Lobbying Congress for Control of US Middle East Policy
by Richard H. Curtiss
Washington, D.C.: American Educational Trust, 1996. 278 pp. $14.95 (paper).
Reviewed by Mordecai Lee
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Middle East Quarterly
Stealth PACs provides extensive data on contributions to Federal candidates by pro-Israel political action committees (PACs) from 1976 to March 31, 1996, and by pro-Arab PACs for 1983 to March 31, 1996. The information appears to be an accurate reflection of Federal Election Commission (FEC) records; it is useful for a close analysis of influences on American policy in the Middle East. In particular, the numbers give a sense of how pro-Israel funds are dwarfed by other interest groups (giving just $2.5 million out of a total of $189 million from PACs in the 1993-94 election cycle).
Curtiss contends that the pro-Israel lobby, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), takes advantage of illegal loopholes in campaign financing laws. This claim served as the basis for a complaint by the author and six other plaintiffs made to the FEC against AIPAC, a case that initially went against them and is now pending a judgement from the Supreme Court.
Curtiss also criticizes the fact that pro-Israel money flows into the political system from sources with uninformative names (National Action Committee PAC, Badger PAC, and San Franciscans for Good Government) that obscure their policy agenda. Yet, his own study is published by something called the "American Education Trust," a name no less innocuous. The Trust also publishes the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (which Curtiss edits) whose homepage (http://www.washington-report.org) lists awards he received from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Islamic Association for Palestine in North America, and United Muslims of America—all anti-Israel groups. In his acknowledgments, the author thanks the publisher for securing "much of the funding that made the years of research that went into this publication possible." Those "stealth" funding sources are not identified; who are they and what is their policy agenda?
Related Topics: Arab-Israeli debate in the U.S., US policy, US politics | June 1998 MEQ
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