There are those who have taken to attacking the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee for backing off its earlier intense push for legislation that would increase economic sanctions against Iran pending further negotiations on ending its nuclear weapons program. Some have even referred to AIPAC’s stance as a sellout.
To be sure, President Obama, who seems intent on pursuing rapprochement with Iran based solely on that nation’s promises and in the face of compelling evidence that its leaders can’t be trusted, has mounted a full court press against the new legislation.
But it is hard to accuse an organization with AIPAC’s track record of endangering Israel’s security in order to curry the approval of an American president. To the contrary, though we take a back seat to no one in doubting the trustworthiness of the Iranian government, we think that under the circumstances AIPAC is acting prudently in the interests of both Israel and the American Jewish community.
For us, the key factor is that support in Congress for new sanctions has collapsed in the face of the president’s blandishments. Senators Menendez and Schumer, who had championed the legislation as a means of pressuring Iran to negotiate seriously over the elimination of its capacity to develop nuclear weapons, have basically gone silent, as have many other erstwhile backers of sanctions. For AIPAC to keep pushing on the Iranian issue at this point would be counterproductive.
It was one thing for AIPAC to work in tandem with senior members of the U.S. Senate in pushing for legislation President Obama claims would likely scuttle all diplomatic efforts to rein in Iran. It is quite another for AIPAC to stand alone in advocating for something the president strongly suggests could lead to war.