Jump to content

Morris J. Amitay

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Morris J. Amitay (July 5, 1936 – February 10, 2023) was an American lobbyist who was the executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)[1] (1974–1980), [when?] vice chairman of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA),[citation needed] and the founder and treasurer of the Washington Political Action Committee.[2] He was credited for turning AIPAC "into one of the most effective advocacy organizations in Washington" by The Washington Post.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Amitay was born in New York City on July 5, 1936.

Amitay earned his undergraduate degree from Columbia University, his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School (where he wrote his thesis for Henry Kissinger's Defense Policy Seminar) and a Master's degree in Public Administration from Harvard University.[2]


Amitay was a Foreign Service Officer from 1962 to 1969, with assignments in Italy, South Africa and the State Department.[citation needed]

In 1981, he founded the Washington Political Action Committee, which through 2018 had contributed almost four million dollars to Israel's supporters in the U.S. Congress.[citation needed]

Before taking over AIPAC, Amitay worked in the U.S. House of Representatives and for five years as a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate, where he "took a lead role in organizing congressional initiatives affecting Israel and Soviet Jewry".[1]

Amitay became AIPAC president in 1974, succeeding Isaiah L. Kenen and leading for six years. Amitay transformed AIPAC, making it more aggressive and confrontational. He computerized the AIPAC offices, moved it to Capitol Hill, swelled the office staff from a handful to dozens, and increased the annual budget from $400,000 to $1.2 million. The list of key contacts held by Kenan expanded from hundreds to eleven thousand. Membership increased to over 55 thousand.[3]

Amitay appeared as a commentator on a number of national radio and television programs including CNN, National Public Radio, the Lehrer Report, the Voice of America, Fox News and the BBC.[citation needed]

Personal life and death[edit]

On July 25, 1977, Amitay's home was the target of a bomb that killed the family dog but caused no other injuries.[4][5]

Amitay resided in Rockville, Maryland. He died on February 10, 2023, at the age of 86.[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pear, Robert; Berke, Richard L. (7 July 1987). "Pro-Israel Group Exerts Quiet Might as it RALLIES Supporters in Congress". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Langer, Emily (February 13, 2023). "Morris Amitay, ardent advocate for Israel, dies at 86". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  3. ^ Goldberg, J. J. (1996). Jewish power : inside the American Jewish establishment. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley. pp. 220–222. ISBN 9780201622423.
  4. ^ Ettinger, David (27 July 1977). "Probe Continues into Bombing Incident". JTA. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  5. ^ Lipsitz, Brian (1977). "Federal Agents Studying Similarities Between Explosion in Synagogue and Bombing of Amitay's Home". Article. JTA. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Morris J. Amitay". Legacy. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
  7. ^ "Obituaries". Columbia College Today. 2023-06-20. Retrieved 2023-08-07.

External links[edit]