AIPAC Finally Fires Two Employees

After a month of speculation, the New York Times and the Washington Post ran stories on 21 April 2005 that the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee had finally seen the light and fired two of its top officials as a result of an FBI espionage investigation into its activities.

Though their lawyers were reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency declaring that the men had “not violated any U.S. law or AIPAC policy,” Steve Rosen, AIPAC’s policy director, and Keith Weissman, senior analyst on Iran, were let go. Ha’aretz’s reporter compared the firings to removing a cancer and expected AIPAC to emerge healthy and intact.

But according to the JTA, “The departure of Rosen, who has shaped AIPAC policy for more than 20 years, would be a significant blow to the pro-Israel lobby.” Rosen’s presence on Capitol Hill was well known.

The same report mentions that Rosen and Weissman had been negotiating a severance package from AIPAC for a week, and had been put on administrative leave since January. Earlier in the year, Rosen and Weissman had appeared before a Washington grand jury that was investigating whether the two had passed on classified material to an Israeli diplomat. The document involved was a classified memo on Iran that had been prepared for the President.

The question remains: what new information did AIPAC learn about the pair that led the lobby to such a dramatic about face? For more than 8 months, it had been protesting its absolute innocence as a go-between for US foreign intelligence and Israel.

Is it not clear that AIPAC is trying to distance itself from being thought of as an agent for a foreign government? Should it not be required to register as a foreign agent so that citizens can hold it accountable under the law for its activities?

Meanwhile, the pro-Israeli lobby continued to bully Congress with one resolution after another. The latest (S.J.Res.14) - and surely one of the silliest - comes out of the office of Sen. Brownback (R-KS) and asks that Jerusalem be recognized as the “undivided capital of the state of Israel.”

The text of the resolution is replete with historical mistakes, mistruths, and plain ignorance, beginning with the preposterous claim that “Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years.” Did not the “exile” begin with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD?

But the purpose of the resolution is to prevent the United States from recognizing the state of Palestine unless the world recognizes Jerusalem as belonging to the Israelis. It shows how clueless many senators are about the rest of the world. But understanding how many members of Congress habitually ignore world opinion, the resolution, if successful, could have dire consequences and would dramatically undermine the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, who also claim Jerusalem as their capital. It should be resolutely challenged.

The Council for the National Interest is a non-profit, non-partisan grassroots organization advocating a new direction for U.S. Middle East policy. As CNI Founding Chairman Paul Findley notes, CNI is “motivated by the national interest of our country in Middle East policy… CNI provides a way for all citizens, regardless of religious affiliation or national origin, to speak out in an effective way. Those who participate can help advance the national interest in the Middle East and at the same time help repair the damage being done to our political institutions by the over-zealous tactics of Israel’s lobby.”

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