In last week’s Democratic primaries in Michigan, Andy Levin—a Jewish member of his party’s progressive wing who sponsored a bill that would forbid labeling goods produced in the West Bank as “made in Israel” and would threaten to withhold U.S. aid from Israel—faced off against Haley Stevens—a more mainstream, non-Jewish Democrat with a solid pro-Israel record—in the race for a seat in the House of Representatives. AIPAC naturally lent its support to Stevens, and after she won her progressive opponents blamed it for her victory. Jonathan Tobin comments:
[Since Levin’s defeat], left-wing Twitter [has been] dunking on AIPAC by resurrecting anti-Semitic canards about the Jews “buying” congressional seats. Indeed, even people like the former Clinton-administration secretary of labor Robert Reich are floating lies about the lobby now becoming the single largest political contributor in Democratic electoral politics. Others are echoing that line while also saying that this is merely the work of a few rich Zionists distorting the U.S. electoral system.
This is nonsense: . . . the two main teachers’ unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, have . . . outspent pro-Israel groups on political campaigns as they have become an extraordinarily influential Democratic donor group.
But this is more than a case of sour grapes on the left. The willingness of mainstream, liberal media outlets to treat AIPAC’s efforts as somehow illegitimate, while thinking nothing of the way other groups and causes spent far more on supporting their friends or opposing their foes, remains troubling. So are the stories even in Jewish publications, which are predicting that AIPAC will suffer future consequences for having the temerity to oppose opponents of Israel. That’s in line with the anti-Zionist talking point that there is something wrong about friends of Israel using the democratic system and exercising their right to political speech to hold members of Congress accountable.