This past week AIPAC found a way to alienate just about everyone in the American political world.
After the group’s decision to run Facebook ads calling out some Democrats as "radicals" and "anti-Semitic" only to apologize for doing so, both liberals and conservatives were disgusted with the pro-Israel lobby, accusing it of political bias as well as incompetence. But while there was much to criticize about its choices, maybe it’s time to acknowledge that in the 2020 election year, AIPAC has been given an impossible task with no possible path to success.
AIPAC’s Facebook ad calling “radicals” in the Democratic Party “anti-Israel” and “anti-Semitic” Facebook
The problem facing the pro-Israel lobby is that the political climate simply isn’t conducive to the way it has carried out its mission for the last several decades. In more normal political times, it was easy for the group to act as an umbrella group uniting supporters of Israel from the right, left and center behind a common agenda of support for Israel’s government and the Jewish state’s security.
While it has long been accused of having a right-wing bias, that was largely a myth. AIPAC’s core operating principle was an effort to curry favor on both sides of the aisle.
Supporters in every state and congressional district in the United States had marching orders to cultivate friendships with any politician who might wind up in Congress,and the result was a powerful network that was fueled in part by donations and personal influence. But it also worked because both Republicans and Democrats rightly understood that support for Israel among American voters was a function of broad and popular consensus.
AIPAC has done its best to nurture that consensus with an almost religious insistence on bipartisanship even when that meant their support for a two-state solution was not quite in step with the Likud-led coalition that has governed Israel for the past 11 years.
Threading that needle was often difficult. But in 2020 it may actually be impossible.