web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Changing Middle East as Seen from AIPAC 2013

What this year’s AIPAC confab proves is that there is considerable mileage in the values Israel shares not just with the U.S. but with other western states like Canada.
Vice President Joe Biden at the 2013 AIPAC conference.

Vice President Joe Biden at the 2013 AIPAC conference.

Share Button

From the second one arrives at the Washington Convention Center, the AIPAC spectacle is all-encompassing. From the anti-Israel demonstrators clustering around the entrance to the sparkling multi-screen plenaries in the main hall, there is a both a sense of showmanship and a sense that this is, for two days, the only show in town.

Even so, the razzmatazz at this year’s AIPAC policy conference couldn’t quite mute the background murmurs about the organization’s declining influence. There was Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as defense secretary, and there is the ongoing debate about the impact of sequestration on Israel’s defensive capabilities.

When Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) complained that the Obama administration still had not delivered advanced F-35 fighter aircraft to Israel, he inadvertently invited his audience to ponder, “All powerful Israel Lobby? What all powerful Israel Lobby?”

Away from the podium, speeches that restated, to standing ovations and thunderous applause, the critical talking points of Israel advocacy – “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East,” “all options must remain on the table concerning Iran,” “there is no genuine Palestinian peace partner,” and so forth – there was serious reconsideration of Israel’s current strategic position in the Middle East. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) memorably summarized the stakes involved when he told the AIPAC crowd, “I have not seen the Middle East and the world in a more dangerous situation in my lifetime.”

What, perhaps, is distinctive about this “dangerous situation” is that it involves a complex of conflicts in which Israel is not an active participant but a rather nervous bystander waiting on a series of uncertain outcomes.

The much-vaunted Arab Spring, more accurately described by the Israeli journalist Amos Harel as “the Arab Upheaval,” has taken different forms in different countries, but the common denominator is that in not a single instance has a democratic, open society emerged at the other end.

In the Arab Gulf region in particular, long-established repressive and corrupt regimes, most obviously in Saudi Arabia, remain in place; as the American pundit Bret Stephens pointed out, much as we might wish for an end to the Saudi monarchy, in all likelihood what follows it will be worse. Old certainties – like the position of Turkey as a friend of both Israel and the western powers – have been dramatically undercut, as demonstrated by Prime Minister Erdogan’s recent assault on Zionism as a “crime against humanity.”

Most of all, there is Iran. While there was little discussion of the one conflict in which Israel is directly involved – that with the Palestinians – the AIPAC parley was dominated by anxiety that Iran is on the cusp of acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Speaking at the main plenary, Vice President Joe Biden accentuated a significant, if subtle, shift in the administration’s articulation of its Iran policy. America’s goal, Biden said, “is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, period.” Then, for added effect, Biden repeated: “Prevent, not contain, prevent.”

The picture that has emerged at AIPAC, then, is of an Israel facing unknown, indeterminate threats that are far greater than the known threats it has encountered in the past. As a consequence, detailed policy prescriptions were hard to come by. Absent from the policy conference were recommendations as to how Israel should proceed in negotiations with the Palestinians (because there aren’t any) or maintain its historic 1979 peace treaty with Egypt (because there’s not much it can do should that country’s Muslim Brotherhood leaders decide to tear it up).

Instead, the focus was on Israel as frontline member of the community of democratic nations, the terrain where the cultural, political and perhaps military struggles between western openness and Islamists strictures will be played out.

That was certainly the subtext of one of the more interesting, if sparsely attended, breakout sessions at AIPAC: on Canada’s relationship with Israel. All the Canadian politicians who spoke stressed the reason Canada goes to bat for Israel so energetically in international forums is illustrated in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s dictum that “we’re going to support what’s right, not what’s politically expedient.”

Canadian parliamentarian Robert Dochert pointed out that the Toronto riding (electoral district) he represents contains 25,000 Palestinians and 500 Jews, but even so, his support for Israel won’t waiver.

Share Button

About the Author: Ben Cohen is the Shillman Analyst for JNS.org. His writings on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics have been published in Commentary, the New York Post, Haaretz, Jewish Ideas Daily and many other publications.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

One Response to “The Changing Middle East as Seen from AIPAC 2013”

  1. Mohamed Alksade says:

    موتمر ابيك نجح هد السنة نجاح كبير.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Ben Cohen
Back in January 2013, Osama Hamdan (C), member of the Political Bureau of Hamas arrived without a problem in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah through the border crossing with Egypt. Hamas now finds the new regime in Egypt is not nearly as easy to deal with.

Even if Egyptian pressure lead to the collapse of Hamas, Gaza’s problems are unlikely to be solved overnight.

Cohen-120613b

This new mood among Christian Arabs has worried the communists and Arab nationalist.

In this drama, J Street, much like other left-wing groups, is an enthusiastic cheerleader, nothing more.

Rather than the “Lobby” running the administration, it is the administration that runs the “Lobby.”

Sarcasm aside, this is anti-Semitism of the ugliest, most primitive kind.

Unfortunately, Israel, a stable democracy and Western ally, can be relied upon to be cooperative.

Mandela once wrote that Jews, in his experience, were far more sensitive about race because of their own history.

Before Chavez came to power there were 30,000 Jews in Venezuela. The community has now dwindled to fewer than 9,000.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-changing-middle-east-as-seen-from-aipac-2013/2013/03/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: