American Israel Public Affairs Committee



Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $107,755,186
Expenses: $99,327,173
Assets: $125,102,348

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The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is a bipartisan Jewish lobbying group which works to create strong relations between Israel and the United States of America. It specifically focuses its influence on Members of Congress and other advocacy and lobbying groups to promote arms aggreements and other U.S. government support for Israel, and supports a two-state solution to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a state of Israel and a sovereign but de-militarized Palestinian state. 1

Despite its significant bipartisan influence, AIPAC has been criticized in many radical-left circles for its unwavering support for U.S. taxpayer backing of Israel, as well as its supposed support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Netanyahu’s security policies. Its positions and advocacy style led to criticisms from Democratic candidates for president in 2019 and 2020, especially from self-described “democratic socialist” U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). 2

Originally named the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs, the group changed its name in 1959. 3

Mission, History, and Structure

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee was created in 1954 to combat anti-Israel pressure in Congress and the United Nations after Israeli military engaged in a reprisal attack against Palestinian civilians. The attack and other Israeli military and political action caused President Dwight Eisenhower to hold up aid to Israel. 4

AIPAC’s most important policy objectives relate to Israel’s partnerships with America, preventing a nuclear Iran, and negotiating a two-party solution to the decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict which benefits Israel. 5

It wasn’t until the 1980s that AIPAC was able to secure substantial influence with Members of Congress and the broader Washington establishment. Even though Jews were only about one percent of the U.S. population at the time,  AIPAC created a nationwide network of semi-independent groups which acted in concert with AIPAC and other pro-Israel Jewish advocacy groups. 6 7

AIPAC does not endorse candidates, seeking a bipartisan reputation so that it can maintain influence in Washington regardless of political control. However, tens of millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign funds are influenced by the directions it picks on policy, politics, and candidates. It also organizes fundraisers outside of its official network, which creates significant influence through unofficial channels. 8 This has led to both power and influence for AIPAC and its donors, and criticism of the organization’s structure, as the unofficial nature of much of the fundraising and lobbying keeps information out of sight of the public, lawmakers, and regulators. 9

One of AIPAC’s most popular lobbying efforts is a trip to Israel for freshman Members of Congress. AIPAC defends the trip as part of educating Members on what Israel faces in Palestinian terrorism; critics argue that the trip is a one-sided propaganda affair. 10 The radical anti-war and Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions-supporting anti-Israel group Code Pink filed an ethics complaint against AIPAC over the trips, claiming that the trips should count as gifts to Members. 11

AIPAC’s educational arm is American Israel Education Foundation. It is the official organizer of AIPAC-funded trips for Members of Congress and leads AIPAC’s college-chapter work. 12 AIPAC engages in significant college and high school activities, including sponsoring trips to Israel, advocacy training, and educational events. 13


AIPAC is one of Washington, D.C.’s most effective lobbying groups. It has 100,000 members and spent $3.5 million on lobbying in 2018, the most of all Jewish groups. 14 Its bipartisan success is shown in that its bills are normally introduced and cosponsored by Members of Congress from both major parties. 15 In 2019, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed several AIPAC-supported bills which condemned the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, backed U.S. military support for Israel, and backed sanctions against non-state actors which commit terrorist acts against Israel. 16

AIPAC’s bipartisan influence is with GOP and Democratic Party leaders as well as the rank-and-file Members of Congress. Leaders in both parties spoke at its 2020 annual conference in support of AIPAC and Israel, and against terrorism by Palestinian leadership, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Vice President Mike Pence. 17 AIPAC claimed on its website that its 2020 conference was expected to host 18,000 people and two-thirds of all Members of Congress. 18

Presidents and presidential candidates in both parties have spoken at AIPAC’s annual conference. President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both spoke during the 2016 presidential race. 19 20 President Barack Obama spoke multiple times, including during his initial 2008 presidential campaign and during his 2012 re-election campaign. 21 22 President George W. Bush spoke in 2004, during his own re-election run. 23

