Israel's Defense Line: Her Friends and Foes in Washington

By I. L. Kenen | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
Organization of the Lobby

THE BIRTH OF AIPAC

Our acrimonious clashes with the Eisenhower-Dulles regime over arms and water led to rumors that the American Zionist Council (AZC) faced investigation. The rumors were ill-founded but they were persistent and could not be ignored. We reorganized and established a lobbying committee - the forerunner of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Between 1951 and 1953, I had been the Washington representative of the AZC, a tax-exempt organization. A government agency had ruled that only an insubstantial portion of AZC funds had been used for lobbying. Now, however, we heard that the State Department was busily comparing my critical 1953 memoranda with those circulated by the Israeli embassy.

"Shouldn't Kenen register as an agent of a foreign government?" a desk officer indignantly demanded of an Israeli journalist, Eliahu Salpeter of Haaretz, who then called me to sound the alarm. Then, late in December 1953, a Republican member of our Executive Committee, who worked in Washington, told our Committee that I might be a target.

There was no basis for the contention that we were merely parroting Israel's views. I had differences with the Israeli government, and I had not hesitated to voice them. We had a major disagreement on arms.

Some Israeli diplomats, notably Shiloah, maintained that, since the Administration planned to arm Iraq, we should immediately campaign for arms for Israel. I disagreed, arguing that we should oppose arms to every country in the area as long as possible, at least until the United States began the threatened shipments to Egypt and Iraq. My Washington colleagues

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