AIPAC Targets Progressives With $100 Million in its Coffers

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The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has set its sights on progressive candidates who dare to criticize Israel or its leaders, funding negative attack ads during their primaries, Politico reported. The group is expected to spend about $100 million on the efforts, sources told the outlet.

AIPAC‘s goal is “to make the statement this cycle that no one is safe from their wrath, that if you speak out, you can be targeted no matter how popular or how many cycles of incumbent you are,” Connor Farrell, president of the progressive fundraising group Left Rising, told Slate in November. A significant portion of funding for the organization comes from wealthy Republicans and Trump donors.

With such a large amount of money to burn, “most” candidates won’t be able to withstand the negative campaigning, meaning AIPAC “can be quite successful in wiping them out,” former Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) told Politico. Levin would know. AIPAC targeted him during a 2022 primary because he, a self-proclaimed Zionist and former president of his synagogue, had vocally defended Palestinians. He lost the primary as a result.

AIPAC has much more funding this election because of Israel’s assault on Gaza, a reaction to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that killed approximately 1,200 Israelis. The conflict has galvanized donors who have poured money into the organization to ensure pro-Israel candidates are elected. Israel’s military has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians since Oct. 7, the Gaza Health Ministry reported.

AIPAC’s super PAC, United Democracy Project, is monitoring between 15 and 20 House races, a person directly familiar with UDP’s strategy informed Politico.

“They’ll have so much money, wherever there’s an opportunity, they will take it,” a Democratic donor advisor told the outlet. It’s unlikely that many of these candidates will be able to out fundraise the pro-Israel group, even if they team up with progressive Jewish groups.

AIPAC is likely looking to oust members of “The Squad,” progressive House Democrats including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) — the only Palestinian-American member of Congress — and others. All eight current Squad members have co-sponsored a ceasefire resolution introduced by Bush.

Even Dave Min, a candidate running for Rep. Katie Porter’s (D-Calif.) congressional seat, is suffering the wrath of AIPAC. Min, a Democrat, has not even called for a permanent ceasefire, but he has criticized new Israeli settlements in the West Bank and disparaged Netanyahu for lapses in security ahead of the Oct. 7 attack. AIPAC has unleashed a torrent of attack ads targeting Min, who was arrested for DUI last year. AIPAC has used the DUI against Min, sending mailers and running TV ads capitalizing on what he has acknowledged was the worst mistake of his career.

“Maybe AIPAC wants a rubber stamp. I’m not going to be a rubber stamp,” Min said at a campaign event in Irvine, Semafor reported.

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Levin fears that AIPAC is setting a dangerous precedent by targeting candidates in this way.

“It’s Israel today. It could be the fossil fuel industry tomorrow,” Levin warned in a 2022 interview with The Guardian. “It could be the tobacco industry, big pharma, any industry or any group that wants to have Democrats who are pliable and will do what they want.”

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