Ex-AIPAC Official: Sharon ´Bought´ Support

A former American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) official charged that the pro-Israel lobby supported the evacuation plan "as part of the price for getting Sharon to agree to speak."<BR><br/>

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, | updated: 03:00

The Los Angeles Jewish Journal Friday quoted the former AIPAC official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, that AIPAC is not enthusiastic about the plan to dismantle 25 Jewish communities and hand the area in Jewish Gaza and northern Samaria to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

A speech from the Prime Minister of Israel was just the right medicine for AIPAC, which badly needed to improve its battered image following the arrest of a Pentagon worker suspected of passing intelligence information on to AIPAC. Sharon addressed 5,000 delegates of the group last Tuesday.

Nahum Barnea, considered one of Israel's top journalists and a self-confessed backer of the evacuation plan, wrote in the Hebrew daily Yediot Acharonot that Abe Foxman, director of the liberal-leaning Anti-Defamation League (ADL), has not ruled out the possibility that the arrest was promoted by anti-Semitic and political motives.

He wrote that AIPAC does not want to quarrel with the Bush administration, particularly after the arrest of the Pentagon worker, Larry Franklin. "Many U.S. congressmen and government officials consider the behavior of AIPAC members to be brutal, arrogant and inconsiderate [and] they are convinced the organization must be suppressed for the sake of the U.S. foreign policy’s independence," Barnea wrote.

AIPAC's support of the evacuation policy is surface, according to the LA Jewish Journal. "The mood in the hall was skeptical, but they had no choice. The real story is that they were forced to make a [supportive] statement," according to the official.

Despite Sharon's overall positive reception by AIPAC, the influential New York Jewish Week scolded him for evading the Jewish press. Editor and publisher Gary Rosenblatt said Sharon is taking the American Jewish community for granted by speaking only with politicians.

"There is much confusion about Israeli policies today, even among American Jews, and frustration as well…. Many on the left oppose the Sharon disengagement policy because they fear it is a prelude to a firm commitment to hold on to most of the settlements…. More outspoken are those on the right who insist that.…Sharon not only has deceived the Israeli people but is rewarding terrorism and heartlessly abandoning the 8,500 Jewish men, women and children living in the areas to be evacuated this summer."