The 2022 Primaries

Jeremy Ben-Ami
on August 24, 2022

Last night, we celebrated thrilling victories for J Street allies Jerry Nadler and Jamaal Bowman in two of New York State’s most hotly-contested primaries.

With vanishingly few swing seats in the House and Senate, primaries in 2022 became ever more crucial battlegrounds for shaping the direction of American politics and policies on the issues we care about.

At stake in many of these races was the question of whether we will have leaders with the courage to fight for democracy, diplomacy and principled, values-driven American leadership. Or whether we have representatives who fall back on the same tired political playbook that has failed us for far too long.

Thanks to the support of our pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy movement, we scored some really important victories this primary season.

The return of Reps. Nadler and Bowman. Wins in tough races for newcomers like Summer Lee in Pittsburgh, Delia Ramirez in Chicago, Greg Casar in Texas and Andrea Salinas and Jamie McLeod Skinner in Oregon.

There have also been difficult losses. Jessica Cisneros coming up just 300 votes short in Texas. Donna Edwards’ loss in Maryland and Andy Levin’s in Michigan.

Even with those losses, the outlook for progress is brighter than ever.

More politicians now understand that support for Israel is no longer synonymous with support for the settlement movement or Netanyahu’s allies on the Israeli right. They recognize that the best route to security is through diplomacy.

Our community has so far raised over $6.6 million to support pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy candidates. Of the 131 candidates J Street endorsed this cycle, 126 were victorious in their primaries.

Despite pumping over $30 million (solely into Democratic primaries and with millions contributed by GOP mega-donors) AIPAC, DMFI and affiliated Super PACs took losses in Texas, Arizona, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

No matter how much they spend, they won’t be able to stop the growing shift we’re enabling toward a more principled vision of pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy leadership. And they can’t stop the growing recognition that safety, freedom and self-determination are rights deserved equally by Israelis and Palestinians.

They can’t defeat the growing cohort of leaders unafraid to give voice to their values, to support a just, democratic future for Israel, and to reject a future of ever-expanding settlements, permanent occupation and endless violence.

And they can’t overcome the overwhelming majority of Jewish Americans who know that our values of equality, justice and democracy must be central to our vision for Israel’s future — not cast aside for political expediency.

Now, as we race toward November 8, we turn our focus toward the battle ahead.

According to Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s President, nothing else matters in choosing our elected representatives than whether they “support Israel.”

At J Street, we understand that everything else matters. A lot.

Our very democracy is at stake in the years ahead. The direction of American foreign policy. Our fundamental freedoms and rights. Our country’s commitment to resolving conflicts through diplomacy.

That’s why the next eleven weeks will be focused on electing and reelecting as many of our pro-democracy endorsees as possible — including Senate majority-makers like Mark Kelly, Catherine Cortez Masto, Raphael Warnock, Cheri Beasley, John Fetterman and Mandela Barnes.

Together, we will reflect the true will of our community and commit ourselves to defeating Trump Republicans who threaten our safety, our democracy and our freedoms. Who spread antisemitic conspiracy theories, traffic in white nationalism and thrive on division and hate.

As we continue our work to protect our freedoms and transform our politics, I’m grateful we can count on the support of thousands of pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy advocates from every background, right across the country.