The lobby: A crash course


I’m forced to deal with, more frequently than anyone could possibly stand, theories of why Jewish influence is so pervasive in the United States.

Is it money, is it threats of ostracism, or is it just that America loves Zion?

A little of each, maybe, but the answer is so wonkish, it defies sexiness: Jews are involved politically.


We join together as a community and we contribute a chunk of our earnings to pay folks to insert themselves into the political process through lobbying and activism. Beyond that, we volunteer our hours to activism and lobbying.

AIPAC is persuasive, above all, because it can get 6,000-plus people up to the Hill each year.

But the key is the holistic quality of the involvement: Every election, every decision is important.

And not just about Israel, about everything: Immigration, health, religious freedoms, the economy.

None of it is made up, or faked.

Politicians listen to Jews because Jews tend to ask them incisive questions, on just about everything.

As anyone who has leafleted a suburb in a freezing November rain will explain to you, there is no better match made than that between a pol and an involved constituent. It’s like any other other relationship, between business partners, lovers or friends: The sensibilities match.

So if you really want to understand the secret of the "lobby," check out this Virginia candidate’s guide from the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.

Candidates in 33 state legislative races now know that the Jews of northern Virginia — and we’re not that numerous, believe me —  are informed and concerned about a range of issues, in a way, perhaps that not many other constituencies are.

They also know that one of these issues — no less or no more important than the other issues, but important — is the U.S.-Israel relationship.

The secret is this: Be informed and make sure your representative knows you are informed.

The rest is commentary.

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