Win Or Lose, Iran Tops AIPAC’s Agenda

AIPAC, which is spending upwards of $20 million to block the Iranian nuclear deal, is not about to take no for an answer. 

Whatever the outcome of the vote in September on the agreement, AIPAC isn't going to drop its bread-and-butter issue.  Not even throttle back. 

Iran has been the group's raison d'être for over two decades, and it doesn't know what else to do; its troops are trained to attack Iran and to write checks, and the lobby can't afford to admit failure lest it lose their support.

Iran has been an enormously lucrative fundraiser for AIPAC; just look at what it is spending on this campaign alone. As long as AIPAC, Bibi Netanyahu and Republicans can keep the focus on Iran they believe – hope – they can avoid dealing with making peace with the Palestinians.  That’s what their big givers want.

Look for AIPAC to go into oversight mode with resolutions, letters, amendments, new sanctions, hearings, investigations, talking points, and every other gimmick to keep the issue alive, the troops motivated and the donations coming in. 

They and their Republican partners will try to make this a top issue for 2016, painting Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats as anti-Israel for supporting the Iran deal.

This week hundreds of AIPAC activists are flying in to Washington to lobby Members of Congress before they leave town on summer recess. Lawmakers who aren't junketing abroad somewhere on the taxpayers' dime during the August break will also be visited by constituents and contributors.

AIPAC is actually the second largest pro-Israel lobby.  Number one is, the evangelical Christians United for Israel. Led by former GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer and Pastor John Hagee, it boasts more than 2 million members, about 20 times the size of AIPAC. The Washington Post has called CUFI America’s “largest and most dependable pro-Israel group.”

CUFI speaks for evangelical Christians and AIPAC claims to speak for the Jewish community, but a recent study by the Jewish People Policy Institute poll showed increasing numbers of Jews are moving away from AIPAC’S hardline pro-Likud point of view out of a growing “doubt that Israel truly wishes to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians,” according to the study’s author, Shmuel Rosner.

And a poll by the Los Angeles Jewish Journal showed American Jews support the Iran agreement by a wide margin.  But for now the opponents of the agreement have a large advantage in terms of money and organization.  One thing is certain, the fight won’t end after the Congress votes in September, it will only move to the next phase.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.