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Anti-israel Lobby Has Smart Tactics but Limited Success, Says ADL Study

An anti-Israel lobby spearheaded by several major Arab-American organizations is using sophisticated techniques to win the support of U.S. policy-makers and public opinion, especially on college campuses, for the Palestinian cause.

But so far it has had only limited success, according to a new study prepared by the Civil Rights Division of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

Titled “The Anti-Israel Lobby Today: An Examination of the Themes and Tactics of an Evolving Propaganda Movement,” the report was to be released here Friday at the ADL’s 78th annual National Commission meeting.

It documents the anti-Israel efforts of two related groups, the American Educational Trust and the Council for the National Interest, whose leadership includes many former U.S. government officials and former members of Congress.

“By becoming more directly and consistently involved with political campaigns, legislative deliberations and party platform debates, the anti-Israel lobby has sharpened the skills of promotion and persuasion necessary to influence the formulation of public policy,” the report says.

It cites as examples of growing political savvy the sponsorship of four pro-Palestinian ballot measures in California and Massachusetts during the 1988 elections.

One was passed in Cambridge and parts of Somerville, Mass., calling on political leaders to support the creation of a Palestinian state.

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Pro-Arab propagandists approach American college students with positive-sounding themes, such as human rights and national interest.

American colleges have been the prime targets of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, or ADC, and the Palestine Solidarity Committee, which have formed on-campus chapters.

The ADC sent students on one of its “Eyewitness Israel” tours. After traveling through the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the students issued a statement on their return condemning Israel.

The familiar “Zionism-is-racism” theme, echoing the 1975 U.N. General Assembly resolution, is promoted on campuses by the Muslim Students Association.

Another theme of the ADC is opposition to Soviet Jewish immigration to Israel.

After an ADC delegation visited the Soviet Union, its leader, Abdeen Jabara, charged that “Soviet Jews are being used as cannon fodder by the Israeli government to help its expansionist goals.”

The ADL report concludes that the successes of the pro-Arab propaganda drive have been limited and uneven. Recent polls show U.S. public support and sympathy for Israel to be at an all-time high.

“These groups have skillfully exploited such diverse phenomena as American economic uncertainty and televised scenes of intifada violence to advance their cause, with some tangible results,” the ADL study says.

“However, Israel’s supportive role and victimization by Iraq during the Gulf war bolstered the image of the Jewish state as a democratic ally in the American mind.”

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