Grant Smith: An Overview of the Israel Lobby Agenda

Delivered to The Israel Lobby and American Policy 2018 conference March 2, 2018 at the National Press Club

The Israel Lobby and American Policy conference was solely sponsored by the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep). This is a rush transcript.

Dale Sprusansky: I would like to introduce Grant Smith of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, a co-sponsor of this event. Grant and his organization are committed to uncovering and documenting how the Israel lobby works and operates through its research and its Freedom of Information Act requests. Grant is the author of several books on the lobby, his most recent being Big Israel: How Israel’s Lobby Moves America. That book is available for sale at our bookstore and is also now available online as an audiobook.

So with that, I’d like to welcome Grant to the stage who will provide an overview of the lobby and of today’s events. Thank you.

Grant Smith: Thank you, Dale. Welcome, everybody. As he said, I’m going to be reviewing the Israel lobby’s agenda in some detail. It explains, I think, best why we’ve invited this particular group of experts to speak today. I’ll try to mention as many of them as I can as we review the stakes, the very high stakes, and challenges that are being presented here in the United States and globally which are higher than ever before.

The Israel lobby, in terms of a nonprofit sector snapshot – and this is coming out of the database that was compiled for my book Big Israel – is an ecosystem of organizations that advance Israel at very many levels. This is on track to be a $6.3 billion industry in 2020. Nearly 500 separate medium-sized to major organizations – with, certainly, AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League and many others at the top – but if you add it up, it’s almost 17,000 employees, half a million volunteers working in organizations that have the advancement of Israel as one of their primary objectives in the United States.

Their designated voice, as Dale mentioned, leveraging the collective power of these grassroots integrated organizations is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and it will of course be meeting in its annual policy conference this weekend.

So there’ll be a great deal of triumph in the achievement of one of its longest term objectives, which was realized in President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Now the announcement was followed by a State Department announcement saying that the U.S. Embassy will be moved to Jerusalem in May. It’s something that, since its founding in 1948, Israel has wanted all countries to do – to give official recognition, locate their embassies in Jerusalem, rather than Tel Aviv. But of course the original 1947 partition plan of Palestine into Arab and Israeli states required that Jerusalem…

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