President Joe Biden's nominee for a top State Department position played a key role in assembling a book on the nefarious influence of the "Israel lobby" while working for an organization that promoted claims about Jewish media control and dual loyalty to Israel.
As a staffer at the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Uzra Zeya compiled research for a book that argues that "the Israel lobby has subverted the American political process to take control of U.S. Middle East policy" by establishing a secret network of "dirty money" PACs that bribe and extort congressional candidates into taking pro-Israel positions. Zeya, a former U.S. diplomat who was nominated for undersecretary for civilian security, democracy, and human rights, worked for the Washington Report and its publishing group, the American Educational Trust, in 1989 and 1990. The news outlet is staunchly anti-Israel and has published articles questioning the national loyalty of American Jews and opposing taxpayer funding to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Zeya's work for the Washington Report and American Educational Trust raises questions about her views on Israel and could become an obstacle during her confirmation hearings. Biden's recent hiring moves on foreign policy and conflicting statements from staffers have made it unclear how his administration plans to approach Israel policy issues. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki recently declined to denounce the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, contradicting statements condemning the movement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Biden's nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the Washington Free Beacon recently reported. Biden also tapped anti-Israel activist Maher Bitar for a top intelligence post and is reportedly considering Matt Duss, an outspoken critic of Israel, for a State Department position.
Sean Durns, a research analyst at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, called the Washington Report a "fringe organization" that has "published content with anti-Semitic themes," including claims that the Mossad was behind the JFK assassination and the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Organizations like the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs have a history of propagating fringe and sometimes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and I think it's absolutely fair for questions to be raised in any sort of potential hearings," said Durns.
Zeya did not respond to a request for comment sent through her nonprofit the Alliance for Peacebuilding. The White House also did not respond to a request for comment.
Zeya was listed as one of the staffers who helped compile the research for the American Educational Trust's 1990 book Stealth PACs: How Israel's American Lobby Took Control of U.S. Middle East Policy, according to the acknowledgments section.
In a section titled "Jewish Power in the Formulation of U.S. Middle East Policy," the book claims that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee gives American Jews secret marching orders on how to vote and which candidates to support financially.
"Congressmen must assume that individual Jewish donors will be informed in advance as to exactly where each local and national candidate stands on Israel, and that on Election Day Jewish voters will be willing to cast their own votes on that issue alone," says the book.
The book argues that "non-Jewish Americans increasingly perceive their Jewish fellow citizens as members of a single-issue voting bloc which, at best, divides its loyalties between an increasingly exploitative Israel, and an increasingly exploited United States."
"[T]he more strident lobbyists for Israel must also accept a major share of the blame for whatever changes have taken place in American public perceptions of the loyalties of America's Jews," says the book. "The inevitable public perception is that such ardent supporters of Israel have no real interest in making the United States a better place for all of its citizens, but only in making Israel a more secure and prosperous place for Jews."
The book ends with an appeal to readers to pressure members of Congress to stop accepting donations from pro-Israel PACs.
"When that happens, the people of the United States will regain control of their own Middle East policy," the book concludes. "For better or for worse, in the Middle East as in other parts of the world, American foreign policy will, at last, be truly American."
Zeya was hired as director of the American Educational Trust's speakers' bureau in July 1989, according to the Washington Report, where she helped connect the publication's writers with groups looking for speakers.
"Ms. Zeya, a Muslim, will seek out Islamic groups seeking to work effectively within the American political system, and non-Muslim groups looking for authoritative speakers on Islam," reported the outlet. She published several book reviews in the Washington Report and was listed as "program coordinator for the American Educational Trust specializing in Islamic affairs" in March 1990.
The Washington Report and its publisher, the American Educational Trust, were founded in 1982 by former U.S. foreign service officials Richard Curtiss and Andrew Killgore.
During Zeya's time at the Washington Report, the organization published multiple screeds against the "Jewish Lobby" and accusing American Jews of controlling the media.
"Many Jewish Americans would unhesitatingly declare they are not Zionists," wrote Alfred Lilienthal in an August 1989 column in the Washington Report. "But they conduct themselves, nonetheless, as if they were part of that nation and thus in possession of two national identities."
"Through their tremendous outpouring of financial and political support and their inordinate influence over the media, so many Jewish Americans indicate that they are moved, if not compelled, by this almost involuntary duality," Lilienthal wrote.
After her work at the Washington Report and the American Educational Trust, Zeya moved to the U.S. State Department where she worked in various diplomatic roles until 2018.