Why do polls show a majority of Americans support a ceasefire in the Israel-Palestine conflict, and yet only 18 members of the U. S. House are officially supporting a resolution calling for such a ceasefire?
What explains that huge gap between what the public wants and what Congress wants? Part of the answer has to do with how America’s political discourse has been deliberately polarized by conservative groups like AIPAC, the pro-Netanyahu lobbying group seeking to equate support for Israel’s fundamental right to exist with support for the specific policies of Israel’s current right-wing government. These groups publicly equate opposition to such policies to anti-semitism, polarizing the national conversation and demonizing Democrats who question Israel’s policies. 12 House Democrats, Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Jared Moskowitz (FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), Lois Frankel (FL), Jared Golden (ME), Juan Vargas (CA), Angie Craig (MN), Darren Soto (FL), Haley Stevens (MI), Frederica Wilson (FL), Don Davis (NC) and Greg Landsman (OH). have accepted a combined $8 million in campaign support from AIPAC and its affiliates in the last year.
In the 2022 midterm elections, AIPAC and what was effectively its campaign arm, Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), outspent all comers to oust Democratic primary candidates who’d dared to criticize the Israeli right, most particularly liberal Michigan Rep. Andy Levin, who was also president of his local synagogue, and who surely spoke for most Jewish Democrats in criticizing Israeli governments in general for abridging Palestinian rights, and the ultra-Orthodox in Bibi’s coalition in particular for pushing for a more theocratic state. What was notable about DMFI’s campaigns was that the attack ads they ran didn’t focus on Israel at all—they often involved themselves in districts that weren’t heavily Jewish—but on whatever else they could come up with, verifiable or otherwise.
The fate of Andy Levin doubtless troubles the sleep of Schiff, Porter, the Democrats’ House leadership, and probably even the White House. Like those Florida retirees, Biden is also old enough to remember when Israel was the cynosure of liberals’ eyes. What’s left of that Israel, last week’s letters point out, may soon crash and burn. Democrats are calling on the president, forcefully if implicitly, to do more to avert that catastrophe.