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The long arm of AIPAC

carlson CHRIS


The concensus among most political pundits in and around Washington, D.C., is that the most powerful, influential political action committee is the American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC). Most members of Congress think twice before crossing it.

It rewards its supporters with lavish contributions generated from its many members across the nation and is quick to punish those who vote against what they define as the best interests of Israel. Even Greg Casey, the talented Idahoan who once was Senator Larry Craig’s chief of staff and then Sergeant of Arms of the Senate, and is now president of BIPAC (Business and Industry Political Action Committee) would concede his powerful PAC is Avis to the pro-Israel Hertz.

With the leadership of the pro-Israel PAC, one is either for or against them. There’s no middle ground; their issues are black or white, and if you don’t vote with them 100% of the time, then you are suspected of harboring anti-Semetic views, as any who question how the Israelis have been treating the Palestinians soon find out.

Recently, well known Idahoan Marty Peterson, who retired from public service over a year ago, visited Israel. Marty’s last post was that of vice president for government affairs and lead lobbyist for the University of Idaho. Prior to that he served in a variety of posts including service as budget director for Governor John Evans, executive director of the Association of Idaho Cities, and executive director of the Idaho Centennial Commission.

Marty is a history buff and a keen observer of political affairs so he shared his take on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict with a column posted on Randy Stapilus’ widely read blog, Ridenbaugh Press/Northwest. Like most Americans, he flew to Israel thinking he was pretty pro-Israel. Unlike most though, he saw through the propaganda and ended up expressing great sympathy for the Palestinians whom he observed are being treated by Israel much as Jewish people have been mistreated over the centuries.

In particular, Marty noted the defiant extension of law-breaking Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory and the unilateral appropriation of water for these illegal settlements taken from the Palestinian owners. He also had a long visit with the recently retired Catholic Archbishop for Galilee, Elias Chacour.

Marty praised the Archbishop’s efforts to find a peaceful solution through education to the seeming intractable views of the two warring groups. One would think that taking the view that there is somewhere somehow a reasonable path to peace would not be controversial.

However, I predicted to Marty that before long all AIPAC supporters in Idaho will see a memo from someone associated with AIPAC questioning his judgment and implying if not outright accusing him of secretly holding anti-Semite views.

I speak from experience. A couple of years back I contributed to an election review for clients of the firm I founded in 1989, The Gallatin Group. I pointed out that one of the big winners was Washington Fifth District Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, but noted there was grumbling in some quarters that Cathy’s then chief of staff was replacing district based staff with westsiders who also shared the staff chief’s Jewish faith. A statement of simple fact.

I speculated this represented a concerted effort by AIPAC to expand its congressional base of support into even more districts because of the possibility Israel, concerned about the Iranian nuclear program, might launch a pre-emptive strike unilaterally without U.S. concurrence.

I had no idea this elicted a memo to AIPAC members in eastern Washington branding me as an anti-Semite. Fortunately, one of the AIPAC members was my heart doctor who quickly wrote back that he knew me very well and that there wasn’t a prejudicial bone in my body.

He added a footnote: “Besides, all five of Chris’ doctors are Jewish. He wouldn’t dare harbor any anti-Semitic views.” He of course was correct but that nonetheless did not stop the effort to brand me.

Like Marty, I had merely stated a couple of facts I’d observed but it still brought me to AIPAC’s attention. Get ready, Marty.

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