A few readers took me to task for downplaying the threat to AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying giant, posed by the surprisingly lurid legal drama centering on the defamation suit by Steve Rosen, the former AIPAC honcho fired after his arrest in 2005.
Well, it's lurid enough, but I can't exactly see how this week's revelations that a former high-ranking AIPAC official looked at pornography on his office computer and that some of his colleagues may have done the same will make much of a difference in the big pro-Israel lobby group's political muscle.
We just posted a JTA story about a bipartisan congressional letter “raising concerns and asking questions about a proposed $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.”
The letter, signed by 198 lawmakers and co-authored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the incoming and outgoing chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committee, was sent to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
JTA reported yesterday that the Obama administration plans to store an extra $400 million in military equipment in Israel – stuff Israel can use in the event of emergency. Included in the arsenal: smart bombs “and other precision weaponry.”
By 2012, the total inventory of weapons stored in Israel will reach $1.2 billion.
When protesters heckled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) General Assembly in New Orleans, the adults in the audience may have been surprised or even shocked. Many of the students in the 600-strong Hillel presence had a different reaction.
Question: what have the congressional election campaigns told us about the state of the debate over U.S. Middle East policy?
Answer: Nothing good.
The fierce, bitter midterm campaigns have demonstrated once again that a small but vocal minority in the Jewish community thinks only of partisan concerns – partisan support for a political faction in Israel, or for the Republican party in this country – and not much about the need to strengthen U.S.-Israel ties or to ensure support for Israel is a bi-partisan affair, not just another partisan wedge issue.
I just got a press release from the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) announcing a new program to “fight efforts to delegitimize Israel,” and I confess, it caught me at an inopportune time.
The reason: I've been thinking more and more about the fact that Jewish groups all want to ride the same train – the locomotive of Israel activism. And I wonder how much of that comes at the expense of other critical areas of Jewish life.
While Israel’s detractors have obsessively scrutinized, mischaracterized and demonized the Israeli lobby, the equally powerful Arab lobby has been studiously ignored. In fact, some people deny it exists -- or if it does, that its power pales in contrast to the all-powerful AIPAC. As proof, they often point to the failure to create a Palestinian state. Surely, these critics maintain, if the Arab Lobby is really as powerful as people like me say it is, a Palestinian state would long ago have been established.
Few Jewish organizations have generated feelings — pro or con — as intense as those ignited by J Street, the pro-peace process lobby and political action committee created two years ago to provide a left-of-center address for politicians and activists who support more aggressive U.S. peace process diplomacy.
That intensity took another quantum jump with last week’s Washington Times disclosure that the group has been getting substantial donations from financier George Soros despite repeated denials from its leaders.