Misunderstanding AIPAC by Listening to Its Greatest Detractors

Sept. 10 2020

In the recently released documentary The Kings of Capitol Hill, the Israeli filmmaker Mor Loushy attempts to highlight what she sees as the internal contradictions and failures of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Loushy has created other documentaries airing leftwing criticisms of the Jewish state, including Censored Voices, stitched together from uncorroborated interviews with veterans of the Six-Day War, which, contrary to the film’s central claim, had never been censored. Based on a published interview with Loushy, David E. Bernstein raises some objections to the new film’s premises:

[Loushy] points out that “AIPAC’s aims do not mirror those of the bulk of American Jewry.” Not to put too fine a point on it, but most American Jews are fairly indifferent to Israel, and on average politically much more left-leaning than the population as a whole. Obviously, AIPAC, dedicated to being a bipartisan pro-Israel lobby, is not going to mirror that indifference and that strong bias to the left, but is going to make Israeli-American relations a priority over other political issues and will try to be centrist in political orientation. . . . AIPAC’s role is to serve as a pro-Israel conduit that can appeal to the broad middle of pro-Israel Americans, not to represent American Jews writ large.

Loushy also relies on M.J. Rosenberg for her understanding of AIPAC and American politics. Rosenberg worked for AIPAC long ago, but has long since become a leftist gadfly who is far from a reliable source on anything AIPAC-related. For example, he helped popularize the use on the left of the . . . term “Israel-firsters” to refer to American Jews who support Israel. Note that this calumny goes beyond accusing Jews of dual loyalty, and into accusing (some) American Jews of having primary loyalty to Israel. Not surprisingly, the phrase originated on the anti-Semitic far right, and eventually migrated to the anti-Semitic far left.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: AIPAC, American Jewry, Anti-Semitism

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount