Arthur Brooks previews AIPAC speech

PREVIEW — In a phone conversation with Jewish Insider yesterday, Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), previewed the message of his speech to AIPAC ahead of this morning’s plenary session.

Brooks explains why many Americans support Israel: “Americans believe that pluralistic democratic capitalism is good for everybody in the world, and we look for outposts around the world that share that, particularly in this extremely adversarial conditions. And there’s no better example of that than Israel. And so the reason that we stand with Israel, the reason that we all should and many of us do, and the reason that people came all across the country is because we want the best for everybody.”

Brooks calls the current political climate an “incredible opportunity” for AIPAC: “You know, AIPAC got weirdly controversial for all kinds of reasons that had nothing to do with AIPAC per se and everything to do with the current political environment. AIPAC became an Avatar for other political issues. And, you know, some people will kind of regret that, but they shouldn’t. That’s an incredible opportunity that just doesn’t come along very much. And the opportunity is to treat the contempt toward AIPAC or the contempt for any of us as an opportunity to answer with respect and kindness and actual love because it’s an opening to be persuasive, particularly for people who witness the dialogue, and it’s an opportunity to actually create more happiness in our world, for us and maybe even for the people that we’re dealing with.”

“Contempt and hatred are always an incredible opportunity. Now, not to be a pollyanna, we’re talking about contempt in the American political context… Every Israeli knows that you can have contempt that’s actually a physical threat. At which point you’d have to get out the power tools… I’m talking about in the United States where people are attacking AIPAC on social media and in ordinary media and in politics. That is a true opportunity to show what we’re made of as people radically dedicated to the equality of human dignity. And so people will listen to us and say, ‘My God, those guys do really practice what they preach. They really do believe those things.’ And if it were not for the contempt of the current environment, we wouldn’t have that opportunity and we wouldn’t be able to take the cause forward as rapidly as we will be able to in the coming six months. I’m going to talk about how to do it and what the consequences are if we blow it by answering the contempt of the political situation with contempt of our own.”

Brooks on where AIPAC might be in 5-10 years: “Whether AIPAC has its current level of support or changes, depends very centrally on whether or not AIPAC represents what the country wants to be, not just what AIPAC wants to be. [As a country] we’re starting to rebel against the outrage industrial complex… 93 percent of Americans hate how divided we’ve become… All organizations are aligned with one particular specific cause, but to the extent that they represent the general cultural movement of where we want to be, that will be the biggest driver in their ultimate success.”

“So I would strongly recommend the leaders of AIPAC to say, how can we represent what all Americans most want for their country? Martin Luther King said the cause of civil rights should be the cause of American greatness, and that’s the way it should be. If it becomes more narrow in its cause, I understand that, but I think that would be a missed opportunity for AIPAC to represent the broader sentiments of those of us who love each other and love our country, and, by the way, who even love our neighbors when they disagree with us.”

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.