Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Down but Not Out

Binyamin Rose, Washington

The annual AIPAC Policy Conference always attracts thousands of delegates who get both their inspiration and their marching orders for lobbying members of US Congress to support Israel’s interests. Last week’s conference was no different in its composition, but recent setbacks have left an impression that AIPAC — one of America’s mightiest lobbies — has lost some of its clout. Mishpacha’s news editor, Binyamin Rose, who made the rounds, formed five impressions of a body that refuses to go down.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lobbying has its inevitable ups and downs. It is highly unlikely that AIPAC, which has built itself into one ofWashington’s most formidable lobbies since it was founded in 1951 to support the interests of the government of Israel on Capitol Hill, is on its deathbed. The organization’s predicament might be more accurately defined as another critical moment in its history.

The lobby has faced at least two such moments before. In 1981, AIPAC backed off its opposition toPresidentReagan’s decision to sell fighter jets equipped with the advanced AWACS radar system to Saudi Arabia. Then, in 1993, when Israel’s Prime Minister Rabin announced the Oslo accords, a badly splintered AIPAC decided that supporting decisions arrived at by Israel’s democratic government would override its concerns about conceding territories to the Palestinians — an issue the lobby had always insisted was vital to Israel’s security.

Undoubtedly, Obama took advantage of AIPAC on the Syrian issue. There is little if any taste in Congress for foreign military adventures of dubious value. As Israel has remained neutral on Syria’s civil war, and AIPAC’s role is to lobby for Israel’s interests, the only motive AIPAC had to leap into the Syrian fray would have been to curry favor with Obama — itself an adventure of doubtful worth in an administration that has bared its teeth to Israel on numerous occasions.

Regarding Iran, AIPAC likely made the wise decision to cuts its losses. For a Democratic senator, in any test of loyalty between a sitting president of his own party and AIPAC, it is a foregone conclusion the president would win.

To say that AIPAC must be ever-more prudent in contending with a politically shrewd White House bent on keeping the lobby’s clout in check is probably true.

To say the Iran issue is proof that AIPAC has lost its power will probably prove to be a gross exaggeration.

Or asJohnMcCainput it in his speech to the policy conference on Monday, after a snowfall shut down Capitol Hill: “The snow may have shut down the government, but it can’t shut down AIPAC.”

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"