AIPAC: Powerful US Lobby on Pro-Israel Mission

Source: AFP, 5-26-11

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

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Responds to RJC’s Matthew Brooks: Obama isn’t losing support of Jewish voters

Source: LAT, 5-26-11

President Obama and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, depart Air Force One in Miami last month. At a breakfast meeting with reporters, Wasserman Schultz denied Obama is losing the support of Jewish voters over his Mideast policy.
President Obama and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, depart Air Force One in Miami last month. At a breakfast meeting with reporters, Wasserman Schultz denied Obama is losing the support of Jewish voters over his Mideast policy. (Charles Dharapak / Associated Press)

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Thursday that it is a “gross overstatement” to suggest that President Obama did serious damage to his support from Jewish voters when he proposed last week that Israel’s 1967 borders should be the starting point for peace talks with Palestinians. She also lashed out at a Republican Jewish organization that has been critical of her, denouncing what she said was the group’s decision to put partisanship ahead of its support for Israel.

“If you looked at the Jewish community at large, if you polled the Jewish community at large, there are Jewish voters, Jewish Americans, who are expressing concern about the president’s policy,” she said. “But what he said, followed on by Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s speech to the joint session on Tuesday, was essentially what has been American policy since President Clinton. “

“We need to make sure that Israel never becomes a partisan issue, and that’s what we talked about in that meeting,” Wasserman Schultz said. She quoted Netanyahu as saying, at the end of the meeting, that when it comes to Israel, “we need to erase the aisle” between Democrats and Republicans.

“Everyone that calls themselves legitimately pro-Israel believes that we should not make Israel a partisan issue.  Unfortunately, I think there are organizations that claim to be pro-Israel that are partisan first and pro-Israel second. And I think unfortunately the way the Republican Jewish Coalition has conducted itself is they put their Republicanism in front of their pro-Israel stance. And I think that’s unfortunate. And I think it’s why the Israeli Embassy said that Israel should not be a partisan issue.”

In 2008, she said, “there were dire predictions that candidate Obama was not going to have, not just an erosion of Jewish support, but would lose the Jewish vote. The first time, potentially, a Democratic candidate for president would lose the Jewish vote. President Obama ended up getting 78% of that vote.”

“I think the Republicans are going to certainly attempt to make it an issue,” she said. “They attempted to make it an issue in 2008.”

Baltimore Sun: Obama Mideast plan betrays Israel

Source: Baltimore Sun, 5-26-11

True to form, President Obama began backpedaling from his statement to Prime Minister Netanyahu that Israel needs to return to her 1967 borders when he later explained to AIPAC( American Israeli Public Affairs Committee) that his statement was “mischaracterized.” It’s hard to know if he is arrogant or just naïve concerning the underlying conflict, or if he is actually less than genuine toward Israel and its fight to survive as the only true democracy in the Middle East and America’s staunchest ally. It is incomprehensible to think Israel could defend herself against the onslaught of terrorism that would surely ensue, and it is idealistic to believe that this would bring peace to the region. Israel pulled out of Lebanon and Hezbollah took over. She pulled out of Gaza, and Hamas, which exists only to destroy Israel, has taken over. Does anyone believe that turning over the West Bank would be any different? The more concessions she makes, the greater the violence she faces from Islamic terrorism because Israel’s very existence is anathema to them and is seen as an affront to their god.

Israel, the size of New Jersey, is surrounded by 17 Islamic nations with 640 times more land, and many with exorbitant wealth from oil. Surely there is enough room and wealth amongst them to absorb and settle their Muslim brothers. On June 7, 1967 six Arab nations coordinated an attack against her declaring, “We will stop when we have pushed you into the sea!” It was David versus Goliath all over again when 650,000 Jews were surrounded by 40 million Arabs, and 1.5 million were armed against 80,000 Jews in Jerusalem who were cut off from the rest of Israel. In a stunning, epic reversal, Israel not only survived but regained her biblical lands of Samaria and Judea (renamed West Bank by Jordan to reduce Jewish claims to the area), the Golan, Gaza, and Sinai desert.

Giving up land for peace does not work, and to give up more would be to commit national suicide. Not only did President Obama warrant the lecture Mr. Netanyahu gave him, but he should investigate both the ancient and recent history of the Palestinian conflict: The first “refugees” who fled Israel in 1948 did so at the command of the Arab armies so that the Jews could be more easily destroyed. They were told, “Once we push the Jews into the sea, you can return and have your land back and theirs too.” But when it didn’t happen that way, instead of making room for them in their nations where they share the same culture and religion, they have used them as a lightning rod to garner support for their hateful cause. They sow the seeds of anti-Semitism into the hearts of their school children and reap suicide bombers.

They refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. If they weren’t happy with Israel’s 1967 borders, and attacked her then, why would they be now? In America our government is in a perpetual state of vigilance to keep the terrorists from gaining access at our borders. For our president to prescribe Israel to expose herself to such peril is rash at best, and at worst, a betrayal. I hope Jews in America will continue to let their voices be heard, with all who support a democratic Israel.

Avigdor Lieberman: Israel’s Security first, then borders

In Paris, FM says Palestinian state can only be achieved through talks, urges European leaders to reject unilateral statehood bid.

Source: Jerusalem Post, 5-26-11

Israel must reach an agreement on its security before it can address the issue of permanent borders in negotiations for a twostate solution, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday.

Lieberman spoke during a meeting with his French counterpart, Alain Juppé, in Paris, where he is attending the annual meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development….

Palestinians have refused to negotiate with Israel unless it halts all Jewish construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel has rejected this demand.

In response, Palestinians have threatened to seek recognition of statehood at the United Nations in September.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said that if the peace process remains deadlocked, his country would consider supporting the unilateral Palestinian bid for statehood in September….

“We will only examine other options likely to restore political momentum to the peace process if the deadlock situation continues until September 2011,” the representative said.

With respect to the borders of a two-state solution, the representative said that “the 1967 lines must constitute the framework for the negotiations – but this must not exclude the possibility of land swaps agreed by the parties.”
“Regarding the issue of security, the terms of the agreement must not call into question Israel’s security, which is not negotiable. It’s important to put an end to settlement activity and to ensure the sovereignty of the future viable democratic Palestinian state, living in peace alongside Israel,” the French representative said.

But Israel has said that it cannot defend itself within the pre-1967 lines, and has rejected any call to return to them.

The final borders, Lieberman also said, must reflect demographic realities, and the pre-1967 lines were not compatible with Israel’s demographic reality.

He added that in a final-status agreement, the Palestinians must declare an end to the conflict, and an absence of any claims on Israel.

Canada’s PM Stephen Harper Lone Israel Supporter at G8 Summit

On Israel, Harper stands alone at G8 summit

Source: Globe & Mail, 5-25-11

Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives in Deauville, France on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 to attend the G8 Summit. - Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives in Deauville, France on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 to attend the G8 Summit. | Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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