View videos from the first National Summit

The National Summit to reasses the U.S.-Israel "special relationship" took place at the National Press Club on March 7th, 2014 and aired on C-SPAN. The nonpartisan symposium examined the impact of the U.S.-Israel relationship on Americans. Speakers and attendees included military, diplomatic, intelligence, academic, governmental, research organization and economic experts, as well as former and current members of Congress.

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To read transcripts of each speaker's talk, see the National Summit website.

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Panel 1: How does the Israel lobby influence Congress?

Paul Findley - Should the executive outmaneuver Congress to save Palestine and Israel?

Paul Findley is a former 11-term Republican U.S. Congressman from Illinois. He served in the Seabees in the South Pacific during WWII. He has also authored several books and is a former newspaper editor. Findley wrote the very first book to analyze the pervasive influence of the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on American politics, policy, and institutions from the perspective of Congress. Carefully documented with specific case histories, They Dare Speak out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby reveals how the Israel lobby helps to shape important aspects of U.S. foreign policy and influences congressional, senatorial, and presidential elections. It was first published in 1985. Findley is co-founder of the Council for the National Interest.

Janet McMahon - The Israel lobby network and coordinated PACs that finance U.S. elections

Janet McMahon is the managing editor at the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. She holds a B.A. in English from Reed College and a graduate diploma in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo. She is an expert on the Israel lobby and pro-Israel political action committees (PACs). She co-edited Seeing the Light: Personal Encounters With the Middle East and Islam, and Donald Neff’s 50 Years of Israel, both compilations of feature articles from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. In addition to her editorial duties, she has written special reports on Israel and Palestine, and has contributed articles to special issues of the Washington Report on Iran, Tunisia, Cyprus and Libya.

Cynthia McKinney - In the Israel lobby's cross-hairs

Cynthia McKinney served six terms in the United States House of Representatives between 1993-2003. McKinney was the first African-American woman to represent Georgia in the House. She was the Green Party presidential candidate in 2008. McKinney earned a B.A. in international relations from the University of Southern California, an M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Before entering politics, she worked as a high school teacher and later as a university professor.

Delinda Hanley - U.S. aid to Israel in numbers

Delinda Hanley is the executive director and news editor at The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Before joining the magazine in 1996, Hanley spent decades in the Middle East, studying in Lebanon, volunteering with the Peace Corps and later working in Oman and Saudi Arabia. From 1990 to 1996 Hanley worked as a researcher, editor and writer for Empire Press and Sovereign Media. Hanley writes for the Washington Report on an array of topics, and her articles have also been published in the Arab News, the Minaret, Islamic Horizons, Jewish Spectator and other publications. She is the winner of the NAAJA 2011 Excellence in Journalism award for her dedication to accuracy and professionalism.

Panel 1 Q&A

Panel 2: Does Israel and its lobby exercise too much influence on U.S. decisions to wage war in the Middle East?

Stephen Sniegoski - Neoconservatives and the Iraq War

Stephen J. Sniegoski, Ph.D. holds a doctorate in American history, with a focus on American foreign policy, from the University of Maryland. He is the author of The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel. The Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies called The Transparent Cabal a valuable contribution to the ever-growing discussion within the United States of the relationship between American and Israeli interests. Dr. Sniegoski's articles have been published in The World & I, Modern Age, Current Concerns, Zeit-Fragen, Telos, and elsewhere.

Karen Kwiatkowski - Inside the Pentagon's "Office of Special Plans"

Karen U. Kwiatkowski retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel following service at the top echelons of the Pentagon, including the Office of Special Plans during the run-up to the war in Iraq. She served as Political-military affairs officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Under Secretary for Policy, in the Sub-Saharan Africa and Near East South Asia (NESA) Policy directorates; worked on the North Africa desk; served on the Air Force Staff, Operations Directorate at the Pentagon; served on the staff of the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade, as well as tours of duty in Alaska, Massachusetts, Spain and Italy. Kwiatkowski is the author of two books about U.S. foreign policy towards Africa: African Crisis Response Initiative: Past Present and Future (US Army Peacekeeping Institute, 2000) and Expeditionary Air Operations in Africa: Challenges and Solutions (Air University Press, 2001). Kwiatkowski has an MA in Government from Harvard University, MS in Science Management from the University of Alaska, and completed both Air Command and Staff College and the Naval War College seminar programs. She earned her Ph.D. in World Politics from Catholic University of America in 2005. Kwiatkowski's analysis of the U.S. invasion of Iraq has been featured in a number of documentaries, including Why We Fight in 2005. She has written for The American Conservative and for since 2003.

