...The process by which Israel obtains aid – through the
activities of a vast domestic lobby it helped establish
– reveals why the funds it extracts from taxpayers
should not be compared to equally troubling military
alliance expenditures. A $ billion, 14,000 employee,
353,000 volunteer Israel affinity nonprofit ecosystem
has been built in the United States to provide Israel
with the support that following America’s own interests
would not. The approaching annual spectacle of thousands
of AIPAC lobbyists subtly threatening to withhold vast
amounts of campaign contributions from members of
Congress if they don’t provide billions in unconditional
taxpayer-funded aid – portrays an entirely accurate
picture about the means through which it is obtained.
This Israel lobby-driven process and lack of reciprocity is why US aid to Israel cannot seriously be compared to mutual expenditures – equally unpopular and in need of reexamination – with treaty-bound US allies. More
Hugh Hefner, or "Hef" as he preferred to be called, played a crucial role in the early days of NORML. At a time when most Americans were accepting the government's "reefer madness" propaganda, Hef, through the Playboy Foundation, provided NORML with our initial funding in early 1971, and became our primary funder all during the 1970s. And by focusing attention in Playboy magazine on some of the most egregious victims of the war against marijuana smokers, he helped us convince millions of Americans that marijuana prohibition was a misguided and destructive public policy. Hefner was a fearless cultural crusader who believed deeply not just in the right to sexual freedom, but also in civil rights and the right to privacy. May he rest in peace.