Your interview with the chairman of the resurrected Israel Policy Forum adopts his self-description of IPF as “centrist” (“IPF Back In Fray,” June 22). That organization is anything but. Adopting a self-description can be highly inaccurate. For example, the fact that another group that lobbies Congress against Israeli positions calls itself “pro-Israel” hardly makes that label true.
The repackaged IPF is staking out a position just short of J Street’s extreme positions. Merely being not quite as extreme as a group beyond the pale does not render one “centrist.”
IPF’s history further negates that designation. When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reminded President George Bush in 2001 that Israel is not Czechoslovakia — in other words that Israel will not be sacrificed to appease the Arab world — IPF’s leadership attacked Sharon’s eminently reasonable statement. IPF apparently was not uncomfortable with Israel’s serving as the scapegoat.
IPF’s response to Sharon was characteristic. In 2005 and 2006, it encouraged Condoleezza Rice to pressure Israel into gravely dangerous security concessions regarding the Rafah Crossing. In 2009, it placed an insulting ad in The New York Times before a visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, not even mentioning the prime minister by name while implicitly asking President Barack Obama to pressure him (Jewish Week, May 15, 2009).
“Centrist?” Definitely not. If we want a truly “centrist” organization, then AIPAC, consisting of Democrats, Republicans and independents, admirably fills that role. There may even be others, but IPF is not.