The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel group long seen as one of the most powerful organizations in Washington, is reportedly blaming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in March for the imminent passage of the Iran deal.
An unnamed AIPAC official is said to have told an Israeli news source that “Netanyahu’s speech in Congress made the Iranian issue a partisan one,” rallying Democrats to support the deal.
But it was Obama, not Netanyahu, who made the deal a partisan issue. And AIPAC shares the blame for the loss.
Rather than insisting the Iran deal be approved by a two-thirds vote in the Senate, as required by the Constitution, AIPAC enthusiastically backed the Corker bill, which lowered the threshold for passage to the one-third vote in both houses needed to sustain a presidential veto.
AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr wrote at the time that with the Corker bill, “Congress assures itself a seat at the table in deliberations on any nuclear agreement with Iran.” Instead, Congress assured that it would be ignored. Worse, AIPAC opposed amendments to the Corker bill that could have improved the deal.
AIPAC also bears the blame in that its broader political strategy, which depended on preserving a bipartisan image while cultivating influence within the Obama administration, failed. It lowered the bar for members of Congress to claim the “pro-Israel” label while radical groups like J Street and CAIR dragged the Democratic Party far to the left.
Now, AIPAC has lost. For the benefit of the organization and the pro-Israel cause, Kohr should resign. And instead of blaming Netanyahu, AIPAC must accept responsibility.