Tag Archives: AIPAC

Lindsey Graham Dismisses Questionable Comments As A “Joke”- Again

While speaking at American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) New England Leadership Dinner in Boston Tuesday night, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reportedly remarked that “Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula… Everything that starts with ‘Al’ in the Middle East is bad news,” according to investigative journalist Uri Blau.

[bctt tweet=”Everything that starts with ‘Al’ in the Middle East is bad news @LindseyGrahamSC”]

Graham “should have probably checked the dictionary before making such a comment,” Blau wrote. “According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Al in Arabic is simply meaning ‘the.’ ‘It often prefixes Arabic proper nouns, especially place-names; an example is Al-Jazīrah (Arabic: “The Island”), the name of an interfluvial region in Sudan. The article is often used in lowercase form, hence al-Jazīrah.’, Britannica explains.” 

Blau wrote that he had asked Graham’s Washington, D.C. office for comment and had not received a response. However, Kevin Bishop, Graham’s spokesman, offered a comment to the Washington Post. “It’s not a serious policy statement,” Bishop said, claiming that Graham has told this same joke for several years. According to the Post, Bishop said this apparently long-running joke gets Graham a lot of laughs and is a “‘humorous way’ to look at pressing issues.”

In an update on his blog post, Blau wrote that an Israeli student named Nathan Odenheimer, along with a friend, confronted Graham at the AIPAC dinner about his remarks. Blau copied Odenheimer’s Facebook post that described the confrontation with Graham:

“An Israeli friend of mine who proudly carries an Arabic surname with the allegedly shameful prefix walked up to the Senator and tried to politely and respectfully clarify to the Middle-East-illiterate politician the meaning of his poor comment. My friend brought himself as an example: “My own name starts with ‘Al’”. Graham tried to dodge the situation with a joke and replied, “Well, I guess there is one exception then…”

I meant to remain the uninvolved spectator I was all evening, but couldn’t maintain myself facing this utter nonsense and despite of myself interrupted: “No Mr. Senator, it is not about an exception, you made an offensive statement that shows ignorance” and elaborated that, what every person who has the slightest interest in the Middle East knows, that in Arabic ‘Al’ usually means “the”. The Senator did not exactly stand corrected; instead he awkwardly diverged to compare Iran to Nazi Germany and the US deal with Iran to a second Holocaust.

I don’t frequent these sort of events often, but it is still beyond me why AIPAC should invite a speaker who is unapologetically Iislamophob (sic) and racist, especially since so many Israelis come from Arab countries, like my mentioned above friend, carry a surname that is, according to the senator, ‘bad news.’”

Bishop’s dismissal of Graham’s latest “joke”is quite similar to another explanation he made on Graham’s behalf earlier this year. In March, Bishop had to clarify Graham’s misuse of the word “literally” when he vowed to “literally use the military” to compel Congress to restore defense cuts during a speech in New Hampshire. Prior to “literally” joking about holding Congress hostage, he’s also joked about Nancy Pelosi’s physical appearance, the lack of “angry white guys” in the GOP, that “white men who are in private clubs” would particularly enjoy a Graham presidency, and has poked fun at the idea of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) dying during a trip to Syria.

Again, it’s possible that Graham’s latest quip regarding his humorous disdain for all things “al” is indeed another awkward joke. However, according to Blau, it does not appear that it was well-received by all of the AIPAC dinner attendees.

White House Backs Down as Hawks Praise Netanyahu Speech

Declares Iran an Eternal Enemy of US

by Jason Ditz, March 03, 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today gave a speech to Congress that was remarkably similar to yesterday’s speech at AIPAC, complete with the attempts to liken Iran to Nazi Germany, and the demands to abandon the ongoing nuclear talks in favor of forcing Iran into a “better deal” through unspecified means.

Netanyahu declared that Iran is “busy gobbling up nations,” and has its eyes on subjugating the whole world. It should be noted, of course, Iran has exactly three allied nation-states, and the only recent one is neighboring Iraq, which has become close to Iran since the US installed a Shi’ite government there in the 2003 invasion/occupation.

While railing against Iran’s “march of conquest,” Netanyahu declared the nation “will always be an enemy of America,” and that the ongoing nuclear talks would ensure Iran would have nuclear arms.

Netanyahu went on with a falsehood-laden speech by claiming Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted, in English, for Israel to be “annihilated.” A quick survey of Khamenei’s tweets reveal, by contrast, that his tweets on Israel included: calling on all Christians, Jews, and Muslims to unite in criticizing Israeli war crimes, quoting Nelson Mandela calling for Palestinian self-determination, and in a direct response to the question of how to “eliminate” Israel, calling for a referendum among all people of all religions living there to form a new government, while explicitly saying Iran opposes military action against Israel.

While the speech was boycotted by a number of Congressional Democrats (58 by most counts), there was little White House response to the speech itself, while hawks all cheered Netanyahu’s statesmanship.

The administration seemed to be betting that saying Obama didn’t intend to even watch Netanyahu’s speech would be sufficient, and having done that seems content to once again let an Israeli leader dictate US policy without serious response.