Opinion

AIPAC, the U.S. Branch of Netanyahu's Likud Party

The group’s message is loud and clear: We’re not interested in nonsense like investigations, corruption, bribery, arrests and people who turn state’s evidence

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the 2018 AIPAC policy conference in Washington, March 6, 2018.
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

AIPAC is bad for Israel. The time has come to say it, in Hebrew and in English. AIPAC has described itself since 1951 as a pro-Israel lobby. As of today it’s acting like a pro-Netanyahu lobby.

Its people link arms with the reckless Donald Trump and work with him as lobbyists for Benjamin Netanyahu. Because Netanyahu recently declared war on Israel and its institutions, AIPAC has stopped being pro-Israel and is in practice acting anti-Israel. It wasn’t a diplomatic visit that was organized this week for Netanyahu in Washington, but a masked ball. It’s no wonder he’s hanging on like a drowning man on a life preserver.

Netanyahu’s performance has turned AIPAC’s annual conference into the Likud Central Committee, just in the Washington Convention Center instead of the Tel Aviv Convention Center. No real difference, just a stricter dress code. The same performances from the podium, the same shtick, the same Iran (for nine years already!), the same thousands of supporters giving standing ovations to the emperor with no clothes.

If the AIPAC delegates enjoy demeaning themselves in front of Netanyahu once a year, let them enjoy it. Just don’t let them convince themselves that they’re helping Israel. They’re damaging Israel, and belittling it. The message they’re sending is loud and clear: We’re not interested in nonsense like investigations, corruption, bribery, arrests and people who turn state’s evidence. We’ll leave this provinciality to you, the Asian natives in the Middle East. Let us know when it’s over.

As everyone knows, AIPAC’s members don’t live in Israel. They support it from a safe distance. They donate, visit and send their children and grandchildren for quick Zionist tours. As far as they’re concerned, they love Israel. You can’t doubt the authenticity of their feelings, but in diplomacy, unconditional love isn’t true love.

Here’s where the roles switch places. After all, fundamentally the annual airlift to the AIPAC conference – packed with members of both the government and opposition, retired senior officials and excited journalists – largely reflects Israeli inadequacy. This is how a vassal province looks and acts, not a confident and independent nation.

But when a prime minister has legal problems as Netanyahu does, and he marches to the front of the stage as if nothing is going on and the AIPAC delegates go wild as they always do, they’re the ones behaving like vassals lacking self-respect. They’re making it clear that to them, Netanyahu’s misdeeds are of no importance to them. Whatever he does, they’ll applaud. What sort of weird love is that?

Just a short reminder for AIPAC: Netanyahu is suspected of serious crimes in three corruption cases. His closest and most important confidants are suspects in the submarine affair, whose essence is profiteering and embezzlement at the expense of Israel’s security. His wife faces an indictment in the extravagant gifts case and is a suspect in the Bezeq-Walla affair.

The two of them were even questioned at the same time so they couldn’t coordinate their testimony. Three of their closest advisers have turned state’s evidence against them. This is the common practice in organized-crime investigations. Their son is unemployed, protected by bodyguards and chauffeured at the public’s expense, and has been exposed as enjoying the services of strippers while using disgusting language about women, including his ex-girlfriend. Hasn’t this news reached Washington yet?

Even worse, Netanyahu and his family launched an all-out war against the government’s institutions. The enemies are no longer just Arabs, leftists and journalists. Now Netanyahu and his eunuchs are rocking the foundations of the rule of law and its representatives: police officers, investigators, judges and prosecutors.

At Purim, his usual deputy, Culture Minister Miri Regev, compared the gatekeepers in the legal system to the guards of King Ahasuerus, who plotted to murder him and were sentenced to death by hanging.

AIPAC, hello? Anyone who loves Israel can’t support Netanyahu anymore. Anyone who supports Netanyahu doesn’t love Israel. It’s that simple.