As we’ve demonsrated in previous posts we’ve published during the recent spate of Congressional primary elections, the Guardian’s Chris McGreal continues to impute something sinister, and even anti-democratic, about the fact that a pro-Israel organisation in Washington has been supporting pro-Israel candidates.
His latest piece includes many of the themes he used in his previous articles, but adds another one – noting, as if it’s significant – that the candidate AIPAC is opposing in an upcoming Democratic primary in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District, in Detroit, is Jewish:
The piece, (“Pro-Israel group pours millions into primary to defeat Jewish candidate”, July 29), informs readers:
as the scion of a distinguished Jewish political dynasty, a committed Zionist and the former president of his synagogue, [Andy] Levin has been stung by the largest pro-Israel lobby group’s [AIPAC] campaign to paint him as an enemy of the Jewish state because he has spoken up for the Palestinians.
It’s of course not true that AIPAC opposes Levin “because he has spoken up for the Palestinians”, and, before explaining why, we’ll first show you a related, and even more misleading, claim in the piece:
Aipac turned its guns on Levin, a member of the House foreign affairs committee, after he introduced the Two State Solution Act in September, intended to promote a peace agreement including by preventing US aid being used to tighten Israel’s grip on the occupied Palestinian territories, and to block expansion of Jewish settlements and the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank.
The legislation also infuriated some by defining East Jerusalem as occupied territory, which much of the world says it is, when Israel claims sovereignty over the entire city.
The suggestion that AIPAC “turned its guns on Levin”, a congressman who’s running for a newly created district after his existing one was eliminated with boundary changes, because he introduced a bill in 2021 supporting a two-state solution Levin is a lie.
First, AIPAC supports a two-state solution. Also, McGreal fails to note that Levin’s opponent in the Aug. 2 contest, Haley Stevens, another sitting Democratic congress member whose district has been abolished, is similarly supportive of a two-state solution. (Stevens is also a progressive, and has been endorsed by Emily’s List, a political action committe that helps elect Democratic female candidates who support abortion rights.)
But, even more important is McGreal’s omission over what pricisely critics (such as AIPAC) of the bill by Levin objected to.
It’s not the fact that it calls for two-states. In fact, a 2019 non-binding resolution calling for two-states, introduced by Congressman Alan Lowenthal, had 192 co-sponsors and passed the House overwhelmingly because it was rightly seen as a pro-Israel bill, framing two-states as necessary to “enhance security and stability” for both Israel and the Palestinains without singling out either party for blame. Stevens voted in favour that two-state resolution.
By contrast, the text in Levin’s non-binding resolution, as Shany Mor explained in his analysis of the bill, which got little support from fellow Democrats, put all the blame for the failure to achieve two-states entirely on Israel, while failing to mention Palestinians decisions since Oslo – the 2nd Intifada, their rejection of Israeli peace offers, the rise of Hamas following Israel’s Gaza withdrawal – inimical two-states.
Further, Levin’s bill claims Gaza is still “occupied” by Israel; calls for the US to require products imported from Jewish communities in east Jerusalem and the West Bank as produced in “the occupied Palestinian terroritories”; and designates all of Jerusalem beyond the 1949 armistice line as “Palestinian”—including the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and holy sites such as the Temple Mount and Western Wall.
More evidence that Levin, whose campaign has been generously funded by J Street (an advocacy organisation focusing on criticism of Israel) is outside the American, and Jewish-American, mainstream when it comes to Israel is that he recently held a campaign event with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. Tlaib is a supporter of BDS who has evoked antisemitic tropes and rejects Israel’s right to exist within any borders. Levin also defended Congresswoman Ilhan Omar against accusations of antisemitism, ignoring multiple examples of the Minnesota congresswoman using racist langauge about Jews and Jewish influence.
Finally, Levin, channeling the Corbyn wing of the Labour Party, also argued that antisemitism is not a serious issue on the left, and seemed to blame Israel for antisemitism when he asserted, during a webinar with the radical anti-Zionist group If Not Now, that “unless Palestinian human rights are respected, we cannot fight antisemitism”.
AIPAC is a pro-Israel organisation. Thus, they’re supporting Haley Stevens, the candidate in the race they view as more pro-Israel than Andy Levin. It really isn’t rocket science.