Lawmaker’s Israel file attracts scrutiny from AIPAC in Michigan Democratic major

UNITED STATES – MAY 11: Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., holds a information convention on the congressional staffers proper to prepare a union on Wednesday, Could 11, 2022. (Invoice Clark/CQ-Roll Name, Inc through Getty Pictures) Invoice Clark/CQ-Roll Name, Inc through Getty Pictures

Lawmaker’s Israel file attracts scrutiny from AIPAC in Michigan Democratic major

David Sivak

June 11, 06:00 AM June 11, 06:00 AM

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The largest pro-Israel lobbying group in the US is sharpening its assaults on Rep. Andy Levin of Michigan, a progressive lawmaker in search of reelection in a suburban enclave of Detroit.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, has focused Levin over his criticism of Israel and political alignment with “the Squad,” a left-wing group of pro-Palestinian lawmakers. The barbs are a part of a broader effort by the group, which advocates a robust U.S.-Israel relationship, to defeat the small however rising variety of Israel critics operating for Congress, largely in Democratic primaries.


Levin, the scion of a outstanding household in Michigan politics, is operating within the Aug. 2 Democratic race for the state’s deep-blue eleventh Congressional District, the place successful the celebration’s nomination is tantamount to victory in November.

He is vying for a similar seat as Rep. Haley Stevens, a fellow Democrat first elected to the Home in 2018 together with Levin, after the contours of Michigan’s Home districts have been scrambled within the decennial line-redrawing course of. The state misplaced a seat on account of comparatively sluggish inhabitants development over the previous decade, slicing its Home delegation from 14 to 13 members.

A big flashpoint within the Democrat-on-Democrat battle thus far has been assist for Israel. Regardless of Levin insisting that he’s pro-Israel, Stevens and her supporters, most notably AIPAC, have tried to place him on the defensive on the difficulty.

AIPAC used the latest Israeli vacation of Jerusalem Day to assault Levin for sponsoring laws final yr that might require the U.S. to confer with East Jerusalem, and the West Financial institution and Gaza extra broadly, as occupied Palestinian territory in official paperwork.

The vacation commemorates Israel capturing East Jerusalem, which was below Jordanian management for nearly 20 years, within the Six-Day Conflict of 1967. Israel annexed the territory in 1980.

“For 19 years, Jews have been minimize off from their holiest websites in Jerusalem. On this present day 55 years in the past, Israel reunited town and Jews once more had entry to their holy websites,” AIPAC tweeted Tuesday.

“Now, @Andy_Levin is rewriting historical past and desires to chop the Western Wall from Israel,” the group continued, referring to Judaism’s holiest prayer website. “That’s not pro-Israel.”

Hadar Susskind, the president of People for Peace Now, defended Levin, claiming that AIPAC is not sincerely excited about a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian battle. His nonprofit group, just like the United Nations, believes {that a} lasting peace would require Israel to return to its 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem below Palestinian management.

“@Andy_Levin believes in a 2SS. @AIPAC pretends to take action as effectively however, not like Andy who’s keen to truly do one thing about it, AIPAC loves infinite occupation,” Susskind tweeted.

Levin, who served because the president of a synagogue earlier than operating for workplace, has defended himself in opposition to assaults that he’s not pro-Israel by pointing to his vote to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome protection system. Levin has additionally come out in opposition to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions motion embraced by many progressives.

However he has been outspoken on the Israeli authorities’s remedy of Palestinians as effectively and has defended fierce critics of Israel, similar to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who represents Michigan’s thirteenth District.

A former AIPAC president raised eyebrows earlier this yr when he referred to as Levin “arguably essentially the most corrosive member of Congress to the U.S.-Israel relationship,” citing the Levin household’s political clout in addition to the congressman’s “extremely problematic laws.”

Levin’s invoice, titled the “Two-State Answer Act,” would stop U.S. safety help to Israel from getting used to additional “occupation or annexation” within the West Financial institution and Gaza and would require that items created in these areas not say “Made in Israel.” The laws just isn’t anticipated to go Congress.

Stevens, Levin’s centrist opponent, has pledged to be a stalwart defender of Israel, incomes her the endorsement of not simply AIPAC, however the advocacy teams Democratic Majority for Israel and Professional-Israel America as effectively. The assist may show influential in a district that covers the vast majority of metro Detroit’s Jewish neighborhood.

AIPAC pointed to Levin’s invoice when requested why the group was taking sides within the race.

“We assist Consultant Stevens as a result of she has a robust and constant file of standing with America’s ally, Israel — whereas her opponent doesn’t,” an AIPAC spokesman instructed the Washington Examiner in a press release. “For example, her opponent has launched unfair and unbalanced laws that places the first blame for the Israel-Palestinian battle on Israel. This laws additionally opens the door to conditioning safety help to Israel at a time when it faces harmful threats.”

Levin’s marketing campaign didn’t reply to a request for remark.

AIPAC’s political operation has poured hundreds of thousands into races throughout the nation this election cycle, elevating round $300,000 for Stevens within the eleventh District. The investments are the primary time within the lobbying group’s practically 60-year historical past that it is giving monetary assist to candidates, suggesting AIPAC fears its affect in Congress is waning, particularly in Democratic quarters.

Assist for Israel among the many public at giant stays excessive — 75% have a positive view of the Jewish state, in line with a latest Gallup ballot — although a rising share of individuals say their sympathies lie extra with the Palestinians within the Arab-Israeli battle: 25%, up from 19% in 2018.

The shifting sentiment is mirrored within the Squad’s small however rising affect in Congress. The progressive lawmakers’ vocal criticism of Israel has led to accusations of antisemitism. But it surely has additionally placed on show a rift throughout the Democratic Occasion over the way to method relations with the U.S. ally.

Most just lately, the lawmakers made headlines by proposing a decision recognizing the “Nakba,” an Arabic phrase which means “disaster,” referring to the occasions surrounding Israel’s founding that led to the displacement of Palestinians.

AIPAC has had combined ends in the early primaries. The group helped to defeat Squad-backed candidate Nida Allam in North Carolina’s 4th District major final month however didn’t take down progressive favourite Summer season Lee regardless of spending practically $3 million in Pennsylvania’s twelfth District major. Incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar, AIPAC’s candidate in Texas’s twenty eighth District major, leads in a too-close-to-call race in opposition to his progressive opponent, Jessica Cisneros, through which the 2 are separated by fewer than 300 votes. Cisneros has filed for a recount.

J Avenue, the liberal however smaller counterpart to AIPAC, has supported lots of the progressive candidates AIPAC is opposing this cycle. In Michigan’s eleventh District race, it has fundraised greater than $195,000 for Levin.

Levin has worn the AIPAC assaults as a badge of honor. Earlier this yr, the group endorsed three dozen sitting Republicans who voted in opposition to certifying the 2020 election for Joe Biden, one thing Levin and different progressives have used to color the foyer group as excessive.

“Workforce Levin is proud to not be on a listing that features members of Congress who actively assist Trump’s rebel and refuse to guard voting rights,” Levin spokeswoman Jenny Byer instructed the Detroit Information when AIPAC endorsed Stevens in March.

Days later, Jewish Insider added gasoline to the hearth with a report discovering Levin’s marketing campaign itself accepted round $55,000 from PACs that donated to such GOP lawmakers. Levin pledged to donate the cash to an abortion rights group in response.

AIPAC referred to as the transfer disingenuous, saying Levin was “pretending to be virtuous solely after being uncovered as a hypocrite,” and has typically countered the declare it helps “insurrectionists” by noting it has endorsed candidates throughout the political spectrum. Following the blowback, AIPAC launched a letter arguing that “that is no second for the pro-Israel motion to change into selective about its pals.”

Dylan Williams, a senior vp at J Avenue, repeated Levin’s “insurrectionist” line of assault on Tuesday in response to the AIPAC tweet.

G3 Field Information

The Left has backed Levin not just for his stance on Israel, but additionally for his bona fides as a progressive lawmaker, particularly his vocal assist for organized labor.

Levin comes from a political dynasty in Michigan; he succeeded his father, Sander Levin, in representing Michigan’s ninth District after he retired in 2019 following 36 years within the Home. Rep. Levin is the nephew of the late Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, who represented Michigan within the Senate for 36 years.

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