Jacob Heilbrunn in The National Interest:
When the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) holds its annual spring meeting in Washington, DC, the organization takes elaborate measures to present a portrait of overwhelming political clout. Huge video screens featuring footage on Israel’s geopolitical perils, thousands of attendees, rousing speeches, a steady stream of Democratic and Republican politicians proclaiming their undying fealty to Israel—all are meant to suggest an irrepressible organization on a roll. This year, as in previous ones, Iran was the dominant topic. “Words alone will not stop Iran,” Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the conference by satellite. “Sanctions alone will not stop Iran.” He then admonished his American audience: “Sanctions must be coupled with a clear and credible military threat if diplomacy and sanctions fail.” At the same time, Senator John McCain excoriated the Obama administration for not being sufficiently friendly toward the Jewish state, while Vice President Joe Biden sought to assuage lingering unease about the administration’s stance by declaring that Obama is “not bluffing” when he threatens Iran with military action to forestall its nuclear-weapons development.
But, as AIPAC once again tried ostentatiously to display its influence, distant drumbeats raised new questions about America’s relationship with the Jewish state—and whether AIPAC’s influence is perhaps not always exercised strictly in Israel’s or America’s interest.