Guess which side they're pressing? If you guessed pro-war, you're right! On Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported that a senior official with AIPAC said the organization was deploying in order to lobby congress for support for war authorization in Syria. According to the AIPAC official,
the organization’s leadership received a phone call from a senior White House official on Saturday, after the president’s surprise announcement that he would be seeking congressional authorization for a Syria strike, asking what AIPAC's position would be on a congressional resolution. This official said the lobby received similar calls from Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate...the message was clear that AIPAC’s participation in the lobbying effort to pass the authorization “would be helpful.”
Wow, sounds like AIPAC was just minding its own business when it got dragged into taking a stand on Syria just this week, instead of having lobbied tirelessly for 10 years to destabilize Syria (AIPAC lobbied hard for The Syria Accountability Act, which congress passed in 2003. The act bans all US exports to Syria except food and medicine, bans all passenger, cargo, and all other flights to and from the United States, restricts the Commercial Bank of Syria's relations with US banks and cuts diplomatic relations with the United States. Gee, no wonder an attempt at a diplomatic solution is a no-go. No diplomatic relations!)
In any case, on Tuesday, AIPAC released a statement, which reads in part:
AIPAC urges Congress to grant the president the authority he has requested to protect America’s national security interests and dissuade the Syrian regime’s further use of unconventional weapons. The civilized world cannot tolerate the use of these barbaric weapons, particularly against an innocent civilian population including hundreds of children. Simply put, barbarism on a mass scale must not be given a free pass.”As the Politico article linked to above notes, nowhere in AIPAC's statement is Israel mentioned, most probably (according to Politico) because AIPAC doesn't want to be seen as lobbying for a war in the interests of Israel.
So why is AIPAC getting on board? Another quote from AIPAC's statement:
America’s allies and adversaries are closely watching the outcome of this momentous vote. This critical decision comes at a time when Iran is racing toward obtaining nuclear capability...Failure to approve this resolution would weaken our country’s credibility to prevent the use and proliferation of unconventional weapons and thereby greatly endanger our country’s security and interests and those of our regional allies.And what does it mean that AIPAC is now lobbying congress on the war authorization? Well, it may mean the whip count that Meteor Blades has been documenting might soon disappoint. MJ Rosenberg, a former AIPAC lobbyist, wrote on his blog on Wednesday:
I called a friend who is a foreign policy aide to a House member and, after I promised not to identify him in any form, he told me this.1. Calls from rank and file members of AIPAC have probably already started.
First come the phone calls from constituents who are AIPAC members. They know the Congressman and are nice and friendly and just tell him, or whichever staffer the constituent knows, just how important this vote is to him and his friends back in the district. Then the donors call. The folks who have hosted fundraisers. They are usually not only from the district but from New York or LA or Chicago. They repeat the message: this vote is very important. Contrary to what you might expect, they do not mention campaign money. They don’t have to...Like the constituents, the donors are using AIPAC talking points which are simple and forceful. You can argue with them but they keep going back to the script. Did I mention the rabbis? We only have a few in our district but we get calls from all of them and from other rabbis from around the state.
Then there are the AIPAC lobbyists, the professional staffers. They come in, with or without appointments. If the Congressman is in, they expect to see him immediately. If not, they will see a staffer. If they don’t like what they hear, they will keep coming back. They are very aggressive, no other lobby comes close. They expect to see the Member, not mere staff. Then there are the emails driven by the AIPAC website, the editorials in the one Jewish newspaper we have in our state. And then the “Dear Colleague” letters from Jewish House members saying how important the vote is for Israel and America. They also will buttonhole the Members on the House floor. Because my boss is not Jewish, he tends to defer to his Jewish colleagues...
My friend concluded:
Obviously, there is no counterpart to this on the antiwar side. No anti-AIPAC to speak of. AIPAC owns this issue. It gets what it wants. It will get this and, sad to say, my boss, who hates the idea of using more war as a means to end war, will probably vote “yes.” He says he will never support an attack on Iran but, when the time comes, this Syria push will look like nothing. Syria is just a tactic for AIPAC. But its #1 goal, at least from the vantage point of Capitol Hill, is war with Iran.
Yeah, it’s scary.
2. The White House is having a conference call today with the Jewish members of congress regarding Syria. Look for a "Dear Colleague" letter soon.
3. Donors have already started making noise. Now Sheldon Adelson, who spent tens of millions to defeat Obama, is on his side.
If you are against the war authorization, please call your representatives today.
Senate - click on your senator's name and then click on "Contact" on the left side of the page to get the PHONE NUMBER (skip the email)
House - Find your representative, then click on the "Contact Me" navigation link toward the right side of the page, click an office, then get the PHONE NUMBER.
You can also sign Alan Grayson's petition, which already has 45,000 signatures.