Between March 4th – March 6th, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee hosted its annual Policy Conference. The event was a spectacular success that drew over 14,000 Americans to the policy conference, while thousands more watched online. The three day event was focused on the shared values between Israel and the United States, which is one of the many factors that have contributed to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
Speakers included President Obama, President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, House of Representatives Democrat Nancy Pelosi, Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and more. Idan Raichel also gave a spectacular performance at the gala event.
Of course, like any pro-Israel event, a rowdy group of hypocritical morally bankrupt protestors gathered outside the entrance to AIPAC. Thankfully, they were kept outside of AIPAC, and did not disrupt speeches. This year they were part of a group called “Occupy AIPAC.” Occupy AIPAC consists mainly of terrorist supporting groups such as Code PINK, the female organization that ironically chooses not to support the one country where females are granted equality (Israel).
According to members of Occupy AIPAC, AIPAC controls Congress, works for Israel, doesn’t support American interests, lobbies for war with Iran, and is the all-powerful Jewish lobby. It sounds like it was taken out of The Protocols of the Elders of Ziyon or Mein Kampf. To Occupy AIPAC members, lobbying groups can exist, so long as they dare not be pro-Israel. This is a microcosm of the world at large, which recognizes the right of other countries to exist, be it Iran or North Korea, while simultaneously certain members or countries deny Israel’s right to exist and the Jews’ right to self-determination, as enshrined in numerous international resolutions and documents.
They were not large, and were nothing more than a mere nuisance. But what do they represent? A brainwashed rowdy minority that spreads its false propaganda and brainwashes others. To counter this, I will provide some common claims and conspiracies, and explain why they’re wrong.
Please note: I am not a spokesman or representative of AIPAC. I am writing this as a supporter of AIPAC.
QUESTION: Does AIPAC lobby on behalf of Israel?
FACTS: AIPAC does not work for any government. The Israeli government, nor any government, has not hired AIPAC. On the contrary, AIPAC is a lobbying group for the mutually beneficial U.S.-Israel relationship. For example, AIPAC does not have a position on the “settlements,”for the simple reason that AIPAC does not lobby for or against “settlements.”
Instead, AIPAC lobbies for the mutually beneficial U.S.-Israel relationship. In this strong relationship, both parties benefit, whether it’s through economic trade, military intelligence, military cooperation and training, America having a democratic ally in an unstable region, etc.
For example, consider the Iron Dome missile defense shield, which was built by Israel with help from the United States. Iron Dome can be used to defend Israel, as well as other countries, such as South Korea which is looking into it, and can help defend American troops deployed in battle.
Or consider security assistance to Israel, valued at $3 billion per year. This aid helps Israel meet its security needs as it is surrounded by hostile enemies (for more info, see 1948 war, 1967 war, 1st Lebanon War, 2nd Lebanon War, 1st Intifada, 2nd Intifada, 2006 Lebanon War, 2008 Operation Cast Lead, etc). The aid also creates jobs in the American economy, as 75% of the aid that is sent to Israel is spent in America to create jobs.
Click here to learn how your state benefits from foreign aid.
Or consider military cooperation and training. The U.S. and Israel regularly hold joint exercises together and help train each other’s troops. This is obviously helpful to both countries, and allows the troops to experience new terrain, battlefields, and learn from other people and become better equipped in case a war breaks out.
Question: Does AIPAC have a hold on the U.S. Congress? Does the American public support AIPAC?
FACTS: Polls repeatedly show that the American public overwhelmingly supports Israel. Consider this recent poll taken by Gallup, which shows that 71% of Americans view Israel favorably, while only 19% view the Palestinians favorably.
Members of Congress and the president are elected democratically by the American public. The American public has long supported Israel, due to the benefits of the strong U.S.-Israel relationship (some of which I have listed above), Christians who support Israel, sympathy after World War II and awe at victory in 1948 and 1967, and due to the democratic values that are embedded in the state of Israel.
Elected officials have a responsibility to do what their constituents request or favor. Constituents who favor Israel are more likely to vote for a pro-Israel representative (although there are other factors at play). Seeing that a large majority of Americans support Israel, this would also translate into Congress, where support for Israel is bipartisan. It only makes sense that Congress would reflect the views of the peopel that elected members of Congress.
Over 14,000 Americans attended this year’s AIPAC Policy Conference, from all over American society, whether Jewish, Christian, white, African American, Hispanic, etc. Combine this with the Gallup poll, and I believe it is quite clear that the American public is supportive of Israel, supportive of AIPAC, and AIPAC does not have omnipotent control of Congress, as some anti-Semites would like to believe. Rather, many members of Congress are elected as supporters of Israel and support AIPAC.
