New Labor government poses challenge for pro-Israel lobby
This weekend’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference will feature all the usual elements of the annual pro-Israel extravaganza: congressional and administration machers by the score, foreign diplomats, on-the-make politicians and more than 900 charged-up AIPACers and 600 college students.
But the mood may be dampened by a new challenge facing the powerful lobby group: how to adjust to a new Labor government in Israel that includes officials who have harshly criticized AIPAC for a pro-Likud tilt.
Even before King Hussein’s death Sunday, his eldest son and successor was mending fences with old foes and reassuring friends like Israel and the United States of Jordan’s continued close ties and commitment to Middle East peace.
But without the political acumen and moral suasion of his father, King Abdullah, 37, is expected to face formidable challenges as he tries to maneuver Jordan among the conflicting forces that make up this highly volatile region.
Jordan’s King Hussein was similar to Alabama’s George Wallace, a man whose brutal leadership gave way to penance and reconciliation. But when Wallace died, the media trotted out the horrific film clips revealing the indignities he wrought in the early 1960s. When the king died, however, there was little, if any, accounting the king’s equally horrific history in those very same years.
Angst Over Hussein’s Health
The Clinton administration went out of its way this week to debunk reports in Israel that Jordan’s King Hussein is unlikely to resume his duties because of deteriorating health. The king’s illness was a persistent subtheme to this week’s frantic diplomatic effort at the Wye River Conference Center even before Hussein’s dramatic appearance at the summit on Tuesday — summoned from his sickbed by an administration that believed the Israeli-Palestinian meetings were in deep trouble.