Getting the Facts Right about AIPAC

March 26 2019

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.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: AIPAC, Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, US-Israel relations

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship