India: Let's Get Our Own AIPAC

An Indian columnist, Ajai Shula, has criticized Indian lobbyists for their lack of clout in the US and compares them with the pro-Israel AIPAC organization which he says is, "variously called the Jewish lobby, Zionist agents, or the most successful lobby group on the planet." Apparently the Indians have asked AIPAC to share some of its practices with them. Here are some of the secrets they have learned so far.

The first secret of the AIPAC’s success is its simplicity of purpose, namely, to promote the interests of Israel in the US. In this endeavour the AIPAC is bipartisan, both internally and in its outreach, wooing Democrats and Republicans with equal fervour. The American Jewish community is no less divided than the Indian American community in many ways, but when it comes to Israel, the AIPAC sets aside local differences to work for the benefit of Tel Aviv. In contrast, various sections of the Indian American community tend to work with various likeminded political parties in India towards various goals, which exacerbates rather than overcomes differences.

Secondly, the AIPAC always frames its global aim in local terms that strike a chord within a constituency. As a prominent AIPAC lobbyist puts it: “The average American legislator does not wake up thinking about Israel, or, for that matter, about India. The first thing he thinks is, what do my voters want?” And since voters want different things in different places, the AIPAC functions through a country-wide network of local offices that are in touch with voter concerns in every electoral constituency. To voters concerned about homeland security, Israel is the frontline in the war on terror. To heavily immigrant communities (and America is predominantly immigrant) Israel is the ultimate immigrant homeland. To defence-manufacturing constituencies, Israel is the biggest buyer. So well-informed is the AIPAC’s network that the government of Israel has consulted it on likely US reactions before passing important legislation in Tel Aviv.

Thirdly, the AIPAC’s brilliant organisation makes up for small numbers and demonstrates that while being visible is vitally important, functioning effectively is much more so. The group monitors all legislation, pending or in process, and evaluates where its support is needed. Its workers cover every meeting on Capitol Hill that deliberates on matters relating to Israel, and hold some 2000 meetings with US congressmen each year. Through email, snail mail, flyers, community hall meetings and ballroom galas, it passes on to voters and congressmen the facts that support Israel, particularly each congressman’s voting record on Israel. The AIPAC thus helps to pass about one hundred pieces of pro-Israel legislation annually, and ensures the smooth passage of $2.4 billion in security-related aid to Israel. Indian communities, by similar record keeping, could make their local congressmen realise that a vote against India will not be forgotten.

So the blue billion sits at the feet of the blue and white 5 million to learn how to lobby. Interesting.

And by the way The "Blue Billion Express" is a Pepsi ad campaign aimed at a billion cricket fans with the catchy cheer, "Oooooh Aaaaah India, Aaaaah Yaaaaa India!"

Blue Billion Chase - video powered by Metacafe

No comments: