AIPAC surprises with pro-Obama statement
September 25, 2012 | Atara Beck - Israel Correspondent
JERUSALEM – Many within the local community were disturbed by a widely reported statement issued by the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) last week – on the eve of Rosh Hashanah and seven weeks before the coming American elections – that seemingly endorsed US President Barack Obama for a second term.
According to the AIPAC statement, which praised the Obama administration’s “steadfast support” for Israel, “President Obama and the bipartisan, bicameral congressional leadership have deepened America’s support for Israel in difficult times.”
AIPAC describes itself as “America’s pro-Israel lobby,” and its membership includes individuals across the political spectrum. Taking into account the tension between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a number of major issues, including the Iranian nuclear threat, the AIPAC statement was controversial.
Among the achievements cited by AIPAC on its website is the “passage of more than a dozen bills and resolutions imposing tough sanctions on Iran during the past 15 years…. America must exert economic pressure on the regime and slow its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.”
Netanyahu has asserted numerous times that sanctions have not worked and that Iran continues to build its nuclear capability.
“We have no public comment about this media inquiry,” David Baker, senior foreign press coordinator, the Prime Minister’s Office, responded to the Jewish Tribune’s query about the statement by AIPAC, which claims to be lobbying for Israel’s best interests.
In a telephone conversation with the Tribune, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said, “Considering Obama’s troubling record on Israel, his public claim of support for Israel is as meaningful as that of a husband who professes love for his wife and treats her badly.”
Marc Zell, co-chairman of Republicans Abroad in Israel, told the Tribune, “I believe that AIPAC has apparently made a determination that Obama is likely to win the election and decided, in order not to cede the field to J-Street, to come out and basically endorse the president. I think if they were really interested in making a bipartisan statement, they would have included Romney as well, although they did mention the bipartisan support of Congress. Given that the election is so close and the Jewish vote may determine the election in certain states, I think the AIPAC statement at this time was inappropriate. I disagree that Obama will likely win; it’s not clear at all, but they seem to have made that determination.”
Others skeptical of a sure victory for the Democrats include, for example, popular blogger Steven Kurlander of Kurly’s Kommentary, who wrote that the “time left to election day is a political eternity, and Romney can still win – and win big – in November.”
According to Jonathan Tobin, senior online editor of Commentary magazine, “there is still plenty of time before November for an aggressive Romney push against the media’s double standards to undermine their narrative about him being finished.”
The Tribune contacted AIPAC for comment but got no reply before deadline.