The annual AIPAC Policy Conference traditionally attracted a mass rather than elite attendance. Jewish federations strategically located in every major population center and other nodes of the $6 billion Israel affinity ecosystem worked hard at mass turnout.
As a 501(c)(4) lobbying organization, AIPAC’s main goal was to influence hundreds of politicians to adopt policies favorable to Israel’s government. These policies include unconditional foreign aid, advanced weapons and turning a blind eye to Israel’s human rights record. These objectives have remained unchanged since the organization was set up by Israel and the Jewish Agency decades ago with overseas funding.
Funds AIPAC raises from individuals as a lobbying organization are not tax-deductible. So rather than use its own non-tax deductible funds on the annual AIPAC Policy Conference, AIPAC created a cutout 501(c)(3) education organization. The American Israel Education Foundation raises tax-deductible “educational” donations which it can then transfer to AIPAC.
For example in 2009 AIEF sent AIPAC $13,503, 472. AIPAC could then train “citizen lobbyists” to surge into the Congress during the week with the same talking points requesting unconditional support for Israel.
However, since 2019, AIPAC has not held its annual policy conference and citizen lobbying day. It has instead prioritized raising funds for huge interventions in political campaigns through a newly formed PAC and Super Pac.
On January 10, 2023 AIPAC held a “leadership meeting” at the Washington Hilton in Adams Morgan. Jewish Insider said it would “attract 1,000 of AIPAC’s “top political leaders” and host remarks from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and congressional leaders from both parties.
The meeting was closed to reporters attempting to gain access. The perimeter of the hotel was cordoned off by a heavy DC metropolitan police presence.
Why not Biden, Harris or Blinken?
Why did AIPAC invite Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin? AIPAC would typically prefer to host the president, vice president or secretary of state. Joe Biden has presented himself as a tooth-baring and unapologetic Zionist for decades, exactly what AIPAC attendees crave in a politician. However, 2023 is not an election year for Joe Biden. Biden’s failure to attend may even be a subtle sign that he does not intend to run again for office. Such was the case in Ronald Reagan’s failure to speak at AIPAC in 1988.
AIPAC president Robert Asher contacted the White House on August 4 of 1987 to invite President Reagan to speak in May of 1988. Asher promised “1000 leaders from across the country” claiming that in the previous year “300 members of the Congress and 50 officials from the Executive Branch were in attendance.” Scheduler Frederick Ryan politely demurred, claiming they could not commit so far in advance.
Republican leader of the House Robert Michel reached out the White House in February, reminding the cabinet that Reagan had never addressed the group and that it would be his last opportunity while in office. In March, Senator Richard Lugar stepped in to pressure the White House. Lugar urged, “They are (of course) very anxious to have the President. These are sophisticated and informed folks (who know what RR has done for the relationship) and I am told the chief will get a tumultuous welcome….”
At the end of the month, the response was still “no.”
AIPAC did not give up and designed a special award to lure the president. That too was denied by the White House. “The President asked me to convey his appreciation for your proposal to present him with the first annual Mort Silberman Democracy Award. Unfortunately, the schedule to which he is committed that week, prior to his departure on May 26 for the summit meeting in Moscow, is so heavy that he will not be able to accept your generous offer.”
In defeat, AIPAC finally settled for requesting a presidential message to be delivered at the conference. In hindsight, AIPAC was probably too ambitious to expect Reagan, likely peeved at AIPAC’s opposition of U.S. sales of AWACs to Saudi Arabia and the immense damage Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard inflicted, to attend AIPAC. He was also probably aware of the FBI’s investigation of AIPAC and the Israeli government’s theft of classified industry secrets in its bid to win a lop-sided “free” trade deal from the US.
What about the current vice president? In 2019 Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the AIPAC Policy Conference using the opportunity to hurl accusations of antisemitism at Ilhan Omar and others. He thundered, “Anyone who slanders those who support this historic alliance between the United States and Israel should never have a seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States House of Representatives.” Pence who derives much of his Israel ardor from his fundamentalist Christian beliefs, can always be counted on to use transcendent, reverential, “exclusive” language when talking about Israel.
