AIPAC lobbies Congress to protect aid to Israel

AIPACBy Ran Dagoni

With the sequester about to take a big bite out of the Pentagon’s budget, the American-Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is lobbying Congress to exempt US military aid to Israel, reports “The New York Jewish Week” correspondent Douglas Bloomfield, a AIPAC chief lobbyist for ten years, and now an independent consultant.

“The New York Jewish Week” says that AIPAC will send thousands of its citizen lobbyists, who are participating in its annual policy conference, which begins on Sunday, to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to promote the organization’s agenda, including exempting US military aid to Israel from the sequester.

Bloomfield warns, “This could prove a very risky strategy at a time when millions of Americans will be feeling the bite of the sequestration debacle, from the defense budget to the school lunch program. But not aid to Israel, which will be untouched if AIPAC gets its way. This resolution could easily backfire and damage Israel far more than any cuts in its very generous grant aid program. ”

“Huffington Post” blogger M.J. Rosenberg writes in response, “At one time I wouldn’t have believed AIPAC would dare try something this bold. That is because traditionally AIPAC has been very cautious about not seeming to take actions that suggested putting Israel’s interests over America’s. Demanding that Israel be exempt from cuts that virtually every American will feel seems so counterproductive as to almost be suicidal for the lobbying powerhouse.

“Nonetheless, everything I hear indicates that Bloomfield is right although I doubt AIPAC will have the gall to insist on insulating AIPAC from the cuts that will occur in this year’s budget. More likely, it will wait until Congress is putting the 2014 cuts in place (there is more Congressional discretion in allotting the pain after 2013) before demanding not just that Israel go to the head of the line but that it not be forced to stand in the line at all.

“No matter when Israel is exempted, and by how much, it is wrong and would represent nothing more than another power play by the lobby. After all, a cut of $175 million out of a $3 billion US grant is nothing that Israel can’t handle.”

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