The influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is hosting its 2012 annual policy conference in Washington, D.C. The conference, which advocated the organization's hawkish views on the Middle East conflict, drew 13,000 attendees, including hundreds of members of Congress, President Obama, and Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney. On Tuesday, members of AIPAC will be flooding Capitol Hill with official lobbying appointments. However, there are many ways the lobby group exerts influence in Washington.
In 2001, AIPAC was named the fourth most powerful lobby in Washington, D.C., by Fortune Magazine, and it is very successful in its mission. The United States is among the largest supporters of the Israeli government, providing it with $3 billion a year in foreign aid. The United States also has vetoed dozens of United Nations resolutions critical of Israeli actions. While most Americans are generally supportive of Israel, there are a range of views, including within the U.S. Jewish community, about how best to implement that support. AIPAC presses the executive branch and Congress to pursue the most hawkish policies, usually those in sync with those of the conservative Israeli Likud Party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, even when Likud is not in power.