In 2007, Clinton and Obama held competing dessert fundraisers at the AIPAC conference. 24

Though it aims to work with both parties, AIPAC is also willing to criticize them. The organization’s leadership denounced criticisms Trump made of Obama during the former’s 2016 speech, calling his comments “divisive.” 25 AIPAC had its own issues with Obama, especially concerning his administration’s position on Iran. 26

AIPAC’s influence has had its political ups and downs. The group was at odds with President George H.W. Bush in the 1990s, when Bush withheld money for Israel over settlement expansions. Despite AIPAC’s significant influence, the Senate backed Bush. 27 And President Obama’s more diplomatic approach towards Iran and Palestinian authorities created tension between AIPAC and Democrats. 28 While AIPAC and Israeli leadership opposed the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, Obama still signed a 10-year, $38 billion weapons and aid package in 2016, the largest aid amount ever provided by the U.S. 29

During the Trump administration, AIPAC’s goals have been most vocally and influentially opposed by a significant minority of anti-war advocates, especially those on the left to radical-left side of the U.S. political spectrum. They allege that AIPAC is partisan in favor of Republicans and the Israeli Likud Party, which hold hawkish stances toward Israeli security policy and and self-defense. 30 This has especially been the case since some American Jews have viewed Israel’s security policies’ effects on  Palestinians to be one-sided and harmful to both Palestinians and the overall potential of peace. 31

Jewish Lobby Competition

AIPAC often provides guidance and direction for pro-Israel lobbies. However, it faces competition for left-of-center Jewish support from the group J Street, which opposes Netanyahu’s policies and aligns with the American political left. J Street’s annual revenues average approximately $3 million dollars. 32 An op-ed in the Jerusalem Post stated that J Street’s opposition to Democratic Party presidential candidates speaking in favor of Netanyahu at the 2020 AIPAC was not impactful, and that J Street is too small to compete with AIPAC’s overall influence. 33

On AIPAC’s right flank is the Israeli American Council, which is funded by past AIPAC donor and billionaire Republican supporter Sheldon Adelson. Adelson said he chose to be the Council’s primary donor because he believes AIPAC is too willing to compromise when working with elected U.S. officials in support of Israel. 34


AIPAC took center stage in 2019 and 2020 politics after several controversies.

The first arose after Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) Tweeted that AIPAC was paying Members of Congress to support Israeli policies. Omar also Tweeted that support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins,” a comment which received bipartisan condemnation because it was interpreted as relying upon anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish influence in U.S. politics and media. 35 Omar, who was already considered anti-Semitic by some critics, backed off from the comment.

Later in 2019, Israel banned Omar and her fellow Israel critic Rashida Tlaib from entering the nation over their support for Palestinians, a one-state solution, and Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. 36 Even though Trump and Netanyahu backed the ban, AIPAC supported both women being allowed in the nation “to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand.” 37 Israel later permitted Tlaib to visit her Palestinian grandmother, but she declined. 38

In 2020, AIPAC apologized for, and withdrew, a Facebook ad which slammed “radicals” in the Democratic Party for pushing “their antisemitic policies…” AIPAC said the ad was poorly designed and conflated “a small but growing group” of Democrats “in and out of Congress” who oppose policies which favor Israel with the overall Democratic Party’s financial, political, and military support for Israel. 39

Finally, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont refused to speak at AIPAC’s 2020 conference, saying the group backed leaders “who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.” Sanders has also called Netanyahu “racist” and welcomed support from Omar and Tlaib. Sanders’ decision caused significant debate among American Jews related to AIPAC, U.S. support for Israel, and the Democratic Party’s support for Israel. The left-of-center hate group watchdog Anti-Defamation League condemned Sanders’ remarks. 40

Despite Sanders’ remarks, then-Democratic Party presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg spoke at AIPAC’s conference. 41

