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Prominent Jewish Americans Sign Statement Denouncing AIPAC’s Electoral Influence

The statement by prominent Jewish Americans expressed opposition to “the unprecedented and damaging role of AIPAC.”

Pro-Palestinian Jewish American demonstrators rally outside the Manhattan headquarters of Pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the offices of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who accept donations from the group, on February 22, 2024, in New York City.

Prominent Jewish Americans within a diverse range of fields and careers have penned a statement calling for Democratic lawmakers and candidates to reject a pro-Israel lobbying committee’s influence on upcoming primary elections.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is set to spend over $100 million in the 2024 campaign, not to promote Democratic candidates in general, but to oppose Democrats who are calling for a permanent ceasefire as Israel continues to kill thousands of Palestinians in Gaza. AIPAC, which is generally aligned with more moderate or right-leaning Democrats, has in recent years received funding from pro-Trump backers, compounding worries regarding its influence over U.S. policy toward Israel in the halls of Congress.

In recent months, AIPAC has attacked several members of “the Squad,” a group of progressive Democrats in Congress who have been critical of Israel’s actions. On social media, for example, AIPAC has made posts insinuating that opposition to Israel’s genocidal attacks on Gaza is akin to supporting the sexual assault alleged to have been committed by members of Hamas. (Notably, AIPAC has ignored allegations of sexually-based attacks against Palestinians by Israeli soldiers.)

“It is appalling that AIPAC is targeting women members of Congress who have survived sexual assault with this horrific rhetoric,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) said in February.

Recognizing AIPAC’s dangerous influence in the political sphere, a group calling itself “Jewish Americans Opposing AIPAC” released a statement this week condemning the lobbyist organization, particularly its attacks on progressive lawmakers who favor a permanent ceasefire.

The group came together in order “to highlight and oppose the unprecedented and damaging role of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and allied groups in U.S. elections, especially within Democratic Party primaries,” the statement from the signers said.

Among the signers of the letter, according to a press release from the group, are: playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner; actors Elliott Gould and Wallace Shawn; Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream; legal scholar Marjorie Cohn; Middle East expert Phyllis Bennis; Mike Hersh, communications director for Progressive Democrats of America, and Alan Minsky, executive director of the same organization; filmmakers James Schamus and Robert Greenwald; journalists Peter Beinart, Dave Zirin and Sarah Jaffe; former Truthout editor-in-chief and current Truthout Center for Grassroots Journalism director Maya Schenwar; music executive Danny Goldberg; American Postal Workers Union president Mark Dimondstein; former Communications Workers president Larry Cohen; academics Aviva Chomsky, Judith Butler and Samuel Moyn; and artists Molly Crabapple and Eric Drooker.

The full list of signers can be found here.

The statement from the group notes that AIPAC’s goal in elections “is to defeat any critics of Israeli Government policy and to support candidates who vow unwavering loyalty to Israel, thereby ensuring the United States’ continuing support for all that Israel does, regardless of its violence and illegality.”

They added:

Given that Israel is so isolated internationally that it could not continue its inhumane treatment of the Palestinians without U.S. political and military support, AIPAC is an essential link in the chain that holds in place the unbearable tragedy of Israel/Palestine. In the coming U.S. elections, we need to break that chain in order to help free the people of Israel/Palestine to pursue peaceful coexistence.

“In contrast to AIPAC, we are American Jews who believe that U.S. support for foreign governments should only be extended to those that respect the full human and civil rights, and right to self-determination, of all people,” the group said.

The group made clear that those who signed the statement “oppose all forms of racism and bigotry, including antisemitism.” They also noted that they deeply oppose “AIPAC’s attempts to dominate Democratic primary elections.”

“We call on Democratic candidates to not accept AIPAC network funding, and demand that the Democratic leadership not allow Republican funders to use that network to deform Democratic primary elections,” the signers said. “We will support candidates who are opposed by AIPAC, and who are advocates for peace and a new, just U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine.”

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