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Why AIPAC Should Be Registered As A Foreign Agent

Submitted by Robin Messing on Sat, 02/21/2015 - 8:55pm

Michael Oren was born in New York, raised in New Jersey and gave up his citizenship in 2009 to become Israel's ambassador to the United States.  Today he inadvertently let one of the most poorly hidden cats out of the bag--though AIPAC portrays itself as an American organization, it is AT BEST an organization with dual loyalty. Indeed, its primary loyalty MAY rest with Israel and not the United States.  If U.S. and Israel's interests ever clash, AIPAC's loyalty is suspect.

I take no joy in making this accusation.  I know very well that bogus accusations of dual loyalty have been used in the past to libel Jews and set them up for discrimination and pograms.  But three things should be kept in mind.  First, AIPAC does not represent all American Jews.  MJ Rosenberg used to work for AIPAC before he became one of their fiercest critics.  In 2012 he wrote:

... the lobby does not speak for most Jews who, while most are pro-Israel, are not particularly Israel-centered.


The last fairly definitive poll we have on that score came in 2008 during the presidential campaign when the American Jewish Committee found that just 3 percent of Jews vote with an eye on Israel issues.

The rest cast their ballots based on American domestic issues and, on those issues, Jews are overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic (Barack Obama received 78 percentof the Jewish vote in 2008). Their commitment to domestic liberalism is why Jews have voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1928 and why it is unlikely that will change any time soon.

We are Americans and vote based on American interests. AIPAC represents its 100,000 members and, more significantly, the donors associated with it. It does not speak for the community as a whole, not by a long shot. The same applies to the other Jewish organizations in AIPAC's orbit.

It is critical that Americans understand that, because the perception that American Jews are so attached to Israel that they put its interests above their own country's could negatively influence Americans who have never been biased against Jews.

There are at least 5.3 million Jewish adults in the United States.  Depending on your definition of "who is a Jew" that number could be as high as 9 million.  Let's be conservative for the sake of argument and assume there are only 5 million Jewish adults in the U.S.  If AIPAC has 100,000 members then it represents only 1 in 50 Jewish adults.  It may have the biggest voice on matters regarding Israel, but it is not necessarily representative of what most Jews think.

The second thing to keep in mind is this: Just because Jews have been scandalously smeared in the past by charges of dual loyalty doesn't prove that every American Jew will always be primarily loyal to the United States.  When individuals or groups do show dual loyalty then they need to be called out for it. (Last year I questioned AIPAC's loyalty for supporting a bill that would have torpedoed nuclear negotiations and given Israel the ability to drag the U.S. into a war with Iran. )

And thirdly and perhaps most surprisingly, Israel may be viewed even more favorably by Evangelical Christians than it is by American Jews.  Shibley Telhami recently conducted a poll that showed that Evangelicals were nearly evenly split on whether Israel should emphasize its Jewishness or its democracy, whereas 61% of the limited sample of Jews wanted Israel to emphasize its democracy.  And the Pew Research Center's 2013 poll showed that "White evangelical Protestants also are more likely than Jews to favor stronger U.S. support of Israel."

Now that these caveats are out of the way, it's time to turn to what former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren had to say about AIPAC. 




So there you have it.  Israel's former Ambassador to the United States flat out states that AIPAC is Israel's (not America's) national strategic asset.  If that isn't evidence that AIPAC should be registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, I don't know what is.


Update: 3/11/18: M.J. Rosenberg, who worked directly for AIPAC's founder, I.L. Kenan, in the 1970's, wrote an article entitled "It's Time For AIPAC To Register As A Foreign Agent".  He reveals that when Kenan found a loophole to get around the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Kenan assumed that Israel's values would always be the same as American values. But Israel took a hard right turn in maintaining a permanent occupation, and Kenan grew to regret finding that loophole.  Rosenberg writes:


Toward the end of his life, Kenen was outraged by the AIPAC leadership with its unquestioning support of the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade against Gaza, and other right-wing Israeli policies. He hated what he saw as AIPAC using its political power to keep the United States government and other influential Americans and perhaps most importantly, the media, from straying from the Israeli line.

Not only was AIPAC making it hard for the United States to restrain the Israeli government; it was weakening forces inside Israel that were trying to do so. The Israeli peace camp needed the United States on its side, but thanks to AIPAC, the United States could not help our natural Israeli allies. Of course, when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was actively seeking peace and an end to the occupation, that was the moment AIPAC chose to separate itself from Israel, resulting in Rabin’s blistering exhortation that it get the hell out of his way. By the time of his death, Kenen was thoroughly alienated from the organization.


Don't be satisfied with this short excerpt. Read the entire article.