Andrew D. Lappin

Was AIPAC Ever Really Up to the Task?

Was the urgency of preventing a nuclear Iran truly embedded within AIPAC’s institutional DNA? If so, you have to wonder whether the conversations that needed to take place, ever did.

AIPAC has lost before. Those who since 2008 have felt blindsided by AIPAC’s veering from the assumed course of imposing stiffer sanctions, are waiting on AIPAC for a diagnosis. They are waiting for AIPAC to stand up with one clear voice to Iranian and Islamist aggression and expansionism and support allies who aspire to do the same.

AIPAC in February 2013, chose to stand down as the “Hagel-shot” was fired over the bow. In January 2014 AIPAC decided not to support Kirk-Menendez. This was the official confirmation of AIPAC’s public intention to execute a sharp detour from the intended path of continued Iranian isolation. \ What is certain is that AIPAC’s prevailing rules of engagement, the self-perceived limits of persuasion have stifled its voice.

Since 2011, AIPAC, in order to function as a body, felt it had to reflect the perspective of those members who continued to support the Obama administration. This meant that up until August 2015, strident public opposition was not to have been officially expressed by AIPAC. Instead, “non-mainstream” groups like TIP, FDD, ZOA, and Stand with Us, were left to fill that space. Once the agreement with all of its hideous warts, had been opened for public viewing, AIPAC did rise up to the same level of strident opposition as the “non-mainstream voices”. But its previous restraint undermined its opposition.

Backing off of Kirk-Menendez was the white flag which probably most materially condemned the dicey Corker-Cardin mechanism to failure. Kirk-Menendez a magnificently intricate piece of work that would have severely notched up the painful chokehold that sanctions were exerting on the mullahs. If AIPAC was not willing to fight for Kirk-Menendez, what new factors would have suddenly ignited a fire of sufficient intensity in the AIPAC belly for Corker-Cardin?

On top of that, AIPAC’s restrained body language had been consistently out of sync in relation to the degree of perceived downside. AIPAC, until the contents of the agreement were made public, had been operating in a discreetly civil negotiating mode. But the cataclysmic downside posed by the failure of stopping the agreement demanded a more vociferous posture. The AIPAC rhetoric during the 60 day study period did get “white hot” but not sufficiently hot to have been perceived by Members as a force that might credibly have threatened their political well-being.

Exacerbating the problem, both the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the United States Holocaust Memorial (USHM) similarly chose to avoid speaking out on this terrifying reality. Publicly perceived as two of the most prominent guardians of Jewish welfare, their silence opened a huge blank spot where a unified opposition may have been heard.

What we have today is far worse than what we thought that we were initially signing up to stop. We have a deal that will inject Iran with fresh and spendable cash that will empower and strengthen the most unrepentantly diabolical force that the world has yet to witness.

We are left with a messy political quagmire, the unwinding of which will require complicated political and diplomatic gyrations. We must sadly come to terms with the fact that the winners of Corker-Cardin are those members of Congress who were able to abandon ship without a penalty. I wonder if AIPAC will succeed in holding them accountable.

Since 1977, Andy Lappin has been redeveloping and recycling abandoned manufacturing facilities that are subdivided as multi-tenanted business parks for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Mr. Lappin is a board member of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and a former National Council member of AIPAC.

About the Author
Andrew D. Lappin is a redeveloper of urban industrial properties. He is a former board member of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the Embers Foundation, the Committe for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA), and serves on The Illinois Policy Board which monitors corporate compliance with the state's anti-BDS statute. The opinions expressed are by Lappin personally and NOT the views of any of the organizations with which he is affiliated.