This morning the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and out of the blue South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham brought up AIPAC — the Israel lobby group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC comes to Capitol Hill “in droves” and has a lot of contacts in Israel so maybe it should be considered a “foreign agent?” Graham asked.
Then Graham tacked and said, AIPAC doesn’t do anything wrong, “quite the contrary,” it’s just a group of Americans banding together to exercise influence; and “we all know how the game’s played” at AIPAC conferences. His comments are at 1:04.
Here’s the deal. AIPAC– are you familiar with AIPAC– American Israeli Political Action Committee [incorrect name]. They come up here in droves lobbying Congress to do things in their view good for the US Israel relationship. I know they have a lot of contacts in Israel. Should somebody like that be a foreign agent?
[It’s not appropriate to comment, says Adam Hickey, the deputy assistant Attorney General for the national security division].
I’m not suggesting AIPAC’s doing anything wrong, quite the contrary. They’re a group of Americans who have banded together to maximize their influence to speak about something important to them that involves a foreign ally. So I think the AIPAC model is a good thing and that’s not my concern. Because they’re very transparent, they have conventions, and we all know how the game’s played there. So I just want to make sure that lobbying on behalf of a foreign government or a US relationship with a foreign government is not a bad thing so long as you do it right.
I wonder if there’s a secret meaning here Graham is sending. Just because AIPAC is American citizens doesn’t mean they’re not acting as proxies for a foreign government. “Droves” is one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s words: Arabs are coming out in droves, he warned his voters before the last election.
And yes, Graham, part of Joe Lieberman’s neoconservative gang, knows how the game is played. Two years ago as a presidential candidate he had a glass of wine or two and joked that he was going to have an “all-Jewish cabinet” if he won because of all the pro-Israel money he was raising.
“If I put together a finance team that will make me financially competitive enough to stay in this thing…I may have the first all-Jewish cabinet in America because of the pro-Israel funding. [Chuckles.] Bottom line is, I’ve got a lot of support from the pro-Israel funding.”
Thanks to Susie Kneedler.