It’s begun to appear that “AIPAC is not the 800-pound gorilla everyone says they are,” says Dan Fleshler, author of Transforming America’s Israel Lobby. “They may be just a 400-pound gorilla.”
On Capitol Hill, a coalition of groups to the left of AIPAC has been mobilizing Democrats to support Obama’s agenda in the Middle East,
Advocating for stronger ties between the Obama administration and the current right-wing Israeli government would be a difficult chore under any circumstances; on top of that, the megalobby has been weakened by a series of setbacks, including a long-running espionage drama involving two former officials accused of conspiring to pass along classified Pentagon Iran reports to Israel. Charges against the pair were dropped in May, but ripples from the scandal still tainted Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), one of AIPAC’s top allies on Capitol Hill, who was caught on a wiretap by the National Security Agency promising a suspected Israeli spy that she would try to get the charges reduced. Most of all, AIPAC and its allies face a president who is determined to press both Israel and the Palestinians for a deal.
The Center for Responsive Politics, however, identifies 31 separate PACs as “pro-Israel” donors. And while independent of AIPAC, many of these organizations look to the mother ship for guidance on which candidates to support. During the 2008 election cycle, according to an analysis conducted for Mother Jones by the center, these 31 PACs and their individual donors funneled an eye-popping $22.5 million to various candidates.