Dozens of prominent Jewish Americans sign letter opposing Aipac's role in US elections

Actors, academics and activists say they 'strongly oppose' American Israel Public Affairs Committee's attempts to influence Democratic primary elections

Aipac is a major US lobbying group that advocates pro-Israel policies in Washington. Getty Images
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Dozens of Jewish Americans issued a letter this week opposing the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee's influence in this year's US elections.

“Given that Israel is so isolated internationally that it could not continue its inhumane treatment of the Palestinians without US political and military support, Aipac is an essential link in the chain that holds in place the unbearable tragedy of Israel/Palestine,” the letter, published in online publication The Nation, reads.

“In the coming US elections, we need to break that chain in order to help free the people of Israel/Palestine to pursue peaceful coexistence.”

Aipac is a major US lobbying group that advocates pro-Israel policies in Washington, and this election cycle it has been using its influence to push back against pro-ceasefire progressive Democrats.

The letter's signatories include Jewish academics, activists, business leaders and celebrities such as Princess Bride actor Wallace Shawn and award-winning author and playwright Tony Kushner.

“We strongly oppose Aipac’s attempts to dominate Democratic primary elections,” the letter states. “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.”

US media, citing sources familiar with the matter, have reported that Aipac is expected to spend $100 million in 2024 “taking aim at candidates they deem insufficiently supportive of Israel”.

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The pro-Israel group's main targets have been the small group of Democrats in the House of Representatives known as “The Squad”, which includes Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush.

Squad members have been among Washington's fiercest advocates of an end to the Israel-Gaza war and a halt to the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Earlier this month, more than 20 progressive groups formed the “Reject Aipac” coalition in a bid to challenge the group's efforts to funnel millions to progressive congressional leaders' primary campaign challengers, and denounced Aipac's influence over US government policies on Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“Most Jewish Americans support much more even-handed policies and certainly democratic policies within the United States and in the region,” Sharon Goldtvik, a communications and political consultant who works with progressive groups, told The National.

“It's certainly not representative of mainstream public opinion among American Jews when it comes to Israel-Palestine or anything else.”

A survey conducted by Pew Research published on Thursday found that most Jewish Americans – 89 per cent – see Israel’s reasons for going to war against Hamas as valid, and 62 per cent said the way Israel is carrying out the war in Gaza is acceptable.

Representatives from J Street, a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” Jewish-American organisation that has found itself consistently at odds with Aipac, also signed the letter.

Midterm election polling from J Street showed in 2022 that Jewish Americans are “broadly pro-Israel” but largely against a series of right-wing Israeli policies, including settlement expansion.

“They [Jewish Americans] are very much not in support of the Aipac-style approach that we should just support the Israeli government's decisions, no matter what, that criticism of the Israeli government is out of bounds,” Logan Bayroff, J Street's vice president of communications, told The National at the time.

That's not how the community actually feels at all.”

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