Saturday, September 12, 2009
Arab lobby in the United States
Isaiah L. Kenen, the founder of American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs or "AZCPA" (which became American Israel Public Affairs Committee or "AIPAC"), wrote of the Arab lobby's roots in the 1950s "petro-diplomatic complex" that comprised the "oil industry, missionaries, and diplomats." In 1951 King Saud of Saudi Arabia asked U.S. diplomats to finance a pro-Arab lobby to counter AZCPA.
The National Association of Arab-Americans ("NAAA"), founded in 1972, was a political advocacy group whose goals were "to strengthen U.S. relations with Arab countries and to promote an evenhanded American policy based on justice and peace for all parties in the Middle East." In the early 1970s there was growing anti-Arab sentiment related to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the 1973 oil embargo, leading to government investigations, executive orders, and legislative provisions to combat terrorism. These especially impacted on Arab American rights and activism. The response was the creation of groups like the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Arab American Institute.
For many years these groups worked together on the Palestinian issue, including through newspaper, direct mail and advertising campaigns against U.S. loan guarantees to Israel and states' purchase of Israel bonds, condemnation of Israeli human rights and calls for the U.S. government to pressure Israel, as well anti-Israel protests and letter-writing campaigns. They also offered testimony to congress and criticized Israel's congressional and organizational supporters, sought to pass anti-Israel resolutions in state and national party platforms; offering anti-Israel testimony before Congress and attempted to sue Israel in U.S. courts. After the Palestine Liberation Organization had reached an agreement with Israel, there was some division among the groups, however they continue to lobby for Palestinians.