Last week, the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC announced it was supporting letters circulating Congress – a House version and a Senate one – supporting the Jewish state’s right to defend herself and reaffirming American support of its liberal democratic ally in the Middle East. The Senate letter is led by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell. In the House, Republican Ted Poe and Democrat Gary Peters, joined by Steny Hoyer and Eric Cantor and Howard Berman and Illeana Ros-Leithene, are leading the effort.
It was a pretty non-controversial, widely bipartisan, standard letter addressed to the president of the United States. It is the kind of thing that is meant to underscore support for Israel, as it is under a barrage of unfair criticism because of the flotilla incident. (The full text of the Senate version is here, and the House one is here.) Indeed, it has been received so well that, at the time of this writing, 85 senators and 307 members of the House of Representatives have signed onto the letter.
In what political reporter Ben Smith called “the most open conflict in months between the left-leaning Israel group J Street and the traditional pro-Israel powerhouse AIPAC,” J Street opposed the letter – and sent their own letter around Capitol Hill, urging members to oppose the AIPAC letter.
Mark this one as a victory for the pro-Israel lobby: Considering the overwhelming support for the AIPAC initiative, J Street utterly failed. If a group is considered effective based on its success, then J Street can rightly be considered remarkably ineffective. And for this, the state of Israel is a safer place.