AIPAC accuses ‘Radicals in the Democratic Party’ of promoting antisemitism – then apologises

JVL Introduction

Aipac, one of the groups at the heart of the Israel lobby in the US has run into a bit of bother.

It thought it could discourage Americans Democrats like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and others with a shot across the bows, writing in a paid ad that “The radicals in the Democratic Party are pushing their anti-Semitic and anti-Israel policies down the throats of the American people.”

Alas the broadside was too broad and Aipac was forced to row back without delay, making a pretty unprecedented apology. It is clear that radical Democrats are tapping into the increasing disquiet that Trump’s adulatory support for Israel is causing.

 

This article was originally published by Haaretz on Sat 8 Feb 2020. Read the original here.

AIPAC accuses ‘Radicals in the Democratic Party’ of Promoting antisemitism – then apologises

The U.S. pro-Israel lobby has posted a Facebook ad leading to a petition against reducing U.S. military aid to Israel, which prominent Democratic presidential contenders have been considering.

Followed by:

‘We offer our unequivocal apology to the overwhelming majority of Democrats who are rightfully offended by the inaccurate assertion that the poorly worded, inflammatory advertisement implied,’ AIPAC said

1. AIPAC Accuses ‘Radicals in the Democratic Party’ of Promoting anti-Semitism

WASHINGTON – The American Israel Public Affairs Committee sponsored a Facebook ad last week blaming “radicals in the Democratic Party” of promoting anti-Semitism, and called on Americans not to abandon Israel, their “only Democratic alley [sic!] in the Middle East.”

The ad, which leads to a petition against reducing U.S. military aid to Israel, is currently listed as inactive and was viewed by some 30,000 people, according to Facebook’s publicly available data.

“The radicals in the Democratic Party are pushing their anti-Semitic and anti-Israel policies down the throats of the American people. America should never abandon its only democratic ally in the Middle East. Sign the letter to Democrats in Congress – don’t abandon Israel!” the leading U.S. pro-Israel lobby wrote in the ad.

The most outspoken Democratic presidential hopeful on the issue of U.S. military aid to Israel is Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish and has for months been saying that the assistance should be conditioned on a change in Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. The Vermont senator has said he would “absolutely” be willing to use the aid as leverage in the U.S.-Israel relationship. Over the summer, Sanders said at an event in New Hampshire that Washington should use that leverage “in order to end the racism we have recently seen in Israel.”

In October 2019 Elizabeth Warren, another leading Democratic presidential contender, was asked about withholding aid to Israel if the Israeli government continued building settlements in the West Bank and moving away from a two-state solution, to which she replied that “all options are on the table.”

When Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was asked about this issue, he reiterated his position that Israeli annexations in the West Bank could lead to cuts in U.S. security assistance.

As of today, the United States provides Israel $3.8 billion annually as part of an agreement between the two countries that was negotiated and signed by Barack Obama.

Buttigieg took a narrow lead in the first batch of long-delayed results from the chaotic Iowa Democratic Party caucuses on Tuesday, and Sanders was a close second place, while Warren was placed third in the first results, released nearly 21 hours after Iowans poured into more than 1,600 public locations to begin the five-month process of picking a challenger to President Donald Trump.

AIPAC, a self-described grassroots movement of Israel supporters, aims to support Israel and works closely with Democrats and Republics in Congress to ensuring America’s backing.

Asked about the ad, a spokesperson for AIPAC told Haaretz that “This ad was directed to pro-Israel Democrats and they have responded very positively, demonstrating the deep commitment within the party to ensuring that the U.S.-Israel relationship remains strong and with bipartisan support.  It is calling upon the pro-Israel Democratic majority to continue to stand up against a minority of those in the party who seek to weaken our relationship with Israel.”

The spokesperson also noted that AIPAC aired an ad in 2018 against Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky (R-KY) over his attempts to block bipartisan security aid to Israel. The ad, which appeared both on social media and television in Paul’s home state, slammed him for trying to “destabilize the U.S.-Israel relationship.” Paul, however, was not accused by AIPAC of being anti-Semitic.

AIPAC will hold in March its annual conference in Washington. The event usually attracts prominent American and Israeli politicians. This year the conference is slated for the same week as Israel’s March 2 general election and the Super Tuesday U.S. presidential primary on March 4, which may result in low attendance at the event.

 

2. AIPAC Apologizes for Ad Accusing ‘Radicals in the Democratic Party’ of anti-Semitism

WASHINGTON – The American Israel Public Affairs Committee apologized on Saturday for publishing an advertisement that accused the Democratic Party of anti-Semitism. The organization said the ad, which appeared on Facebook last week, had been taken down.

AIPAC, the leading right-leaning pro-Israel lobby in the United States, offered a full-fledged apology in a statement. “We offer our unequivocal apology to the overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress who are rightfully offended by the inaccurate assertion that the poorly worded, inflammatory advertisement implied,” it said.

The Facebook ad in question last week blamed “radicals in the Democratic Party” for “pushing their anti-Semitic and anti-Israel policies down the throats of the American people,” and called on Americans not to abandon Israel, their “only Democratic ally in the Middle East.”

Saturday’s apology came after the organization faced criticism for publishing an ad that contradicts AIPAC’s stated emphasis on bipartisanship.

“We deeply appreciate the broad and reliable support that Democrats in Congress have consistently demonstrated for Israel. The bipartisan consensus that Democrats and Republicans have established on this issue forms the foundation of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” the statement said.

 

 

The ad, which leads to a petition against reducing U.S. military aid to Israel, is currently listed as inactive and was viewed by some 30,000 people, according to Facebook’s publicly available data.

“The ad, which is no longer running, alluded to a genuine concern of many pro-Israel Democrats about a small but growing group, in and out of Congress, that is deliberately working to erode the bipartisan consensus on this issue and undermine the U.S.-Israel relationship,” the AIPAC apology read.

On Friday, in response to a question from Haaretz, a spokesperson for AIPAC explained that the ad was intended to target Democratic supporters of AIPAC and was well received by that particular audience.

“We regret that the ad’s imprecise wording distorted our message and offended many who are deeply committed to this cause. We look forward to continuing our work with friends in Congress to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship and oppose any efforts to undermine its deep, bipartisan support,” AIPAC’s apology concluded.

 

 

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