NEW YORK (Feb. 2)
A pro-Arab propaganda network of more than 30 organizations is engaged in a heavily financed campaign to change American public opinion and policy on the Middle East and curtail U.S. economic and military aid to Israel, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has disclosed.
The structures, backgrounds and activities of the organizations are detailed in a 100-page “handbook” entitled “Pro-Arab Propaganda in America: Vehicles and Voices.” The ADL publication also identifies dozens of individuals — some closely linked to the Palestine Liberation Organization — as spearheading the campaign which escalated sharply since the Israeli military action in Lebanon last summer.
According to Abraham Foxman, ADL’s associate national director and head of the organization’s International Affairs Division, “the attempt to undermine support for Israel, America’s only reliable ally in the region is a threat to basic U.S. interests.” He pointed out that since its founding 35 years ago, support for a strong, secure Israel has been American policy through eight U.S. Administrations.
EFFORTS TO SECURE U.S. RECOGNITION OF PLO
Foxman said that in addition to the well organized campaign to curtail U.S. support for Israel, the handbook documents a parallel effort to secure American recognition of the PLO “despite the fact that the PLO remains a terrorist group committed to the destruction of Israel.”
Foxman noted that Palestinian leaders held a private, three-day conference in London in July, 1982, to plan and implement an anti-Israel propaganda campaign, described as the “Palestine battle in the United States.”
He said that $100 million was reportedly allocated for a plan approved by PLO chieftain Yasir Arafat which included making contact with persons close to, or inside, the U.S. Administration who are perceived as pro-Arab.
While the meeting was taking place, Foxman said, pro-Arab propagandists “were already engaged in an intensive effort to exploit exaggerated casualty reports and distorted coverage of the Lebanese fighting.”
MAJOR ORGANIZATIONS CITED
The handbook, prepared by ADL’s Civil Rights Division under the supervision of Justin Finger, its director, cites five organizations as being in the forefront of the pro-Arab propaganda effort:
* The National Association of Arab Americans (NAAA). Founded in 1972 and the main political action and lobbying organization among the five, the NAAA has 20 chapters across the U.S. and claims political activists in all 50 states.
* The Association of Arab-American University Graduates (AAUG). Founded in 1967 and for many years one of the most active pro-PLO propaganda groups on the American scene, it has strongly opposed American aid to Israel. AAUG professors and legal representatives have appeared as witnesses before Congressional committees dealing with Mideast issues.
* The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). Founded in 1980 by former U.S. Senator James Abourezk and James Zogby, a leading pro-PLO activist, ADC has emerged as one of the most visible pro-PLO propaganda groups in the U.S. ADC now claims 41 regional chapters across the country. During the Lebanon action, ADC placed 64 advertisements in U.S. newspapers calling to for a cutoff in American aid to Israel.
* The Palestine Human Rights Campaign (PHRC). Created in 1979 by the AAUG, the group has sponsored speaking tours in the U.S. for PLO supporters and critics of Israel. PHRC seeks to forge a coalition of church, “peace” and black groups in support of the PLO.
* The Palestine Congress of North America (PCNA). Founded in 1979 as an umbrella group for more than 50 North American based pro-PLO organizations, PCNA leaders have organized rallies and demonstrations and have had frequent contacts with Administration officials and members of Congress. At PCNA’s second annual convention in 1980, the keynote speaker was Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the PLO’s political department.
A GROWING CHALLENGE TO THE U.S.
Foxman noted that the current expansion of pro-Arab propaganda in the U.S. is the latest in a series of escalations that have marked the campaign in this country dating back to the years after Israel was established in 1948.
After generally ineffective efforts in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, the Arabs and their allies in the U.S. sharply increased their activity in the period following the 1967 Six Day War. Another phase began after the 1973 Yom Kippur War with its accompanying oil embargo, quintupling of oil prices, and the use of the oil weapon to influence American policy in the Middle East.
Foxman said that “the current campaign to undermine American support for Israel will present a growing challenge to U.S. interests in the Middle East.”