Alison Weir (activist)
|Occupation||Activist and writer|
|Known for||Founder of If Americans Knew |
President of the Council for the National Interest
Alison Weir is an American activist and writer best known for her connection to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit organization If Americans Knew (IAK) and president of the Council for the National Interest (CNI). She is known for critical views toward Israel.
Weir is author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, and she and If Americans Knew are known for critiquing media coverage of Israel. She has received both criticism and praise for her activism.
Weir traces her interest in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict to the autumn of 2000, when the Second Intifada began. At the time she was "the editor of a small weekly newspaper in Sausalito, California", and noticed that news reports on the conflict "were highly Israeli-centric". Wanting access to "full information", she "began to look for additional reports on the Internet". After several months, she decided that "this was perhaps the most covered-up story I had ever seen" and quit her job in order to visit the West Bank and Gaza, where she wrote about her encounters with Palestinian suffering and with the "incredible arrogance, cruelty, selfishness" of Israelis. After returning to the U.S., she founded If Americans Knew.[non-primary source needed] Weir's official biography says her activism draws on her history of involvement in the American Civil Rights Movement, her work in the Peace Corps, and her childhood in a military family.
Weir's writings include exhortations to action. In an article titled "Choosing to Act: Anti-Semitism is Wrong", she wrote: "Every generation has a chance to act courageously – to oppose the kind of injustice and unthinkable brutality that is going on in the Middle East right now. Or to avert our eyes, and remain silent."
Weir has called Israel a "violently imposed, ethnically based nation-state", and has written that "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is central to grave events in the world—and in our nation—today."
Ambassador Andrew Killgore wrote in an article for CounterPunch in 2014: "Alison Weir must be highly commended for throwing such a brilliantly hard light on the relationship between the United States and Israel." The Anti-Defamation League has called Weir "a prominent voice in the anti-Israel movement".
In June 2015, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) stated that they chose not to work with Weir, on the grounds that "she has consistently chosen to stay silent when given the opportunity to challenge bigotry, which we find repugnant. There is a fundamental difference between engaging with oppressive beliefs in order to challenge them, and tacitly or directly endorsing those beliefs without challenge." JVP did not accuse Weir of holding anti-Jewish beliefs, but accused her of granting interviews to people it believed held anti-Jewish beliefs and decried some of the websites that have reposted her writings. Weir responded in detail to the accusations, which provoked widespread debate among activists. In writing about antisemitism, Weir has argued, "in reality, equating the wrongdoing of Israel with Jewishness is the deepest and most insidious form of anti-Semitism of all."
More than 2,000 activists signed an open letter supporting Weir, including former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories and Professor of International Law Emeritus at Princeton University Richard Falk; founding member of Birzeit University's board of Trustees Samia Khoury; activist and Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein; Palestine Rapprochement Center Director/ISM co-founder George Rishimawi; peace activists Ann Wright, Arun Gandhi, Ray McGovern, and Cindy Sheehan; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee founder and former Senator James Abourezk; and many members of JVP itself. The letter stated that the undersigned were "dismayed by the recent unfounded attacks on one of the top organizations working on this issue, If Americans Knew, and its dedicated leader, Alison Weir", and believed that the accusations against Weir were "scurrilous and without foundation".
If Americans Knew
Weir founded If Americans Knew (IAK) after her visit to the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the Second Intifada in 2001. Weir describes IAK as "an organization that provides information on topics of importance that are substantially misreported or unreported in the US media" with a primary focus on analyzing media coverage of Israel-Palestine.
IAK, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in California, describes its mission as follows: "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world's major sources of instability. Americans are directly connected to this conflict, and increasingly imperiled by its devastation. It is the goal of If Americans Knew to provide full and accurate information on this critical issue, and on our power – and duty – to bring a resolution."
Council for the National Interest
In June 2010, Weir was named to succeed Eugene Bird, the longtime leader of the Council for the National Interest (CNI).
CNI describes itself as seeking to "encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values, protects our national interests, and contributes to a just solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is CNI's goal to restore a political environment in America in which voters and their elected officials are free from the undue influence and pressure of foreign countries and their partisans."
Honors and awards
In 2004, she became the first woman to receive an honorary membership in the Phi Alpha Literary Society and was described as a "[c]ourageous journalist-lecturer on behalf of human rights". Other honorary members have included President Jimmy Carter and journalist Helen Thomas.
Weir is the author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, published in February 2014. Senator James Abourezk called the book "a must for all Americans" in a review for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and Congressman Paul Findley writes that "Alison Weir is a gifted writer who here illuminates neglected history."
- Rosenberg, Yair (April 12, 2016). "Stanford Professor Recommends Anti-Semitic Website to Readers, Then Kind of Takes it Back". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
- "Alison Weir - Who I Am". Alison Weir. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- "Alison Weir bio and articles". If Americans Knew. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- Weir, Alison. "Choosing to Act: Anti-Semitism is Wrong". If Americans Knew. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- Weir, Alison. "Egypt, the US and the Israel Lobby". Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- "The Coverage and Non-Coverage of Israel-Palestine". If Americans Knew. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- "A Brief History of US-Israel Relations". Counterpunch. November 4, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
- "Alison Weir". ADL. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
- "Letter to Alison Weir", Jewish Voice for Peace, June 14, 2015.
- "Jewish Voice for Peace Statement on Our Relationship with Alison Weir", June 15, 2015.
- "The Accusations Against Alison Weir and If Americans Knew: The Facts". If Americans Knew. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- "The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy's Playbook". Counterpunch. 2015-08-03. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- "Roundtable on the Palestinian solidarity movement and Alison Weir". Mondoweiss. 2015-08-12. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- "Stop Divisive Attacks!". Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- "An open letter to the U.S. Campaign and other Activists for Justice in Palestine". Free Palestine Movement. 2015-07-15. Retrieved 2016-05-10.
- "Articles By Alison Weir". If Americans Knew. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- "If Americans Knew - what every American needs to know about Israel/Palestine". If Americans Knew. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- "Advertisements in New York Times and beyond". Alison Weir. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- "About Us". Council for the National Interest. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- "Reaction to Carter appearance". WLDS. 2014-10-15. Retrieved 2016-05-10.
- "IllinoisTimes.com Events". Illinois Times. Retrieved 2016-05-10.
- "Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel: Alison Weir: 8601401321774:". Amazon.com.
- "Reviews". Against Our Better Judgment. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- "Books: Against Our Better Judgment:How the U.S. was Used to Create Israel". WRMEA. Retrieved 2016-04-29.