Has One of the Most Influential American Israel-Advocacy Groups Reached Its Expiration Date?

April 24 2020

Formed during the Eisenhower administration as an umbrella for the various U.S. Jewish groups lobbying for policies more favorable toward Israel, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations receives less public attention than the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), but has proved itself no less influential over the years. Now, the nomination of Dianne Lob—a businesswoman and the former head of the left-leaning Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)—to be the Conference’s new chairwoman has generated controversy, with some member groups questioning her devotion to the pro-Israel cause. Jonathan Tobin observes:

No one should buy into the conceit that [the Conference of Presidents] speaks for everyone; . . . it has generally represented the views of that minority of American Jews who are active and ardent friends of Israel. It is telling that J Street was rejected by the Conference for membership, even though it is likely far larger than many of those groups already affiliated with it, because the left-wing lobbying group was viewed as outside of the pro-Israel consensus.

If elected, Lob deserves the chance to prove them wrong. But what this dispute could demonstrate is that the Jewish right and left are now so divided that the entire concept of an umbrella group like the Conference is no longer viable.

If so, then it’s a sad ending for a group that played a part in some of the greatest moments of modern American Jewish history. While no one should expect liberals and conservatives to give up their principles or even like each other, the point of the Conference of Presidents was that ideological and denominational differences could be transcended by a common love for Israel. If that’s no longer possible, then the consequences are far more serious than a seemingly insignificant organizational squabble.

Read more at JNS

More about: American Jewry, Israel and the Diaspora

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy