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The Schmooze

AIPAC Gets Punked

It happens even to a powerful media-savvy organization.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee got punked.

Reporters covering the pro-Israel lobby’s Washington policy conference and many other news outlets received an e-mail early Monday morning listed as coming from AIPAC spokesman Josh Block. The surprising news in the emailed press release, with AIPAC’s authoritative letterhead on top of the page, was that the group was calling on Jerusalem to “immediately freeze new settlement projects” because of the latest dispute between the U.S. and Israel over the Netanyahu’s plans to build new, exclusively Jewish housing in predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem.

Some media outlets fell for the trick. The NPR broadcast a news item echoing the press release on one of its morning hourly newscasts only to retract the report a few minutes later. Many others bombarded Block with questions.

The spokesman made clear that the statement was fake and that no, AIPAC had not changed its policy on settlements.

It is still not clear who pulled off the hoax, although activists from anti-war Code Pink movement were seen distributing a print of the fake email outside the AIPAC conference.

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