The political landscape in Israel is rapidly changing, and along with it the challenges facing the Israel lobby. The rise of Kadima and the shift away from the Likud have reinvigorated the three main groups that represent America’s pro-Israel doves: Americans for Peace Now, Brit Tzedek, and the Israel Policy Forum (IPF). Politically, these groups more faithfully represent the views of American Jews than AIPAC does, but they have much less influence, in part because they don’t raise money. In the past, the IPF’s annual dinners have been sedate affairs compared to AIPAC’s, but at its last one, in June, Ehud Olmert appeared, and he joked about how odd it was for an old Likudnik like himself to be there. He talked of new “policies” that would bring “peace and security to ourselves and to the Palestinians,” who “will live alongside the State of Israel in an independent state of their own.”
In spite of such statements, some liberal commentators in Israel and the US believe that Israel has no intention of ceding to the Palestinians enough territory and authority for a workable state. But if Israel did manage to withdraw behind a security fence and allowed such a state to emerge, what would AIPAC have left to do? Plenty. While pursuing its traditional concerns about Israel, the lobby in recent years has been steadily expanding its mission, becoming a strong force in the extended network of national security groups and leaders who have used September 11, the war on terror, and Israel as a basis for seeking a more aggressive US stance in the world.
UPDATE: Daniel Pipes is worried about Israel’s future, too, citing America’s rising Muslim population and political clout. A refreshing change is in the air.