If AIPAC is really trying to buy the Democrat Primaries, it should ask for a refund

Last week’s polls in three districts of Michigan were real democracy as currently practised in America: mudslinging, accusations of 'dark money' interference and even insinuations about the Jews buying elections


WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 06: U.S. President Joe Biden (L) poses for photographs with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) during the signing ceremony for the Postal Service Reform Act in the State Dining Room at the White House on April 06, 2022 in Washington, DC. A part of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s controversial 10-year restructuring plan, the law provides $107 billion to modernize and streamline the long-beleaguered Postal Service. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

August 11, 2022 16:30

It’s great to see real American democracy in action at grassroots level, as opposed to Washington, DC, which is democracy in inaction. Last week’s Democratic primaries in three districts of Michigan were real democracy as currently practised in America: mudslinging, accusations of “dark money” interference, and even insinuations about the Jews buying elections.

The most orderly race was in the 12th District. A self-described “broad coalition of Black and Jewish leaders” backed Janice Winfrey, the Detroit City Clerk, to topple our old friend Rashida Tlaib.

She is the loudest anti-Israel voice in Congress, especially when Ilhan Omar takes the day off. Tlaib, whose district includes the heavily Arab and Muslim city of Dearborn, sailed through.

Usually, the Democratic left cries racism when a black candidate loses to a lighter-skinned one.

But as the winner was a Palestinian American, they didn’t. Instead, they complained that Winfrey had received donations from “hedge-fund billionaire Daniel Loeb” and AIPAC’s newly-created “super PAC”, the United Democracy Project.

The United Democracy Project spent $8million in the three races. If AIPAC is trying to buy the elections, it should ask for a refund. More than half of UDP’s donations went to losing candidates. Only $700,000 went to Winfrey, who always looked unlikely to unseat Tlaib. But $4million went to Adam Hollier, a young black member of the state senate. He lost to the self-funding campaign of Shri Thanedar, a state representative and Indian-American entrepreneur who spent $5million of his own money.

Again, the Democratic left were uncomfortable. Thanedar had beaten AIPAC’s candidate, but Detroit is now without a black representative for the first time in 50 years. Better to complain about the race in the newly created 11th District, where Andy Levin, late of the 9th District, was attempting to displace the sitting Democrat, Haley Stevens.

Levin is the scion of a Jewish Democratic family, the former president of a synagogue and, he says, a committed Zionist. Elected to the House in 2018, he became Congress’s most prominent Jewish critic of Israel.

He consistently defended the indefensible Tlaib and Omar against accusations of antisemitism. He says he “re-envisioned” his synagogue into a “social-justice shul”.

Last September, Levin, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sponsored the Two State Solution Act in Congress.

The bill proposed that President Biden sign a six-month, renewable waiver on the current law, which defines the PLO as a terrorist organisation and prevents it from opening an office in Washington, DC.

The bill would make it illegal for the US to provide “support for projects in geographic regions that came under Israeli control after June 5, 1967”: securing Israel’s borders with Jordan and Syria, for example.

The bill also “prohibits” Israel from using any American-supplied “security assistance, defense articles, or defense services” in “any part of the West Bank or Gaza”. Levin includes East Jerusalem, the Old City and the Temple Mount in that definition. He claims that his opinions are mainstream among American Jews, but they’re not.

AIPAC and its satellites donated over $4million to Stevens’ campaign. J Street, the astroturfed left-wing lobby group that popped up in the Obama years, denounced AIPAC’s “aggressive outside spending”, but didn’t mention that it had donated $700,000 to Levin. Stevens won by 20 points.

You could say the pro-Israel candidate beat the Jewish candidate. Levin and the Democratic left are claiming that Stevens was the tool of funny-money Trumpists.

Nina Turner, who blamed her defeat in a Michigan Ohio primary last year on “evil money” from Israel supporters, said the quiet part out loud: “AIPAC bought another seat.”

If so, Stevens is also the tool of EMILY’s List, the big-money PAC that backs pro-abortion candidates. The acronym stands for “Early Money Is Like Yeast”, and the dough invariably rises in favour of Democratic candidates.

EMILY’s List donated more than $3million to Stevens’ campaign through its super PAC, Women Vote! None of the Democrats are complaining about outside influence and dark money from EMILY’s List.

Dominic Green is a historian living in Boston

August 11, 2022 16:30

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