Dear J Street Supporters,
We write to you today with an important update on an issue that continues to generate shock and outrage throughout Washington and the American Jewish community: AIPAC’s recent decision to endorse and fundraise for over three dozen far-right Members of Congress who have threatened the very survival of our democracy by rejecting the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election results.
J Street was the first group to raise the alarm about the prospect of such a well-known and well-resourced pro-Israel group potentially lending its support to far-right politicians who threaten our democratic institutions and values. Last December, following the announcement that AIPAC would create a PAC and SuperPAC, we called on AIPAC, and all of our fellow pro-Israel organizations, to take a “Democracy Pledge” – a commitment to never endorse candidates who in any way promoted the January 6th insurrectionists’ “Big Lie” that Joe Biden did not fairly win the 2020 election. While several groups answered our call, AIPAC did not. This month, with their endorsement of some of the most extreme demagogues in all of Congress, we learned why.
We’re proud to have led the charge on this issue critical to the future of both the US and pro-Israel advocacy. We are also heartened that so many other important voices in the media, the Jewish community and American politics have joined us in condemning AIPAC’s actions as dangerous, irresponsible and indefensible. Not only have J Street’s friends and allies denounced AIPAC, but also figures with whom we have not always agreed – including former ADL national director Abe Foxman, columnist Jennifer Rubin, former AIPAC senior staffers Tom Dine and Douglas Bloomfield, and many more.
In the midst of nearly universal criticism, it was appalling to see AIPAC’s leadership double down on their actions in a message to their membership last Friday. Instead of admitting error or engaging honestly with the criticism they face, AIPAC’s leaders congratulated themselves on their decision to ignore an existential threat to the future of democracy in the United States and around the world. As they put it: “We make no apologies…We will pool our energy, resources and support behind candidates on one single issue, regardless of any other priority.”
Let’s be clear: There can be no excuse for endorsing and fundraising for candidates who threaten America’s democratic future and promote dangerous conspiracy theories. AIPAC’s letter suggests there is no line the American pro-Israel community shouldn’t cross in a single-minded attempt to achieve uncritical and unquestioning support for Israeli government policy. If that means destroying our democracy, then that’s a price AIPAC seems willing to pay.
The US-Israel relationship is built on the shared values of justice, equality and democracy. It’s incredibly short-sighted to say you’re supporting that relationship while simultaneously undermining the shared democratic character of both nations. As Abe Foxman said, “Israel’s security depends on America being a strong democracy. Those who undermine America‘s democracy undermine America and a weak America will not be able to stand and support its ally Israel.”
We’ve been critical of AIPAC for years for aligning with right-wing forces and showing total indifference to Israel’s democratic future. It’s truly alarming to see AIPAC apply that same indifference to America’s democratic future.
Ultimately, AIPAC is free to do and say what it wants. Yet providing financial support and a stamp of approval to extremists, while claiming to act in the best interests of pro-Israel Americans and American-Jews, does tremendous harm to our country and our community. It’s long been clear that AIPAC’s approach of “supporting everything the Israeli government does, right or wrong,” is not in the best interests of the US-Israel relationship, and it does not represent the views or values of American Jews. Similarly, raising millions of dollars for extremist candidates is not in the best interests of either the US or Israel, and certainly does not represent our community.
This is why AIPAC is facing such an overwhelming backlash. The fact that they apparently did not see it coming, and are unable or unwilling to correct course, demonstrates just how out of touch they are with our community. Elected leaders, policymakers and average Americans must know that on this issue, AIPAC speaks only for a small, short-sighted minority that has lost touch with reality and with their moral compass.
We hope you help us spread the word about AIPAC’s reckless actions and the harmful impact they will have on our democracy, and make clear that J Street is a home for all those who wish to stand up and fight for our democratic values and institutions.
Thank you and best wishes,
Alan Solomont, Chairman of the Board
Jeremy Ben-Ami, President