AIPAC is for Israel, plain and simple

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When AIPAC begins its annual policy conference in Washington this weekend, members of Congress and the cream of Beltway society will be on hand to lend support for Israel.

There will be no shortage of noble speeches, cheers and applause for pro-Israel leaders from both parties. Scheduled speakers include Vice President Cheney and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, demonstrating the bipartisan support Israel continues to enjoy.

We’re proud to note that this year the 100-person-strong Bay Area contingent attending the conference is the largest yet, boding well for our region’s positive influence on the direction of U.S. Israel policy.

Unfortunately, the huzzahs from the nation’s capital cannot hide the fact that these are hard times for Israel.

According to a BBC poll, which queried 28,000 people in 27 countries, Israel is the world’s least popular country. It is little comfort that Iran and North Korea came in second and third. The unfortunate fact remains that a majority of people on our planet view Israel as the problem in the Middle East rather than the relentless terrorist infrastructure bent on Israel’s destruction.

Complicating matters is a poll finding more than 75 percent of Israelis are displeased with their political leaders. That’s a record low for any Israeli government, and can only further hamper progress for the scandal-plagued Olmert administration.

Meanwhile, the global hard-line stance against the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority has weakened, with Russia and France shamefully capitulating to the so-called “unity government” forged by Hamas and Fatah. Terrorists in Gaza and Lebanon are rearming, a near-nuclear Iran and Saudi Arabia are improving their relationship.

Who will stand with Israel?

As always, the United States remains Israel’s staunchest ally, with the AIPAC conference perhaps the most visible annual demonstration of solidarity.

Israel’s detractors love to hate AIPAC. They view it as overly influential, even sinister. They chide the organization for crying wolf whenever Israel comes under any perceived threat.

Those detractors are wrong.

It is precisely because groups like AIPAC maintain their pressure that Israel can count on the bulwark of American support. It’s not “crying wolf” when wolves really are on the prowl.

AIPAC is not left or right, Democrat or Republican, Labor or Likud. It is pro-Israel, pure and simple. Some, including some Jews, may not like the organization, but we are glad they remain in Israel’s corner and come out swinging.