Opinions & Commentary

AIPAC’s apolitical support of Israel

We are impressed with the success of last week’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee Leadership Dinner, where hundreds upon hundreds of supporters of the State of Israel – both Jewish and non-Jewish – filled the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

Of particular note was the significant number of elected officials in attendance. AIPAC is often tagged as a conservative lobbying group that favors Republicans; yet here, in this bluest of blue states, we found nearly the entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation, including both senators; several state legislators, including prominently liberal members of the “Kosher Caucus”; progressive Democrats representing the City of Boston; and, as the event’s first speaker, the state’s moderate Republican governor.

In supporting Israel, Charlie Baker sidesteps the objections of some of his constituents, who would like to predicate any dealings with the Jewish state on its policies regarding the Palestinians. Since it is AIPAC members’ approach to support financially political candidates who back Israel and oppose those who do not, Baker’s support will no doubt benefit him in the upcoming gubernatorial election, particularly if his opponent takes a position that offers only qualified support for Israel.

As a one-issue lobby that will work with any pro-Israel elected official, regardless of his or her ideology or political affiliation, AIPAC is not inherently conservative; it is apolitical.

The group’s political pragmatism extends to Israel, too. Simply put, it will work with whomever is in power, as well as other Knesset members who support the Jewish state.

The event’s two keynote speakers underscored this point. From the right, MK Dr. Michael Oren, currently deputy minister for diplomacy in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and formerly Netanyahu’s ambassador to the U.S., spoke enthusiastically about the benefits to Israel (and the Palestinians) of the Six Day War, fought 50 years ago this month.

From the left, MK Tzipi Livni, currently co-leader of the Zionist Union and formerly foreign minister, spoke passionately about defending Israel “in a very dangerous neighborhood.” Her comments echoed the consensus heard from the MKs at the Ruderman Knesset town hall meeting last month.

AIPAC’s willingness to work with all MKs does not mean it supports unquestioningly the policies of the Israeli government in power. For example, the group states among its goals continued U.S. involvement in the peace process and officially advocates for a two-state solution, based on direct negotiations between the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

One hundred and fifteen years ago, Theodore Herzl sent Jacob de Haas to Boston to found this newspaper, to advocate for a Jewish state; we continue that work, and commend AIPAC for doing the same.



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