Ali Abunimah: Israel Versus Russian Media Influence

Delivered to The Israel Lobby and American Policy 2018 conference March 2, 2018 at the National Press Club

The Israel Lobby and American Policy conference was solely sponsored by the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep). This is a rush transcript.

Grant Smith: Our next speaker is Ali Abunimah. He’s been an active part of the movement for justice in Palestine for 20 years. He’s a journalist and the co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, which is a widely acclaimed publication. It’s a non-profit independent online publication focusing on Palestine.

A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago, he is a frequent speaker on the Middle East, contributing regularly to numerous publications. He is the recipient of the 2013 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship.

If you’re a reader of The Electronic Intifada or get the digest via e-mail, it quickly becomes quite obvious that covering censorship, debunking disinformation, and providing insights that are available nowhere else is really what it’s all about.

He’s the author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse and The Battle for Justice in Palestine. He will be available to sign both during the reception.

Before he comes up, I just want to remind you again, please send up the question cards. We’ll categorize them and get through them efficiently. And that reception is going to be a very, very big deal this year, so make sure you don’t just jump in the car and run away at 5 o’clock. You need to stay for the reception. So please welcome Ali Abunimah.

Ali Abunimah: Thank you. All right. Are you going to run that timer with 18 minutes on it? I received a letter several weeks ago from Grant informing me that I had 18 minutes to speak. I had never seen such a precise organization. Now it’s running. It’s very intimidating. Right. 

Well, I’m delighted to be here and among so many people who have been working hundreds of years, collectively – maybe thousands of years – on this issue, and a real depth of knowledge and commitment. I’m very glad to be among you.

The title of the talk is really just to let me kind of have a starting point to say whatever I want. But of course it’s a good starting point, because here in Washington, a city I very rarely travel to, Russiagate is all the rage. If you turn on the television or look at The New York Times or MSNBC or CNN, that’s all they talk about. Of course, now, more than a year into the Russiagate hysteria, there’s nothing to the central narrative that there was collusion between Donald Trump and his team and Russia to steal the election from Hillary Clinton. I think Hillary Clinton was very capable – in fact, I don’t want to take credit away from her – she was entirely capable of losing that election on her own.

As I was thinking about what to talk about, I came…

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