The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is still one of the most powerful lobby organizations in the country, but fortunately, it is starting to lose its iron-clad grip on our policymakers. AIPAC lost the fight to stop Chuck Hagel from being confirmed as Secretary of Defense; it lost the push for the US military to attack Syria, and it is losing its effort to derail nuclear talks with Iran. In the old days, AIPAC bragged that it could, within 24 hours, get the signatures of 70 Senators on a napkin
if it really wanted to. This year, AIPAC got stuck at 59 cosponsors for its S.1881 sanctions bill - not enough support to force Senator Harry Reid to bring the bill to the floor or to override a threatened presidential veto.
Another sign of AIPAC's waning influence is the fact that this year, at their March 2-4 Policy Conference in Washington DC, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attend but not President Obama or Vice President Joe Biden - both of whom have spoken in past years.
But it's certainly not time to sound the death knell. AIPAC still has a lot of muscle and will keep trying to flex it.
Here's what we have to look forward to coming out of AIPAC 2014:
1. AIPAC continues to gun for a military confrontation with Iran.
AIPAC has been pushing for increased sanctions during these delicate international nuclear talks, a move that would violate the terms of the agreement, signal to Iran that the US negotiating team cannot deliver on its commitments, divide the US from its international negotiating partners, and embolden Iranian hardliners. AIPAC is still pushing for this, but as a backup is trying to set the conditions for the talks. AIPAC's policy would lead us down a path to yet another disastrous war in the Middle East (AIPAC was a big promoter of the war in Iraq - and look how that one turned out!).
2. AIPAC's call for unconditional support for the Israeli government undermines a possible negotiated solution between the Israelis and Palestinians.
AIPAC promotes Israeli policies that are in direct opposition to international law, including the establishment of settlements in the Occupied West Bank and the confiscation of Palestinian land in its construction of the 26-foot high concrete "separation barrier" running through the West Bank. On February 27 Amnesty International published a report called Trigger Happy
providing chilling detail of Israel's use of excessive force in the West Bank. AIPAC's support of these illegal practices is in direct opposition to a negotiated solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict. AIPAC has also been pressuring Secretary of State Kerry to keep the political representatives of Palestinians in Gaza - Hamas - completely out of the peace talks
. How can you come to a negotiated solution if 40 percent of all Palestinians are not represented?