Spy Accusations and Prosecution

In 2005, the Federal Bureau of Investigation filed charges against several individuals for alleged involvement in spying for the Israeli government and for illegally providing U.S. military information to the Israeli government. 42 The case, which ran for five years, was dropped in 2009 due to the government determining that to win would require a high bar and significant disclosure of classified information. 43 44

In the case, AIPAC employees Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman were accused of illegally procuring and providing the information. The FBI’s investigation led to a Pentagon analyst, Lawrence Franklin, pleading guilty to mishandling classified information. Franklin was used by the FBI in a sting where he offered Rosen and Weissman information about Iran. Rosen claimed that the information he shared was provided by the CIA and was used in line with common lobbying practices. 45

Rosen, who was fired within hours of being accused by the FBI, sued AIPAC for defamation after he was let go. The lawsuit was thrown out. 46 During the FBI’s four-year investigation and prosecution, Rosen received approximately $670,000 in support from various donors, including AIPAC supporters. AIPAC used this information to claim that, contrary to Rosen’s claims, firing him had not impacted his reputation or his ability to earn income. 47


AIPAC has been involved in lawsuits on a host of matters. In a non-political matter, the group was sued in 2016 over an effort to expand its headquarters. Using District of Columbia zoning laws, the lawsuit claimed that AIPAC was in violation of a 2006 agreement related to its headquarters. 48

AIPAC benefited from a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision in which justices said that AIPAC did not have to register as a political committee. A defeated Member of Congress and five others sued the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to force AIPAC to register as. The lawsuit took 10 years to be rejected. 49 The FEC determined that because AIPAC was issue-focused,providing information on what candidates said in response to an AIPAC questionnaire, not advising members on how to vote or for whom to vote, it did not have to register as a committee. 50


Howard Kohr has been AIPAC’s executive director since 1996 and worked for the organization before that. 51 His father was a Holocaust survivor who fought in the Israel Defense Forces. Most of Kohr’s career has been spent in Jewish lobbying groups. 52 Kohr earned more than $1 million from AIPAC in 2018. 53 In 2018, Kohr’s mention of a two-state solution for peace between Israel and Palestinians at AIPAC’s annual conference led to criticism in some politically conservative Jewish circles. 54 55 Despite the two-state solution being a longstanding part of AIPAC and U.S. policy, Kohr did not mention it in his address at the 2019 AIPAC conference. 56 57

Vice CEO Richard Fishman earned over $877,000 in 2018. 58

Mort Fridman was AIPAC’s president and board chair from 2018 to 2019. A significant political donor who along with his wife has given slightly more to Republicans than Democrats, his first speech as president was bipartisan – he praised Trump while also urging liberals to stand with AIPAC and Israel. 59 He took no salary in 2018. 60

Betsy Korn has been AIPAC’s president and board chair since 2019. She interned for the group in 1989 and served as vice president. She also founded and ran a sports entrepreneur business in the 1990s. 61


AIPAC has raised over $100 million annually since 2016, spending over $99 million in 2017 and over $102 million in 2018. In 2018, it spent over $20 million on event planning, production, catering, and security. 62 63

Republican donor and casino entrepreneur Sheldon Adelson gave $10 million for AIPAC to build new headquarters in 2008. 64


  1. AIPAC, About AIPAC. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  2. [1] Michelle Boorstein, “Bernie Sanders would be the first Jewish nominee – and he’s triggered a fight over Jewish identity,” February 26, 2020. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  3. [1] Doug Rossinow, “The dark roots of AIPAC, ‘America’s pro-Israel Lobby,’” March 06, 2018. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  4. [1] Doug Rossinow, “The dark roots of AIPAC, ‘America’s pro-Israel Lobby,’” March 06, 2018. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  5. [1] AIPAC, “Issues.” Accessed April 28, 2020.
  6. [1] Pew Research Center, “A portrait of Jewish Americans,” October 01, 2013. Accessed April 28, 2020.

