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The Latest Acceptable Antisemitism

Just last week the House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning the rise of antisemitism and calling on elected officials and civil society leaders to condemn and combat any and all manifestations of hate against Jews. But the latest wave of “acceptable” antisemitism involves leftwing politicians and liberal media pundits demonizing AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, for the heinous crime of participating in the American political process through its political action committee, the United Democracy Project. AIPAC openly supports candidates who are in favor of a strong US-Israel relationship, and opposes candidates who are not. While the attacks against them have varied in form, the underlying message is the same: everyone should feel free to lobby for interests that they personally care about, unless those people are Jewish and/or those interests are pro-Israel.

Some influential leaders, like “progressive” Senator Bernie Sanders, have gone full David Duke with their tropes about Jewish power, spreading stories about billionaire cabals who secretly pull strings to “buy elections and control this democracy.” Sanders claims he is against all outside money in elections, unless of course it is from the Super PAC he founded or the one his acolyte founded, or any of the ones that support candidates he likes and thinks should win. He also called AIPAC and its supporters racist, sexist and anti-progressive—despite their clear history of supporting women, people of color and progressive candidates, including in this very election cycle. None of those facts matter because when it comes to groups that Sanders does not support, he does not actually care about accuracy.

Other outlets moved straight to the classic dual loyalty canard, describing AIPAC as an organization that is working on behalf of a foreign country. To be clear: AIPAC is a registered American lobbying group, with American supporters who advocate for American policies. It is funded by private donations, and receives no financial assistance from Israel or from any other foreign group. There are many reasons why the vast majority of Americans in both political parties, not just American Jews, remain in favor of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. Perhaps primary among them is the undeniable fact that supporting Israel in combating Middle Eastern terrorist groups and expansionist potentates is crucial for America’s own national security. Labeling anyone who works to protect the U.S.-Israel relationship as an agent of a foreign state, and implying that they are disloyal citizens whose true allegiance is to the State of Israel over the interests of their own country, is just another form of classic antisemitism designed to cast Jews as the “other” or as some kind of fifth column undermining the U.S. from within.

Labeling anyone who works to protect the U.S.-Israel relationship as an agent of a foreign state, and implying that they are disloyal citizens whose true allegiance is to the State of Israel over the interests of their own country, is just another form of classic antisemitism…

Still other public figures, like former democratic Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, were not satisfied with justdescribing AIPAC using antisemitic language. Instead, she went so far as to actually blame AIPAC for causing people to hates Jews. How exactly is AIPAC, a victim of antisemitic rhetoric, responsible for the growing threat of global antisemitism? Because, as she explained, of their “disgusting attempts to defeat candidates not in line with their right wing policies regarding Israel.” For those (like Williamson) who might not know what AIPAC’s policies regarding Israel actually are, AIPAC remains a staunch supporter of “peace through a negotiated two-state agreement.”

The overarching theme of the campaign against AIPAC though has been the blatant use of a double standard when it comes to dealing with those who support the Jewish state. A prime example of how this plays out could be seen on MSNBC, where anchor Chris Hayes went on an all-out rant over how absolutely terrible it is for people who support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship to spend money campaigning against those who do not.

Hayes’ basic argument, which is worth dismantling can be summarized in this way: Because AIPAC cares about one particular issue, i.e., the U.S.-Israel relationship, it offends his sense of fairness for them to help candidates with whom they on that issue win their elections by attacking their opponents on other, non-U.S.-Israel related issues—even if the attacks are justified.

In the six-minute piece, Hayes claimed it was “insidious” for AIPAC to challenge the bona fides of congressional candidate Summer Lee by using her own statements against her to ask if she was authentically Democratic. In theory that should be fair game for a candidate who went public with her desire to dismantle the party, but Hayes noted admiringly that Lee was running with the endorsement of the Justice Democrats, a progressive PAC founded by former Sanders’ staffers, as if that should answer any questions people might have about her record. (Hayes did not explain that the Justice Democrats revel in targeting sitting Democrats that they don’t feel are sufficiently progressive, nor did he take the opportunity to disclose the fact that his own brother, Luke Hayes, works closely with that group, and has for quite some time.)

It is, of course, perfectly legal and strategically wise for advocacy groups that care about certain issues to target candidates who disagree with them in any way that might be effective. That is why virtually why all of them do it, and why they always have. Hayes and all the others piling on against AIPAC just haven’t had a problem with it, until now. Following is a recent example of the same, again from the very group that Hayes praised in this very segment.

In 2020, a Justice Democrats affiliate spent half a million dollars on ads targeting then-Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg. Those ads, like AIPAC’s, were focused on whether or not the candidates were authentically Democratic. One, for instance said that “Joe Biden agrees with Republicans that Social Security is too generous. Do you?” For the record, Biden, the former Democratic VP and now President, has never called for anyone to dismantle his own party.

When it comes to the tactic of attacking on tangential issues, again the Justice Democrats are instructive. They have a robust platform of issues that they advocate for, but LGBT rights and abortion are not on it. Still, they took out ads blasting Biden for being anti-gay (he isn’t) and anti-abortion (nope)—not because they really believed that he was either of those things, or because they were issues for which they were actually advocating, but because they thought it could be effective in helping them get their preferred candidate, with whose positions on their platform issues they agreed, into office. Hayes, of course, had no problem with that, because it was done by a group he likes, for a purpose he agrees with. That is the meaning of a double standard.

It is also worth noting that after the Hayes piece aired, the Justice Democrats put out their own wildly offensive and completely inaccurate video about AIPAC, complete with the naked tokenism of having the vehemently anti-Israel narrator actually say “as a Jew” a few times to let us know that it was alright for him to say these horrible things. But what else can you expect when leading politicians and mainstream media networks feel free to engage in all kinds of antisemitic rhetoric whenever they think it might be helpful?

Congressional resolutions are nice, but it is more important for leaders to call out antisemitism when it happens. You can disagree with AIPAC and lobby against them, but singling them out for opprobrium is discriminatorily wrong.

Dr. Mark Goldfeder, Esq. is an international lawyer and Director of the National Jewish Advocacy Center.

Source: Jewish Journal

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