As you may have seen, the leading Israel lobby group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, went out of its way to condemn comments by Donald Trump that President Obama treats Israel like a “second-class citizen” and “may be the worst thing that ever happened to Israel.” AIPAC president Lillian Pinkus said the morning after, on Tuesday:
Last evening, something occurred which has the potential to drive us apart, to divide us. We say, unequivocally, that we do not countenance ad hominem attacks, and we take great offense against those that are levied against the president of the United States of America from our stage.
While we may have policy differences, we deeply respect the office of the United States and our president, Barack Obama.
AIPAC’s chief concern is that its red carpet for Donald Trump could divide its own membership, turning AIPAC into a Republican organization, and thereby make it less effective in applying full-court pressure. Jane Eisner of the Forward is a liberal, but she stands by the lobby, saying that AIPAC is a group with “great diversity” of opinion, and writing that she was ashamed that Jews would applaud Trump when he has made anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican statements. Rabbis in her publication have cheered on the AIPAC attendees who walked out on Trump. AIPAC needs to have it both ways on Trump to keep everyone happy.
The curious thing about these amendments is that none of these people has any problem with AIPAC welcoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who issued Jim Crow warnings about Arab voters on the eve of the last election, who led a massacre in Gaza 18 months ago that killed nearly 500 Palestinian children, and whose cabinet is jammed with racists who say that they have killed Arabs and there’s no problem with that, that Palestinians don’t grieve the way Jews do, and that Palestinian mothers raise little snakes. Those folks all get to keep their jobs in Israel, and liberal Zionists don’t like to talk about that stuff here because it might make the American people stop supporting Israel; and AIPAC’s entire purpose is to compel the US government to back the Israeli government.
And none of these liberals is apologizing when Senator Ted Cruz goes on the AIPAC stage and vows to overturn the president’s signature foreign policy achievement, the Iran Deal. This line got a standing ovation at AIPAC (11:50):
on the first day in office, I will rip this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal to shreds.
Last year AIPAC devoted $20 to 40 million to try and defeat the Iran deal, working day after day to undermine the U.S. president. And lately, an AIPAC-linked PAC has lined up with pro-Israel billionaires to support Republican Senator Mark Kirk over a challenge from a Democrat who supported the Iran Deal. That’s pretty partisan (and still Americans for Peace Now, which fought for the Iran deal, remains on the AIPAC executive committee, out of Zionist solidarity and desire for access).
And lest anyone forget, AIPAC quietly pushed for the Iraq War 13 years ago, because Israel and pro-Israel hawks liked that war, as Eli Clifton has reported. Shouldn’t AIPAC be apologizing for that blunder?
The apology AIPAC did make reveals its core function: to court/buy/influence American politicians. Its foreign policy positions reveal its core concern: support Israeli interests no matter how the U.S. is impacted.