Did AIPAC Go Too Far in Attacking Jewish Lawmaker Over Iran?

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It's no secret that pro-Israel groups, led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, have been lobbying hard for new U.S. sanctions against Iran. But now, according to a report published Thursday by The Cable, the pro-Israel lobby has targeted one lawmaker, pressing her to publicly take a stand in support of Israel.

According to Foreign Policy's The Cable, AIPAC recently issued an action alert about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democratic congresswoman who is in a unique position: She represents a largely Jewish district in Florida and has been a staunch supporter of the Israel lobby's agenda – but she was also appointed by President Barack Obama to head the Democratic National Committee.

The Cable piece titled, "One of Congress's Most Pro-Israel Lawmakers Isn’t Pro-Israel Enough for AIPAC," goes on to describe how a letter from the lobby urged members to contact Wasserman Schultz and cited an article that disparaged her on the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website.

The move by AIPAC, according to The Cable, "has raised eyebrows among some current and former AIPAC officials" and "raised concerns that AIPAC's open revolt against the White House's Iran diplomacy could fray its relations with liberal Democrats on the Hill."

Former AIPAC officials quoted in the piece said the group made a mistake in targeting the congresswoman – and particularly in using the Free Beacon article – adding that it could backfire against the pro-Israel community or lead to partisan divisions.

Wasserman Schultz has reportedly been pushing against new Iran sanctions behind the scenes. But Michael Adler, an associate of the congresswoman and an AIPAC activist, told The Forward that the pressure on her shows the Iran sanctions bill is increasingly becoming a “litmus test on if you are pro-Israel."

Meanwhile, The Cable reported, Wasserman Schultz's office was inundated with phone calls from AIPAC members in Florida after the letter went out.

It remains to be seen how long Wasserman Schultz will be able to keep her position on new sanctions to herself.

The Cable reported that her spokeswoman issued a statement, saying, "Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been a strong supporter of sanctions against Iran and will continue to be." But, the piece concluded, "whether that will pass muster with her South Florida constituents remains to be seen."

Members attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual policy conference in Washington on March 3, 2013. Credit: AFP

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