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Trump: I could "easily" be Israel’s prime minister – Axios

Posted By on October 17, 2022

Former President Trump said Sunday that he "could easily be" the prime minister of Israel in a post on his Truth Social account, in which he also said that Jewish people in the U.S. should be more appreciative of what he has done for Israel.

Between the lines: It is not clear what prompted Trump's remarks, but they echo similar comments that the former president has made about the U.S. Jewish community since he was elected in 2016.

What he's saying: "No President has done more for Israel than I have," Trump wrote on his Truth Social account.

The CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt said Sunday in a statement: "We don't need the former president, who curries favor with extremists and antisemites, to lecture us about the U.S.-Israel relationship."

Flashback: In 2021, Trump accused U.S. Jews who are not orthodox of "no longer loving Israel" and claimed "evangelical Christians love Israel more than the Jews in this country."

The big picture: Trump's remarks were published on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, which marks the conclusion of the annual Torah reading in synagogues and the beginning of a new cycle.

Go deeper... Trump blasts Netanyahu for disloyalty: "F**k him"

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from ADL CEO and national director Jonathan Greenblatt.

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Trump: I could "easily" be Israel's prime minister - Axios

Netanyahu memoir: Dems feeling more leftist pressure on Israel than they publicly admit – Forward

Posted By on October 17, 2022

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a protest against the Israeli government on April 6, 2022. Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images

By Jacob KornbluhOctober 16, 2022

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu writes in a new book that President Joe Biden pushed him last May to end the heavy airstrikes in the Gaza strip in response to 4,000 rockets fired at Israel because he was facing pressure from congressional Democrats. According to the Gaza health ministry, 243 Palestinians, including 66 children, and 12 Israelis were killed in the 11 days of intense fighting between Hamas and Israel.

Bibi, I gotta tell you, Im coming under a lot of pressure back here, Netanyahu quotes Biden as saying during one of the six phone calls the two leaders held that week that led to a ceasefire. The conversation, as reported by Netanyahu in his memoir, Bibi: My story, slated for publication on Tuesday, belies the presidents more recent dismissal of Democratic voices critical of Israel as relatively insignificant. An advanced copy of the book was obtained by the Forward.

This is not Scoop Jacksons Democratic Party, Biden reportedly continued, referring to the hawkish Democratic Senator from Washington who died in 1983. Im getting squeezed here to put an end to this as soon as possible.

Bidens aggressive attempts to reach a ceasefire underscored a generational divide on Israel among Democrats, with those on the left led by Reps. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley who formed The Squad after their election in 2018. Last year, eight Democrats voted against funding for the replenishment of Israels anti-missile Iron Dome defense system, though some supported it in a subsequent vote. And 16 opposed a resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. A recent Pew Research survey showed that 53% of Americans who identify themselves as Democrats hold a negative view of Israel.

Earlier this year, in his first interview with the Israeli media ahead of his 10th trip to the Jewish state, Biden said he is not worried about anti-Israel sentiment in Congress. Theres no possibility, I think, of the Democratic Party or even a significant portion of the Republican Party, walking away from Israel, he said.

Netanyahu had a stronger relationship with former President Donald Trump than with his Democratic predecessors, but the relationship frayed Israeli ties with Democrats.

But the book also shares behind-the-scenes details of an episode in which Netanyahu risked Democratic support for Israel well before the rise of The Squad.

At the height of tensions with former President Barack Obama over the Iran nuclear deal in March 2015, the prime minister accepted an invitation from then-Republican House Speaker John Boehner to address a joint session of Congress. Sixty members boycotted the speech. No Obama administration officials attended.

Netanyahu writes that he needed a majority in Congress to oppose the deal, and would not be dissuaded from making the address, despite stern warnings from Jewish Democrats and senior cabinet members about rupturing relations with Israels most important ally. A longtime friend, Mort Zuckerman, then publisher of U.S. News & World Report, advised him to at least be as respectful as possible to Obama. Youre going into a political tinderbox, Zuckerman told the prime minister. Democratic sensibilities are at their height. Ive never seen anything like this tension.

Netanyahu writes that he took that advice and it served him well. Sen. Chuck Schumer, then Senate minority leader and an opponent of the deal, approached him after the speech and said it moved six Democrats to support a Republican-led bill that would give Congress a role to review and eventually vote on the deal. I was relieved, Netanyahu writes.

The deal, however, eventually passed Congress: 98-1 in the Senate and 400-25 in the House.

Even if Democrats couldnt derail the speech, Netanyahu worried that his own sinuses would. He reveals that the night before he couldnt fall asleep, thanks to a severe cold. During a practice run, he couldnt make it through a sentence. I cant believe this is happening to me, he told his wife Sara. The most important speech of my life and Im going to be foiled by this? The various remedies he tried all failed. But the next morning as he entered the Capitol, the miracle of miracles happened, he writes. His sinuses cleared.

