In the hyper-partisan political world we live in, elected leaders, people and organizations committed to bipartisanship often find themselves criticized by both sides of the political spectrum. The American value of unity and partnership for the best of the country has gone by the wayside in favor of cheap points scored at the expense of political opponents. Elected leaders willing to reach across the aisle are frequently characterized as weak and moderate. Organizations taking a pragmatic approach to fulfill their missions are demeaned as unprincipled and fickle.
As an organization committed to having legislation passed that strengthens the U.S.-Israel relationship, AIPAC is committed to creating bipartisan support for its initiatives. AAPC is neither right nor left wing, it is neither closer to the Republican or Democrat Party, nor to Likud or Labor Parties. AIPAC loyally builds relationships with both the Democrat and Republican parties to ensure that they both support Israel.
When it comes to building support of Israel, bipartisanship is crucial. Since 1980 the Presidency, Congress and Senate have swung evenly back and forth between the Republican and Democrat parties. By ensuring both parties support Israel, and that Israel doesn’t become a partisan issue, AIPAC has safeguarded American support for Israel’s safety and security. While most members of Congress come to their positions already supporting Israel, AIPAC’s members lobby to make sure legislation that strengthens the U.S.-Israel relationship is a priority in Congress. This lobbying is vital to having bills that support Israel rise above the many other issues members of Congress consider.
As a more partisan tone has risen in Washington criticism of AIPAC has risen as well. Invariably, people say that “AIPAC has lost it, look at its inability to stop the Iran deal. The Republican Party is Pro-Israel even without AIPAC. We don’t need AIPAC anymore. President Trump is the most Pro-Israel President ever. The Democratic Party is increasingly turning against Israel. AIPAC is pointless in the face of an anti-Israel Democratic Party.” AIPAC’s role isn’t to convince members of Congress to be Pro-Israel; it’s to lobby members of Congress to pass Pro-Israel legislation and resolutions. Legislation and resolutions are the metrics by which we should judge the efficacy of Pro-Israel advocacy.
Yesterday AIPAC did just that. Three pieces of legislation and resolutions were passed last night. AIPAC and its members, including my students, lobbied for all three. All three were passed with Republican AND Democratic support. AIPAC wrote, “398 members voted for House resolution 246 – in a powerful statement opposing BDS and its deliberate discrimination against the Jewish state. AIPAC first lobbied for this resolution at the Policy Conference in March. Tonight’s vote puts the vast majority of Congress on record opposing the BDS campaign as anti-Israel, anti-peace, and damaging to U.S. interests. The House also passed H.R. 1837, the U.S.-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act. This bill, which we also lobbied for at the Policy Conference, expands and deepens security and economic cooperation between the two allies. The House also passed H.R. 1850, the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act. This bipartisan bill imposes sanctions on those who support Palestinian terrorist groups—including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. These groups, backed by Iran, have fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians.”
I don’t judge AIPAC by its civil tone towards anti-Semitic members of Congress, its silence on Judea and Samaria, or its support of the two state solution. I disagree with AIPAC on all three. I’ve been a proud member-donor of AIPAC for fifteen years because more than any other pro-Israel organization it gets things done.
That’s why we have AIPAC.