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AIPAC Is Hurting Israel, Jews, and Middle-East Peace

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At the risk of being called a self-hating Jew I have come to the conclusion that AIPAC is hurting the cause that it was supposed to advance when it was formed in 1953. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is an American special interest group that lobbies the United States Congress and White House in favor of maintaining a close U.S.-Israel relationship.

Describing itself as "America's Pro-Israel Lobby," it is a mass-membership organization including primarily Jews, but also non-Jews, Democrats, Republicans, and independents. AIPAC was formed during the Eisenhower administration, and since then has helped secure American aid and support to Israel. In 1997, Fortune magazine asked Congressmen to rank the "25 most powerful" lobbying organizations in DC. In 2005, the National Journal did the same. Both times, AIPAC came in 2nd - ahead of, for instance, the AFL-CIO and the NRA, but behind the AARP. In 2001, it came in 4th on the Fortune list.

All the good that they had done for Israel in their early days has now been offset by the power they have established in the D.C. community. As with any powerful lobby, there is a tendency for such groups to bully their way through the Congress to achieve its goal. And AIPAC is no worse or better than the NRA and other such self-interest groups. While AIPAC is primarily a Jewish organization, I am aware that most liberal Jews hate what they are doing and the tactics that they are using. Since over 70% of American Jews are liberal, I believe that AIPAC is not representing the views of most of the Jewish community. I have talked to many in Congress who are both Jews and non-Jews and they have all told me how difficult it is to deal with AIPAC. Most would vote for aid to Israel without AIPAC.

The fact is that the foreign aid that goes primarily to Israel and Egypt has almost unanimous support in Congress. Most of that is military. Unfortunately, AIPAC has blinders as to what constitutes real aid to Israel. And military aid is not the only answer either to Israel or Egypt. The money would be better spent on a more balanced allocation between military and economic development. Unfortunately, AIPAC has completely lost its objectivity about what is good for Israel.

My parents were immigrants from Poland where they suffered greatly due to anti-Semitism. Most of that anti-Semitism was caused by the anti-Jewish preachings of Christianity for nearly 2,000 years. It is only in the last 100 years that Islam has adopted the anti-Jewish position held by Europe as a result of the Zionist movement. And that movement was adopted because of the European oppression of the Jews, which caused Theodore Herzl to come to the conclusion that Jews would never be free in a Christian society. It is widely believed that Herzl was motivated by the Dreyfus Affair, a notorious anti-Semitic incident in France in which a French Jewish army captain was falsely convicted of spying for Germany. Herzl had been covering the trial of Dreyfus for an Austro-Hungarian newspaper. He also witnessed mass rallies in Paris following the Dreyfus trial where many chanted "Death To The Jews!", and in June, 1895, he wrote in his diary: "In Paris, as I have said, I achieved a freer attitude toward anti-Semitism... Above all, I recognized the emptiness and futility of trying to 'combat' anti-Semitism."

Unfortunately, the movement to migrate Jews to Palestine created a geopolitical adversary in the Muslim dominated Middle East, which had also been oppressed by European colonialism. Unfortunately, the Allies after WW II refused to allow free immigration for over 500,000 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and accordingly these displaced persons had no choice but to immigrate to Palestine. These so-called DP camps were almost as bad as any of the concentration camps that they survived.

It is true that Truman did recognize Israel despite the fact that he and his wife were anti-Semites. However, Truman's position regarding Israel was not so altruistic. He did not want or allow free immigration of the DPs of Europe. The Cubans after Castro took power were allowed free immigration into the U.S. for about as many as the Jewish DPs in Europe. That is another example of Western hypocrisy when it comes to the Jews.

The Jewish communities around the world have made wonderful contributions to civil and human rights. In addition, no community has a better record of standing up for and actively being involved in humane causes and opposing racism and intolerance throughout the world. That is why I believe that AIPAC is now advocating the very intolerance and violence that the Jewish communities have fought against for centuries. They have now become what most thoughtful Jews would describe as anti-Jewish bullies who even attack other Jews for having differences with them. It is time for AIPAC to understand that the only real help for Israel comes from the peace process and not fascist type tactics. AIPAC does not represent me or most of the views of the Jewish community.



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Sheldon Drobny was the co-founder of Nova M radio and Air America Radio. He has supported many philanthropic causes. Mr. Drobny specializes in business and tax matters and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court as a non-attorney. Less (more...)
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