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December 16, 1994 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-12-16

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

ake your dreams come true

Revamping AIPAC

JAMES D. BESSER WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

sions that bring members and
their staffs to Israel."
Shifting resources toward
Capitol Hill may end the persis-
tent internal debate between ad-
vocates of an increased focus on
administration lobbying and
those who want to return AIPAC
to its roots by emphasizing the
Congressional function.
The group will also revamp its
newsletter, the Near East Report.
The weekly publication will be-
come a bi-weekly, Mr. Sher said,
and offer more in-depth analyses.
The changes were prompted by
the grim economic prospects fac-
ing all pro-Israel groups and by
the sweeping political changes
that will redefine such issues as
the annual battle to protect Is-
rael's foreign aid.
Mr. Sher also brought World
Jewish Congress chairman
Edgar
Bronfman into the AIPAC fold.
This could potentially boost
AIPAC's sagging budget — and
provide some protection for Mr.
Sher in AIPAC's always-raging
internal wars.
"I thought it was important for
him to get involved, and not just
as a contributor," said Mr.
Sher, who, while chief of the Jus-
tice
Department's Office of Special
Investigations, developed a close
relationship with Mr. Bronfman.
Neal Sher
"He understands the importance
the story. AIPAC has trimmed of the American Jewish commu-
about 18 employees at the na- nity being fully engaged politi-
tional and regional levels. Al- cally."
though Mr. Sher declined to
estimate how much money will
be saved, sources suggest that be-
tween $1.5 and $2 million will be
pared from AIPAC's $15 million
annual budget.
Several weeks ago, Jewish and
Most of the laid-off employees evangelical leaders, meeting in
are in support positions and no Washington, pledged to work to-
senior staffers are affected. gether when their interests coin-
AIPAC will also shift some of
cided. Last week, the
its grassroots organizing func- always-controversial Rev. Jesse
tions to field offices around the
Jackson provided the first test of
country.
that new relationship with com-
More importantly, the re- ments suggesting that the Chris-
structuring will strengthen tian Coalition was involved in the
AIPAC's Capitol Hill operation. rise of the Nazis in Germany.
Ester Kurz, who left her position
Mr. Jackson's comments,
as chief lobbyist last year for a which came during a meeting
part-time position planning leg- with the editorial board of the
islative strategy, will return to
provoked an
work full time. She'll team up Chicago Sun Times,
immediate
outcry
from
the Chris-
with chief lobbyist Arne Chris- tian Coalition, the political
arm
tenson to plan tactics for the up- of the Rev. Pat Robertson's min-
coming free-for-all in Congress.
In the coming weeks, AIPAC istries.
Mr. Jackson told the editorial
will also add another senior lob- board that the group, which was
byist.
formed in 1989, "was a strong
Mr. Sher said that AIPAC will force in Germany. ... The Christ-
also place more emphasis on ed- ian
ucating new members, and that,
Coalition was very much in ev-
in addition to strengthening lob- idence there."
bying, the organization "will be
In subsequent interviews, Mr.
increasing the congressional mis- Jackson indicated that he was

ince becoming executive di-
rector of the American Is-
rael Public Affairs
Committee (AIPAC) last
March, Neal Sher has taken an
especially low profile. This has
led some AIPAC watchers to ask
about the strength of his leader-
ship. But last week, Mr. Sher
ended such speculation with a se-
ries of cuts and consolidations in-
tended to streamline the
pro-Israel lobby in preparation
for next year's legislative show-
downs.
The numbers tell only part of

S

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