Michigan Rep. Andy Levin is obviously running scared. Really scared. Given his family pedigree — his father represented Michigan’s 9th District for 36 years and his uncle served 36 years in the Senate – coupled with his Harvard law degree, one might expect Levin would take a leisurely stroll to victory in the upcoming Democratic primary to represent Michigan’s 11th District. Levin’s previous district, where he succeeded his father in 2019, was redrawn because of Michigan’s declining population. He opted to run in the 11th District mistakenly thinking he was a shoo-in to succeed two-term incumbent Haley Stevens.
Although the 11th District is home to much of the Detroit-area’s Jewish population, polls show Levin is in an unusually tight race with Stevens, who isn’t Jewish but so far has been a stalwart supporter of Israel. Levin, who is Jewish, is a pawn of a controversial far-left lobbying organization called J Street, which advocates policies to weaken Israel’s military defenses and security. Among J Street’s biggest champions are Senator Bernie Sanders, who has endorsed Levin’s candidacy, and Senator Elizabeth Warren.
J. Street is far and away Levin’s biggest campaign contributor. The group also was an early backer of Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who the Simon Wiesenthal Center ranked among the most notorious Jew haters in the world. Levin publicly called Tlaib his “comrade” and is seemingly okay with her continuous antisemitic rhetoric and antics, which most of the legacy media ignores. Levin, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also has defended Minnesota Rep. Ilan Omar, who in 2019 was named “Antisemite of the Year” by an organization focused on combating growing global Jewish hatred.
Not surprisingly, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is supporting Stevens’ candidacy. Levin and his J Street masters have cried foul and have attacked Stevens for accepting AIPAC money. They’ve charged that AIPAC is undermining American democracy because it also has supported Republicans who refused to certify the election of Joe Biden. They portray the organization as being bankrolled by right-wing millionaires looking to forward conservative causes inimical to most Americans.
“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” is the message that Levin and his J Street funders have subtly communicated. That’s of course a verbatim accusation Minnesota Rep. Ilan Omar made about AIPAC in 2019, for which she was forced to apologize after the Democratic leadership condemned her comments as “antisemitic tropes.”
AIPAC’s ‘threat to democracy.”
A J Street-funded PAC is airing a 30-second ad showing footage of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and noting the AIPAC supports 109 Republicans who voted to overturn the 2020 election.
“No campaign cash is worth abandoning our democracy,” the narrator says.
Levin spokeswoman Jenny Byer told the Detroit News that voters in the 11th district “deserve to know the truth” about who is backing Stevens and the United Democracy Project (UDP), an AIPAC sponsored super PAC funding some of Stevens’ ads. The News said that Byer was referring to UDP donations by two GOP megadonors, hedge fund manager Paul Singer and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, who each gave $1 million.
“(UDP) is a right-wing group that wants to defeat progressive candidates who stand up for working families and human rights,” Byer said. “Rep. Stevens has been asked at every debate and at public events why she is accepting this money, much of which comes from Republican billionaires, and she refuses to answer.”
Dishonesty and deceptions
Byer’s comment is representative of J Street’s perennial dishonesty and deceptions. For starters, Stevens voted to impeach Donald Trump on multiple occasions, so UDP’s support for the Congresswomen is hardly consistent with far-right causes. According to AIPAC, the organization supports 120 House Democrats, including half of the Congressional Black Caucus, half of the House Progressive Caucus, and the top Democratic leaders in the House.
Byer and J Street accusing AIPAC of secretly being funded by billionaires is particularly rich. In 2010, the Atlantic published this story noting how J Street tried to conceal that George Soros was among the organization’s seed funders, along with a foreign donor in Hong Kong. Soros is no friend of Israel’s; the billionaire’s criticisms include blaming Israel for Europe’s surge in antisemitism. Soros’ views on Israel are so toxic that President Obama felt compelled to distance himself from the famed money manager.
Given that J Street maintains that it is “the political home and voice for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,” it’s worth noting that it was the Trump administration that brokered peace agreements between Israel and three once hostile Arab-Muslim countries.
J Street’s anti-Israel activities
J Street was founded in 2007 with the goal of supporting the formation of an internationally recognized Palestinian state as part of a U.S. brokered peace settlement. Many, if not most, American Jews would support that goal.
But to achieve its goal, J Street has embraced efforts to undermine Israel’s security and promote antagonism towards the state, particularly among secular Jewish millennials. J Street has abetted the spread of already virulent anti-Israel sentiment on U.S. university campuses and challenged legislation outlawing corporate and consumer boycotts of Israel.
J Street proudly endorsed Rashida Tlaib when she first ran for office, but Tlaib deftly played the organization for a bunch of putzes, a Yiddish word for fools that loses its punch in translation. When Tlaib first ran for office in 2018, she professed to support a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. After Tlaib won the primary assuring her election, she reneged, saying she only believed in a single state solution and that she supported cutting funding for Israel.
A single state solution would mean the dismantling of Israel’s government and the demise of the country. Even J Street doesn’t support that, which is why it withdrew its Tlaib endorsement.
Helping a rabid antisemite get elected to Congress in the hope of achieving Mideast peace is an example of why Isi Leibler, former chairman of the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress, once likened J Street to the “Jewish communists who defended Stalin’s state-sponsored Soviet antisemitism in the guise of promoting bogus ‘peace’ campaigns.
AIPAC reverses its position
AIPAC throughout its existence avoided directly funding any political candidates, hoping to avoid accusations that it was a partisan organization. AIPAC’s mission is to ensure and promote close co-operation between the U.S. and Israel and historically the organization’s focus was educational outreach.
One of AIPAC’s most critical initiatives is reaching out to Black student university leaders who appear poised for public service. AIPAC invites these students to attend the organization’s annual convention to learn about America’s unique partnership with Israel. AIPAC covers the entire cost of the trips.
The outreach has paid great dividends. The reason South Carolina became the first state to pass legislation prohibiting companies from boycotting Israel was because one of the Black students AIPAC previously reached out to became influential in that state’s politics.
With antisemitism dramatically on the rise and other aspiring Congressional members making anti-Israel attacks part of their platforms, AIPAC last December reversed its position and committed to forming political action committees enabling the organization to make direct contributions to political candidates. While the legacy media criticizes AIPAC for its political advocacy, it celebrates J Street’s efforts funding candidates the legacy media deems “progressive” for opposing Israel and other stances most Americans oppose.
Anti-Israel sentiment is pervasive in the legacy media and among their readers, particularly the New York Times, a publication that celebrates Tlaib’s dismissal of Israel as an “apartheid regime” and her advocacy for a global Israel boycott.
A moving experience
I attended AIPAC’s annual meeting about five years ago and was moved by the experience. At a breakout session, I listened to a couple of senior military leaders who served in Republican and Democratic administrations. I don’t recall his name, but the Democratic military person insisted that Israel was a critical ally in the Middle East, and that the U.S. would have to spend considerably more than it provides Israel in aid to maintain stability in the region. He emphasized that Israel shouldn’t be regarded as a U.S. charity case, and that those who seek to undermine Israel are also undermining U.S. national security interests.
Meanwhile, the Washington Examiner reported this week that Tlaib and Omar are among at least eight Democratic members of Congress who share close ties to American Muslims for Palestine, a nonprofit group an American family alleges was financially responsible for the West Bank killing of their teenaged son in 1996 by Hamas, a designated foreign terror organization.
Rest assured, if eight AIPAC-supported Republicans were reported to have close ties to an organization that allegedly funded the killing of an American teenager by a group with ties to Israel, the story would dominate the news for days.
Tlaib, Omar, Levin, and J Street would be among those shouting from the rooftops.