Roll Call reports today that teams of AIPAC lobbyists are fanning out across the Capitol in an effort to block sequester cuts for Israeli foreign aid. We’re talking about a $155 million cut from $3.1 billion, for goodness sakes.
Nonetheless, here’s a novel idea that would kill two birds with one stone. Egypt receives about $1.5 billion in foreign aid per year. Additionally, Obama is asking Congress to forgive $1 billion more in debt and grant them another $1 billion loan. He also wants to send them new F-16s and Abrams tanks. The PLO receives about $500 million in aid. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the organization that harbors Palestinian terrorists under the guise of humanitarian aid, receives about $250 million. Why don’t we find $155 million to cut from the aforementioned enemy entities and use it to plug the cuts in the Israel aid package? Better yet, why don’t we cut off funding altogether?
Woops..can’t do that; AIPAC actually opposes any effort to cut off one penny of military or economic aid to the Muslim Brotherhood or PLO.
You see, AIPAC’s government relations team is very similar to the NRA lobbyists. In their desire to achieve broad consensus for their goal, they water down their proposals and oppose even better proposals in order to give cover to Democrats. In the case of the NRA, it is Democrats who claim to be pro-gun; in the case of AIPAC it is Democrats who purport to be pro-Israel. Just yesterday, the NRA declined to score against cloture on the nomination of Catlin Halligan for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. As the Solicitor General for New York, Halligan advanced the argument that gun manufactures should be liable for the deaths of those killed in gun violence.
So why didn’t they score it? Because they knew that not a single Democrat would vote with them on the matter. Scoring against her (like scoring against Obama’s two SCOTUS picks) would blow the cover off of the façade of the pro-gun Democrat. It would also weaken their own power and influence.
AIPAC operates the same way, just with a few added nuances. Over the years, Republicans have introduced numerous bills and resolutions to cut funding to the PLO, place meaningful and consequential sanctions on Iran and those who do business with them (China and Russia), demand that a unilaterally declared Palestinian state not be recognized, and force the State Department to move the embassy to Israel’s real capitol, Jerusalem. AIPAC is either indifferent or actively lobbies against those efforts.
More recently, they had nothing to say when Chuck Hagel became the most anti-Israel Secretary of Defense ever. They actively lobbied against Rand Paul’s amendment to block transfer of planes and tanks to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, weapons which will only be used for one purpose. As we’ve noted before, AIPAC actively opposes any conservative-backed resolution that would actually help Israel, in favor of bipartisan ones with vacuous language.
Why do they do this?
First, in an attempt to ensconce the partisan divide over Israel, they will never support anything that Democrats will not vote for. In fact, they will lobby against it. Second, unlike the NRA team, AIPAC is run by liberal Democrats. AIPAC’s leader, Lee Rosenberg, is a former Obama adviser and prolific fundraiser for him and other leftist causes. This is probably not true of many of their activists, but on a leadership level they all support the creation of a Palestinian state in the heart of Judea and Samaria, even as the Palestinian Authority is currently constituted. They regard the conservative view of cutting off the PLO as an anti-Israel position.
Moreover, like most liberals, they believe that throwing money at the problem is the only answer. They have no problem, and even actively support, the creation of a Palestinian state armed with taxpayer weapons 10 miles from Israel’s major population centers, so long as Israel keeps every nickel of their aid. Furthermore, they choose this path because this is a goal Democrats readily support. More money for Israel; more money for Israel’s enemies, so long as the puerile “peace process” is kept in place and more money is appropriated.
The real issue here is not how much money we give to Israel, but our policy towards Israel and its enemies. What good is foreign aid to Israel if Chuck Hagel will use that aid as leverage to force Israel to take down a security checkpoint? What difference does it make for us to grant Israel an extra $155 million in aid if we send more weapons to their enemies?
To the executives at AIPAC, it makes no difference. As long as Israel gets their money, a Palestinian state is created in any which way, they continue to wield influence, and Democrats are portrayed as pro-Israel, they are satisfied.
Conservatives in Congress should not be satisfied with this dynamic – both from a budgetary and national security standpoint. AIPAC has their agenda, and that is their right. But conservatives should not feel obligated to oblige.