Auhored by Grant F. Smith
Revue by Andrew Burroughs:
Grant Smith's book traces the secret history of the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIPAC is an organization little known or understood outside of the Washington Beltway and those who follow American Middle East policy. However, its relative obscurity in the Heartland should not fool the public. AIPAC has evolved into one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the United States. Politicians, regardless of political stripe, play homage to AIPAC. Indeed, critical pieces of legislation regarding US policies towards Israel and the Middle East are drafted in AIPAC's downtown Washington offices. While most lobby organizations represent genuine American commercial or social interests, Smith makes a compelling case that AIPAC is a functional extension of the Israeli government. The recent espionage case involving two AIPAC officials is a striking example of AIPAC's highly conflicted agenda (fully documented in Smith's book). It would be more accurate for AIPAC to rename itself the "Israeli Political Action Committee" to better disclose the efforts it makes to sway elections in virtually every US congressional district. This book shows how AIPAC, a nonprofit corporation prohibited from supporting political candidates, does just that in clandestine and illegal ways. It also shows the strategic revolution led by founder Si Kenen and why neutral sounding organization names, especially for political action committees, has been so important to AIPAC's stealth operations.
Smith details AIPAC's involvement as one of the main cheerleaders for the invasion of Iraq through quantitative analysis. Anecdotally Smith notes that Democratic Speaker of the House Pelosi was roundly booed when she spoke before a recent AIPAC conference and called for the Congress to be consulted before any Bush administration strike on Iran. AIPAC's operatives in the White House such as Elliot Abrams would view that as an infringement on their prerogative. The Pelosi incident should be no surprise to the informed. Shortly before, the Prime Minister of Israel publicly condemned calls in the United States for military withdrawal from Iraq as "not in Israel's interest." Pelosi bent to the demands of the Lobby and at AIPCA's urging dropped her pledge to pass legislation for the common good of the American people.
Portions of Smith's book read like a criminal indictment. It is filled with compelling and fully sourced facts and figures. He makes a strong case that AIPAC is indeed an organization that deserves far greater legal oversight and accountability than it has received thus far. Moreover the mainstream media now ignores AIPAC's alleged criminal activities and destructive political influence on our democratic process. This is appalling, but was not always the case. The mainstream corporate media's evolution from dogged investigators to AIPAC lap dogs is documented in the book, along with a stunning confession from the Washington Post's former Middle East Bureau Chief.
No doubt Smith will receive the usual bludgeoning from the lobby. This is now par for the course. Whenever an American criticizes Israeli policy or that country's illicit influence over US political affairs, the predictable "Israel First" hacks make their way to the front of the line to smear and instill fear. We have seen this happen to Professors Walt and Mearsheimer, Norman Finkelstein, James Petras, President Jimmy Carter and of course Congressman Paul Findley who first dared to speak out. Mr. Smith has joined a group of dedicated, patriotic Americans whose sole interests continue to be the advancement of more rational US strategic objectives that are truly in the interest of all Americans. Kudos to Mr. Smith!