, pronounced "A-pack," is an acronym
n Israel Public Affairs Committee
. They are perhaps the
most prominent, powerful, and devious interest group
influencing the foreign policy
of the United States of America
Prominence? Their web site says that "AIPAC has 65,000 members across all 50 states who are at the forefront of the most vexing issues facing Israel today: stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, fighting terrorism and achieving peace. And above all, ensuring that Israel is strong enough to meet these challenges. For these reasons, The New York Times has called AIPAC the most important organization affecting America's relationship with Israel, while Fortune magazine has consistently ranked AIPAC among America's most powerful interest groups." In fact, in the most recent Fortune survey, only the National Rifle Association, AARP, and NFIB were ranked higher than AIPAC.
Power? "Through more than 2,000 meetings with members of Congress - at home and in Washington - AIPAC activists help pass more than 100 pro-Israel legislative initiatives a year. From procuring nearly $3 billion in aid critical to Israel's security, to funding joint U.S.-Israeli efforts to build a defense against unconventional weapons, AIPAC members are involved in the most crucial issues facing Israel."
Deviousness? In 1984, Republican senator Charles Percy, chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, began to oppose AIPAC on many key Middle Eastern issues. They responded by funding a massive smear campaign against Percy that resulted in his being voted out of office. Democractic senator Robert Byrd later lamented that AIPAC was forcibly keeping pro-Arab views out of Capitol Hill.
Some of the things that AIPAC has accomplished in recent years:
AIPAC currently has 65,000 members in the United States, and commands an annual budget of around $12 million. Its website is www.aipac.org.