Congress to Host Anti-Israel Forum, Sparking Outrage on Hill

Anonymous member of Congress backing anti-Israel event

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Congress is scheduled to host an anti-Israel forum that takes aim at the Jewish state's military, accusing it of "systematic discrimination" against those living in the "occupied Palestinian territory," according to an invitation for the event circulating on Capitol Hill that has sparked outrage among pro-Israel lawmakers.

The event, which is sponsored by a member of Congress who has chosen to remain anonymous, will feature several anti-Israel organizations that back boycotts of the Jewish state and distribute propaganda accusing the Israeli military of human rights violations, according to an invitation to the June 8 briefing obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The event, "50 Years of Israeli Military Occupation & Life for Palestinian Children," has riled several pro-Israel offices on the Hill and sparked a search for the anonymous lawmaker who has provided the organization space in room 122 of Capitol Hill's Cannon House Office Building, according to conversations with multiple sources.

A number of anti-Israel groups have attempted to hold briefings on Capitol Hill in the past months, with one group of Israel-boycott backers being forced to cancel a briefing after news of the event spilled into public following a report by the Free Beacon.

That event was sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas), who only stepped forward publicly after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) learned about the forum and demanded it be cancelled.

Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about Thursday's event—which is being sponsored by a network of anti-Israel activists and boycott supporters tied to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and other Christian groups known for their anti-Israel activism—said that the event seeks to spread anti-Israel propaganda aimed at undermining the Jewish state.

"This event is textbook propaganda aimed to perpetuate anti-Israel falsehoods and misconceptions," said one senior congressional source familiar with the event and its sponsors.

The member of Congress who is sponsoring the event should publicly step forward and proclaim their support, the source said.

"Any member willing to sponsor this event should do so publicly," said the official. "Come forward and defend your decision to host this Israel-bashing forum."

Supporters of these groups are being asked to contact their senators and congressman to "urge them to attend this important briefing to learn more about the struggles of Palestinian children," according to the event invitation, which further urges activists to ask lawmakers "to work for an end to 50 years of military occupation."

Groups involved in organizing the event include several advocacy organizations known for their criticism of the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF. They include the Defense for Children International-Palestine and American Friends Service Committee, which operate an affiliated advocacy group dedicated to accusing the IDF of various crimes against humanity.

These organizations have been cited by pro-Israel organizations and watchdog groups for their promotion of anti-Israel propaganda and false information about the IDF.

Speakers scheduled to attend the event include: Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestinian director for Human Rights Watch, which routinely criticizes Israel; Brad Parker, the staff attorney and international advocacy officer for Defense for Children International-Palestine, a group that backs Israel boycotts; Nadia Ben-Youssef, director of the Adalah Justice Project, which has accused Israel of "genocide"; and Yazan Meqbil, a Leonard Education Scholar and student at Goshen College.

The panelists, several of whom have been cited by experts for their vocal anti-Israel activism, are tasked with examining "how persistent human rights violations, systematic impunity, discrimination, and a hyper-militarized environment affect the lives of the Palestinian children growing up under a military occupation with no end in sight," according to the invitation for the event.

One senior official at a D.C.-based pro-Israel organization told the Free Beacon that lawmakers are being alerted about the event and its agenda.

"It wouldn't be surprising if whoever is backing this disgraceful event in Congress chose to stay anonymous," said the source. "Usually lawmakers scramble to take credit for whatever they can. But on an issue like Israel, where there is overwhelming public support for a strong relationship with a critical ally, it'd be understandable if someone didn't want to put their name on it."

An email to the American Friends Service Committee, one of the forum's main organizers, seeking further information about which lawmaker is sponsoring the event was not returned by press time.

Adam Kredo   Email Adam | Full Bio | RSS
Adam Kredo is senior writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Formerly an award-winning political reporter for the Washington Jewish Week, where he frequently broke national news, Kredo’s work has been featured in outlets such as the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and Politico, among others. He lives in Maryland with his comic books. His Twitter handle is @Kredo0. His email address is kredo@freebeacon.com.

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