On February 7th and 14th, AMP-MN and Jewish Voices For Peace (JVP) teamed up to host a virtual “movie screening” and discussion on The Lobby, Al-Jazeera’s documentary which exposes the Zionist lobby’s influence campaign targeting Palestine Advocacy in the US. Al-Jazeera commissioned an undercover investigation of the lobby’s various branches, including their legislative influence, campus initiatives, and blacklisting. For our attendants, all advocates for this unwarrantedly taboo cause, the discussion was raw and personal. From public vilification — to harassment of family members — to being banned from entering your own home country, our Palestine advocates are up against forces that seek nothing short of scaring them into silence.

But no matter the scare tactics, none have kept quiet. The conversation was vulnerable and the stories distressing, but if anything, the true resilience of activists came to light. No matter the influence disparity, the humiliation, and the intricate systems of suppression they are up against, their determination prevails.

Meanwhile, our silence cannot. Amongst our attendants were the following community members, youth and former campus divestment campaigners who are sharing their thoughts and raising their voices. They have submitted their own reflections on the documentary below:

Reflection 1: By Mohammad Ahmad and Hadi Ameer

Throughout the third and fourth episodes of The Lobby, a mission by Al-Jazeera to uncover the injustice of Zionist targeting methods, we notice Israel’s main way of targeting is by psychologically attacking pro-Palestinian groups such as BDS, SJP and AMP. They would do this by taking events and actions out of context to make these groups seem vile. This is a form of brainwashing often led by AIPAC and StandWithUs to manipulate people who don’t know much about this topic, making them believe that BDS is an anti-Semitic hate movement meant to destroy Israel and America.

Canary Mission is a prominent organization that targets BDS and SJP, which has extensive research on members who are in these movements. One of their targets was Sumaya Din, a student who was blacklisted for her use of the word “intifada” in a student government campaign, which was invoked to mean “uprising.” It was instead twisted by Canary to mean something violent.

Furthermore, Noah Pollak, executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, attacked Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), calling it “Jewish Voices for Hamas.” Pollak went on to say that they JVP is bad just because they don’t support the violence. Anything against the oppressive behavior of Israel is shown as anti-Semitic by these Zionists. Employees in these Zionist agencies brag that putting up anonymous websites about people and Facebook ads is psychological warfare, “which drives them crazy.” Members of these agencies also stated that it is incredibly effective because of all the time Palestine activists spend investigating it.

I believe that Zionist groups are trying too hard to demolish anti-Zionist groups by using psychological warfare and spending millions of dollars on it. However, I unfortunately don’t believe that some of their methods haven’t worked — Canary Mission has made a lot of impact in my opinion on some of the people — causing different casualties such as job interview losses and travel to Palestine.

Hadi Amir (age 14) is a Palestinian high school student. He is an advocate for peace and justice. He enjoys learning about Palestine, and working to help resolve the injustices happening there. He likes to do extracurricular activities, and loves to read, write, and play sports in his free time.

Mohammad Ameer (age 15) is a Palestinian high-school student who is active in fighting for the cause of Palestine. He plays soccer and loves to read.

Reflection 2: By Mariam El-Khatib

Watching The Lobby documentary gave me chills — not because I was surprised to know that the Zionist Lobby existed and went after those who went against its goals, but to see those who uphold it talk about it in such a blatant and callous manner. To see how large and massive of a network it was. To see that this isn’t some side project but a very deliberate, very well-funded effort to punish anyone who dare condemn Israel’s injustice towards Palestinians.

I was a college student involved in Palestine advocacy on campus. I was part of the Divestment campaign at my university. I have been put on Canary Mission and have been banned from entering Palestine because of it. These tactics of surveillance, harassment, false accusations, and fear-mongering that were highlighted in The Lobby were thus not new to me or anyone on my team. We knew we were being targeted. We felt it happening around us. We got used to this during our organizing; overtime, a debilitating reality stops surprising you.

However, watching the documentary put me in the observer seat — it was like watching a horror movie unfold in front of me. How can someone so casually speak about working on behalf of a foreign government? How is it that there are people whose job is to construct a very specific narrative regardless of how it relates to reality? How is it that there is so much influence within the United States being directed by motives that don’t serve our country’s interests?

The Zionist lobby is vast and intricate as this documentary highlighted. It feels like an impossible feat to be able to contend with that, especially at a campus level. You have grassroots organizers going against well-funded institutions. But if anything, the last part of the documentary talked about how the Zionist lobby is losing its battle in public opinion. More and more people are becoming aware of the injustices Israel is committing. Moreover, more than 60% of Jews under the age of 30 in the US did not feel like Israel was central to their Jewish identity.

The increase in the Zionist lobby’s smear tactics is telling of a much greater win: their movement is losing its political legitimacy. It is only once the facts and correct narratives become more established that the oppressor must resort to censorship. So while the Zionist Lobby still remains a very strong force, we have hope that so long as we continue to do our work, connecting with other struggles, telling our stories, it’s only a matter of time before the tide shifts.

Mariam El-Khatib is a Palestinian American, born and raised in Minnesota. She works as a Product Manager at LaunchGood. She currently leads the MN chapter of American Muslims for Palestine.

The views expressed in this post are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect AMP-MN’s views.

If you would like to submit a piece and be featured on the AMP-MN blog, email us at mn@ampalestine.org