As promoter of Israeli policy in US, AIPAC should register as a Foreign Agent
Leaders of the organization American Muslims for Palestine urged the U.S. Government to review the activities of AIPAC, the foreign Israel lobby, to determine if it should be treated as a foreign agent and be scrutinized more closely.
As the annual convention for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee draws to a close today, the American Muslims for Palestine, a national education and advocacy organization, questions AIPAC’s status as a lobby organization and takes to task the presidential candidates who degraded themselves with pandering, sycophantic speeches at its convention over the past two days.
Despite some analysts’ predictions AIPAC was losing influence when it failed in diverting President Barack Obama’s Iran deal last year, four out of the five remaining presidential candidates appeared at the Washington DC Convention Center to pledge their fealty to Israel in ways that contravened US foreign policy, weakened our moral stance and seriously called into question the American role in pursuing Mideast peace as an ‘honest broker.’
AMP condemns in the harshest terms candidates’ pledges to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, to ‘rip up the Iran deal,’ to criminalize the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement – all part of AIPAC’s platform — as well as their false characterizations of Palestinians as violent and their absolute silence on Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies. They sold our American values of liberty, democracy and self-determination for pro-Israel votes and money during the AIPAC’s convention, whose leaders once were arrested for espionage and handing over US intelligence to Israel, putting the interests of a foreign government ahead of the interests and values of their own country. The charges against AIPAC employees Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman were dropped; Lawrence Franklin, the Pentagon employee who passed the information to AIPAC, which allegedly gave it to Israel, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, according to news reports.
The lobby organization has no compunction in meddling in US policy issues and has done so repeatedly, from the appearance of a plethora of anti-BDS bills in state legislatures, as well as in Congress, to trying to sabotage the Iran Deal and pressing for more US aid to Israel. Its self-stated mission is to “strengthen, protect and promote the US Israeli relationship in ways that enhance the security of Israel and the US.” What it more accurately does is to influence legislation in favor of Israel even over American interests.
AIPAC appears closely tied to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and his far-right Likud party. Indeed, during the Iran Deal negotiations last year a “senior Democrat” told the New Yorker magazine: “’There are people in AIPAC who believe that it should be an arm of the Likud, an arm of the Republican Party.’” And some analysts say the organization should register as a foreign agent instead of as a lobby organization, which has looser reporting requirements. Even leaders of major establishment Zionist organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, feared a 2004 espionage FBI probe would result in it having to register as a foreign agent, according to the Forward. Throughout the years, attempts by a US senator, a former CIA chief and activist organizations to compel AIPAC to register as a foreign agent have fallen short.
AIPAC has more than 100,000 members, at least 17 regional offices and an expansive pool of wealthy donors, according to the New Yorker magazine. But it’s nearly impossible to track how much money it spends on candidates and influencing policy and legislation. Its annual revenue in 2014 was nearly $78 million and it spent more than $11 million to support “the lobbying and education mission of AIPAC,” according to its IRS 1099 tax form. That figure is not broken down and the tax form’s Schedule C enumerating “Political Campaigns and Lobbying Activity” is blank. Registering as a foreign agent would change that and force the organization not only to disclose how it disburses its funds but also the source of its revenue.
We need elected officials who put the values and lives of American citizens above that of a foreign country. AIPAC’s meddling is divisive and disruptive and the presidential candidates’ pandering is abhorrent. It is time for clarity and transparency and to question the status of one of the largest lobby organizations in the United States.