What is AIPAC? A beginner’s analysis of the pro-Israel lobby

Do you hear about AIPAC, but don’t know who they are or what they do? Here’s what you need to know


The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, has moved further into the public debate as the war between Israel and Hamas enters its eighth month. AIPAC, whose website states as its core mission “building bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” is the best-known contingent of PACS and lobbying groups committed to maintaining a positive relationship between the United States and Israel .

The AIPAC platform includes “supporting security assistance to Israel,” “promoting peace,” and “countering Iran’s aggression and search for nuclear weapons.” AIPAC is also known for sponsoring trips of American politicians and aides to Israel.

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True to its mission, AIPAC has built strong friendships on both sides of the aisle. Even politicians who clash over issues like the January 6 insurrection or the existence of climate change find common ground in their support for the group. AIPAC-backed politicians include House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana), House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) and House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Massachusetts). ).

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According to OpenSecrets, AIPAC has spent just under $60 million on lobbying since 1998. While AIPAC does not contribute directly to candidates, its affiliated PACS often throws money at candidates willing to take on Democrats critical of Israel’s behavior in the Middle East, including $350,000 to a challenger against Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) in 2022.

AIPAC’s increased visibility reflects the influence of what watchdogs like OpenSecrets call the “Pro-Israel” lobby, whose top all-time recipients include President Joe Biden ($4.2 million), Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky, $1 .9 million), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York, $1.7 million) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas, $1.5 million).

Cy Neff is a political journalist based in Wyoming for USA Today. You can reach him at [email protected] or on X, formerly known as Twitter, @CyNeffNews