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February 03, 2007

AIPAC Through The Eyes Of Its Allies

I don't have a ton of time to go into this, but read Glenn Greenwald on an actual example of Pro-Israel lobbying organizations exerting a lot of cash and pressure to push towards confrontation with Iran. An important element of this, by the way, is that American Jews are significantly less likely than the median American to support either war with Iran or, when it happened, war with Iraq. But the organizations that speak for them, and raise money from them under the cover of a more blandly pro-Israel agenda, are quite hawkish. And quite effective.

In 1997, Fortune magazine asked Congressmen to rank the most powerful lobbying organizations in DC. In 2005, the National Journal did the same. Both times, AIPAC came in second -- ahead of, for instance, the AFL-CIO and the NRA. Now, we would never dispute the AFL-CIO's power within the Democratic Party, and we would never question the NRA's effectiveness on gun issues -- but we're supposed to pretend the organization that Congressmen think is more powerful than either have significant influence? It's silly. And when the framing is pro-AIPAC, and pro-its agenda, as Glenn Greenwald notes, there are no similar constraints. In that context, even The New York Sun can engage in such anti-semitic behavior as calling New York Jews the "ATM" for the Democratic Party and suggesting candidate will have to toe the AIPAC line on Iran if they want to make a withdrawal.

February 3, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

Greenwald's piece is good, but I found myself wishing that he didn't wait until the 2nd addendum to make it clear that, in fact, most US Jews do not agree with the AIPAC party line.

Posted by: fiat lux | Feb 3, 2007 1:27:21 PM

Damn retired persons. They die off eventually, to be sure, but their ranks still replenish too quickly! AARP in an unstoppable demographic juggernaut. To counter this pernicious influence, I recommend outlawing abortion.

Posted by: Korha | Feb 3, 2007 1:28:27 PM

FIAT LUX -

I found myself wishing that he didn't wait until the 2nd addendum to make it clear that, in fact, most US Jews do not agree with the AIPAC party line.

In one of the early paragraphs in the post, I included a variety of necessary caveats to this argument (such as pointing out that there are many other factions which favor militarism in the Middle East and against Iran which have nothing to do with Israel), and in that paragraph, I wrote:

"And, it should also be noted, a huge portion of American Jews, if not the majority, do not share this agenda."

When I wrote that, I didn't have any polls specifically asking American Jews their views on Iran, but when a commenter added a link with such a poll in comments, I added it as an update.

Posted by: Glenn Greenwald | Feb 3, 2007 2:19:54 PM

Nothing in any of the articles (with one exception) Glenn cites suggests that AIPAC is pushing military confrontation with Iran. Instead, the articles report that Hillary and Edwards spoke at an AIPAC dinner where they were highly critical of Iran. They called for diplomatic engagement with Iran and sanctions, but said that "no option can be taken off the table," including military force. According to the AP, the AIPAC audience applauded Hillary's speech. Not surprising, since AIPAC's position is that sanctions can work.

The NY Post says that the audience was hostile, seeing Hillary as too dovish. But the NY Post shares ownership with Fox News, has harshly criticized Hillary for years, and can't be relied upon.

Here's the take of one right-winger blogger in the audience,

Hillary ... tried to sell America’s most diehard Israel-supporters on the idea of diplomacy with Iran, a country whose stated objective is Israel’s destruction. The amazing and chilling thing is, many if not most of those in attendance at the dinner tonight seemed to buy it.

Posted by: Ragout | Feb 3, 2007 2:24:59 PM

By the way, Glenn's post misrepresents the Sun article he quotes as saying "the issue which they [AIPAC supporters] care about most is Iran."

In fact, Sun article says no such thing. The closest it ever comes is to quote someone as saying "If you're running for president and you want dollars from that group, you need to show that you're interested in the issue that matters most to them." Glenn claims that this means Iran is the most important issue to AIPAC. But this is obviously a reference to Israel, not Iran.

Posted by: Ragout | Feb 3, 2007 2:40:32 PM

Greenwald derives this from the Sun article, relating to AIPAC:

they want a hawkish, hard-line position taken against Iran

Later, on a David Brooks piece:

Brooks is right about the fact that all of the leading presidential candidates embrace the militaristic Middle East agenda shared by AIPAC and similar groups.

Later still:

The only clear fact that emerges from this morass of war-fueling claims is that there are significant and influential factions within the country which want to drive the U.S. to wage war against Iran and change its government.

Like Ragout, I think the evidence would be thin for that, judging from what Glenn gives us. They obviously favor tough talk and pressure. That's a very different point.

Regardless of whether there is merit in the abstract to the notion of "keeping all options on the table," this sort of talk now has the effect, as Digby argues, of enabling Bush's increasingly war-provoking moves towards Iran.

This depends on the very flimsy premise that Bush is seeking war with Iran.

It is genuinely difficult to imagine anything more cataclysmic for the United States than a military confrontation with Iran.

Indeed, and this thought has occurred to Bush and Gates.

That topic cannot be rendered off-limits by toxic and manipulative anti-semitism accusations.

That point, which Glenn stresses throughout, is a good one.

Posted by: Sanpete | Feb 3, 2007 3:07:34 PM

ezra: American Jews are significantly less likely than the median American to support either war with Iran or, when it happened, war with Iraq. But the organizations that speak for them, and raise money from them under the cover of a more blandly pro-Israel agenda, are quite hawkish.

Sounds like there is an easy cure for the US Jews that support Israel but don't support war or occupation:

- send their money to organizations other than AIPAC (and its ilk) that are known to favor jaw/jaw rathr than war/war.

Why don't they do that?

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Feb 3, 2007 3:40:38 PM

Why don't they do that?

See Ragout's post on this for one idea.

Posted by: Sanpete | Feb 3, 2007 3:44:56 PM

Because AIPAC is masterful at fundraising, direct mail, and outreach, and most don't know exactly what they lobby for. They get a letter expressing AIPAC's concern for Israel, detailing AIPAC's many awards and recognitions for lobbying power, and exhorting them to help AIPAC support Israel. Iran isn't mentioned.

Posted by: Ezra | Feb 3, 2007 3:52:50 PM

So, is AIPAC pushing for policies that will drive us to war with Iran or not? That matters. Ragout says no, and I have my doubts too. But I'm not an AIPAC watcher.

Posted by: Sanpete | Feb 3, 2007 4:21:33 PM

Here is a video interview with a couple of rightwingers well connected to the administration about the pending attack on Iran. The Israelis are described as pressuring the Americans to bomb Iran.
Note, all the pro-war agitprop events and actions these clowns are talking about cannot be proven and most likely do not exist.

Posted by: Mike | Feb 3, 2007 4:25:10 PM

I have dail-up, so I can't view the video. Who are these rightwingers, and why are their descriptions of the Israelis more reliable than their other comments?

Posted by: Sanpete | Feb 3, 2007 4:37:27 PM

It's strange and telling that while you can hardly go on a liberal blog these days without seeing criticism of AIPAC--which is a good thing--there's almost no criticism of Israel's actions--which AIPAC is charged with defending and promoting.
Most notably, its six month barbaric siege of Gaza has gone unmentioned on, for example, this site, Yglesias's, Digby, and Greenwald.

So in the worldview of liberal bloggers: the lobby arm of Israel's government = bad; Israel's government = not so bad.

Posted by: david mizner | Feb 3, 2007 4:59:14 PM

David, I think it's because of the worry about Iran in particular. That's a US thing in a way that Gaza isn't.

Posted by: Sanpete | Feb 3, 2007 5:29:24 PM

Sanpete, to think that Israel's policies in the West Bank and Gaza don't harm the United States requires a seriously narrow view of the world. The irony is that AIPAC goes to great lengths to make sure that there's no discussion in the media of what Israel is doing in the West Bank and Gaza. With their silence, Ezra, Digby, et al are doing AIPAC a huge favor.

Posted by: david mizner | Feb 3, 2007 6:49:13 PM

David, please point out where I said what you attribute to me. The US would be the actor in Iran, and our soldiers are the ones who would be at direct risk. I nowhere implied that Gaza isn't important, but it isn't something we directly control or will be directly harmed by.

I think most liberals agree that Israeli policy in Gaza is wrong and harmful, but it's pretty well felt that this isn't news and that nothing on our end will change as long as Bush is President. On Iran, it's apparently felt that this is a new development and that some prevention might be possible if enough noise is made. Of course, it's not something I'm especially worried about, but that does seem to be part of the difference.

Posted by: Sanpete | Feb 3, 2007 8:04:52 PM

Maybe its time we progressives draw some criteria by which candidates must be judged. If they appear on FOX programming, if they appeal for DLC support, if they address AIPAC, then these are at least for me reasons to rule out supporting them.

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