After signing contracts and paying in full for a mobile ad to carry your message to the AIPAC Policy Conference today; after letting 100,000 of you know about the truck; after nearly 5,000 of you signed the ad and let all of your friends know; after hundreds more chipped in for the ad; after sending a press release out to the media….After all that, the owner of the truck changed his mind at the last minute and decided not to let our ad run.
Why? What was so terrible about the ad that no one could be allowed to see it?
Its main message was: “AIPAC speaks for AIPAC, not for the Jews. AIPAC supports war with Iran and settlements, Jews do not.”
But the company let slip that they have other business with AIPAC, and didn’t want to upset them. I’m angry, but I can’t say I’m surprised. While I can’t say for sure if the truck owner got a call that scared him or if he simply got cold feet, I do know this is pretty much business as usual when dealing with matters related to AIPAC.
In fact, I started a blog called Muzzlewatch years ago when an AIPAC staffer threatened to get the funding for a Jewish youth leadership program completely pulled if I was allowed to speak to the students alongside the AIPAC representative.
Back then, the threat of losing that much money meant the people who ran the youth program folded, even though they knew it was wrong. And just last night, the truck owner folded too.
And now there’s the spreading story about AIPAC’s new and unprecedented policy of yanking press credentials from “unfriendly” reporters including Inter Press Service journalist and former Jewish Voice for Peace staffer Mitchell Plitnick, Mondoweiss’ Phil Weiss and Alternet’s Adele Stan.
So much for the free exchange of ideas in an open democracy.
After some very difficult conversations with the Jewish Voice for Peace board and lawyers, I spoke to the owner who said he’d try to fix things this morning. But it’s pretty clear his decision is made, so now I’m letting you know:
There will be no truck ad.
I’m really angry. But you can be sure of this—we will not be silenced. In fact, now we are committed to doing something even bigger to make sure our critical message gets out—so that our elected officials know that AIPAC doesn’t speak for us, and they don’t speak for millions of American Jews.
It’s going to take some time. But we’ll make sure our voices—your voices—are heard loud and clear by Congress. And once we’re up and running, we’ll let you know how you can help. To those of you who chipped in for the ad—every penny will go to this new effort.
In the meantime, we’re not sitting on our hands. We’re making sure the voices of the millions of Jews who are not represented by AIPAC are being heard loud and clear. In the image at left is Liza Behrendt, a leader in Young, Jewish and Proud, the youth wing of Jewish Voice for Peace. She’s shouting from the stage at the AIPAC youth conference yesterday: “I will not be silenced!” You can watch the dramatic video here.
Liza, a participant in OccupyAIPAC, walked onto the dais, stood right next to the CEO of Hillel, Wayne Firestone, and told the story of how his McCarthyite guidelines kept her Brandeis Jewish Voice for Peace chapter from being accepted in Hillel.
And this morning, Jewish Voice for Peace's Rabbinical Council also released this historic letter opposing war with Iran. Read the letter and share it with all the rabbis and rabbinical students in your circle—we need them to sign on to this powerful message.
These actions—representing your values— are already being magnified in the national and international press including the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, +972magazine, RT Television and many more.
Stay tuned. You will not be silenced.
Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director
Jewish Voice for Peace