  7. [1] Connie Bruck, “Friends of Israel,” August 25, 2014. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  8. [1] Ryan Grim, “Pro-Israel lobby caught on tape boasting that its money influences Washington,” February 11, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  9. [1] M. J. Rosenberg, “This is how AIPAC really works,” February 14, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  10. [1] Akela Lacy and Ryan Grim, “An invitation you can’t refuse: How Rep. Steny Hoyer makes sure AIPAC’s Israel junket is well attended,” June 20, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  11. [1] John Bowden, “Activist group files ethics complaint against AIPAC over congressional Israel trips,” August 14, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  12. [1] American Israel Education Foundation, “Mission statement.” Accessed April 28, 2020.
  13. [1] AIPAC, “AIPAC on campus.” Accessed April 28, 2020.
  14. [1] Peter Overby, “Unpacking what the American Israel Public Affairs Committee does,” February 13, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  15. [1] AIPAC, “U.S. bipartisan bill to make Israel ‘strategic ally,’” March 08, 2013. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  16. [1] AIPAC, “House overwhelmingly adopts major bipartisan pro-Israel measures,” July 23, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  17. [1] Davis Richardson, “Republican and Democratic leaders push bipartisan, pro-Israel message,” March 06, 2018. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  18. [1] AIPAC, “About Policy Conference.” Accessed April 28, 2020.
  19. [1] Ryan Teague Beckwith, “Read Hillary Clinton’s speech to AIPAC,” March 21, 2016. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  20. [1] Sarah Begley, “Read Donald Trump’s speech to AIPAC,” March 21, 2016. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  21. [1] NPR, “Transcript: Obama’s speech at AIPAC,” June 04, 2008. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  22. [1] Politico, “Text of Obama’s AIPAC speech,” March 04, 2012. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  23. [1] George W. Bush Administration, “George W. Bush Administration: Address to the AIPAC Policy Conference,” May 18, 2004. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  24. [1] Gregory Levey, “Inside America’s powerful Israel lobby,” March 16, 2007. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  25. [1] Molly O’Toole, “AIPAC condemns Donald Trump speech: ‘We take great offense,’” March 22, 2016. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  26. [1] Julie Hirschfeld Davis, “Fears of lasting rift as Obama battles pro-Israel group on Iran,” August 07, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  27. [1] Connie Bruck, “Friends of Israel,” August 25, 2014. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  28. [1] Robert Dreyfuss, “Is AIPAC still the Chosen One?” Accessed April 28, 2020.
  29. [1] Matt Spetalnick, “U.S., Israel sign $38 billion military aid package,” September 14, 2016. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  30. [1] Robert Dreyfuss, “Is AIPAC still the Chosen One?” Accessed April 28, 2020.
  31. [1] Connie Bruck, “Friends of Israel,” August 25, 2014. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  32. [1] ProPublica, J Street 2007-2018 990s. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  33. [1] Micah Halpern, “Above the fold: J Street vs AIPAC,” March 18, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  34. [1] JTA, “Adelson: Israeli American Council doesn’t fret over White House access,” November 06, 2017. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  35. [1] Matthew Yglesias, “The controversy over Ilhan Omar and AIPAC money, explained.” Accessed April 28, 2020.
  36. [1] Kate Sullivan, “AIPAC splits with Trump and Netanyahu, backs visit by Omar and Tlaib to Israel.” Accessed April 28, 2020.
  37. [1] Twitter, AIPAC profile, August 15, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  38. [1] Saphora Smith, Lawahez Jabari, and Dartunorro Clark, “Rep. Tlaib cancels West Bank trip after Israel grants her permission to visit grandmother,” August 16, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  39. [1] Omri Nahmias, “AIPAC apologizes for ad slamming ‘radicals in the Democratic Party,’” February 08, 2020. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  40. [1] Michelle Boorstein, “Bernie Sanders would be the first Jewish nominee – and he’s triggered a fight over Jewish identity,” February 26, 2020. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  41. [1] Mike Bloomberg 2020, “Mike Bloomberg speaks at the 2020 AIPAC Policy Conference,” March 02, 2020. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  42. [1] United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, United States of America v. Lawrence Anthony Franklin. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  43. [1] United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, United States of America v. Steven J. Rosen, Keith Weissman. Accessed April 28, 2020.  
  44. [1] Project on Government Secrecy: Federation of American Scientists, “USA v. Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman (‘The AIPAC Case’): Selected case files.” Accessed April 28, 2020.
  45. [1] Eli Lake, “FBI took long look at AIPAC activities,” January 18, 2011. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  46. [1] Natasha Mozgovaya and Haaretz Service, “U.S. judge dismisses defamation lawsuit by former AIPAC official,” February 24, 2011. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  47. [1] Jeff Stein, “Ex-AIPAC official got at least $670,000 from donors,” November 19, 2010. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  48. [1] Michael Neibauer, “AIPAC, prominent D.C. developers in court fight over proposed HQ expansion,” February 10, 2016. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  49. [1] Lauren Stein, “AIPAC claims a victory in Supreme Court ruling,” February 12, 1999. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  50. [1] Federal Election Commission United States of America, “AO 2011-04: Candidate position papers posted on members-only section of website,” May 01, 2011. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  51. [1] Forward, “Salary Survey 2015: American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Howard Kohr.” Accessed April 28, 2020.
  52. [1] United States House of Representatives, “Biography for Howard Kohr.” Accessed April 28, 2020.
  53. [1] ProPublica, American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2017 990. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  54. [1] Michael Freund, “AIPAC throws Israel under the bus,” March 14, 2018. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  55. [1] Steven Frank, “AIPAC doubles down on two-state solution,” March 06, 2018. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  56. [1] Jewish Week editors, “AIPAC and the two-state dilemma,” March 27, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  57. [1] AIPAC, “The peace process.” Accessed April 28, 2020.
  58. [1] ProPublica, American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2017 990. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  59. [1] Herb Jackson, “Teaneck doctor seeks bipartisan unity as president of pro-Israel group AIPAC,” March 05, 2018. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  60. [1] ProPublica, American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2017 990. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  61. [1] Ron Kampeas, “AIPAC names ‘female football fan’ entrepreneur next president,” March 26, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  62. [1] ProPublica, American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2004-2017 990s. Accessed April 28, 2020. 
  63. [1] ProPublica, American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2017 990. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  64. [1] Connie Bruck, “Friends of Israel,” August 25, 2014. Accessed April 28, 2020.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: September - August
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 1968

