December 1995, Pages 31-32
Pro-Israel PAC Contributions at Record Low for 1996 Election Cycle
In the first six months of the 1996 election cycle, contributions to candidates for federal office by pro-Israel political action committees (PACs) totaled only $371,356. These filings from Jan. 1 through June 30, 1995 with the Federal Election Commission by 40 pro-Israel PACs so far active in the current cycle reflect a continuing downward trend that began in the 1993-1994 cycle. In that two-year period, 61 active pro-Israel PACs collected $6,084,639, of which $2,529,573 was donated to the campaigns of individual candidates for Congress. Both the collections and disbursements in 1994 were about half of the totals for each of the previous three cycles in 1988, 1990, and 1992.
PAC treasurers have complained that contributions dropped after signing of the Oslo accords in September 1993. It also was around that time that the pro-Israel PACs were widely criticized by their own donors for the low ratio of donations to candidates in comparison with the funds actually raised. Whether the falloff in contributions to pro-Israel PACs reflects these factors or is a result of other crosscurrents within America's Jewish community is not yet clear.
The deep gulf that has opened within the pro-Israel community over whether to support the peace agreement being pursued by Israel's Labor government, or to oppose it by supporting the Likud or other opposition groups in Israel, may also be a major factor. Much of the money that might in earlier times have gone to the network of pro-Israel PACs established across the U.S. by directors of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) may now be flowing from American Jews to the campaign in Israel of Likud leader Benyamin Netanyahu, and to finance the anti-government activities of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza.
Still another possibility is that the pro-Israel PACs are concealing the level of their donations in 1995 as they did in the 1994 election cycle. At that time some of the PACs directed their members to break their monthly donations down into individual signed checks which the PACs then would "bundle," meaning deliver to members of Congress as individual donations.