Obama Speaking at AIPAC, Reagan Refused. Why? – IRmep
Date: Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 6:24 AM
|The Israel Lobby Archive this week releases documents obtained from the Ronald Reagan Library/National Archives in Simi Valley. Although pressured by Republican Party Senate and Congressional leaders, as well as his own White House staff, Reagan refused to personally address the May 15, 1988 annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Archive documents: http://irmep.org/ILA/Reagan
Obama vs. Reagan on AIPAC: Documents reveal Ronald Reagan’s response to Israel lobby’s invitation
Politico reports that President Barack Obama may attend the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) gathering in Washington, D.C. According to documents released last week by the National Archives, President Ronald Reagan had a more appropriate answer to invitations and party pressure to attend AIPAC’s gathering on May 15, 1988, “No, thanks.” Until Bill Clinton came along, no American president had ever accepted an invitation to speak at the Israel lobby’s annual confab while still in office. President Obama may this month reveal himself to be more pliable to Israeli, party, stealth PAC, and single-issue campaign contributors than many of his forebears. But what factors should a modern president consider before responding to an AIPAC invitation?
Reagan didn’t find AIPAC a fitting venue for a president. He clearly could have attended, but he chose not to. On March 25, 1988, Sen. Richard Lugar pitched the White House on behalf of AIPAC. “They are (of course) very anxious to have the president. These are sophisticated and informed folks (who know what RR has done for the relationship), and I am told the chief will get a tumultuous welcome.” House Republican Leader Robert H. Michel noted that “apparently he [Reagan] has never talked to them specifically, and this would be the last year for this one also.” Frederick J. Ryan, in charge of presidential appointments and scheduling at the White House, also urged attendance. “Despite the fact that the AIPAC has opposed various administration efforts to sell arms to Arab countries, this would be an event worth doing. I have no doubt that he will be hailed by this most powerful of Washington lobbies as the truest friend of Israel ever to sit in the Oval Office.” When Reagan died, AIPAC reaffirmed this sentiment, gushing about how a president so committed to American welfare reform placed Israel on the dole of U.S. taxpayers and consumers. “Under President Reagan, the U.S. Israel Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1985…Additionally, under President Reagan’s leadership, America’s foreign assistance to Israel matured into the form it currently takes today. No longer composed of loans and grants, Israel today receives all of its economic and military assistance from the United States in grants.” Reagan ultimately tasked Max Green of his Office of Public Affairs to craft a presidential message for AIPAC in his stead.
Full report with hyperlinks: http://original.antiwar.com/smith-grant/2011/05/15/obama-vs-reagan-on-aipac/
Radio interview: http://antiwar.com/radio/2011/05/16/grant-f-smith-19/