Ilhan Omar’s Criticism Raises the Question: Is Aipac Too Powerful?

Ilhan Omar’s Criticism Raises the Question: Is Aipac Too Powerful?


Aipac’s allies on Capitol Hill say the group is an invaluable resource for information. Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida, said Aipac “gives its members an opportunity to meet with elected officials, often in Washington, to talk about an issue that they feel deeply about.”

But other lawmakers bristle at Aipac’s tactics. In 2006, Representative Betty McCollum, Democrat of Minnesota, who has advocated humanitarian aid for Palestinians, wrote an angry letter to Mr. Kohr saying Aipac would be barred from her offices until it apologized for the behavior of one of its representatives who had berated her chief of staff, Bill Harper, and said Ms. McCollum’s “support for terrorists will not be tolerated.”

Mr. Harper said he took it as an effort “to intimidate” Ms. McCollum, “including threatening to take care of her in the next election.” He said Aipac’s members subsequently stopped donating to her.

Aipac instructs its volunteers never to bring up politics or donations in lobbying meetings. But Mr. Baird, the retired House member, said it was “a fairly common experience” for three or four members of a state congressional delegation to be invited outside the Capitol to meet with “some potential high-dollar individuals affiliated with Aipac.”

“And if one were to say, ‘You know, this is a pretty complex issue; I think the Palestinians have some legitimate concerns,’ your pile of envelopes at the end of the event would be substantially smaller than the next guy’s envelopes,” he said.

So far, no organized effort to field a primary challenger against Ms. Omar has begun, although Rudy Boschwitz, a former Republican senator from Minnesota who served on Aipac’s board in the 1990s, said he had “suggested that to some people.”

In Florida, Mr. Fiske said it was time for “pro-Jewish voices to speak up” about Ms. Omar and two other Democratic freshmen who have been critical of Israel: Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

And he offered a prediction: “They are three people who, in my opinion, will not be around in several years.”



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