The fight against de-legitimization of Israel has taken center stage in the U.S. Jewish organizational world, and now the powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC is taking on the cause with full force.
While the congressional lobbying agenda of AIPAC remains focused on sanctioning Iran, ensuring foreign aid to Israel and strengthening U.S.–Israel relations, the group is also calling for a list of measures aimed at countering de-legitimization efforts against Israel.
The plan, detailed by AIPAC’s executive director on the second day of group’s conference, calls for four steps that would end the isolation of Israel in international bodies. Israel has long been banned from many forums due to Arab refusal, and now AIPAC wishes to change this picture.
The steps include working for Israel’s acceptance to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); making the Jewish state part of NATO; allowing Israel to hold one of the rotating seats on the United Nations Security Council, and ending the Arab boycott against Israel.
“We must decide that today is the day that we say to those who regard Israel as a pariah — enough,” said Kohr to a cheering crowd. “We must decide that today is the last time we will pass up the opportunity to point out the absurdity of human rights abusers accusing Israel of abusing human rights.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed to touch on this very same issue in her following speech Monday morning. “A two-state solution,” Clinton said, “would allow Israel’s contributions to the world, and to our greater humanity, to get the recognition they deserve.”
While steps outlined by by Kohr are already in the works — including discussion about Israel join NATO and the OECD, others seem far from reach. Getting Israel one of the 10 rotating seats in the UN Security Council has not been high on the U.S. or on Israel’s agenda and seems unlikely due to the overwhelming majority of countries that oppose this move. Normalization and lifting of the Arab boycott are also a difficult goal to achieve, given the refusal of Arab leaders so far to welcome any such demand put forward by the Obama administration.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.