AIPAC endorses 27 Democrats who support Iran nuclear deal

Despite intense efforts to prevent the deal in 2015, AIPAC is now embracing Democratic lawmakers who voted for the Obama-era agreement, JTA reports.

By World Israel News Staff

Pro-Israeli lobby group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) announced its support for 27 Democratic lawmakers who had voted for the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal in 2015, despite intense efforts by the group to prevent the deal when it was originally proposed.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported that AIPAC is embracing a major policy shift on the matter and now will formally endorse politicians who voted in favor of the deal, after pulling out all the stops in 2015 to stop them from supporting it.

The JTA said that AIPAC had sent its representatives to try to persuade Jewish representatives to vote as one united bloc against the bill, with tensions rising so high that negotiations eventually escalated into “tearful angry exchanges in congressional offices.”

But despite pledging to “excommunicate” lawmakers who voted in favor of the bill, AIPAC is now openly endorsing those same politicians.

“AIPAC at the time made it very clear that this was a red line issue, and that there would be consequences if people crossed and voted in support of the Iran deal,” said an avowedly pro-Israel Republican who spoke to JTA anonymously.

“And at some point, there needs to be accountability for that. So I understand the dilemma and the challenge that AIPAC faces, but I do think it’s important to speak with a clear message.”

Some believe that AIPAC has softened its perspective due to dramatic changes in the political landscape since 2015, including the entry of anti-Israel progressive Democratic lawmakers such as Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, members of the so-called “Squad.”

Some of those Democratic lawmakers who voted for the 2015 proved to be critical in securing $1 billion replenishment funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which members of the Squad had voted against.

Referring to the endorsees, an AIPAC official told JTA that “AIPAC evaluates their overall record on the U.S.- Israel relationship. To do anything otherwise is to narrow the coalition rather than broaden it.”

Former director of AIPAC’s Midwest division Jonathan Greenberg told JTA that endorsees like House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who voted for the nuclear deal in 2015, had proven to be solid supporters of Israel and that AIPAC did not want to sacrifice its relationship with them.

“You don’t get much better friends than Steny Hoyer and I even I have to admit that — people like Steny Hoyer are allowed a bad vote, even what I consider to be a very bad vote,” Greenberg said.