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Sep Form 990 $107,755,186 $99,327,173 $125,102,348 $48,271,237 Y $96,093,190 $8,029,632 $1,301,976 $3,779,643 PDF
    2016 Sep Form 990 $105,949,429 $103,897,542 $125,934,203 $56,836,506 Y $94,964,506 $9,462,433 $834,351 $3,553,725
    2015 Sep Form 990 $88,561,639 $102,306,859 $115,580,564 $49,853,508 Y $89,769,875 $4,626,452 $828,632 $3,292,951 PDF
    2014 Sep Form 990 $77,709,827 $69,267,598 $128,878,738 $45,569,986 Y $83,240,346 $3,764,222 $540,551 $2,778,785 PDF
    2013 Sep Form 990 $51,833,293 $44,356,570 $120,632,230 $46,483,546 Y $71,231,309 $3,644,936 $556,265 $3,351,816 PDF
    2012 Sep Form 990 $74,237,179 $67,978,782 $109,997,108 $47,045,330 Y $70,696,154 $3,423,796 $445,747 $2,900,286 PDF
    2011 Sep Form 990 $66,862,011 $61,270,283 $105,064,763 $49,730,215 Y $64,238,448 $2,964,559 $288,904 $1,342,531 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    American Israel Public Affairs Committee

    251 H ST NW
    WASHINGTON, DC 20001-2604