I watched a few hours of AIPAC’s policy conference on streaming video today– they wouldn’t let me attend the conference, said there was no room at the inn–and had a few impressions.
AIPAC is more out of touch than ever. It’s glaring/weird. Look, even The New Yorker is giving props to J Street, which termed Obama’s response to Netanyahu "appropriate;" but AIPAC is in complete denial about the settlements and the Gaza war. The tenor of the first day was almost purely defensive, all about what a technological miracle Israel is, making a barren country bloom, with the occasional spiteful comment about Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians being responsible for their serfdom. At the end they brought out Alan Dershowitz to denounce what is (truly) the greatest threat to Israel, the recent reports that Biden and Petraeus look on the special relationship as endangering American lives. Dershowitz said this was a lie, that it’s Islamic extremists who endanger American lives because they hate our freedom. That line felt like a time warp. He invoked the names Walt and Mearsheimer a half dozen times, along with Goldstone, Joe Klein, and Roger Cohen. The five horsemen of delegitimization. Dershowitz did not fail to be vicious towards Goldstone, calling him the U.N.’s "token court Jew," who when the report was challenged, issued the "ad hominem" argument, But I’m a Jew, my daughter lived in Israel. That is horse manure. I’ve never heard Goldstone say such a thing as an answer to factual/legal criticisms of his report.
Overall thrust of the conference is, let us put this ridiculous meaningless spat between the countries behind us so that we can get on to the joyous task of imposing "crippling" sanctions on Iran before we bomb them into submission. "Allies should work out their differences privately," reminded Lee Rosenberg, Obama friend and incoming AIPAC president.
Neocon Robert Kagan said all the Arab countries neighboring Iran want us to bomb Iran now. Neocon Robert Satloff said that the best thing Obama could do now is to declare that he’s a Zionist. "You don’t have to be Jewish to be a Zionist… It would pack an enormously powerful punch for President Barack Obama to say in capitals around the world, that I am a Zionist."
Thanks Bob, that will be on the president’s desk in the morning.
The strongest criticism of Israel came from Tal Becker. He acknowledged Israel’s crisis obliquely, spoke of a closing window, suggested some curb on colonization. But then Becker’s an Israeli. The lobby doesn’t live there, and it gets to be more Catholic than the Pope.
I found it humorous how many times the AIPAC leadership warned the members not to boo their guests– preparing them for clips of Obama during Rosenberg’s introduction, and for Hillary coming tomorrow morning. AIPAC showed a video of kids throwing pillows at a television and urged the conference-goers to be grownups with their guests. "We’re here to build relationships and make new friends. Be cordial.. to all our speakers..They’re guests in our house." Also: we’re not a protest group, we’re here to cultivate people.
Conference is bigger than ever, at 7000+, but the urging to those minions to spend more money on congressional campaigns so that we build relationships and Congress stays in love with Israel is more explicit/desperate than ever too.
Late classical period of the lobby, spilling into decadence.