FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

AIPAC Takes a Big Hit

by DAVE LINDORFF

One little-noted but important result of the November election in the US that returned President Barack Obama to the White House for another four years is that the right-wing Israeli government and the Zionist lobbying organization AIPAC (for American Israel Public Affairs Committee) took a surprising drubbing and emerge a much weaker political influence going forward in US politics.

According to the recently created liberal Jewish lobbying organization J-Street, which advocates a peacefully negotiated two-state solution to the decades-long Israel-Palestine issue, Jewish voters in the US did not flock to the Zionist cause this election. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign funds from AIPAC and some wealthy Jewish Americans that were contributed to back hard-line Zionist or pro-Zionist political candidates for president and Congress, and despite a vicious anti-Obama ad campaign in southern Florida and in New York City targeting Jewish voters, exit polls the organization commissioned show that 70% of Jewish voters nationwide cast their ballots for Obama — the same percentage that has historically voted Democratic. Perhaps more important, given the current bluster by the Netanyahu government in Israel about the urgency to attack Iran, exit polls showed that 90% of American Jews list domestic issues as their main concern, not Israel. As one example of the kind of fear-mongering ad campaigns Zionist funders were running in Florida and New York, there was a large billboard put up along the state’s main north/south interstate highway, which showed an Iranian missile heading towards the state of Israel, with the message: “Friends don’t let friends get nuked. Stop Obama!”

The biggest blow to the Israeli government and to AIPAC, of course, was the defeat of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. During the height of the campaign, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the US and openly endorsed Romney, criticizing the president for his unwillingness to back or have the US participate in an air strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. President Obama — who has not visited Israel during his entire first term of office — openly refused a request by Netanyahu for a one-on-one meeting at the White House — an unusual slap at an Israeli leader by a US president. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a staunch Zionist, reportedly donated over $100 million to back Romney’s candidacy, but found that his money had been wasted as Americans chose not to back the man who advocated a harder line against Iran, and who criticized President Obama during the campaign for saying he wanted to “put more daylight” between the foreign policies of the US and Israel. (During a televised debate, Romney had blasted Obama for not visiting Israel during the campaign, while Obama retorted bluntly that all Romney had done was go to Israel to collect campaign money from Israeli donors.)

Meanwhile, a number of hard-core Zionist incumbents in Congress lost their seats to candidates who are not craven backers of Netanyahu and his political cronies. For example, the Republican candidate Tommy Thompson, initially a front-runner in the race in Wisconsin for the seat of retiring Zionist Republican Senator Herb Kohl and an ardent backer of Israel and the Netanyahu government himself, was defeated by Democrat Tammy Baldwin, whose attitude towards Israel is much more nuanced.  Also defeated for re-election was Florida  Republican Congressman Allen West, who famously said that any two-state solution establishing a Palestinian state beside Israel would be a “foreign policy blunder of epic proportions.” He was narrowly ousted by Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, who won despite ads run in the campaign in what is a very Jewish district claiming he would “work to weaken the defense of the state of Israel.

A major loss for the pro-Israel lobby in the US was the replacement of arch-zionist Joe Lieberman, a senator from Connecticut who to the end of his term has been pushing for war with Iran. Lieberman decided to retire and not seek re-election when it became clear that his home state, which previously denied him the Democratic nomination in his last campaign, forcing him to run for re-election six years ago as an independent, would this time reject him. He is replaced by Democrat Christopher Murphy (no relation), who also has a less belligerent attitude towards Iran and who favors a two-state negotiated solution in Palestine.

In all, J-Street, which itself raised and donated $1.8 million in the recent election campaign, reports that 70 of the candidates it backed, all of whom had to be supporters of a negotiated two-state solution in Israel-Palestine, won their races. That includes the president.

Of course, J-Street itself, while being accused by right wing Jews of being “anti-semitic,” says it is “pro-Israel,” and it surely is, but it is nonetheless frontally challenging the Neocon agenda that presents the Arab world and Islam as an implacable enemy, and that promotes a program for the US of permanent imperial war, with the state of Israel as a critical ally in that war.

The key point in looking at the election results is that the main power of AIPAC and the whole right-wing Zionist lobby in the US has long been the unquestioned ability to threaten politicians by saying if they didn’t vow unstinting support for Israel, including billions of dollars in free military aid each year, and if they didn’t support for the right-wing Israeli government’s abusive apartheid policies in the occupied territories, they would lose re-election. In years past, members of Congress, the most notable example being Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, who stood up to Israel and AIPAC, were challenged by candidates with AIPAC backing and consequently lost their seats. But this year, in race after race, the threat didn’t work. Obama won re-election despite his blunt refusal to kowtow to Netanyahu, despite his refusal to approve an Israeli strike on Iran, and despite overt Zionist backing for his opponent Mitt Romney. The election of a number of new members of Congress who defeated AIPAC-backed candidates, some of them incumbents, further weakens the Zionist lobby. And now that the threat has been shown to be essentially empty, it will be hard to revive it.

On the eve of the election, the online political news magazine Politico wrote: “Conservative pro-Israel groups that have spent millions of dollars targeting President Barack Obama’s policies toward the Jewish state are facing a daunting reality: If the president wins anyway, their political influence may never be the same.”

Now Obama and other candidates opposed by AIPAC have won and as a result, Zionist political influence, and public support for unquestioning US backing of Israel, will probably never recover.

DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper. 

 

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail