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Will Trump and AIPAC Make Up?

Jacob Kornbluh

Ambassador-designate to Israel claims Trump has great respect for AIPAC

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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“AIPAC does wonderful things, not just in terms of being an advocate for the interests of Israel, but also for the role it plays in educating people about Israel in a very balanced way,” David Friedman (Photo: AFP/Imagebank)

Ten months ago, standing on the revolving center podium at AIPAC’s annual policy conference, Donald Trump expressed great joy that 2016 marked the final year of President Barack Obama’s presidency. The crowd cheered. A day later, AIPAC’s president, Lillian Pinkus, apologized for Trump’s attack on a sitting president. In reaction, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who reportedly wrote Trump’s AIPAC speech, was also reportedly furious at AIPAC for denouncing Trump’s fiery, pro-Israel speech.

Despite this kerfuffle, David Friedman, ambassador-designate to Israel, told Jewish Insider in November that Trump had great respect for AIPAC and would seek to develop a strong working relationship with them and other mainstream Jewish American organizations. “AIPAC does wonderful things, not just in terms of being an advocate for the interests of Israel, but also for the role it plays in educating people about Israel in a very balanced way,” Friedman said.

But after winning the election with the support of only 24% of the Jewish vote, and following statements by Trump and senior administration officials about a shift in longstanding US policy on the Middle East, questions now arise about AIPAC’s relevancy in a Trump White House.

In its mission statement, AIPAC — which describes itself as “America’s bipartisan pro-Israel lobby” — cites the promotion of a negotiated two-state solution as a top priority.

Both missions — maintaining a bipartisan approach on Israel and supporting a two-state solution — might be contrary to Trump-administration goals. As for bipartisan support for Israel, a recent Pew Research poll showed that while 74% of Republicans sympathize more with Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, just 33% of Democrats feel the same way. According to a similar poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, 50% of US registered voters, including 66% of Democrats, support the establishment of a Palestinian state, while 29%, including 45% of Republicans, are opposed. (Excerpted)

Jacob Kornbluh is the political reporter for Jewish Insider.

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