Just one day after his landslide victory, aides to Israel’s newly elected prime minister put one of American Jewry’s key pro-Israel groups on notice.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, organized Jewry’s pro-Israel Washington lobby, “has been less than wise in several of their endeavors over the last few years,” Alon Pinkus, Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak’s spokesman, said Tuesday.
Pinkus echoed the charges of other Barak aides who said that the lobby had earned the incoming government’s mistrust by violating its obligation to remain nonpartisan. AIPAC, he said, is “a very important organization, and a very efficient ally to have on Capitol Hill.” But the group has “allowed itself to be manipulated politically by [outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.
“We’re not writing them off,” Pinkus said, “as long as they understand they are not part and parcel of the Israeli political system.”
Pinkus’ statement was striking for coming so early from an official spokesman for Barak, a first-time leader from the dovish-leaning One Israel Party. Barak has yet to set the tone for his relationship with the American Jewish establishment — an establishment that has, by and large, had little contact with him until now. Several aides acknowledged the issue of American Jewry has yet to come up on Barak’s own “radar screen,” as one put it, as he faces the more immediate task of assembling a governing coalition.