Joel Mowbray

When Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu sit down for the first time as world leaders today, chatter in and outside the Beltway will revolve around the chess match expected between two savvy political heavyweights.

Behind the scenes, though, a perpetual whisper will become even more pronounced. From anti-Semitic Web sites to left-wing (but mainstream) outlets like DailyKos, the complaint about Israel’s “undue influence” on U.S. foreign policy will ramp up if Obama doesn’t win on every concession some are expecting him to demand.

Taking the brunt of these loopy allegations, no doubt, will AIPAC, American Israel Public Affairs Committee. No group in the U.S., in fact, is subject to more socially acceptable conspiracy theories. Because no government in the world is more pro-Israel than that of the United States — and AIPAC is the most visible advocate of maintaining that support — tales are constantly circulating about the group’s now-legendary prowess.

Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt made waves when they published an essay on the “Israel lobby” that mystically controls U.S. foreign policy, acting as puppet master to the U.S. Congress. Despite the authors’ protestations, the “Israel lobby” really boils down to the strength and effectiveness of AIPAC. Millions of Internet fans swooned, and the pair pulled down an eye-popping $750,000 advance to expand their thesis into a book, which eventually became a New York Times bestseller.

There’s no denying that AIPAC is powerful. Yet the reasons not only are not hidden, but rather flaunted. And their efforts are only able to be as effective as they because ordinary Americans support Israel.

This year’s annual Policy Conference, which took place last week and clocked in at over 6,000 activists from across the United States, featured the slogan, “Relationships Matter.” It is from that simple premise, in fact, that AIPAC has become one of the most formidable outfits in the U.S.

Not only is the secret to AIPAC’s success strikingly straight-forward, but it’s lifted pretty much wholesale from the corporate world. Businesses that depend on partnering with other companies have entire divisions dedicated to relationships called “business development.” Those units — the successful ones, anyway — typically go out in force and build relationships that could yield joint ventures. In short, the more relationships you build and nurture, the stronger your company can grow.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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