AIPAC’s first foray into political fundraising will have a complex impact on American Jews.
AIPAC is a political organization, and as such, it has been engaging with black voters, activists and lawmakers for years on a political level. The lobby has been actively seeking these engagements, reaching out to African-Americans in all stages of their political careers, from college student body presidents to state and federal lawmakers, and by featuring prominent figures in the community, such as Bakari Sellers, as key voices within AIPAC.
Last Wednesday, as Jewish Americans were busy wrapping up their Passover shopping (well distanced outside the supermarkets, or begging for an online delivery slot) and struggling to set up a Zoom call with their socially-distanced families, Bernie Sanders bowed out.
Bernie Sanders announced Sunday that he will not attend AIPAC’s annual policy conference next week. “The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people. I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights. For that reason I will not attend their conference,” Sanders wrote, promising that as president, he will “support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and do everything possible to bring peace and security to the region.”
In terms of the Jewish community, a Sander vs. Bloomberg match would be a moment of pride mixed with a fair amount of communal oy vey. The pride part is obvious. The oy vey relates to the not unreasonable concern over the rise of anti-Semitic stereotypes relating to either candidate. Clearly, pride overpowers concerns about haters just using this as another reason to hate, but the ride would be a tough one.
So just to sum up the state of the Democratic race in the first week of primaries: Jewish donors are attacking a Jewish candidate for being too old to run, and a Jewish candidate is calling out Jewish donors for being part of a “big money” billionaire class. It can only go downhill from her.
An attack that lasted less than a minute on Thursday night marked a new phase in America’s standing in the Middle East. What was until that moment a tense standoff between the Trump administration and the Ayatollahs in Tehran turned into a rapidly escalating conflict, which could lead to anything from a cycle of attacks and counter-attacks to an all-out war.