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.

What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you