An AIPAC social media promotion to drum up support for its annual policy conference backfired over the weekend as anti-Israel activists on Twitter hijacked the campaign to advance their own agenda.
The campaign allows users to upload a photo captioned "I am AIPAC" directly to the website and iPhone application for the 2014 conference, which started Sunday.
But by Sunday morning, pro-Palestinian activists on Twitter had flooded the campaign's #AIPACpride feed. In an attempt to play on the cognitive dissonance between words and pictures, some activists posted pictures of Israeli soldiers pointing their rifles at Palestinians captioned "I am a friend. I am AIPAC".
Instead of the pictures of smiling American Jewish activists, the hashtag now has a stream of harsh images of settlers harassing Palestinians, the aftermath of IAF airstrikes, and Israeli parents teaching their children how to use firearms.
Hacker-collective Anonymous and Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunimah joined the social media action, posting controversial anti-Israel images over-laced with the specially created hashtag. Even CODEPINK, the women’s anti-war group which advocates a boycott of AIPAC and Israel, tweeted its support. (The activist group is currently demonstrating outside of the Policy Conference, asking Israel – without a hint of irony – to “return the Golan Heights to Syria.”)
But despite the insistence of the posters that they oppose AIPAC out of pro-Palestinian sentiment, the tone and content of many of the tweets suggested they were more opposed to Israel than supportive of the Palestinian national movement.
And while many posts played on the link between AIPAC and the IDF, some efforts had anti-Semitic overtones. One posting showed New Jersey Senator Cory Booker with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, labeling the rabbi an "opportunist" for cozying up to a political leader.
Another post featured a picture of major GOP donor Sheldon Adelson with the historically anti-Semitic charge of being "Israel first."
Both examples rely on tropes which are associated with classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of "dual sympathies" - letting one's Judaism and support for the Jewish state compromise loyalty to one's own country and of Jews controlling the corridors of power and world finances.