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American Israel Public Affairs Committee: What Is AIPAC and What Does It Do?

Image: American Israel Public Affairs Committee: What Is AIPAC and What Does It Do?
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By    |   Wednesday, 10 Dec 2014 10:36 AM

One of the most powerful advocacy groups in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, works with Congress and seeks to keep Israel strong enough to defend itself.

AIPAC's goal is to enhance the security of Israel and the U.S., according to its website. Critics argue that the organization does so at the expense of U.S. interests and the American economy by siphoning funds for foreign aid and military assistance to Israel.

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Founded in the early 1950s, AIPAC was incorporated in 1963, and started to become a powerful lobby group in the 1970s. The organization works to persuade Congress to include legislation for billions of dollars Israel needs for security assistance and protection from terrorist groups and sworn enemies who have publicly announced their intention to destroy the country.

Aside from lobbying Congress for funding that protects Israel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee encourages its more than 100,000 members to develop relationships with local representatives to educate them on supporting the country and strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship. AIPAC also promotes pro-Israel measures through synagogues, churches, high schools and colleges.

AIPAC receives support from both liberal and conservative politicians, despite being identified with the Republicans and their strong stand on foreign policy issues. Liberal Jewish Democrats often face the difficulty of choosing between defense of Israel through military support and their antiwar leanings. Defensive actions by Israel, such as its incursion into Gaza following rocket attacks by Hamas, have led many Jewish supporters and liberals in general to call for peace negotiations.

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The organization lobbies Congress for funding of Israel’s defense, including the sophisticated Arrow missile system and the Iron Dome missile system to defend Israel against rocket attacks from terrorists. AIPAC lobbied Congress, which approved an additional $225 million for its Iron Dome system during the 2014 conflict in Gaza. The measure received bipartisan support, but critics charge that the lobby is so strong, some politicians had no choice when voting.

Critics try to compare the American Israel Political Affairs Committee with the National Rifle Association because of its influence on Congress. However, the organization has expanded its membership beyond Jewish advocates to include Christian activists who consider Israel a strong ally in the Middle East. High-profile members include former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and Dick Armey, former majority leader in the House of Representatives. AIPAC has also been reaching out to African-Americans and Hispanics for membership.

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One of the most powerful advocacy groups in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, works with Congress and seeks to keep Israel strong enough to defend itself.
american israel public affairs committee, what is, aipac
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2014-36-10
Wednesday, 10 Dec 2014 10:36 AM
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