AIPAC’s Dilemma and Its Roots

Jan. 12 2017

With support for Israel increasingly becoming a partisan issue, the influence of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC is correlatively weakening. According to Armin Rosen, the heart of the problem is the organization’s relentlessly bipartisan approach, and the real damage was done during its attempt to rally congressional opposition to the Iran deal. AIPAC’s overall strategy—based on rewarding friends but shying away from punishing enemies, and never threatening consequences for senators and representatives who take positions it opposes—severely curbed its ability to pressure legislators effectively, and ultimately exposed its frailties:

[T]he bipartisan approach that worked so well in the 1980s and early 1990s created severe problems for AIPAC under the Obama administration, which proved more willing to pressure Israel openly and to engage with its enemies than any White House in decades. AIPAC had to keep up its access to an uncooperative executive branch while sticking to its policy of only backing legislation that has bipartisan support. . . .

Multiple people who attended meetings [intended to encourage members of Congress to block the Iran deal] . . . recalled how intense some of the sit-downs . . . got. But the meetings would also include an acknowledgement that there were unlikely to be any direct consequences [to a Congressman] for supporting the deal. . . .

[Such an approach to] lobbying that’s overly determined by relationships—and thus by access—has arguably hamstrung AIPAC. It gives considerable power to the member of Congress, who can decide politely to stop listening to his or her key contacts [in the organization]. It also makes AIPAC hesitant to criticize individual members of Congress or other political figures for fear of blowing up the relationships on which the group’s influence is based. This imbalance grows over time: the longer the relationship lasts, the more the lobby has invested in it, and the more it has to lose from a rupture. . . . If there was a red line for AIPAC declaring that members of Congress were dead to them, it wasn’t crossed at any point before or after the Iran deal debate by any member.

Read more at Tablet

More about: AIPAC, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Iran nuclear program, Israel & Zionism, U.S. Politics

The EU Must Stop Tolerating Hizballah

July 21 2017

Tuesday was the fifth anniversary of the bombing in the Bulgarian city of Burgas, which left five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian dead. After the bombing, the EU designated the “military wing” of Hizballah, which carried out the attack, a terrorist organization. But unlike the U.S., Egypt, and the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the EU doesn’t apply this designation to the Hizballah’s “political wing.” Toby Dershowitz and Benjamin Weinthal write:

[T]he EU needs to . . . recognize, as Hizballah [itself] does, that the organization isn’t bifurcated into political and military “wings.” . . . Hizballah’s terror-financing activities and its critical role in the Syrian war should be enough for the EU to deport Hizballah members from its 28 member countries. Anything short of full designation would enable Hizballah to continue fundraising and operating its front companies. Last year, for instance, . . . German authorities uncovered a money-laundering operation in Europe that amassed nearly €1 million ($1.1 million) a week for more than two years, money that Europol and the U.S. Treasury Department says went to fund Hizballah.

Membership recruitment in Europe is also a significant tool for Hizballah. According to a recent German intelligence report, there are 950 active Hizballah members in Germany. This calls into question the effectiveness of the EU’s 2013 sanctions, which were imposed only on Hizballah’s “military wing.” . . .

Should Europe maintain the status quo . . . it does so at its own peril. European security will continue to be put at risk. And Hizballah will be given the signal that Europe is far from serious about countering terrorism.

Read more at FDD

More about: Bulgaria, European Union, Hizballah, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism