By Emanuel A. Winston


AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, Israel's official lobby in Washington, has come a long way since I served on the Executive Board in the days of Isaiah L. "Si" Kenen and Morrie Amitay. There has been a drift in its management from aggressive lobbyists defending Israel to a more pro-Left Dovish position. They have violated Si Kenen's warning:

"Ever since the State of Israel was established in 1948, the Arab states have waged war against her on four fronts: military diplomatic, economic and propaganda. Punctuating the gunfire, there has been a never-ending propaganda fusillade to capture world opinion and isolate Israel." *

This posture seemed to be driven by those who gave or raised large amounts of money for AIPAC. They became "advisors" who could set policy or at least bend it to fit their ideas. Some were often close to government officials, all the way up to the President of the United States. It appeared as if their motivation was their personal enjoyment of power at being "close" to the American Administration. Their molding of AIPAC's policies too often reflected the political position of the American Administration and State Department which was usually not consistent with what was best for Israel.

Some wags are beginning to use the acronym: "Arab Israel Palestine Affairs Committee". Why? Because at this year's annual policy conference for the first time, AIPAC has removed its objection to a Palestinian State in Israel. Only the Israelis can make this political-military decision of approving the establishment of a Palestinian State.

While AIPAC plays a vital role of shepherding certain funding programs through Congress, they have no business taking a high profile position that says: "AIPAC DROPPED ITS OPPOSITION TO A PALESTINIAN STATE". AIPAC members I have spoken with were astonished and angry. Who in the world asked AIPAC to say anything? If AIPAC has now become the spokesman for Yassir Arafat, then it should indeed be called the Arab Israel Palestine Affairs Committee.

Congressman Michael P. Forbes and NY Assemblyman Dov Hikind denounced this reversal of AIPAC's policy saying: "The only impression AIPAC can make is one of surrender and impotence...Does [AIPAC] represent the views of the American Jewish community or Yassir Arafat?...If a strong Israel is in the best interests of the US, how can AIPAC support the surrender of any of Israel's limited territory or the violation of its sovereignty?"

As I said earlier, AIPAC has drifted too far off course in the intervening years. They want a certain social acceptability where its principals can rub shoulders with Congress. Once they were serious, respected and even feared. Now, they seem to be tame and politically bent. It's really too bad that the once feared AIPAC has joined the ranks of many other bureaucratic Jewish organizations where bestowed honors and chicken dinners are the important things.

*Myths & Facts 1989: A Concise Record of the Arab-Israeli Conflict" by Leonard Davis for the Near East Report: AIPAC's weekly newsletter.


Emanuel A. Winston is a Middle East analyst & commentator and is a research associate of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.

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