Medea Benjamin of Code Pink tells TPMmuckraker that the left-wing activist group orchestrated the bogus AIPAC press release calling for a settlement freeze that got picked up by several major news organizations today.
Benjamin says she and a colleague stood outside the AIPAC conference hall today dressed in suits and handed out copies of the statement to confused attendees.
“Some of the staff snatched them out of our hands, and said, ‘It’s not true, AIPAC is not calling for a settlement freeze,’” she says. “Then we heard attendees saying, ‘Wait, is it true? Maybe AIPAC has changed its position to get closer to the Obama Administration.’”
AIPAC has not responded to a request for comment.
Benjamin declined to say how the group made the press release, which got picked up on NPR, C-SPAN, and Al Jazeera, appear to come from an email address with AIPAC’s domain name.
Following the recent diplomatic flap between the U.S. and Israel over an announcement of new settlement construction in East Jerusalem, AIPAC released a statement calling the Obama Administration’s condemnations “a matter of serious concern.” That statement, Benjamin says, inspired Code Pink to come up with the hoax press release.
“When we saw that Netanyahu was not making any concessions, we thought that it would be logical for AIPAC to take the position of its own government in the United States, and not the position of the Israeli government,” she says. “Freezing the settlements has now become a mainstream opinion — to not have AIPAC even recognize that things have changed” is troubling.