Friday, November 03, 2006

A Kinder, Gentler Alternative To AIPAC?

A kinder, gentler alternative to AIPAC may be in the works.

On board with this is George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and major contributor to, who sent a top staffer to a meeting in September to explore the possibilities, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
The September meeting — and other related meetings — focused on how best to press the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration to back greater U.S. engagement toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and how to better represent American Jews who don’t buy into AIPAC’s often hawkish policies.
This is the same Soros who was criticized in 2003 at a conference on funding for Israel, when he said Israel was partially responsible for the increased anti-Semitism in Europe because of its strong response to Palestinian terrorism during the intifada.

Among those who attended the September meeting were:
David Elcott, the executive director of the Israel Policy Forum, Debra DeLee, president and CEO of Americans for Peace Now; Mara Rudman, a Clinton-era member of the National Security Council and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank; Daniel Levy, a former adviser to dovish Israeli politician Yossi Beilin who now works at the New America Foundation, another Washington think tank; M.J. Rosenberg, director of IPF’s Washington office; Jeremy Rabinovitz, chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), a congresswoman who often backs positions taken by the dovish pro-Israel groups; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, and his deputy, Mark Pelavin; and representatives of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, another dovish, pro-Israel advocacy group.
Apparently, part of the impetus for the project is the result of the success of three of the above groups--IPF, APN and Brit Tzedek--in killing the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, which would have cut off US aid to the Palestinian Authority until it renounced terrorism and recognizes Israel.
...the three dovish groups surprised many members of Congress with the vehemence of their response; Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives said that calls opposing the legislation outpaced those in support by a 3-1 margin.

Additionally, working behind the scenes, the dovish lobbyists helped moderate the Senate version of the act considerably, working in exceptions for assistance to Mahmoud Abbas, the relatively moderate P.A. president, allowing President Bush greater power to waive the sanctions and removing language that would have severely restricted aid to nongovernmental organizations working with the Palestinians.

The differences between the Senate and House versions ultimately were irreconcilable, and the bill never landed on Bush’s desk for signing.

By all appearances, an new advocacy group with such a philosophy behind it has the potential for creating all kinds of sparks as it would go head-to-head against AIPAC, although one of the organizers behind the idea denies it:

One of the organizers of the initiative insisted that the effort was not meant to replace or confront AIPAC.

“It’s kind of like GM and Ford,” said the organizer, who asked not to be identified because the effort was still in the planning stages.

“We put out a model of a product and go into the marketplace of ideas and compete. We are a group of people who are looking for the best way to ensure Israel’s survival and future,” said the organizer, describing the initiative’s aims as favoring a two-state solution and greater U.S. engagement.

“We’re going into existence because this product is not being offered right now. We want to make sure that this point of view has a clear and loud voice.”

If it is being suggested that the idea of a two-state solution "is not being offered right now," that is somewhat naive. If the purpose of the group will be to "make sure that this point of view has a clear and loud voice," the question arises if the problem really is that the point of view needs a clear and loud voice here in the US--or in Gaza and the West Bank.

Besides, GM and Ford can compete without confronting each other because they can sell different cars.
But there is only one Israel.

Based on the actions of groups and individuals associated with this initiative, Caroline Glick sees as their goal the formation of a decidedly anti-Israel lobby and suggests:

Now is the time for the Olmert government to forthrightly announce that the new lobby is not pro-Israel, but rather anti-Israel.

Even if the government does no such thing, Israel’s citizens have a responsibility to explain to the organized American Jewish community and to its umbrella organization, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, that we, the citizens of the largest Jewish community in the world, view these groups as anti-Zionist. Israeli citizens should request an explanation for the inclusion of some of these groups in pro-Israel umbrella organizations like the Conference of Presidents when their goal is to weaken Israel, to weaken Israel’s alliance with the US and to strengthen Israel’s enemies.
In any case, the halls of Washington are going to be getting a little bit more crowded--and not only because of the possible appearance of a 2nd pro-Israel advocacy group. Let's not forget about the Arab lobby:
The Arab lobby in Washington was a major factor behind American pressure on Israel to change its policy of keeping American Arabs out of Judea and Samaria, the London Telegraph reported. American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice objected to the policy, claiming it could drive 35,000 Arabs with American citizenship from their homes.

"A vigorous advocacy campaign by Palestinian-Americans in the United States, echoing the kind usually associated with Washington's pro-Israel groups, is credited with getting the U.S. to pressure Israel," the newspaper stated.
Maybe George Soros and his friends could promote the creation of a dovish pro-Arab advocacy group?

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1 comment:

Gail said...

Sending out a donation to AIPAC with all due haste.