When the full complement of US lawmakers watched Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address Congress on Tuesday, two-thirds of them had already heard him the previous night — at top US pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee also hosted President Barack Obama at its conference, and while he has pushed hard for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, AIPAC has been seen as trying to hem in US presidents when they push a peace deal which the lobby sees as unfavorable to the Jewish state.
AIPAC has indisputably emerged as the most influential foreign policy lobby in the United States — possibly eclipsing the traditional powerhouse lobbies for domestic gun rights, oil and retirees.
When its delegates trooped to Capitol Hill this week for a day of lobbying, they met with all 100 senators and nearly every one of 435 US representatives.
“They’re the most sophisticated, effective lobby interest group in Washington, without a doubt,” Aaron David Miller, an advisor to several US secretaries of state and now scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, told AFP.
Obama took heat at AIPAC’s annual conference for suggesting that the 1967 lines with land swaps should be a basis for peace negotiations.
Many AIPAC members sided with Netanyahu when he criticized Obama over his stance during a recent visit to the White House.
AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr spoke out about the discord, stressing that the leaders “work out whatever differences arise between them privately, and when tensions do arise, that the leaders work together to close those gaps.”
The pair mended fences — at least publicly — with Netanyahu in Congress thanking Obama for his “steadfast” support.
AIPAC was forged in the 1960s, when Israel’s survival was far from assured, and it worked over the next decades to cement the idea that US and Israeli values were one and the same, and to secure an annual multibillion-dollar aid package for the lone democracy in the Middle East.
It’s worked, with the vast majority of US lawmakers publicly aligning with Israel and pledging US support for its security.
This week the organization hosted a record 10,000 delegates at a sprawling convention center, serving what some quipped was the largest kosher meal ever….READ MORE