People of the Book How AIPAC Lost the Israel Debate

Talking about AIPAC is nearly impossible. So many contradictory statistics proliferate about AIPAC that nobody can quote them reliably. Nevertheless, one thing remains obvious. We all know AIPAC’s nowhere near as powerful as its opposition alleges. Whether AIPAC has a $25 million endowment or a $100 million endowment, conspiracy theorists would have us believe this lobby has a sinister hold on the policies of a government with $124 trillion in equity.

But what if AIPAC’s insistence that it has enormous effect on the course of Middle East policy is why an anti- Semitic movement rose so quickly to claim that the Israel lobby’s a sinister conspiracy to control foreign policy involving everyone from The New York Times to the Christian Coalition?

Inviting Trump to address AIPAC may have seemed like the proper thing to do — he was the Republican frontrunner — but with that invitation, AIPAC alienated a generation of liberals whose trust they can never win back. Persuading people who hate us is a Jewish specialty. But it tends to be more difficult to persuade people who think Trump may have intentions as democidal as those villains of history who perpetrate their worst plans on Jews.

Everybody knows about Jewish persecution; what’s less known is the astonishing predictability of how it happens. Hannah Arendt, in “Origins of Totalitarianism,” notes that Benjamin Disraeli was the first modern politician to propound the idea of a shadowy Jewish conspiracy that controls international finance, and yet, what later generations viewed with horror, Disraeli viewed with pride. Disraeli used this conspiracy to show that the cleverness of his Jewish background made him uniquely suited to be a long-serving British prime minister.

Disraeli lived in a nationalistic era that viewed Jews with mistrust because we had no nation. What begins as Jewish pride inevitably becomes paranoid conspiracy in gentiles’ fevered minds.

At the moment, AIPAC welcomes Trump with ovations, and we compare protestors for peace to Nazis. Every gentile in the world — left, right and center — sees the double standard. The American right is Israel’s only reliable ally, not because they close their eyes to the double standard of American Jewry, but because they see how American Jews demonize naive dissenters who nevertheless point out truths that should be obvious, and they marvel with approval.

Whatever disasters Trump’s administration has in store, there will be retribution for them. I doubt I need tell you who’s the most obvious candidate to pay for Trump’s sins or which organization may make it probable.

Evan Tucker is a North Baltimore- based writer.

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