The latest piece by the Guardian’s Chris McGreal, whose malign obsession with Israel we’ve documented, (“Pro-Israel groups denounced after pouring funds into primary race”, Aug. 4), is the fourth article about AIPAC he’s written in recent months (see our posts responding to each one). As with the others, McGreal’s intent is clear: to demonise not the influence of money in politics, but merely the influence of pro-Israel money.
The first sign of dishonesty in the article attacking AIPAC, following the victory of a Democratic congressional primary candidate they supported, appears in the first sentence:
Hawkish pro-Israel lobby groups have been accused of using Republican mega-donors to hijack Democratic primaries following the “alarming” defeat of a prominent Jewish congressman because he criticised Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
The word “hijack” means to engage in such stealing or seizing, while everything AIPAC – via its super PAC – did on behalf of the successful candidates they’ve funded is legal, and consistent with the methods of the other 2,163 super PACs which spend money on candidates.
Further, to describe AIPAC as “hawkish” is not accurate, as the organisation’s focus is to promote bi-partisan support for Israel, whilst supporting a two-state solution.
As we’ve documented previously, the Jewish congressman in question – Andy Levin – was not opposed by AIPAC merely because he “criticised Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians”, but because he introduced a bill blaming only Israel for the conflict. He also: aligned himself with anti-Zionist members of ‘the Squad‘; defended Ilhan Omar from charges of antisemitism; claimed that left-wing antisemitism isn’t a problem; and seemed to blame Israel for antisemitism in the West.
Levin, who also accused AIPAC of trying to “buy democracy”, is not a member of ‘the Squad’, but, his ideology suggests he’s at least Squad-adjacent.
AIPAC supported Levin’s progressive female opponent, Haley Stevens – who, like Levin, supports two-states – for one simple reason: she’s more pro-Israel than Levin.
McGreal does note the following:
Some of Aipac’s supporters have suggested that the focus on Aipac’s funding of campaigns against candidates critical of Israeli government policies is antisemitic because the group is doing no more than other lobby organisations.
The link he cites is a tweet about Rashida Tlaib, who rejects Israel’s right to exist and has engaged in antisemitic rhetoric:
When rashida tlaib wins with 90% out of state money, it’s a commendable national fundraising grassroots effort. When an @AIPAC backed candidate, it’s the Jews buying a seat.
— Andrés Spokoiny (@Spokoiny) August 3, 2022
McGreal then adds:
In response, Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, tweeted: “So AIPAC can do it… & AIPAC can brag about doing it… But talking about what AIPAC did (at least in a critical way) is antisemitic. See how that works?
Friedman fails to address the actual accusation, which is that only talking about and vilifying the legal lobbying of AIPAC, while ignoring the thousands of other Super pacs who similarly spend large sums of money in support of candidates, indicates an egregious double standard.
As such, while McGreal notes the $4 million AIPAC spent to defeat Levin, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the $395 million spent by super PACS, and the $2.4 billion raised by House and Senate candidates overall, during the current election cycle.
Interestingly, however, McGreal himself unintentionally provides an example of the toxic tropes surrounding criticism of AIPAC, when he uncritically quotes the left-wing lobby group J Street – which funded Levin – thusly:
“With their overwhelming spending, Aipac hopes to send an intimidating message to others: cross our red lines, and you could be next. While political space for open and healthy debate over US foreign policy has opened up considerably in recent years, they appear determined to close it down,” [J Street] said.
The suggestion – echoed not only by J Street, but by other AIPAC critics – is that Jews (and others who support the Jewish state) and participate in the political process to advance their interests are, unlike other Americans who do so, engaged in a particularly nefarious undertaking, one designed to intimidate politicians, control US foreign policy and stifle free speech.
Anyone who followed the Labour antisemitism crisis under Jeremy Corbyn – particular the British Jews who bore the brunt of the anti-Jewish animosity unleashed during that time – would of course be all too familiar with this corrosive and racist narrative.