Goldblog made the calculation, staying politically neutral (which is itself a political decision for him to retain access with both the Obama administration and the American Jewish Establishment):
I’m not so sure AIPAC will be throwing itself into this fight.
The less compromised Beinart puts the decision in context:
It’s easy to exaggerate how big a defeat all this is for AIPAC. The Hagel nomination isn’t a good test of AIPAC’s strength precisely because it’s a cabinet nomination—a topic on which presidents usually get their way. It’s much easier for AIPAC to rally members of Congress behind resolutions that limit the Obama administration’s room to maneuver on actual policy questions, where opposing the president doesn’t look like such a direct slap in the face. (It’s also easier for the Israeli government to lobby Congress on policy questions like settlement growth and Iran sanctions than on cabinet appointments.) Furthermore, the Hagel struggle hasn’t been a complete loss for hawkish Jewish groups. His political near-death experience may leave Hagel more cautious when it comes to U.S.-Israel relations than he would have been otherwise (though I doubt that means he’ll turn hawkish on Iran).
I’ll wait and see. I don’t see the Greater Israel lobby ever taking a pass to defend the settlements or advance a new war in the Middle East. What I’m interested in is whether Senators, in discussing the nuclear balance in the Middle East, will ever mention Israel’s hundreds of nuclear warheads, pointed at Iran. At some point, portraying Greater Israel as merely a victim stretches credulity.