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AIPAC’s Influence in Washington Is Declining

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
August 2014

In Washington, where the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has long wielded political clout because it identified itself as representing the views of the American Jewish community, the realization seems to be growing that this is not the case.  
A survey of Washington political insiders reveals that AIPAC is losing influence, opening the doors for more moderate Middle East voices to get a chance at influencing U.S. policy.  
The poll was conducted by Zogby Analytics for Avaaz, an online activist organization that is critical of AIPAC and supports Jewish peace groups. According to Avaaz official Ian Bassinet, the poll “shows a growing number of the Washington establishment see a damaging, partisan lobby on the decline.”  
The poll quizzed Capitol Hill staff members, NGO and think tank leaders, journalists and government officials, Zogby found that 31 per cent said AIPAC has more influence than it should, 30 per cent said it was “just the right amount,” and only 8 per cent said it has less influence than it should have. Some 33 per cent had no opinion. More insiders thought AIPAC’s influence is falling rather than rising.  
The survey found that of those expressing an opinion, three times as many believe that AIPAC has more influence than it should — a possible indicator, writes Paul Bedard in the Washington Examiner (March 6, 2014), “that Washington may be tiring of decades of hard-line U.S. negotiating tactics on behalf of Israel … The group’s influence has been questioned … especially after it got in a tussle with Florida Rep, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic Party.”  
According to the Examiner, “About 45 per cent said they have at least once seen a member of Congress take a position on an issue that was not in the public interest because of AIPAC’s influence. More than 50 per cent of those expressing an opinion agreed with the statement, ‘AIPAC is the NRA of Middle East policy.’ The poll also found evidence of a perception of AIPAC’s political bias, with respondents seeing it aligned with the GOP more than Democrats by a 2-1 margin.” •

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