Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Israel: Mossad Chief Set AIPAC Founder's First Public Relations Priorities -- Declassified FBI Files

SOURCE Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

Declassified FBI files reveal details of the founder of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) early coordination with the head of Mossad and the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs. The 198-page file, released under the Freedom of Information Act to the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep), is now on the Internet at:

According to the FBI, on July 18, 1949 Mossad founder Reuven Shiloah and Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett ordered AIPAC founder Isaiah L. Kenen to implement urgent public relations strategies to boost Israel's economic and military might. At that time Kenen directed the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affair's Israel Office of Information (IOI) in New York which was tasked with receiving encrypted cables from Israel for decoding and placement into prominent U.S. print publications such as Reader's Digest and Cosmopolitan. According to the formerly secret FBI report, IOI established a network of such offices.

Under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Kenen and other Americans working at IOI's were required to disclose foreign funding and guidance. All IOI circulated propaganda had to display mandatory foreign-agent declaration stamps of origin from the Israeli government. The IOI was cited several times by the Justice Department for circulating undeclared propaganda.

Under growing law enforcement crackdowns, Kenen negotiated his departure from the IOI in 1951 according to his autobiography. "Israelis began looking for a lobbyist to promote the necessary legislation … would I leave the Israeli delegation for six months to lobby on Capitol Hill? There were other questions. Should I continue my registration as an agent of the Israel government? Was it appropriate for an embassy to lobby? Embassies talked to the State Department, and American voters talked to their congressmen."

Kenen founded and grew AIPAC amidst ongoing 1950s-1970s clashes with the U.S. Department of Justice over new FARA orders and illicit use of foreign funding in U.S. lobbying. AIPAC was later investigated by the FBI over theft of classified government property and for circulating classified U.S. national defense and confidential business information. As AIPAC grew IOI's became redundant and eventually closed down.

Today AIPAC faces growing demands that it be re-registered under FARA and disclose activities coordinated by the Israeli government. AIPAC is currently lobbying for a lower and more ambiguous threshold of "nuclear capability" as the trigger for a U.S. attack on Iran.