The political scientists Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, authors of the 2007 book The Israel Lobby, were not the first to discover that attacking the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is an effective way to disguise anti-Semitic conspiracy theories; nor have they proved to be the last. As AIPAC gathers for its annual meeting in Washington, DC—on the heels of the latest round of smears, themselves echoed by major publications—Mark Horowitz points out that nearly every assertion made about the organization by its detractors is based on misinformation:
Progressive groups are demanding that Democratic presidential candidates, who in past cycles might have rushed at the chance to address such a large and engaged crowd, stay away. . . . The bill of particulars never changes: AIPAC has too much money and power. AIPAC bribes Congress into twisting American foreign policy against the national interest. American Jews are more loyal to Israel than they are to the United States. And, most laughably, the Israel lobby silences all criticism of Israel.
AIPAC’s success, [however], . . . flows from the fact that a majority of Americans, not just Jews, are predisposed to support Israel. . . . Why is it so surprising, then, that a lobbying organization exists to channel this support into political and legislative action? Labor unions do it, chambers of commerce do it, abortion-rights groups do it, and Arab-Americans do it. It would be weird if there weren’t a pro-Israel lobby. . . .
And AIPAC was never the big spender its antagonists claim. Its total lobbying expenditures in 2018 came to $3.5 million, which doesn’t even put it in the top 50. (Realtors spent $72.8 million.) . . .
The idea that AIPAC is tied at the hip to the Republican party and Israel’s far right is also an exaggeration. AIPAC is more comfortable, and was always more effective, as a bipartisan operation, positioned near the center of Jewish-American politics. Today, it supports the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, a view that is widely held by American Jews, but opposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current coalition.