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By distancing itself from Jerusalem on annexation, the lobby is creating a crisis for the pro-Israel community, no matter who wins the next U.S. election

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference. Credit: Haim Zach/GPO.

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Some 25 years ago, I sat in on a briefing of some pro-Israel activists conducted by Steve Rosen, who was then AIPAC’s director of foreign-policy issues. It was the heyday of the Oslo Accords, in which the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was gambling on the willingness of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Yasser Arafat to make peace. Some of those present were opponents of the agreement and were deeply frustrated by the lobby’s support for the peace process, which they believed was harming the Jewish state.

Rosen’s reply to those present that day was clear: AIPAC’s job is to support the policies of the government of Israel. Period. If you don’t like what that government is doing, then tell your friends in Israel who oppose Rabin to win the next election. Until then, anyone connected to the lobby had two choices: Get on board with the group’s support for Oslo or shut up.

There was some irony in that pronouncement since Rabin believed that AIPAC wasn’t wholeheartedly cheerleading for a course of action that ultimately proved to be folly. But Rosen was right when he said that the lobby viewed its job as making the case for the government of Israel’s policies, whether the group’s leaders liked them or not.

That was just as true in the early 1990s, when Rabin and Shimon Peres were seeking a “New Middle East” in which the Palestinians would embrace peace as it was under all the Israeli governments that followed as Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and then Netanyahu again took control in Jerusalem. During every twist and turn in Israeli policy over that quarter century, the lobby faithfully stuck to the brief that Rosen had mapped out. When Israel’s voters put in place leaders that backed the Oslo approach, AIPAC instructed its professionals and their volunteer activists throughout the nation to tell members of the House and Senate to support that line. When Israel’s policies changed, so did AIPAC’s marching orders.

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That was just as true in the early 1990s, when Rabin and Shimon Peres were seeking a “New Middle East” in which the Palestinians would embrace peace as it was under all the Israeli governments that followed as Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and then Netanyahu again took control in Jerusalem. During every twist and turn in Israeli policy over that quarter century, the lobby faithfully stuck to the brief that Rosen had mapped out. When Israel’s voters put in place leaders that backed the Oslo approach, AIPAC instructed its professionals and their volunteer activists throughout the nation to tell members of the House and Senate to support that line. When Israel’s policies changed, so did AIPAC’s marching orders.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS—Jewish News Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter on @jonathans_tobin.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

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