A group of pro-Palestinian organizations calling themselves OccupyAIPAC is planning to bring hundreds of demonstrators for rallies at the pro-Israel lobby's annual policy conference in March 4-6 at the Washington Convention Center.
Some of the anti-AIPAC activists will try to register as delegates so they can disrupt the conference from the inside, according to their website. Others may try to occupy AIPAC's headquarters at 251 H Street NW in Washington.
Demonstrations are not unusual at the annual gathering and could actually play to the advantage of the pro-Israel lobby group.
The demonstrations represent strong evidence of the power and influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. By exaggerating the influence of the organization — AIPAC is "trying to drag us into a disastrous war with Iran, just as they pushed the Iraq war" — they actually enhance its reputation for bigtime clout.
“With the Occupy movement that has swept the country demanding social and economic justice, many have concluded that AIPAC — the powerful pro-Israeli government lobby that distorts US policy in the Middle East — is a mandatory 'occupy target',” the OccupyAIPAC statement said.
This kind of attention is invaluable for AIPAC, which thrives on the notoriety and animosity of its foes. Those critics tend to be much more anti-Israel than pro-Palestinians, and that does little for their credibility, especially on Capitol Hill where they want to influence American foreign policy.
There's another bonus for AIPAC. The groups endorsing the OccupyAIPAC movement tend to be angry far left fringe organizations, and they make AIPAC look more mainstream and under siege. That contrast is great for AIPAC conference recruiting (look for another announcement of record attendance), publicity and, most of all, fundraising.
For the politicians and policy makers they enhance the muscular aura of power and influence. For the faithful back home the message is just the opposite: We're under assault by the enemies of Israel, grab your checkbooks and run to the barricades.