Like Republicans who talk a lot but do nothing, AIPAC is in the business of pretending to be relevant.
The myth of the powerful pro-Israel lobby that controls American foreign policy serves the organization's interests, and those of the Republican and Democratic politicians who troop down there to check their Jewish box and move on. It is a myth that AIPAC cultivates to conceal its uselessness.
Everyone from the anti-Israel left to AIPAC have a vested stake in perpetuating the myth of the powerful pro-Israel lobby, but the myth falls apart when looking at actual results.
AIPAC doesn’t produce results. Like the ADL, it’s a machine for generating donations and political speeches. The less AIPAC stands for, the more it can perpetuate the myth of its influence by attracting more politicians to attend and praise its leadership in return for AIPAC dubbing them pro-Israel. It’s a lobbyist love fest that isn’t unique to AIPAC, but AIPAC is unique in the gap between its function and its power.
The AIPAC influence so often written about in the Israelphobesphere consists of little more than donations from members traded for speeches by politicians.
AIPAC’s secret is that it avoids fights. And it avoids fights by avoiding controversial issues. When it does try to stand its ground, it invariably gets slapped down. And this time around it didn’t stand its ground.
Sanctions were an easy sale, especially after Iran’s insane leadership insisted on threatening America and vowed that the Shiite superpower would never dismantle its nuclear program.
Despite bipartisan Senate leadership, support from mainstream Democrats and polls showing that the majority of Americans were unhappy with Obama’s Iran policy, AIPAC choked and called for delaying a vote on Iran sanctions. From the Huffington Post to The Nation, Israelphobes are celebrating their nuclear victory, but it’s a worthless victory over a phantom lobby whose political power is imaginary.
AIPAC wasn’t in the driver’s seat on sanctions. If it had been, it would have backed off even earlier and the sanctions would not have gotten as far as they did. It was the leadership of Mark Kirk and Bob Menendez that mattered far more than AIPAC.
Obama Inc. understood that with enough pushback it could force Democrats to choose between sanctions and their party. And AIPAC, terrified of turning Israel into a “partisan issue,” quickly backed down and urged succumbing to Harry Reid’s demented dictatorship. And so AIPAC isolated Republicans, gave Democrats cover for further delays and, in the name of avoiding partisanship, isolated itself.
AIPAC’s kryptonite is controversy, and a lobby that claims to support Israel but avoids controversy is as useful as a camel prone to heatstroke or a race car that can’t go above 5 miles an hour.
What AIPAC does best is allow politicians to pretend to be pro-Israel by giving a speech or signing on to a meaningless letter and then backing out when a genuinely important issue is on the line.