation. Armed with modern weaponry and aiming to destroy the new Jewish state, those five Arab armies invaded Israel.
If Americans Knew also mischaracterizes the 1967 Six Day War as a conflict that erupted when “Israeli forces launched a highly successful, Pearl Harbor-like surprise attack on Egypt [and thereafter] occupied the additional 22 percent of Palestine that had eluded it in 1948 -- the West Bank and the Gaza Strip." In reality, Egyptian dictator Gamel Abdel Nasser, who had declared Israel's existence "an aggression," blockaded the Port of Eilat and moved two tank battalions and 150,000 troops right up to Israel's western border -- an unambiguous act of war. For three weeks Israel tried, to no avail, to negotiate for peace. On June 5, 1967, after receiving military intelligence that Egypt was within hours of launching an invasion via the Gaza Strip, Israel launched its defensive pre-emptive strike, an air attack that destroyed the air forces of Egypt and its allies Jordan and Syria while they were still on the ground.
On its website, If Americans Knew provides statistics indicating that during the current Intifada (which was launched in September 2000), Palestinian civilians have suffered significantly greater numbers of deaths and injuries than have their Israeli counterparts. But IAK entirely omits the context in which those deaths have occurred. It does not mention the waves of Palestinian suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks deliberately targeting Israeli civilians; nor does it acknowledge that Israel’s military efforts have been aimed entirely at terrorist operations, many of which use private homes and civilian areas as bases for their operations, thereby placing civilians in harm’s way. Calling for an end to U.S. aid to Israel, If Americans Knew states, “Empowered by American money, Israel is occupying land that doesn't belong to it, is breaking numerous international laws and conventions of which it is a signatory, and is promulgating policies of brutality that have been condemned by Amnesty International, the European Union, the International Red Cross, the National Council of Churches, the United Nations, and numerous other international bodies." U.S. support for Israel, says IAK, “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 that is antithetical to American principles of equality and democracy.”
In its “Synopsis of the Current Situation,” IAK charges: “Israeli forces regularly confiscate private [Palestinian] land; imprison individuals without process – including children – and physically abuse them under incarceration; demolish family homes; bulldoze orchards and crops; place entire towns under curfew; destroy shops and businesses; shoot, maim, and kill civilians – and Palestinians are without power to stop any of it.”Paul Findley, a former eleven-term Illinois Congressman, is a board member of If Americans Knew. Findley has stated that President Bush "overreacted" to the September 11th terrorist attacks, and claims that Americans "have been misled by the American media, which is controlled by the Jewish lobby." These views have been endorsed by such institutions as the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine, Columbia University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Harvard Law School, the National Press Club, Northwestern University, Stanford University, and the University of California at Berkeley -- all of which have made use of written materials and guest speakers provided by If Americans Knew.
If Americans Knew also produces annual "Media Report Cards" that evaluate major media outlets across the United States on their coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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