A second candidate for U.S. Senate from Michigan has revealed that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has approached him with a deal to drop out of his race and run against Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan).
Democratic candidate Nasser Beydoun posted a video on social media on Monday revealing that AIPAC offered him $20 million to primary Tlaib, a vocal pro-Palestinian advocate and the only Palestinian American in Congress.
Beydoun harshly criticized AIPAC, a Zionist dark money organization, and said that the offer is demonstrative of the vast influence that wealthy lobbyists have over U.S. politics.
“The pro-Israel lobby will go to any length to remove anybody from the U.S. Congress that has any opposition to their agenda,” Beydoun said. “We need to make sure that money is not a main catalyst to get people elected because the pro-Israel lobby’s only tool, and what they use to threaten politicians, is the amount of money they’re going to spend against them or for them.”
This marks the second candidate for U.S. Senate who has received this proposal. Last week, Politico reported that Hill Harper, another Democratic hopeful from Michigan, was offered $20 million in a phone call on October 15 from Michigan businessman Linden Nelson — who has long been involved with groups affiliated with AIPAC in efforts to unseat Tlaib — to drop out.
“I didn’t intend for a private phone call to turn public. But now that it has, here’s the truth,” Harper wrote in a post on social media after the Politico report came out. “One of AIPAC’s biggest donors offered $20m if I dropped out of the U.S. Senate race to run against [Rashida Tlaib]. I said no. I won’t be bossed, bullied, or bought.” AIPAC has denied involvement.
Progressives castigated AIPAC and the corruption of U.S. politics in reaction to the news about Harper.
“The fact that in the US just *1* wealthy person can make a call and offer millions to unseat an official they dislike tells you everything about the corruption of our politics,” wrote Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) on social media. “It also tells you why the tiny number of members who have managed to beat them are seen as such a threat.”
For many years, AIPAC and the pro-Israel lobby have injected millions of dollars into campaigns in order to unseat progressives who oppose Israel’s apartheid – and now, the genocidal siege of Gaza that has killed over 15,000 Palestinians so far, including at least 6,150 children. This money has contributed massively to the overwhelming bipartisan pro-Israel consensus in Congress that exists today.
With Israel’s current brutality — and the strong backlash from the public that has come with it — reports have found that AIPAC is expected to spend at least $100 million in the Democratic primaries to oust people like Tlaib and the rest of the “Squad” who support Palestinian human rights. Several candidates who entered the race prior to Israel’s current siege of Gaza beginning on October 7 have cited the progressive lawmakers’ anti-Zionist views as reasons for running against them.
In Missouri, one U.S. Senate candidate recently dropped out of his challenge to far right Sen. Josh Hawley (R) in order to unseat Rep. Cori Bush (D), who introduced a resolution in the House calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The candidate, Democrat Wesley Bell, directly cited Bush’s views on Israel as a reason for switching races, saying that “Israel has always been an ally.”
Commentators have also noted the influence of the pro-Israel lobby on Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pennsylvania), who ran a high-profile race on a seemingly progressive platform in 2022. Fetterman’s strong support of Israel has frustrated many on the left who viewed him as a progressive ally in the Senate — but, according to reporting from The Intercept’s Ryan Grim, the pro-Israel lobby was critical to helping Fetterman clinch the Democratic Senate nomination in his race.