Reported Shake-ups at Aipac Put Lobby Back in the Headlines

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee this week has once again hit the headlines of major American daily newspapers.

This time, the subject is internal shake-ups at the Jewish lobby, which has traditionally shied away from publicity.

The latest round of news stories were touched off by the reported “forced resignation” last week of Douglas Bloomfield, AIPAC’s legislative director since 1979.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Bloomfield was asked to resign last week, upon his return from a trip to Jerusalem.

In a separate move, Edward Levy Jr., AIPAC’s president, has asked for the resignations of the entire board of the Near East Report, the pro-Israel newsletter and nonprofit corporation linked to AIPAC.

One point of contention reportedly occurred this summer, when the weekly refused to include comments from a prominent Jewish Republican urging Jews to support the candidacy of Vice President George Bush.

Levy and Robert Asher, AIPAC’s chairman, reportedly told the Near East Report that it should include such comments made during the Republican National Convention by Max Fisher of Detroit, considered the dean of Jewish Republican fund-raisers.

The Washington Post Wednesday paraphrased an AIPAC official as saying the newsletter’s board was asked to resign, in part, “because AIPAC’s officers grew weary of arguing with their own house organ.”

LOBBYING APPROACH AT ISSUE

The Near East Report’s editor, Eric Rozenman, reportedly resigned in November because of that dispute and because of similar incidents.

AIPAC spokeswoman Toby Dershowitz declined to comment for the record Wednesday on the Near East Report shake-up and the Bloomfield resignation. Bloomfield and Rozenman did not answer telephone messages left by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

But according to JTA sources, Bloomfield’s “forced resignation” is part of a power struggle between two factions as to what AIPAC should be.

Traditionalists like Bloomfield believe AIPAC’s purpose should be limited to lobbying Congress, according to Morris Amitay, a pro-Israel lobbyist who formerly served as AIPAC’s executive director.

Other AIPAC staffers, such as Steven Rosen, the director of foreign policy issues, are reportedly trying to use congressional lobbying techniques to influence administration policy.

Amitay, who hired Bloomfield, said in an interview Wednesday that “the best people to lobby the administration are members of Congress.”

In the Jewish community, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations was set up for that purpose, he added.

Rep. Lawrence Smith (D-Fla.), a key supporter of Israel in Congress, told the Associated Press that AIPAC needs to understand “that the real bedrock of Israel’s support is the Congress. Administrations come and go.”

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