We congratulate Rep. Andy Levin on a principled, hard-fought and heartfelt campaign, and congratulate his opponent Rep. Haley Stevens on her victory. All of us at J Street are deeply disappointed by the outcome, and sad that Andy will not be representing Michigan in Congress again next year. Throughout his career, Levin has proven himself a true mensch – a kind, principled and compassionate leader who fights every day for his constituents, his Jewish and democratic values, and a better world.
The pro-Israel, pro-peace movement is deeply grateful to Congressman Levin for his tireless advocacy for democracy, diplomacy, the two-state solution and human rights. Faced with an onslaught of right-wing outside spending and baseless smears, he never wavered in his support for what’s right. J Street is proud of all we did to support his re-election and defend him from unfair attacks.
It is alarming that this race, like many other Democratic primaries this cycle, was heavily impacted by the aggressive outside spending of AIPAC and its SuperPAC, the United Democracy Project. They spent nearly $5 million to target and defeat Levin, far more than was spent by any other group. While Rep. Levin is a proudly pro-Israel Jewish-American, AIPAC smeared him as “anti-Israel,” “fringe” and “hostile.” They targeted him for holding principled, mainstream views about US diplomatic leadership in the Middle East, and for proposing legislation to help uphold Palestinian rights and secure Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.
This aggressive intervention in Democratic primaries – by a group funded in part by Republican megadonors – to promote an unpopular agenda is harmful to American foreign policy, to the Democratic Party and ultimately to the State of Israel. Perhaps most distressing is the disregard for democracy being shown by a group that endorses and funds 109 Republicans who voted to overturn the 2020 election on January 6th, promoters of the Big Lie like Jim Jordan, Scott Perry and more – while attacking candidates like Andy Levin and Donna Edwards as extremists.
With their overwhelming spending, AIPAC hopes to send an intimidating message to others: Cross our red lines, and you could be next. While political space for open and healthy debate over US foreign policy has opened up considerably in recent years, they appear determined to close it down. Instead of building sustainable bipartisan support for Israel, AIPAC has harmfully turned Israel into one of the sharpest wedge issues in American politics.
To respond to this new challenge, Democratic Party leaders should make absolutely clear just how harmful and unwelcome AIPAC’s interventions in its primary contests are. Candidates in future primaries should disavow and decline the support of AIPAC and its SuperPAC – which have come as a surprise to at least some of them.
J Street remains committed to doing all that we can to represent the views of the majority of Jewish Americans and American voters. We will keep up our work to ensure that our national political and policy debate about foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is rooted in honest fact, shared democratic values, and a commitment to lasting peace.