‘What does AIPAC pressure feel like?’

M.J. Rosenberg on the AIPAC push to strike Syria:

So what does AIPAC pressure feel like? How does it work?

I called a friend who is a foreign policy aide to a House member and, after I promised not to identify him in any form, he told me this.

First come the phone calls from constituents who are AIPAC members. They know the Congressman and are nice and friendly and just tell him, or whichever staffer the constituent knows, just how important this vote is to him and his friends back in the district.

Then the donors call. The folks who have hosted fundraisers. They are usually not only from the district but from New York or LA or Chicago. They repeat the message: this vote is very important.

Contrary to what you might expect, they do not mention campaign money. They don’t have to.  Because these callers are people who only know the Congressman through their checks, the threat not to write any more of them is implicit. Like the constituents, the donors are using AIPAC talking points which are simple and forceful. You can argue with them but they keep going back to the script. Did I mention the rabbis?  We only have a few in our district but we get calls from all of them and from other rabbis from around the state.

Then there are the AIPAC lobbyists, the professional staffers. They come in, with or without appointments. If the Congressman is in, they expect to see him immediately. If not, they will see a staffer. If they don’t like what they hear, they will keep coming back. They are very aggressive, no other lobby comes close, They expect to see the Member, not mere staff.

Then there are the emails driven by the AIPAC website, the editorials in the one Jewish newspaper we have in our state. And then the “Dear Colleague” letters from Jewish House members saying how important the vote is for Israel and America. They also will buttonhole the Members on the House floor. Because my boss is not Jewish, he tends to defer to his Jewish colleagues. It is like they are the experts on this.  And, truth be told, all the senior Jewish Members of the House are tight with AIPAC.  Also, the two biggest AIPAC enforcers, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and his Democatic counterpart, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, are fierce AIPAC partisans, and they make sure to seek out Members on the floor to tell them how they must vote.  On anything related to Israel, they speak in one voice: AIPAC’s.

My friend concluded:

Obviously, there is no counterpart to this on the antiwar side. No anti-AIPAC to speak of.  AIPAC owns this issue. It gets what it wants. It will get this and, sad to say, my boss, who hates the idea of using more war as a means to end war, will probably vote “yes.” He says he will never support an attack on Iran but, when the time comes, this Syria push will look like nothing. Syria is just a tactic for AIPAC. But its #1 goal, at least from the vantage point of Capitol Hill, is war with Iran.

Yeah, it’s scary.

3 thoughts on “‘What does AIPAC pressure feel like?’

  1. The people from Ur-anus speak. About firing 200 cruise missiles at the people of Syria: “I don’t believe this is taking America to war.” John Kerry. About red lines: “I didn’t set a red line.” Obama. About the logic of the 1%: “If the President does it, it’s not illegal.” Richard Nixon. About their love for war: The Zionists (AIPAC) are 100% behind Obama’s push to bomb Syria. And Iran.

  2. Warning this is a rant! What do AIPAC, the NRA and the Tea Party have in common? They are feared. They don’t give a shit that they are despised. It’s their way or they will slit your throat. We rant and vent, stomp our little feet and hold our breath till we turn blue, then we vote for the buggers anyways. These are the political known knowns of this process. It makes progressives pathetic and irrelevant. In a closely divided polity anyone willing to play hardball has disproportionate heft. The Democrats’ advantage in national elections is that they can pander to the undecided with no fear of retribution. They “govern” accordingly. Barrack sounds like George II because he holds us in utter contempt (“the professional left”, remember). War, Banks, Grand Bargains, Israel, taxes, health care, trade agreements, we flat out have nothing to say because our votes are in the bag. So we gasp in horror at the political stranglehold that the wingers have on the Republican Party. Well they not only control the Party but they have commandeered a passel of the Statehouses, while we sit around and tut-tut. We will get nothing until we develop the nerve to wreck the train.

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