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Israel Lobby in Washington: Notable Efforts to Influence US Policy

By    |   Wednesday, 19 Nov 2014 07:36 PM

Disagreements may still arise among supporters and opponents of the Israel lobby, but advocates of a strong Israel continue to succeed in influencing U.S. foreign policy.

Among the most notable moves to help shape foreign policy was the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center, established by media mogul Haim Saban, a think tank with the annual Saban Forum for experts and policymakers on the Middle East. Saban is no longer associated with the center, but continues the Saban Forum. According to the Jewish Daily Forward, he has been a supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, but was critical of President Obama’s outreach to Iran.

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American supporters of Israel also try to make inroads with Washington groups not normally associated with their views. The Israel Institute has become a big donor of the liberal Center for American Progress for fellows conducting research on Israeli issues.

AIPAC, the American Israel Political Affairs Committee, sometimes causes controversy because of its aggressive approaches in getting Congress to support legislation that favors Israel. It worked with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy for several years, but has stopped funding it. However, donors still contribute to both organizations. Even disagreements don’t interfere with the Israel lobby influencing U.S. policy for the good of Israel.

According to Commentary Magazine, AIPAC still remains a positive force in getting things done for the sake of Israel in Washington. The lobby group was able to help speed up funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system during the conflict in Gaza. The funding received quick approval from both sides of the aisle, including Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, suggesting AIPAC can convince politicians and the public that Israel remains a firm American ally.

Concerned about a new generation of American Jews who don’t feel linked to the Israeli cause, the Israel lobby aims to expand its core base by attracting others who believe Israel remains a force in U.S. policy. AIPAC has been reaching out to conservative Christians, Hispanics and African-Americans, particularly younger people and students, with messages, conferences and programs about the positive nature of a strong U.S.-Israeli relationship in the world.

The results seem to be working for the Israel lobby. The Jewish Press reports a poll of American Jews by J Street, a left-leaning political action committee, reveals that a majority looks at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu favorably. Concerned Women for America and Gov. Mike Huckabee’s America Takes Action joined together for a Washington rally to support Israel following terrorist attacks by Hamas and to show that a strong Israel helps U.S. foreign policy in a dangerous world.

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Disagreements may still arise among supporters and opponents of the Israel lobby, but advocates of a strong Israel continue to succeed in influencing U.S. foreign policy.
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2014-36-19
Wednesday, 19 Nov 2014 07:36 PM
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