The insult could not be more clear. Just days after National Security Adviser Susan Rice declared that Israel’s prime minister’s speech to Congress at the House’s invitation is “destructive” to the U.S.-Israel relationship, the White House designated her as a speaker for the AIPAC annual policy conference that begins Sunday. (U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power will also speak.) It cannot be seen as anything but an finger in the eye of AIPAC and the American Jewish community. “By sending Rice, President Obama has made it clear he has no interest in working to repair the fractured relations with the Jewish community,” says Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Rice’s recent remarks are not the only time she has shown disdain for our ally and obtuseness about the Iran threat. Last December, she was an early and forceful advocate of what Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has called “Tehran’s talking points,” namely the claim that sanctions conditioned on not reaching a deal would wreck the talks.
The president’s actions only serve to undermine his claim to be looking after the security interests of the United States and Israel. Once again we see the degree of animus that now drives his decision-making. But mostly, he’s once again made AIPAC something of a mockery. The most visible pro-Israel Jewish group extended an open invitation and this is whom the White House sends? Cannot it push back? Sound dismayed? Its fixation with “bipartisanship” and reluctance to criticize the president publicly risks turning the organization into a doormat. It continues to give refuge to the president when he acts in ways that are contrary to Israel’s security and to U.S.-Israel security. Presumably Rice will be given an effusive introduction. It is a sorry spectacle raising the question: Has AIPAC outlived its usefulness?
Certainly it is entirely unequipped to deal with an administration this hostile to Israel and with self-proclaimed friends of Israel on the Democratic side who nevertheless put partisan loyalty above national security concerns. It will be interesting to see how AIPAC’s members greet Rice – and whether some decline to attend or walk out. More important, it will be interesting to see whether AIPAC officials point the finger at the administration, directly criticize its give-away to Iran, decry its smearing the prime minister and call for Democrats to put aside partisanship and join with Republicans determined to prevent a debacle of historic proportions. Really, what are they waiting for?