If Americans Knew

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If Americans Knew is a non-profit organization that focuses on the Arab-Israeli conflict and United States foreign policy regarding the Middle East, offering analysis of American media coverage of these issues. Its mission, according to the group's website, is to provide "what every American needs to know about Israel/Palestine."[1] The site is generally critical of U.S. financial and military support of Israel. It has accused notable newspapers such as The New York Times of being biased against Palestinians [2].

In addition to the freelance journalist and founder Alison Weir [3], board members include [3] Paul Findley, a former United States Representative, and Andrew I. Killgore, a former ambassador of the United States to Qatar [4].


[edit] Background

According to the organization's website, founder Alison Weir traveled independently throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2001 and found a situation she considered to be different from what was being reported by the American media. She noted that the U.S. press portrayal was significantly at odds with that reported by media throughout the rest of the world. Convinced that American citizens were being misinformed and uninformed on one of the most significant issues affecting them today, Weir founded an organization that would reflect what she considered to be a more objective viewpoint.[5]

If Americans Knew states that it produces materials, assists in organizing public forums, and provides speakers and written materials to hundreds of events across the United States, including Harvard Law School, Stanford University, Columbia University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the University of California, Berkeley, Washington State University, Northwestern University, the Palestine Center , the National Press Club, the Naval Postgraduate School, and other university campuses, churches, libraries, and civic organizations.[6] Its website carries information and allegations about "Israel and Palestine" from a wide variety of sources.

[edit] Positions

If Americans Knew argues that United States' support of Israel should be reduced on the grounds that it is not in its interest[7] -- that it interferes with American relations with the oil-producing nations, costs American taxpayers billions, and is increasingly imperiling American lives.

The site's homepage shows charts comparing the number of children killed from both sides since year 2000, it also shows the number of killed and injured people from both sides.

It concludes that U.S. support of Israel is driven by special-interest lobbying on behalf of a foreign government, specifically via AIPAC, and by the efforts of a "growing number of individuals with close ties to Israel (known as neoconservatives)" in high-level U.S. Government positions.[7]

[edit] Criticism

Former New York Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent stated that "representatives of If Americans Knew expressed the belief that unless the paper assigned equal numbers of Muslim and Jewish reporters to cover the conflict, Jewish reporters should be kept off the beat" and said he found that "profoundly offensive." [8] Weir denied this, indicating that If Americans Knew had suggested that the Times team of reporters and editors covering Israel-Palestine be as diverse as possible.[9]

Okrent also stated that "representatives of If Americans Knew earnestly believe that the information they present to be true, and refuse to accept evidence that contradicts their beliefs".[8] Weir says that the organization had an extensive meeting with Okrent during which they presented their findings that the Times covered Israeli deaths in far greater numbers than Palestinian deaths, had explained their findings and methodology in considerable detail, and "gave him copies of the 23-page report, along with approximately 40 pages of supporting documentation." Okrent, Weir says, did not adequately address their findings.[9][1]

The Anti-Defamation League has called If Americans Knew one of several "anti-Israel organization[s]",[10] and further asserts that "Weir's criticism of Israel has, at times, crossed the line into anti-Semitism." They cited Weir's use of a quotation by Israel Shahak that characterized beliefs of certain Israelis as “such a ruthless and supremacist faith.”[11] Weir herself stated that she considered this quoted characterization as not pertaining to the mainstream of Judaism,[12] and has demanded that the ADL correct what she termed "defamatory and inaccurate statements." [13]

If Americans Knew's findings about the Times has also been criticized by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), for "selective and biased use and interpretation of information" and "flawed methodology".[14]

[edit] Praise

If Americans Knew has been lauded by the media monitoring organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).[15]

Weir was inducted into the Phi Alpha Literary Society at Illinois College in 2004, the award citing her as "Courageous journalist-lecturer on behalf of human rights. The first woman to receive an honorary membership in Phi Alpha history."[16] [17]

[edit] Board members

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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