I noticed this obit in the NYT, which omits surely one of the things Charles Percy’s life will be remembered for, AIPAC’s successful tilt against then-Senator Percy in 1984 when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. How could they leave that bit of the story out?!?!
1. The Times:
But just as Illinois voters had tired of Mr. Douglas by 1966, Mr. Percy was old goods by 1984. In a strong Republican year, with President Ronald Reagan campaigning for him, he could not overcome his Democratic opponent, Representative Paul M. Simon.
His position as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee seemed remote to Illinois voters, as did his manner. The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal all described him as “pompous.”
2. From Walt and Mearsheimer’s book, The Israel Lobby:
Perhaps the most renowned example of the costs that can befall a politician who crosses AIPAC is the defeat of Senator Charles Percy (R-IL) in 1984. Despite a generally pro-Israel voting record, Percy incurred AIPAC’s wrath by declining to sign the AIPAC-sponsored “Letter of 76” protesting President Ford’s threatened “reassessment” of U.S. Middle East policy in 1975. He also made the mistake of calling PLO leader Yasser Arafat more “moderate” than some Palestinian terrorists. Percy’s opponents in both the primary and general election in 1984 received large sums from pro-Israel PACs, and… Michael Goland… a major contributor to AIPAC [from California], spent $1.1 million on anti-Percy advertising in Illinois… As [AIPAC’s] Tom Dine boasted after Percy’s narrow defeat, “All the Jews in America, from coast to coast, gathered to oust Percy. And the American politicians–those who hold public positions now, and those who aspire– got the message.”
Former Illinois Democratic Sen. Paul Simon reveals in his newly published autobiography how he came to run against former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Charles Percy in 1984. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Israel’s principal Washington, DC lobby, has long considered Percy’s defeat by Simon a high water-mark of its influence on Congress. Simon, who was in the House of Representatives at the time, said that first “two longtime friends, Bob Schrayer and Stan Weinberger,” begged him to run (read pledged financial support) against Percy, who not only had voted to permit Boeing to sell Saudi Arabia AWACS aircraft (which later served the U.S. and Saudi-led coalition so well in the Gulf war), but also had suggested that not only were there Palestinians, but also that they had “rights.” Then, Simon wrote, he received a call from “a nationally respected Jewish leader from Chicago, Bob Asher” (an AIPAC board member).