In the book Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism, linguist Amanda Montell defines “exclusive language” as:
“…emotionally charged buzzwords and euphemisms, renamings, chants, mantras, and even hashtags” through which “pernicious gurus are able to instill ideology, establish an ‘us’ and a ‘them,’ justify questionable behavior, inspire fear, gaslight followers into questioning their own reality . . . essentially everything a cult needs to do in order to gain and maintain power.”
While Vice President Kamala Harris has previously spoken at AIPAC, opposes BDS and claims the U.S. and Israel have “shared values,” she is simply not as compelling, ardent and believable as Mike Pence, especially when delivering the kind of “exclusive language” AIPAC attendees pine for.
Secretary of State Blinken, who has long supported Israel, was also out as a speaker. On December 4, 2022 Blinken addressed AIPAC’s enemy JStreet. JStreet appeared on the scene in 2007 and though it, like AIPAC, supports massive military aid to Israel, it opposes Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and attempts to maintain free speech about Israel in the U.S.
Lloyd Austin’s AIPAC talking points
Why did AIPAC select Lloyd Austin? To understand it is necessary to review what Austin told AIPAC.
Austin started off with his own exclusive language about supposed Israeli US “shared values.” He claimed “America’s commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad. It is not negotiable. And it never will be.” What Israel has ever done in service to a U.S. interest, noble or unsavory, to earn that status was left out of Austin’s lofty language.
Entering a subservient posture, Austin then foreshadowed his intention to cover “how we’re helping Israel meet its security challenges.” Without going into Israel’s precise role as an alleged “ally” (unlike Japan, South Korea and Germany, there is no defense treaty with Israel) he claimed, “Our allies and partners are a phenomenal force multiplier.”
Austin said he traveled to Israel in his “very first months as Secretary of Defense” and then claimed that he told “the Israeli officials that I met with on that trip that working with them felt just like dealing with family.” Austin even listed how he prioritized Israel over other potential responsibilities, in communicating with Israel’s new Minister of Defense, which was his “first conversation this year with one of my foreign counterparts.”
Conclusion #1: AIPAC chose Secretary of Defense Austin because he prioritizes Israel over pressing US national defense concerns.
Austin went on to laud the Biden administration’s support for the Jerusalem Declaration. The July, 2022 declaration promised to exceed the budgetary caps on the Obama administration’s $38 billion dollar 2016 ten-year aid package to Israel with billions in extra foreign aid. The Jerusalem Declaration also extends the Trump administration Abraham Accords plan to force Arab regimes to recognize Israel over the popular demands of their populations who want justice for Palestinians first. The Abraham Accords demand that the U.S. sell advanced weaponry to Arab monarchs and recognize illegal land grabs, if the country involved agrees to recognize Israel. It is a strategy to transcend international law and Palestinian demands for fair treatment.
Conclusion #2: AIPAC chose Secretary of Defense Austin because he advocates for Abraham Accord illegal territorial land grabs that benefit Israel and weapons sales to Arab monarchs.
Austin also praised the ongoing entwinement of Israeli military and commercial interests with larger and better funded U.S. “counterparts.” This means “interoperability”, “joint weapons R&D” and “vigorous diplomacy to reinforce Israel’s security and legitimacy.” While outsiders might believe observable Israeli actions would be the best guarantee of its perceived legitimacy, Austin believes it is something the U.S. has to compell, like the Abraham accords.
In the early 2000s, Israel lobby operatives inserted Israel into a new U.S. Treasury division to launch economic warfare campaigns against Israel’s enemies. While still in uniform, Austin took it upon himself to insert Israel into Centcom.
“You know, when I ran CENTCOM, Israel wasn’t considered part of my area of responsibility. It belonged instead to U.S. European Command, or EUCOM.
