AIPAC sets US Middle East policy?

Much has been said and written about the power and influence of AIPAC in the Congress .

There is no doubt that AIPAC is a powerful organization.

But to say that when it comes to US policy in the Middle East, they can set the course and tune is highly dubious.

Case in point: recent discussions in the US regarding an attack against Syria.

AIPAC was for it, but as we saw, there were great doubts as to whether the Congress would allow such an attack. So what happened? If all those who claim that AIPAC is large and in charge on the Hill, why were so many people against an attack against Syria in the Congress?

I also don’t buy the Walt and Meashimer theory that AIPAC was instrumental in the Iraq invasion. First and foremost, many of the Neo Conservatives they list were not members of the organization at that time. Furthermore, as former Israeli Brigadier General Shlomo Brom has stated, when the Israeli government was talking to the Americans (he was part of the delegation), the Israelis were saying that focus should be placed on Iran, while the Bush administration was adamant that Iraq should be attacked. Something which Shlom Brom has likened to a “conversation of the deaf”.

AIPAC is powerful? yes it is. But does it control and set US Middle East policy in the Congress? not from where I am standing.

What does it mean to be “Pro-Israel in the US?”

When it comes to being pro-Israel in the US, the two leading organization which represent two very different views are AIPAC and JStreet. 

However I have yet to see a debate between representatives of these two organizations.

There are of course other organizations, some of which are to the right and left of AIPAC and Jstreet.

For example, there is the Emergency Committee for Israel, which is more conservative than AIPAC. This organization was in the news recently for being against the appointment of Chuck Hagel as US Secretary of Defense.

In May 2012, prior to the US elections, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami and Emergency Committee for Israel Chairman Bill Kristol had a debate.

Issues discussed were “the Jewish vote, the state of pro-Israel advocacy in America, and the future of what it means to be pro-Israel”.

I highly recommend watching the debate, as it addresses some very crucial issues for the pro-Israel community in the US as well how opinions with regards to Israel are changing.

This is something which we in Israel can  ignore at our peril.