American Attitudes About Israel/Lobby Programs

As presented at the “The Israel Lobby and American Policy” conference presented March 24, 2017 by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy.

Public opinion polling is important, but little of it accurately measures what the American public thinks about key Israel/lobby issues. This survey series begins to fill in that information deficit.

Focused, accurate polling should guide elected representatives, who can then act in the broader public interest. Polling about Israel lobby programs reveals a large gap between US government actions demanded by the lobby and policy outcomes the public prefers.

The Israel lobby’s growth, size, composition and division of labor has become better understood since the disastrous US invasion of Iraq (which the lobby quietly supported) and the more recent battles over the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) signed by the Obama administration (which the lobby publicly, though unsuccessfully, opposed). This report uses the neologism “Israel/lobby” to express the oftentimes simultaneous public relations campaigns and lobbying programs pursued by the Israeli government in coordination with top advocacy organizations lobbying for Israel within the United States. Key US organizations include the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Hundreds more, including a small number of evangelical Christian organizations, play a role within a vast ecosystem that demands unconditional US support for Israel.

In the year 2012 the nonprofit wing of the Israel lobby raised $3.7 billion in revenue. They are on track to reach $6.3 billion by 2020. Collectively they employed 14,000 and claimed 350,000 volunteers. However outside data suggests an estimated active membership of only about 774,000.

This nonprofit foreign interest lobby, along with an overlapping political campaign contribution infrastructure not counted in the figures above, provides Israel with the US support among members of the Congress and other key influencers that purely American interests would not. This lobbying prowess goes on display as 15,000 AIPAC members gather at their annual policy conference every March, after which many visit their representatives on Capitol Hill to demand compliance with an increasingly costly legislative agenda.

What Americans think about the methods by which this is achieved, the enormous costs and the outcomes is the subject of this report.

Read the full report here.

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