There’s Nothing Wrong with Pro-Israel Groups Supporting Pro-Israel Candidates, Even If They’re Not Jewish

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.

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Read more at JNS

More about: AIPAC, Anti-Semitism, Democrats, U.S. Politics, US-Israel relations

Europe-Israel Relations Have Been Transformed

On Monday, Israel and the EU held their first “association council” meeting since 2012, resuming what was once an annual event, equivalent to the meetings Brussels conducts with many other countries. Although the summit didn’t produce any major agreements or diplomatic breakthroughs, writes Shany Mor, it is a sign of a dramatic change that has occurred over the past decade. The very fact that the discussion focused on energy, counterterrorism, military technology, and the situation in Ukraine—rather than on the Israel-Palestinian conflict—is evidence of this change:

Israel is no longer the isolated and boycotted outpost in the Middle East that it was for most of its history. It has peace treaties with six Arab states now, four of which were signed since the last association council meeting. There are direct flights from Tel Aviv to major cities in the region and a burgeoning trade between Israel and Gulf monarchies, including those without official relations.

It is a player in the regional alliance systems of both the Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean, just as it has also become a net energy exporter due to the discovery of large gas deposits of its shoreline. None of this was the case at the last council meeting in 2012. [Moreover], Israel has cultivated deep ties with a number of new member states in the EU from Central and Eastern Europe, whose presence in Brussels bridges cultural ideological gaps that were once much wider.

Beyond the diplomatic shifts, however, is an even larger change that has happened in European-Israeli relations. The tiny Israel defined by its conflict with the Arabs that Europeans once knew is no more. When the first Cooperation Agreement [between Israel and the EU’s precursor] was signed in 1975, Israel, with its three million people, was smaller than all the European member states save Luxembourg. Sometime in the next two years, the Israeli population will cross the 10 million mark, making it significantly larger than Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and Austria (among others), and roughly equal in population to Greece, Portugal, and Sweden.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Abraham Accords, Europe and Israel, European Union, Israeli gas