Washington, DC - March 7, 2014 8AM-5PM at the National Press Club

"..a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils."

-George Washington, Farewell Address


Speaker Transcripts Audio and Video

  Findings from the new book "Against Our Better Judgement" 
(Video YouTube, MP3 Audio)

Alison Weir is president of the Council for the National Interest, created by ambassadors and former Congressmen in 1989 and executive director of If Americans Knew, a nonprofit organization she founded following an independent investigation as a freelance journalist to the West Bank and Gaza in early 2001. She writes and speaks widely on Israel-Palestine, and is considered the foremost analyst on media coverage of the region. Her book on the history of US-Israel relations will be published in February. Her articles have appeared in Censored 2005, The Encyclopedia of Palestine-Israel, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, CounterPunch, Editor & Publisher, The Link, and other books and publications. She has spoken in England, Wales, Qatar, Baghdad, Ramallah, Asia Media Summits in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, on Capitol Hill, and at numerous American universities, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, Georgetown, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and the Naval Postgraduate Institute. In 2004 she was inducted into honorary membership of Phi Alpha Literary Society at Illinois College. The award cited her as a: “Courageous journalist-lecturer on behalf of human rights. She is the first woman in history to receive an honorary membership in Phi Alpha.” The New York Times reported of her presentation: “When the speech ended, Ms. Weir was met with thunderous applause, and across the room there was a widespread sense of satisfaction that someone was saying what needed to be said.” Former US Senator Tom Campbell stated: “Ms. Weir presents a powerful, well documented view of the Middle East today. She is intelligent, careful, and critical. American policy makers would benefit greatly from hearing her first-hand observations and attempting to answer the questions she poses.”

Hello, I’m Alison Weir, president of the Council for the National Interest and executive director of If Americans Knew. Thank you.  There are full citations in my book [ Against Our Better Judgment: The hidden history of how the United States was used to create Israel ] for everything that I'll be saying, and some of it will be quite surprising.  So I want you to look at the citations if you would like.


For most of my life, I knew very little about Israel-Palestine. I was deeply aware of the Nazi holocaust, sympathetic to Israel, and had seen the movie Exodus.


But then in fall of 2000 the departure of my youngest child for college coincided with the eruption of the second Palestinian intifada with its images of children throwing stones against tanks, and I finally began to pay attention to a distant part of the world that I had thought had little to do with me and my family.


When I paid attention, I noticed how one-side the news coverage seemed to be, providing far more information from and about Israelis than Palestinians.


Growing curious, I looked into what the internet had to offer and discovered a wealth of information directly from the region from Palestinians, Israelis, and others that revealed a far darker reality than our media were reporting – a reality in which Israel’s massively powerful military, it appeared, was using extreme violence against a population that was largely unarmed, killing many and injuring multitudes.


The strategy, I read in a report by an Israeli academic, was to keep deaths below the level that would trigger world outrage, while maiming as many as possible; a common practice was for Israeli snipers to target knees and eyes. In the first month alone over 7,000 Palestinians were injured, including numerous children.


I noticed little of this was being reported by one of my main news sources, NPR’s Linda Gradstein, and I began to notice a pattern of media filtration that continues through to today, in which some facts are repeated and some never reported.


While we are repeatedly told that rockets are fired from Gaza into Israel, we seem never to be told that over 10 years of largely home-made rocket fire has killed a total of 29 Israelis – nor do we learn that during this same period Israeli forces have killed 4,000 Gazans.


We tend to hear, often in detail, about Israeli children who have been tragically killed. We hear far less often about the Palestinian children who were killed first, and in far larger numbers.  It is my view that all of these deaths are tragic.


After several months of researching such information, I finally decided I needed to go and see for myself if things were truly as bad as I was beginning to believe.


I quit my job as a small town weekly newspaper editor and traveled over to the region as a freelance reporter, traveling throughout the West Bank and Gaza in February & March 2001 – long before rocket fire from Gaza – and took photographs of what I saw.


When I returned, I began an organization to tell Americans the facts on this issue.


I also began to study it intensely. I was especially curious about the U.S. connection, reading book after book by respected authors and scholars.


I was completely unprepared for what I found.


I discovered an extraordinarily powerful and pervasive special interest lobby of which I had previously been almost entirely unaware.


Even more surprising, I discovered that this was just the latest incarnation of a movement that has been active in the U.S. for over a century. A movement called “political Zionism” – its adherents are called Zionists – that has profoundly impacted my nation and others, and yet that many Americans do not even know exists.


I discovered that political Zionism, a movement to create a Jewish state in Palestine, had begun in the late 1800s, and that by the early 1890s there were organizations promoting this ideology in New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Boston, Philadelphia, and Cleveland. 


By the 1910s the number of Zionists in the U.S. approached 20,000 and included lawyers, professors, and businessmen - and was becoming a movement to which, as one historian put it, “Congressmen, particularly in the eastern cities, began to listen.”


By 1918 there were 200,000 Zionists in the U.S., and in 1948 there were nearly a million.


While politicians from both parties increasingly saw Zionists as potential voters and donors to curry or at least placate, the U.S. state department opposed Zionism, believing it was counter to both U.S. interests and principles.


