The end of AIPAC?
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Thursday, February 28.
1) Water, water everywhere
At the Times of Israel, editor David Horovitz writes about how Israel's dealt with its water crisis.
(h/t Yaacov Lozowick)
“How did we beat the water shortage? Because we said we would. We
decided we would,” says Kushnir, a big man with a warm smile and a
robust Russian accent. “And once you’ve made that decision, you build
the tools to reduce your dependence. We’re on the edge of the desert in
an area where water has always been short. The quantity of natural water
per capita in Israel is the lowest for the whole region. But we decided
early on that we were developing a modern state. So we were required to
supply water for agriculture, and water for industry, and then water
for hi-tech, and water to sustain an appropriate quality of life.”
The National Water Carrier — which takes water from the Sea of Galilee
(Lake Kinneret) south through the whole country to Beersheba and beyond —
exemplified Israel’s ambition. Contemplated even before the modern
state was founded, its planning and initial construction were “a
dominant feature of the first Ben-Gurion government — an unprecedented
investment,” Kushnir notes. “It stressed our desire to achieve a
Carrying almost 2 million cubic meters a day nationwide, that supply
line, together with water from underground aquifers, kept Israel watered
through the 70s. By the 1980s, though “we had a bigger population,
bigger needs and the natural resources were overstretched. So we
experimented with a small desalination plant in Eilat. And we began
recycling purified sewage, and bringing industry into purifying water.”
The details are fascinating and well worth a read.
Since part of Israel's water program involve re-use, a joint team of Israeli and Palestinian scientists is looking for possible dangers:
While people – and even their farm animals – continue to consume more
and more medicines and chemicals, the effect of these substances once
they have passed through the body and into the country’s water system
are unknown, Tal explained. No one in Israel, or the Palestinian
Authority, is currently looking for the presence of these chemicals or
their effects “in a systematic way,” he added.
One point that these two articles underscore is that if the Arab world
would put aside its boycott of Israel on account of the Palestinians, it
probably could benefit its own citizens by using Israeli technologies.
Tal has received a three-year, $560,000- grant from the USAID’s Middle
East Regional Cooperation (MERC) Program to conduct the project. Many of
his own students from Sde Boker will conduct the lion’s share of the
laboratory testing in Health Ministry labs.
In the Palestinian contingent is water engineer Nader al-Khateeb, who
also serves as Palestinian director of Friends of the Earth Middle East;
Dr. Alfred Abed Rabbo, an assistant professor at Bethlehem University’s
Water and Soil Research Unit; Dr. Shai Armon; and a group of
Palestinian students, Tal explained.
2) Is AIPAC obsolete?
In Tablet Lee Smith explains How AIPAC is losing, as evidenced by its non-response to the Hagel nomination:
Yet AIPAC has remained totally mum. The group says it focuses its
energies on matters of policy rather than personnel. If it campaigned
against Hagel, where would it stop? The organization would potentially
have to take a position on every Cabinet nominee. Meantime, in the
absence of AIPAC, other pro-Israel organizations have come out publicly
against Hagel, like the Emergency Committee for Israel. For taking the
lead on this issue, they have been labeled partisans, while AIPAC has
preserved its bipartisan status.
AIPAC is a lobby built to cultivate a pro-Israel bi-partisan consensus.
AIPAC probably figured that Senators like Schumer and Cardin will be
around after Obama's second term ends and the bitterness of a contested
nomination wasn't worth alienating them. Still Smith persists:
But it’s not clear how much that label matters when a very influential
segment of the Democratic party has made it plain that supporting Israel
isn’t a top priority. I’m not just referring to the delegates who booed
pro-Israel changes to the party platform on the floor of the convention
in Charlotte last summer. I’m talking about the White House.
Pro-Israel Obama supporters on the Hill and in the press keep trying to
make the case that in spite of how it might look on the surface, the
administration cares deeply about the U.S.-Israel relationship. They
point to the success of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense
batteries as evidence that the security and military cooperation between
the United States and Israel has reached unprecedented highs under
Obama’s stewardship. But politics is mostly about how things look. And
if the administration really cared that much about Israel, it wouldn’t
nominate a secretary of defense who referred to defenders of the
U.S.-Israel relationship as “the Jewish lobby.”
The Iranian negotiating team meeting with its Western counterparts in
Kazakhstan this week has earned the right to its smugness. The Iranians
are installing equipment that will allow it to accelerate the
production of nuclear fuel. And then there was North Korea’s nuclear
test two weeks ago. At the very least, it signaled to the Iranians that
in the end, despite all of the tough talk coming from the White House,
the Americans are not going to stop the Iranians from acquiring the
In other words, generally, it's worth it for AIPAC to preserve its
bipartisan appeal, but this issue was important enough to take sides on.
The New York Sun has a related editorial criticizing numerous Jewish and pro-Israel organizations for staying silent.
Tehran has the upper hand in negotiations because it recognizes that
all the White House wants is some sort of deal it can sell as a victory.
And the all-powerful pro-Israel lobby has no choice but to swallow it
That was the Zionist Organization of America, which is the oldest
pro-Israel organization in America, having been founded in 1897, the
same year in which Theodor Herzl convened at Basel, Switzerland, the
First Zionist Congress. It opposed the Hagel nomination early,
forthrightly, and unapologetically. The result, according to the ZOA’s
president, Morton Klein, is that it received objections from several
leaders worried about the consequences for the Jewish community of such a
Mr. Klein believes the Hagel nomination would not have been confirmed
had the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation
League, and the American Jewish Committee taken a formal public position
against Mr. Hagel. All three agencies have had many heroic moments. But
they stood down on Mr. Hagel. Said Mr. Klein: “Several senators — and
important ones — said to me: ‘If Aipac, ADL and AJCommittee — especially
Aipac — had come out and lobbied against Hagel, he would have been
What such public opposition would have done, Mr. Klein argues, is that
it “would have given a number of Democrats, who thought Hagel was awful,
cover to vote against him.” Instead, the response leaders of the Jewish
community received was, “If he’s so awful how come we’re not hearing
anything against him from other Jewish groups.” Mr. Klein says he heard
such a message from both sides of the aisle in the Senate.
Would it have made a difference? Morton Klein (and apparently the New York Sun) believe it would have. I am less certain.
Labels: AIPAC, Chuck Hagel, Middle East Media Sampler, Soccer Dad, water