A variety of leaders have helped the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in its goals to keep Israel secure with the aid of the U.S.
Here are six key players who have guided AIPAC during its controversial years:
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CEO Howard Kohr was named AIPAC’s executive director in 1996
and has played an important role in building relationships with representatives in Washington
. He has helped the lobby group successfully get Congress to raise millions of dollars in funding for Israel each year as well as assisting in legislation for sanctions against terrorist states. He is the son of a Dachau concentration camp survivor who later went on to fight in Israel’s war of independence. He has said that the situation in the Middle East today is more unstable than at any time in the last 100 years, making strong U.S.-Israel relations essential.
Michael Kassen, AIPAC’s chairman of the board and former president
, stresses that Israel is surrounded by enemies and threatened with conflict with no resolution around the corner. Israel cannot look to an ally in Europe and Asia, but has the U.S. to count on to face its challenges, as well as for the security of the U.S. He encourages members and friends of AIPAC to work toward the goal of having America continue its stand by Israel’s side.
Marshall Wittmann was named AIPAC’s spokesman in 2012
after his experience working with Democrats, Republicans, and independents in Washington. His background includes working as communications director for former Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, and Sen. John McCain, Republican of Arizona. Wittman also served with the Democratic Leadership Council for the Democratic Party. In a New Yorker
article, Wittmann points out that AIPAC has no loyalties to any party and remains bipartisan.
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Robert Cohen became president of the American Israel Political Affairs Committee in 2014, speaking to some 14,000 delegates at the organization’s annual policy conference at the Washington Convention Center. He told the audience
that the “Palestinians must prepare their population to make the necessary compromises with Israel.”
Steven J. Rosen
, a former AIPAC executive, worked as a lobbyist for the group for two decades and now writes for the Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipe’s think tank. Rosen was forced to leave AIPAC in 2005 during a federal investigation of passing sensitive information to Israel, but the charges were later dropped. Although he has had disagreements with AIPAC since he left, he still endorses many of its views. He once said he could get signatures of support for the Israel lobby from senators at any Senate hangout, according to the New Yorker
, a lobbyist for Zionist organizations in the U.S., helped found AIPAC in the 1950s before it became incorporated in 1963. He served as chairman of the organization in 1974-75 and was an honorary chairman for the American Israel Political Affairs Committee from 1975 until his death in 1988.
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