The Biggest Loser of the Cycle: AIPAC

by: Matt Stoller

Thu Oct 30, 2008 at 21:39


Right-wing ethnic lobbies have taken a total beating this cycle.  In South Florida, all three right-wing Republicans who based their politics on a hardline against Castro are being challenged for the first time by Democrats who have changed the subject to the economy.  Al Wynn got crunched by progressive Donna Edwards, and many entrenched corporate CBC members got primary challengers.  But the biggest loser of the cycle is AIPAC and its orbit of right-wing allies (like Abe Foxman's Anti-Defamation League).  These groups largely supported Bush in 2004 and Lieberman in 2006, using charges of antisemitism against the progressive organizations like Moveon and the blogs.  This fierce conservative offensive was finally stopped in intellectual circles by the acknowledgement of a powerful and reactionary existence of an 'Israel lobby', whose interests in starting another conflict with Iran ran directly counter to the interests of most Jews.

A counter-organization, J Street, emerged, and it looks like 37 of their candidates are going to be sitting in Congress next year.  Right-wing older Jews went after Obama with a vengeance, both in the primary and the general, and used every trick in the book, going so far as to argue that Obama would somehow bring forth another holocaust.  Other organizations, like JewsVote, used celebrities like Sarah Silverman to reach out to younger Jews, and none of the standard propagandizing from McCain worked.  Finally, the mystique of AIPAC as an unstoppable force has been punctured.

Matt Stoller :: The Biggest Loser of the Cycle: AIPAC
AIPAC has responded, feebly and secretively.  Former Executive Director of AIPAC Morrie Amitay, the founder of the powerful WashingtonPAC (which separates itself from other conservative Jewish PACs by bragging of 'its Capitol Hill location enables it to meet with Representatives and Senators on an almost daily basis') attacked J Street openly as the 'blame Israel first' crowd and essentially declared war on their candidates in an off the record memo published on an extreme right-wing website.  This declaration was accompanied by impotence, as most of J Street's candidates look likely to take seats next year on Capitol Hill.

Amitay's clients include "the Northrop-Grumman Corporation, TRW, the American Petroleum Institute, Pan American Airways, the Government of Turkey, Tenneco, Israel Aerospace Industries, ITT/Gilfillan, the Solar Energy Industry Association, AMETEK, Inc., and BAE Systems PLC", he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and he believes Jews who don't agree his hardline approach to Iran, Iraq, and the Middle East are the biggest threat to Israel.

"The real threat to continued strong American public and congressional support for close U.S.-Israel ties comes from anti-Israel bias in the major media, elite universities, and most importantly from ultra-liberal Jewish organizations like Americans for Peace Now and individual Jews who seem to have difficulties dealing with their own Jewishness."

In other words, Amitay is a hyper-connected DC defense contractor who makes money by electing neoconservatives and extracting legislative favors from them.  

I edited this to reflect some serious errors with an earlier version of the post.


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I don't think ZOA and AIPAC are equivalent (0.00 / 0)
ZOA is off-the-charts extreme, as per most of your links here, but AIPAC isn't that nutty.  For instance, when Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza, ZOA was openly against it, but AIPAC supported it.  

AIPAC has been bad on some important things, but I think that's partly a result of the neocons within it having more influence when Republicans are in charge in Washington.  Overall, I think it's too big of an organization to be completely dominated by that hardcore of an ideological subset under all circumstances.  ZOA has no such constraints, and will remain reliably meshugah no matter who has power in DC.  


Wow (0.00 / 0)
For one thing, Matt, the idea of calling the ADL a "right wing ally of AIPAC" is just absurd and strongly suggests that you haven't done any research or work whatsoever before going on this rant. The ADL's mission is basically to fight racism and other "isms" wherever they see it, and whomever it involves. They are close partners of the Southern Poverty Law Center and while officially zionist, are almost entirely a domestic organization. That's just a flat wrong characterization.

For another, although I dislike AIPAC's neocon stands, they aren't anywhere close to racist, unlike ZOA. Are they extremely aggressive in advocating for another country's interests in DC? Yes. But if they were advocating for, say, Ireland, would they get all this attention? No.

I think you need to stick to stuff you know a little about. There's plenty to rant on about AIPAC, but don't go overboard, and don't bring ADL anywhere near the discussion.


Have you been paying attention to the ADL lately, under Foxman? (4.00 / 3)
He's a right-wing lunatic tool for Lieberman, the GOP, and its Israeli equivalent, Likud. ADL's done very good work in the past, and I'm sure continues to do so in other areas, but on foreign and military policy, they've become just another neocon front group. Greenwald really tore into them earlier this year on his blog.

Watch Foxman make a total ass of himself on the News Hour earlier this year (divided into 3 parts because my YouTube uploads have problems if they're longer than 5 minutes):



"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
ADL may have been that in the past (4.00 / 2)
I haven't paid close attention to what they have been doing until recently (and I always thought of them as a good organization). But Foxman has been all that Matt has said.
Have you heard him interviewed about Walt and Mearsheimers book?

Listening to Foxman makes me ashamed of my jewish ancestry.


[ Parent ]
Get up to date (4.00 / 1)
Glenn Greenwald has been on ADL's assimilation into the neocon sphere of influence.  They have morphed from an organization fighting anti-semitism, into an arm of the neocon propaganda machine, tacitly supporting accusations of anti-semitism used by the right to silence dissent:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/g...

http://www.salon.com/opinion/g...

http://www.salon.com/opinion/g...

They lay the groundwork for McCain's demonization of people like Khalidi, and anyone with associations with him.


[ Parent ]
The commenters above are right, and beyond that (0.00 / 0)
you're attributing the words of ZOA president Mort Klein (speaking in the video above) to Amitay.  

Your understanding of the Israel lobby is muddled at best.  Take a deep breath and try again.


i got some of it very wrong (0.00 / 0)
I edited the post to correct the errors.  In terms of the ADL, that's a crazy racist institution and you should be aware of that group.

[ Parent ]
Your edits are fine (0.00 / 0)
but I'm still not convinced you have a good grasp of this stuff.  

Just quickly--the news, mentioned a couple posts down, that Rahm Emanuel may be Obama's choice for his white house chief of staff should dispel any notion that AIPAC is a loser this year.  Emanuel, you may remember, accompanied Obama to AIPAC's policy conference earlier this year.

I won't get into Emanuel's AIPAC credentials, but needless to say, this is a far cry from Barack's days as a dinner guest at the Khalidi's.
 


[ Parent ]
AIPAC rolled Obama (0.00 / 0)
AIPAC rolled Obama away from balanced positions towards Israel and its neighbors.  Biden is no different from Rahm E on Israel policy. Quite extreme. Basically pro-Likud.

AIPAC is unlikely to lose significant power in this election. I hope I am wrong and Matt is right.


aipac isn't powerless (0.00 / 0)
They have a lot of influence, still, obviously.  But they got seriously dinged for the first time in years over the last four years.

[ Parent ]
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