But I always insisted that Israel’s security was critical. My staff at CENTCOM exchanged liaison officers with the Israeli military, but I wanted to do even more.
So I flew repeatedly to Europe to discuss regional security issues in person with both the head of EUCOM and with the Israeli Chief of Defense. “
Conclusion #3 AIPAC chose Secretary of Defense Austin because like AIPAC he believes in Israeli entwinement into many U.S. sectors where it does not belong. He inserts Israel in ways that will make it nearly impossible for the U.S. to ever take a more rational stance on regional policy that serves broader, more just, more popular and more productive American interests.
Austin did cautiously hint that perhaps U.S. support was not all that unconditional after all by bringing in the JStreet-compromised Blinken.
” As my friend Secretary of State Blinken noted recently, we’ll continue to evaluate this democratically elected government by its policies. We’ll continue to work to prevent any parties from taking actions that could push the two-state solution further out of reach. “
The “two-state solution” is the—no longer credible—concept that Palestinians will someday be allowed to have a demilitarized, border-controlled and disjointed statelet. In recent years such references to the two-state solution served mainly to provide cover for the lack of any serious U.S. or Israeli steps toward justice for Palestinians even as Israel continues to colonize the West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights in violation of international law.
Conclusion #4 AIPAC chose Secretary of Defense Austin because he supports the indefinite postponement of justice for Palestinians.
Austin then made some surprising and highly selective historical references to the Kennedy administration.
As many of you know, back in 1962, President Kennedy made a historic decision. For the first time, the United States would provide Israel with a cutting-edge arms system to help the Jewish state defend itself.
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and his Deputy Defense Minister, a young Shimon Peres, had helped convince President Kennedy to sell Israel an American surface-to-air missile system known as the HAWK.
Austin’s apparent point was that the Hawk missiles helped Israel after it launched the Six-Day War of territorial conquest and later fought back Syrian attempts to recover its Golan Heights territory. Hawk missiles have always been important to Israel and AIPAC. In 1975 AIPAC Director Morris Amitay even obtained and circulated classified Hawk missile data in an attempt to scuttle a U.S. sale to Jordan, but faced no consequences.
But three far more important historical revelations reveal that in 1962 Kennedy was no supplicant to Israel or its lobby. Kennedy was pressing Israel hard over its clandestine nuclear weapons program insisting on U.S. inspections of Dimona. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy at the Justice Department on November 22, 1962 ordered the American Zionist Council, the umbrella organization where AIPAC served as the lobbying division, to register as an Israeli foreign agent. That is because the AZC was established and functionally controlled and funded by the Jewish Agency, which was in turn controlled by the Israeli government through a 1953 covenant agreement. Concurrent Senate hearings extensively documented millions of dollars of overseas funding laundered into the AIPAC operation and direction from Israel. JFK crossed yet another Israel and lobby red line by supporting the Palestinian right of return to their homes and lands.
It is therefore more accurate to say that in 1962 President Kennedy indeed made three historic decisions. And they were of far greater significance to Israel than simply selling Hawk missiles. However, most of JFK’s heroic final acts, fighting Israeli Middle East nuclear proliferation, attempting to properly register Israeli front groups as foreign agents and advocating for the Palestinian right of return, were completely unknown to the American public due to onerous government secrecy. In particular, the full file of the DOJ-AZC-AIPAC battle was not declassified and released until IRmep obtained and released it on June 10, 2008. The implications of the JFK administration’s brutal fight with AIPAC have still not been digested by mainstream historians and reporters.
Austin’s selective historic retrieval at AIPAC dishonored Kennedy, who is winning an ever larger following as Americans come to understand his last heroic acts.
Conclusion #5 AIPAC chose Secretary of Defense Austin because of his selective historic retrieval and willingness to censor the truth about Israel’s nuclear weapons and the final 1962 JFK-Israel-AIPAC showdown.