Gareth Porter - The "manufactured crisis" and drive for U.S. / Israel military actions against Iran

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian who specializes in U.S. national security policy. He writes regularly for IPS and has also published investigative articles on, the Nation, the American Prospect, Truthout and The Raw Story. His blogs have been published on Huffington Post, Firedoglake, Counterpunch and many other websites. Porter was Saigon bureau chief of Dispatch News Service International in 1971 and later reported on trips to Southeast Asia for The Guardian, Asian Wall Street Journal and Pacific News Service. He is the author of four books on the Vietnam War and the political system of Vietnam. His most recent book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

Brigadier General (ret) James J. David - How does U.S. military aid to Israel impact relations with other U.S. allies?

James J. David is a retired Brigadier General, and a graduate of the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College, and the National Security Course, National Defense University, Washington D.C. He served nearly three years of Army active duty in and around the Middle East from 1967-1969. Shortly after, General David was assigned to the Republic of Vietnam as a company commander with the 101st Airborne Division from 1969-1970. After his tour in Vietnam General David commanded a Chaparral-Vulcan Air Defense Artillery battery and received one of Europe's highest awards for missile battery proficiency when his missile battery scored a perfect score in its annual service practice on the Island of Crete. After his active duty tours, General David commanded the 429th, and the 434th Chemical Detachments in Chamblee, Georgia, United States Army Reserves. The 434th Chemical Detachment received unit honors when it was later mobilized and served in the first Gulf war. His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Medal with Overseas Ribbon and bar, the Vietnam Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Bronze Star Medal.

Panel 3: Does the "special relationship" transcend rule of law?

Grant F. Smith - A brief history of unprosecuted Israeli foreign agent, smuggling and espionage cases

Grant F. Smith is the director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) in Washington, DC. He is the author of two unofficial histories of AIPAC–America’s Defense Line: The Justice Department's Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government and Foreign Agents: AIPAC from the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal, as well as the books Divert!, Spy Trade, Deadly Dogma, Visa Denied and editor of the book Neocon Middle East Policy. Before joining IRmep, Smith was senior analyst and later program manager at Yankee Group Research, Inc. in Boston. Smith has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Minnesota and a Masters in International Management from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Ernie Gallo - The U.S.S Liberty: what really happened? What did not?

Ernest A. Gallo is president of the USS Liberty Veterans Association. He is a former Communications Technician, Second Class in the Navy Reserve. Following his active duty with the U.S. Navy, Gallo had a 28-and-a-half year career with the CIA supporting U.S. communications around the world. Gallo, a survivor of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, is the author of the 2013 book, Liberty Injustices: A Survivor's Account of American Bigotry.

Mark Perry - Mossad poses as CIA? No-holds-barred national security reporting in the current environment

Mark Perry is an American author specializing in military, intelligence, and foreign affairs analysis who has authored eight books and whose articles have been featured in a number of leading publications. He is a graduate of Northwestern Military and Naval Academy and of Boston University. Perry is the former co-Director of the Washington, D.C., London, and Beirut-based Conflicts Forum, which specializes in engaging with Islamist movements in the Levant in dialogue with the West. Perry served as an unofficial advisor to PLO Chairman and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat from 1989 to 2004. He has appeared on numerous national and international televised forums and is a frequent guest commentator and expert on Al-Jazeera television, has appeared regularly on CNN’s The International Hour and on Special Assignment. Perry was also Washington correspondent for The Palestine Report, and is currently a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center. Perry is the recipient of both the 1995 National Jewish Book Award for his second book, A Fire In Zion, as well as journalism’s prestigious Project Censored Award.

M.E. "Spike" Bowman - The Jonathan Pollard Affair: what does it mean and what does it not mean?

M.E. Spike Bowman is a specialist in national security affairs. Bowman was most recently the Deputy, National Counterintelligence Executive. Previously, he was Senior Research Fellow at the National Defense University (Center for Technology and National Security Policy). He retired from the Senior Executive Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation where he served successively as Deputy General Counsel (National Security Law) Senior Counsel for National Security Law and Director, Intelligence Issues and Policy Group (National Security Branch). He is a former intelligence officer, an international lawyer and a recognized specialist in national security law with extensive experience in espionage and terrorism investigations. Bowman is also a retired U.S. Navy Captain who has served as Head of International Law at the Naval War College, as a diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy and as Chief of Litigation for the U.S. Navy.

Panel 2 and 3 Q&A

Panel 4: History: How did the "special relationship" come to be?

Stephen Walt - The "special relationship" and what has changed since publication of "The Israel Lobby" book

Stephen M. Walt is professor of International Affairs at Harvard University; previously taught at Princeton University, University of Chicago; consultant for the Institute of Defense Analyses, the Center for Naval Analyses, and the National Defense University. He presently serves on the editorial boards of Foreign Policy, Security Studies, International Relations, and Journal of Cold War Studies. Walt also serves as Co-Editor of the Cornell Studies in Security Affairs. He is author of The Origins of Alliances, which received the 1988 Edgar S. Furniss National Security Book Award and The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, with co-author John J. Mearsheimer.

Geoffrey Wawro - Key findings from the book "Quicksand" and what happens to historians who revise history

Dr. Geoffrey Wawro is a Professor of History and Director of the Military History Center at the University of North Texas. He was formerly Professor of Strategic Studies at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He holds a Ph.D from Yale University and a B.A. Magna Cum Laude Brown University. Dr. Wawro is the author of four highly regarded books: Quicksand: America’s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East, The Franco-Prussian War, Warfare and Society in Europe, 1792-1914, and The Austro-Prussian War . He is also the co-editor (with Oxford’s Hew Strachan) of the Cambridge Military Histories — published by Cambridge University Press and a member of the History Book Club Review Board. He has published articles in The Journal of Military History, War in History, The International History Review, The Naval War College Review, American Scholar, and the European History Quarterly. He has published op-eds in the Los Angeles Times, New York Post, Miami Herald, Hartford Courant and Providence Journal.

John Quigley - 1967, international law and cost of U.S. support for the occupation

John B. Quigley is a professor of law at the Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University, where he is the Presidents' Club Professor of Law. In 1995 he was recipient of The Ohio State University Distinguished Scholar Award. Before joining the Ohio State faculty in 1969, Professor Quigley was a research scholar at Moscow State University, and a research associate in comparative law at Harvard Law School. In 1982-83 he was a visiting professor at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. John Quigley is active in international human rights work and has published many articles and books on human rights, the United Nations, war and peace, east European law, African law, and the Arab-Israeli conflict, including The Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective and The Statehood of Palestine.

Alison Weir - Findings from the new book "Against Our Better Judgment"

Alison Weir is president of the Council for the National Interest, created by ambassadors and former Congressmen in 1989; 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; and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The hidden history of how the U.S. was used to create Israel. She writes and speaks widely on Israel-Palestine, and is considered the foremost analyst on media coverage of the region. 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. In 2004 she was inducted into honorary membership of Phi Alpha Literary Society at Illinois College.

Panel 4 Q&A

Panel 5: Has the lobby captured political parties and news media?

Jeff Blankfort - Are there Israel lobby gatekeepers and damage control squads on the Left?

Jeffrey Blankfort is a Middle East analyst, journalist and radio programmer. His articles have appeared in CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Mondoweiss, Pulse Media, Left Curve, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and the Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. He currently hosts a twice monthly program on international affairs for KZYX, the public radio station for Mendocino County in Northern California. Blankfort was a founding member of the November 29th Committee on Palestine, a co-founder of the Labor Committee on the Middle East and editor of its publication, the Middle East Labor Bulletin (1988-1995).

Allan Brownfeld - The ACJ and battles over Zionism inside Jewish social welfare organizations

Allan C. Brownfeld is a syndicated columnist, associate editor of The Lincoln Review and the editor of Issues, the quarterly journal of the American Council for Judaism. He is a contributing editor to The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Brownfeld served on the faculties of St. Stephen's Episcopal School, Alexandria, Virginia, and the University College of the University of Maryland. Mr. Brownfeld has written for such newspapers as The Houston Press, The Richmond Times Dispatch, The Washington Evening Star, and The Cincinnati Enquirer. His weekly column appeared for more than a decade in Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. His articles have also appeared in such journals as The Yale Review, The Texas Quarterly, the North American Review, Orbis and Modern Age. Mr. Brownfeld served as a member of the staff of the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and also served as Assistant to the Research Director of the House Republican Conference.

Justin Raimondo - Has the Israel lobby captured the Right?

Justin Raimondo is an American author and the editorial director of In addition to his thrice-weekly column for, Raimondo is a regular contributor to The American Conservative and Chronicles magazines. Raimondo's books include Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans, Colin Powell and the Power Elite, and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.

Scott McConnell - Did Neoconservatives take over GOP foreign policy?

