John Hudson of Foreign Policy pours scorn (Update: see below) on the American Israel Public Affair Committee (AIPAC) for raising questions about Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)’s opposition to new sanctions on Iran (to take effect if and when the interim nuclear deal fails). How is it possible, Hudson wonders, that a Jewish Democrat who prides herself on her pro-Israel record is now being targeted by AIPAC? The implication, reinforced by choice quotes from former AIPAC lobbyist is that AIPAC is becoming a more partisan, i.e. Republican, outfit.
Rubbish. If anything, AIPAC has bent over backwards to avoid antagonizing the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. The organization sat on its hands during the Hagel nomination, for example, and recently faced accusations that it had not been active enough on the issue of new Iran sanctions, which Obama has said he will veto. The risk to its traditional partisanship has been entirely in the opposite direction–i.e. it has been unusually charitable to Democrats in their increasingly creative definitions of what it means to be “pro-Israel.”
There is a simple explanation for AIPAC’s behavior–and probably the one AIPAC would give itself, were it inclined to comment on such stories: namely, that the organization does not focus on parties or personalities, but on policies. AIPAC’s most important policy for the past fifteen years has been preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. Wasserman Schultz is in the crosshairs precisely because she is one of the few standing in the way of a strong bipartisan consensus on that policy. Those arguing otherwise likely prefer its recent Democratic drift.
Update: Hudson responds on Twitter, clarifying that he is not taking sides in this particular dispute:
@joelpollak Just wanted to make clear that I didn’t personally pass judgement on AIPAC, rather, the individuals I quoted in the piece did
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) January 24, 2014