AIPAC: Shaping U.S.-Israel Relations Since 1953

Key figures instrumental in AIPAC's establishment include Isaiah L. Kenen, Morris J. Amitay, Tom Dine, and Harry Truman. Truman, while not a founder, played a crucial role

Elite Politics
Photo by Taylor Brandon / Unsplash

Established in 1953 as the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was a response to the international aftermath of the Holocaust, aiming to garner broader support for Israel. Founded by Isaiah L. Kenen, also known as "Si" Kenen, it functioned as the lobbying arm of the American Zionist Council. Kenen served as its executive director until 1974.

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Undergoing transformations over the years, AIPAC faced a significant turning point in 1981 when it opposed the Reagan administration's proposal to sell sophisticated Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft to Saudi Arabia. Accusations were leveled against AIPAC for allegedly forwarding contributions of pro-Israel Political Action Committees (PACs), though the organization was later cleared of wrongdoing. Following Kenen's retirement, Morris J. Amitay and later Tom Dine played pivotal roles in reshaping and professionalizing AIPAC.

Key figures instrumental in AIPAC's establishment include Isaiah L. Kenen, Morris J. Amitay, Tom Dine, and Harry Truman. Truman, while not a founder, played a crucial role during the organization's early years, securing U.S. aid for Israel while Kenen was working for his presidency.

The AIPAC Impact

Evolved into a potent lobbying force, AIPAC boasts over 3 million grassroots members working to fortify bipartisan U.S.-Israel relations. Engaging in political campaigns, the organization supports pro-Israel candidates, influencing election outcomes. AIPAC's advocacy extends to counter-terrorism policies and securing U.S. financial aid for Israel.

AIPAC positions itself as America's premier pro-Israel lobby, collaborating across party lines to shape public policy. With a belief in the U.S.-Israel relationship as an American value, the organization focuses on bipartisan support. Recent initiatives include advocating for foreign aid, promoting joint anti-terrorism efforts, endorsing a negotiated two-state solution, educating decision-makers, and supporting pro-Israel members of Congress.

In its pursuit, AIPAC seeks to encourage U.S. government support for Israel's security, facilitate collaboration against terrorism, promote a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, educate decision-makers on the benefits of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, and build bipartisan backing. Supported by contributions from AIPAC members nationwide, the Political Action Committee actively endorses pro-Israel legislators, ensuring a robust U.S.-Israel presence in Washington, D.C.


The journey of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) from its inception in 1953 to its current stature as a formidable lobbying force underscores its resilience and influence. Shaped by key figures such as Isaiah L. Kenen, Morris J. Amitay, Tom Dine, and the pivotal role of Harry Truman, AIPAC has weathered challenges and transformations.

Today, with over 3 million grassroots members, AIPAC continues to navigate the complex landscape of U.S.-Israel relations, advocating bipartisan policies and shaping the discourse on vital issues. The organization's proactive initiatives underscore its commitment to fortify the enduring bond between the United States and Israel.