After a months-long search, the Council for the National Interest (CNI), a two-decades old Washington DC institute that advocates for “Middle East policies that serve the American national interest” has named former journalist and Executive Director of If Americans Knew Alison Weir as its new President.
Weir will replace retiring President Eugene Bird, a former Foreign Service officer who has led CNI for 17 years.
CNI, founded in 1989, was one of the first organizations created to oppose the power of the Israel Lobby; among its goals “to restore a political environment in America in which voters and their elected officials are free from the undue influence and pressure of a foreign country, namely Israel.”
Its founders and leaders read like a “who’s who” of veteran advocates of independent U.S. policies free from Israeli dominance:
- Former Congressmen Paul Findley, an 11-term Congressman from Illinois who authored the groundbreaking book on the Israel lobby, “They Dare to Speak Out,” published 20 years before the recent volume on the same subject by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.
- Paul N. “Pete” McCloskey, a former Marine officer, Presidential contender, and one of the first Congressmen to oppose the Vietnam War. (Both Findley and McCloskey were pushed out of Congress by organized campaigns when they began to suggest different U.S. policies regarding Israel.}
- Former foreign service officers, Ambassador Andrew Killgore, current publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Richard Curtiss, editor of the Washington Report and former U.S. Information Agency chief, and outgoing CNI President Bird, a 20-year foreign service veteran.
- Harriet Fulbright, President of the J. William and Harriet Fulbright Center, former Executive Director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and current Chairman of CNI’s board of directors. She is the widow of Senator William Fulbright, whose Congressional hearings revealed an illicit cycle in which Israel partisans would lobby Congress for money to Israel, which would then be illegally funnel some of the money back to U.S. organizations to lobby for still more money.
- Robert Keeley, three times Ambassador to Greece, and Ambassador to Zimbabwe and Mauritius. He was also Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and is the Chairman of the CNI Foundation, the educational arm of CNI.
New President Alison Weir is a former California journalist who founded If Americans Knew, a think tank that focuses on providing facts on Israel-Palestine to the public and specializes in media analysis on the topic.
The organization’s statistical studies reveal that American national media report on Israeli deaths at rates from seven to 14 times greater than they report on Palestinian deaths, even though far more Palestinians have been killed and were killed first. Regional media were found to contain even greater Israeli-centric distortion.
Weir also exposed the fact that many of the journalists reporting on Israel-Palestine for US news media have close family ties to the Israeli military, among them the bureau chief of the New York Times, whose son is an Israeli soldier.
Weir writes and speaks on Israel-Palestine frequently, and has given hundreds of speeches throughout the U.S. and internationally, including at Harvard Law School, Stanford, UC Berkeley, the Naval Postgraduate Institute, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and several briefings on Capitol Hill. She recently spoke at the Asia Media Summit in Beijing.
Weir will split her time between CNI and If Americans Knew, where she is Executive Director, commuting between California and Washington.
She is expected to maintain CNI’s close ties to the diplomatic community – several board members are former ambassadors, or former congressmen such as Wayne Gilchrist (R-MD) and Vice Chairman of CNI Foundation Senator James Abourezk – while increasing its national profile through an expanded web presence and grassroots campaign for “Middle East policies that serve American interests and represent American values of fairness, justice, and morality.”
Weir states: “This issue transcends politics. Our government’s decades-long unconditional, un-debated, and uniquely massive support for Israel fuels violence, causes massive damage and instability in the region, profoundly undermines U.S. interests nationally and at home, endangers our citizens, and entangles our nation in unnecessary, futile, and tragic wars. It is time for change.”