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July 31, 1987 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-07-31

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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22

FRIDAY, JULY 31, 1987

'NY Times' Analyzes
AIPAC's Success

GARY ROSENBLATT

Editor

AIPAC, the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee,
has become "a major force in
shaping U.S. policy in the
Middle East," according to a
lengthy, two-part series on
the pro-Israel lobby in the
New York Times.
AIPAC certainly has
garnered more than its share
of media attention of late,
first as the subject of a front-
page broadside by the Wall
Street Journal suggesting
that AIPAC coordinates cam-
paign contributions made by
a number of Jewish PACs
around the country. Within
days, the Times series ap-
peared, devoting almost two
full pages to AIPAC and tak-
ing a far more positive view
toward the lobby.
Indeed, the Times series,
written by David Shipler,
Robert Pear and Richard
Berke, did not even mention
the connection between
AIPAC and Jewish PACs
other than to state that, ac-
cording to Tom Dine, the
organization's executive
director, AIPAC provides in-
formation on voting records to
AIPAC members, "some of
whom send funds-to pro-Israel
candidates through separate
political action committees?'
Not only was it surprising
to find two major pieces on
the pro-Israel lobby in two of
the most important newspa-
pers in the U.S. within a few
days of each other, but the fact
that they drew such differing
conclusions from their
research and investigations.
Both newspapers concluded
that AIPAC is extraordinari-
ly successful and influential,
but the Times articles at-
tributed this success to a com-
bination of skill, hard work
and sympathy in Washington
rather than to any collusion
between the various Jewish
lobbying groups.
AIPAC's perceived clout is
mighty, the Times noted, and
is credited with influencing
Administration and Congres-
sional foreign policy decisions
as well as political hiring
policies. According to one
anecdote cited by Tom Dine, a
Presidential candidate called
for AIPAC's views on an in-
dividual the candidate was
considering for a top cam-
paign position. AIPAC ap-
proved.
The Times article says
AIPAC's stature and influ-
ence is greater than ever

Tom Dine: focuses on American
foreign policy, not just Israel.

before, having soared during
the Reagan years due to the
Administration's "enthusi-
astic support for Israel as well
as AIPAC's success at
grassroots organizing and its
skillful lobbying."
Ironically, the event that
sparked the tremendous
growth and sophistication of
AIPAC in recent years was
the bitter fight waged be-
tween the pro-Israel lobby
and the Reagan Adminstra-
tion in 1981 over the sale of
AWACS surveillance planes to
Saudi Arabia. The Ad-
ministration prevailed, nar-
rowly, but, as one official
noted: "We blew three fuses
with those guys, and we don't
want to go to the mat with
them again!'
AIPAC gained enormous
respect for its strong and
tenacious opposition. It was
also about that time that the
organization sought to ex-
pand its base and has grown
from 9,000 contributors in
1980 to 55,000 today. The
budget has grown from $1.4
million to $6 million.
Much of the success is
credited to Tom Dine, a
47-year-old former Peace
Corps volunteer who worked
for Democrats on Capitol Hill
for many years before assum-
ing the helm of AIPAC. Dine
says that he didn't come to
the job thinking only about
Israel. "I came to this job
thinking American foreign
policy and how to strengthen
America's position in the
world?'
One key to AIPAC's efforts
is to influence the executive
branch by lobbying skillfully
in Congress. "They bring
clarity of purpose with pas-
sionate commitment to every-
thing they do," says Rep.
Henry Hyde (R-Ill.). "They
are never ambiguous. The
President's foreign policy

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