If so, what function does AIPAC serve? Why lobby if Congress already supports them? This is rather simple – lobbying groups often serve to call attention to specific issues. A congressman doesn’t have time to read everything that’s happening in the world, and may not know how many rockets were launched into Israel from Hamas. Also, while supporting Israel, they may not realize all the benefits of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and may not actively be pursuing this relationship and strengthening it in Congress.
QUESTION: What is AIPAC’s policy on the “settlements?”
FACTS: As I previously stated, AIPAC doesn’t have any policy. AIPAC doesn’t lobby in support for Israel, but rather in support of the U.S.-Israel relationship. This relationship is not defined by whether a settler in Maaleh Adumim extends his porch or not.
QUESTION: Does AIPAC push America for war into Iran? Does AIPAC lobby for war with Iran?
FACTS: AIPAC does not lobby or support war. If we take a look at AIPAC’s legislative agenda, we see two agendas related to Iran. The first is related to affirming that we must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability by supporting a bill introduced in Congress by various senators. The second is to sanction Iran over its nuclear program, and certain bills with sanctions have even passed unanimously in the Senate, which shows that it is in fact supported by Congress.
Nowhere in their legislative agenda does it include pushing for war with Iran. If war does happen, this will be the decision of the administration.
QUESTION: Is AIPAC the most powerful U.S. lobbying group?
FACTS: AIPAC is not the most powerful U.S. lobbying group (for example, AARP is considerably more powerful), but is indeed one of the most powerful. AIPAC has a huge membership base of over 100,000 people. Again, this is largely due to American and Congressional bipartisan support for Israel.
It is not a crime to be a powerful lobbying group that is supported by the public. Claiming that there is something wrong with this is a ridiculous attack designed to create a pointless argument over garbage.
Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, spend a considerable amount of money lobbying in the United States. I would be more concerned with these countries than with a group that is widely backed by the public and lobbies for a mutually beneficial U.S.-Israel relationship.
QUESTION: Is AIPAC a right-wing organization?
FACTS: AIPAC as an organization is bipartisan, and bills that it lobbies for are sponsored by a Democrat and Republican. Both Democrats and Republicans speak at AIPAC. For example, at the Policy Conference in 2012, Nancy Pelosi (Democrat) and Mitch McConnell (Republican) both spoke. The reason is that Israel enjoys bipartisan support in Congress, which demonstrates the extent to which Americans support Israel.
For example, AIPAC believes that the U.S. should be involved in the peace process and promotes the peace process, and is against unilateral moves that take away from peace, such as the unilateral Palestinian statehood bid. AIPAC believes that while the U.S. should assist in the peace process, certain details, such as security arrangements, can only be worked out between both parties. AIPAC also believes that the U.S. should empower Palestinian moderates in order to advance the pursuit of peace.
QUESTION: Is AIPAC a Jewish organization?
FACTS: Well of course not! Jews form about 2% of America’s population. It is impossible that AIPAC would be so successful and receive such widespread support if only 2% of the population were part of AIPAC (that’s assuming every Jew in America is politically active)!
AIPAC has a large, diverse membership base with members from all backgrounds, whether Jewish, Christian, white, African American, Hispanic, etc. AIPAC often hosts specific events just for minorities, and extends a hand towards minority leaders, explaining why Israel is important for them. At an event such as AIPAC Policy Conference, you can be sure to hear plenty of non-Jews and minorities speaking at AIPAC and why they support Israel.
Even celebrities, such as Kathy Ireland, speak at AIPAC due to their support for Israel and AIPAC!
QUESTION: Does AIPAC employ hundreds of lobbyists?
FACTS: This is simply not true. In fact, AIPAC has about 10 paid professional lobbyists. That’s right, only 10. Groups such as AARP have around 400!
What does this mean? Well, it’s just another proof of how much the American public supports Israel. AIPAC doesn’t rely on these 10 paid professional lobbyists, but rather on its huge membership base that lobby their own representatives in Congress.
I hope that this serves as a useful guide for anyone who wishes to learn more about AIPAC, bashes AIPAC, or wishes to respond to someone who bashes AIPAC. At a time when the Assad regime in Syria is slaughtering thousands, groups such as Code PINK have the audacity to protest AIPAC.
AIPAC supports the U.S.-Israel relationship. If you are against AIPAC, then you’re against a relationship that benefits America. Unfortunately, it is evident that many people who do bash AIPAC – such as Code PINK – also hate America equally, as both countries are beacons of light and democracy.