Proxy dispute confuses Democrats over support for Israel

Tuesday’s showdown in Maryland is just the latest. The politics of the Israeli-Palestinian divide have upended Democratic House primaries in South Texas, Cleveland, North Carolina, Illinois, California and Pennsylvania. And for Michigan’s August primary, the AIPAC affiliate and Majority Democrat for Israel lined up behind a moderate congresswoman, Haley Stevens, who is Christian, in her incumbent vs. incumbent primary against a more progressive Democrat, Andy Levin, who is Jewish. – a reminder that in the political world created by Mr. Trump, being Jewish is no longer synonymous with being “pro-Israel”. Indeed, the Israeli right currently views evangelical Christians as a much bigger and more powerful ally than American Jews.

“Our goal is to build the broadest bipartisan pro-Israel coalition in Congress, period,” Dorton said.

The effort, remarkable for AIPAC, which so far has striven to maintain its political interventions sotto voce, has resulted in strong accusations of ethnic bias and deep concern that, rather than building support for the Israeli government within the Democratic Party, groups are toughening stance toward Israel and an outspoken stance supporting Palestinian autonomy in a litmus test for progressives.

“When an organization approves, it’s basically the political version of ‘you’re with us or you’re against us.’ You create a black and white script,” said Julie Rayman, senior director of policy and political affairs at the American Jewish Committee, which does not intervene in political races.

Mr. Ben-Ami is more direct.

“We want to save space to preserve more balanced American policies, which push back on some of the things that are happening on the ground in Israel,” he said, adding, “AIPAC is trying to end the discussion and impose a political cost” on those who speak out.

Yousef Munayyer, a Palestinian rights activist and nonresident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington, sees the setback as a positive sign for his cause. For decades, AIPAC’s influence on campaigns has been indirect. The group did not endorse or fundraise for the contestants, instead encouraging its members to do so.

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