Scott McConnell is an American journalist and founder of The American Conservative. After working on the 1976 presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter, McConnell earned a Ph.D in history at Columbia University. During this time he became attracted to the neoconservative movement and began writing for Commentary and National Review. In 1989, McConnell became an editorial writer and later columnist for the New York Post and served as editorial page editor in 1997. McConnell has emerged as one of the leading figures in the broadly defined paleoconservative movement. After spending many years as a columnist for the New York Press and, in 2002 he collaborated with Pat Buchanan and Taki Theodoracopolous in founding The American Conservative, and became the sole editor by the end of 2004.

Philip Weiss - What is changing in "permissible" mainstream public debate—and what is not?

Philip Weiss is an American journalist who co-edits Mondoweiss, a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, chiefly from a progressive Jewish perspective. Weiss has written for the New York Times Magazine, Harper's Magazine, Esquire, and the New York Observer. In 2006 he began writing a daily blog called Mondoweiss on The New York Observer website. In the spring of 2007 he started Mondoweiss as an independent blog dealing with Middle East issues such as 9/11, Iraq, Gaza, the Palestinian Nakba, Israel-Palestine, etc with the aim of building a diverse community with posts from many authors. He co-edited The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict with Adam Horowitz and Lizzy Ratner.

Panel 5 Q&A

Panel 6: Is Israel really a U.S. ally?

Paul Pillar - Are threats to Israel's security inflated to justify occupation and U.S. support?

Paul Pillar retired in 2005 from a 28-year career in the U.S. intelligence community, in which his last position was National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia. Earlier he served in a variety of analytical and managerial positions, including as chief of analytic units at the CIA covering portions of the Near East, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. Professor Pillar also served in the National Intelligence Council. He has been Executive Assistant to CIA's Deputy Director for Intelligence and Executive Assistant to Director of Central Intelligence William Webster. He has also headed the Assessments and Information Group of the DCI Counterterrorist Center. He was a Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings Institution in 1999-2000. Professor Pillar is a retired officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and served on active duty in 1971-1973, including a tour of duty in Vietnam.

Ray McGovern - Does Israel act like a U.S. ally?

Raymond McGovern is a former 27-year CIA analyst, holding an M.A. in Russian Studies from Fordham University; certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University, MBA from Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program. In the 1980s he chaired the National Intelligence Estimates and prepared the President's Daily Brief for Presidents Reagan and Bush, Sr. He received the Intelligence Commendation Medal at his retirement. McGovern's current work includes commentating on intelligence issues and in 2003 co-founding Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Philip Giraldi - Is Israel a U.S. ally?

Philip Giraldi is a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues. He is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served eighteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was Chief of Base in Barcelona from 1989 to 1992 designated as the Agency’s senior officer for Olympic Games support. Since 1992 he consulted for a number of Fortune 500 corporate clients. Mr. Giraldi was awarded an MA and PhD from the University of London in European History and holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors from the University of Chicago. He speaks Spanish, Italian, German, and Turkish. He has appeared as an analyst on Good Morning America, MSNBC, National Public Radio, and numerous other news programs.

Panel 6 Q&A

Closing statements and where to go for more information

NEW! Order this as a DVD

Israel-Palestine Timeline

Israel-Palestine Timeline: The human cost of the conflict records photos and information for each person who has been killed in the ongoing violence.

History of the Israel Lobby

Alison Weir's book Against Our Better Judgement: How the U.S. was used to create Israel brings together meticulously sourced evidence to outline the largely unknown history of U.S.-Israel relations.

Buy it on Amazon, and visit the book website for reviews, more ordering options, and upcoming author events.

Information largely missing from U.S. news reports. Read the Blog


Video – The Lobby USA: Abridged

Video – The Israel Lobby

Video – Ralph Nader on Israel Lobby

Video – Former President Carter on C-SPAN

Video – Former President Carter on Meet the Press

Additional Resources

Book – Against Our Better Judgment

Book – The Israel Lobby

AIPAC Speeches by Policymakers

Magazine – Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Book – They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby

Book – Stealth Pacs: Lobbying Congress for Control of U.S. Middle East Policy

Book – The Passionate Attachment: America’s Involvement With Israel, 1947 to the Present

Book – The Lobby: Jewish political power and American foreign policy

Book – Fifty Years of Israel

Book – America and the founding of Israel: An investigation of the morality of America’s role

more resources


The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)

Council for the National Interest – Opposition to AIPAC

Anti-Defamation League

U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation

Muslim Public Affairs Council

Congressional Report Cards
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