President Taft’s Secretary of State Philander Knox stated in 1912 that Zionism involved “matters primarily related to the interests of countries other than our own.”


A U.S. commission that studied the situation in Palestine in 1919 concluded, “the project for making Palestine distinctly a Jewish commonwealth should be given up.”


In 1947 American statesman Dean Acheson stated that supporting Zionist objectives would “imperil not only American but all Western interests in the Near East.”


The Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that a Zionist proposal “would prejudice United States strategic interests in the Near and Middle East,” and predicted, “the Zionist strategy will seek to involve [the United States] in a continuously widening and deepening series of operations....”


Such reports and memos go on and on...


During this time, however, Zionists were working strenuously – and ultimately successfully – to combat such wise recommendations.


They employed a wide variety of strategems – from open public advocacy to various covert activities. Their initiatives targeted every sector of the American population – including Jewish Americans, the large majority of whom for many decades were either non-Zionist or actively anti-Zionist, and who still today most likely are misinformed on what is being done allegedly in their name.


In 1943 a Zionist organization, in the words of its leader, launched “a political and public relations offensive to capture the support of Congressmen, clergy, editors, professors, business and labor.” A directive ordered: “In every community an American Christian Palestine Committee XE "American Christian Palestine Committee"  must be immediately organized.”


An annual report crowed: “We reach into every department of American life.”


When Britain failed to accede to Zionist demands, an American rabbi named Baruch Korff fomented a plan to drop incendiary bombs on London that was only prevented when a young American aviator divulged it to the Paris Police. 25 years later Korff, his terrorist past expunged from the public memory, became close to President Richard Nixon, influencing his Middle East polices. Nixon jocularly called him “my rabbi.”


Perhaps my most surprising discovery of so many surprising findings involves an extremely well-known and highly regarded Supreme Court Justice – Louis Brandeis.


According to a 1978 article in the respected scholarly journal American Jewish Historical Quarterly, by Dr. Sarah Schmidt, an Israeli professor of Jewish history at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a book by Peter Grose, former editor of Foreign Affairs, diplomatic correspondent for the New York Times, and associate at the JFK School of Government Harvard, Louis Brandeis was a leader of  “an elitist secret society called the Parushim, the Hebrew word for ‘Pharisees’ and ‘separate.’”


According to Schmidt and Grose, this society promoted Zionism throughout the U.S. Its initiates underwent a solemn induction ceremony in which the inductee was told:


“You are about to take a step which will bind you to a single cause for all your life...... until our purpose shall be accomplished, you will be fellow of a brotherhood whose bond you will regard as greater than any other in your life–dearer than that of family, of school, of nation.”


Grose writes “The members set about meeting people of influence here and there, casually, on a friendly basis. They planted suggestions for action to further the Zionist cause ...”

 XE "Grose, Peter"

“As early as November 1915,” Grose writes, "a leader of the Parushim went around suggesting that the British might gain some benefit from a formal declaration in support of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine.”


Brandeis directed Zionist activities secretly from his Supreme Court chambers through his loyal lieutenants – one of whom eventually became a Supreme Court Justice himself, another particularly influential one: Felix Frankfurter.


A number of authors report that Brandeis was a close friend of President Woodrow Wilson  and used this access to advocate for the Zionist cause, at times serving as a conduit between British Zionists and the president.


In fact, some Zionist leaders bragged, and British officials, rightly or wrongly, believed that Zionists had played a significant role in the U.S. decision to enter World War I.


Numerous individuals, both Jewish and Christian, attempted to oppose Zionist endeavors.


One was Dorothy Thompson. According to the Britannica Encyclopedia, Thompson was “one of the most famous journalists of the 20th Century.”


She had graced the cover of Time magazine, had been profiled by America’s top magazines, and was so well-known that a Hollywood movie featuring Kathryn Hepburn and Spencer Tracey and a Broadway play starring Lauren Bacall, were based on her.


Thompson had been the first journalist to be expelled by Adolph Hitler and had raised the alarm against the Nazis long ahead of most other journalists. She had originally supported Zionism, but then had visited the region in person. She began to speak about the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians that Israel had violently forced out in its founding war to create a Jewish state on land that was already inhabited, and narrated a documentary about their plight.


Thompson was viciously attacked in an orchestrated campaign of what she termed “career assassination and character assassination.” She wrote: “It has been boundless, going into my personal life.”


Before long, her column and radio programs, her speaking engagements, and her fame were all gone. Today, she has largely been erased from history.


In the coming decades, other Americans were similarly written out of history, forced out of office, their lives and careers destroyed; history was distorted, re-written, erased; bigotry promoted, supremacy disguised, facts replaced by fraud.


Very few people know this history. The excellent books that document it are largely out of print, their facts and very existence virtually unknown to the vast majority of Americans. Instead, false theories have been promulgated, mendacious analyses promoted, chosen authors celebrated, others assigned to oblivion.


George Orwell once wrote: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” Perhaps by rediscovering the past, we’ll gain control of the present, and make a better future for all our children.


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