During the speech, Netanyahu continued, he noticed that Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House leader, turned her back on him. When speakers spot indifferent or hostile members in an audience, they often get dejected, he writes. Not me. Nothing energizes me more.

Back in the hotel, I was drained of energy, like a boxer after a bruising fight, he added.

Netanyahu dedicates several chapters to his strained relationship with Obama, including a detailed description of their first White House meeting, in which Obama told him to relinquish settlements in the occupied West Bank. He writes that his clash with Obama was not personal but ideological. And he criticizes Obama officials who attacked him as narrow-minded, describing them as people who never risked their lives on a battlefield.

The book claims that Obama refused to commit to vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution against Israel six years before the U.S. abstained on UNSC 2334 that condemned Israeli settlements. It was after the May 31, 2010 IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara flotilla from Turkey in which nine Turkish passengers, including one U.S. citizen, were killed in clashes with Israeli commandos as the ship attempted to break Israels maritime blockade of Gaza. If I do that, America will be isolated, Obama told Netanyahu, who asked the U.S. to use its veto power if the UN body rushes to judgment against Israel. The veto was not needed after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon promised to appoint an impartial commission that later confirmed the blockade was legal.

Though the pair frequently feuded in public over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu writes that in late 2009 he privately sought to ease the tension with the president by agreeing to impose a 10-month freeze on settlements, and that he later proposed a peace summit at Camp David. The strategy was to buy more time to develop Israels military capabilities and to ease international pressure in the wake of a strike on Irans nuclear facilities.

But his attempt to get the U.S. to greenlight military action failed. In a 2012 Oval Office meeting, Obama warned Netanyahu that the Israeli move would be a mistake and result in the collapse of the sanctions regime against Iran. He later dispatched a number of administration officials to frustrate Israeli preparations for an attack.

During Obamas visit to Israel in 2013, Netanyahu met even greater resistance as he lobbied for a U.S. strike on Iran. Nobody likes Goliath, Obama said, according to Netanyahu. I dont want to be an eight-hundred-pound gorilla strutting on the world stage. For too long we acted that way.

Years later, at the start of his first meeting with Trump at the White House, the new president asked Netanyahu, Why didnt you bomb them? Netanyahu said he replied, Because I didnt have the votes at the time. But its still an option.

When Trump was elected, Netanyahu saw great opportunity, and set four goals for the American presidents first term: Move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, recognize Israels control over the Golan Heights, withdraw from the Iran deal and make peace with the Arab world. All four of them, Netanyahu writes, were accomplished before Trump left office.

Despite bumps in the road, our years together were the best ever for the Israeli-American alliance, Netanyahu writes at the conclusion of his memoir, calling Trump a true trailblazer.

But the start of the Trump-Netanyahu relationship was not auspicious. Netanyahu was dejected by an early call from Jared Kushner, Trumps son-in-law and point person on Middle East peace, to Israels Ambassador Ron Dermer, suggesting Israel should freeze construction in the settlements for a couple of years to pave the way for a peace deal. Normally, I dont give in to despondency. But I did now, Netanyahu writes about his reaction at the time. Pointing to the pressure he got from former President Bill Clinton and Obama, Netanyahu asks, Was I now condemned to another four years of this nonsense?

Netanyahu also blamed Ron Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress and a longtime friend and adviser to Trump, for driving a wedge between him and the U.S. president. Lauder badmouthed him, he writes, and pushed his own peace deal with the Palestinians. In a recent book, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman revealed that Lauder had pitched a Middle East peace plan built on the two-state solution that Trump was enthusiastic about.

When Trump visited Israel later that year, he complained to President Reuven Rivlin that Bibi doesnt want peace. In response, Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman produced a video which showed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas calling for the destruction of Israel and glorifying terrorists in Arabic. They hoped Trump would adjust his thinking about the Palestinian leader. I could see that the video registered with Trump, at least momentarily, Netanyahu writes.

He also showed Trump a slide presentation that compared the distance between Tel Aviv and the occupied West Bank, to the distance between Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue and the George Washington Bridge. Mr. President, I said, would you let a regime that wants to annihilate you set up a state at the George Washington Bridge? Of course not. Neither would we, Netanyahu writes.

Netanyahu also posits that without interference from Lauder though he doesnt mention him explicitly by name the Abraham Accords would have been signed at the beginning of Trumps term rather than the end.

In Netanyahus first term as prime minister, 1996-1999, Lauder secretly negotiated a peace deal on behalf of Netanyahu with then-Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.

Netanyahu disputes Kushners account that Trump was caught off guard when the prime minister indicated at the January 2020 rollout event for the Mideast peace plan that the U.S. backed his intention to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank. According to the former prime minister, Trump agreed in a letter he sent the day before the ceremony to immediately recognize Israeli control over 30% of the West Bank, in exchange for a written commitment from Netanyahu that he would allow the creation of a Palestinian state over the rest of the territory. But following Netanyahus declaration, the White House pressured him to retract his declaration and worked to foil the plan.

What transpired to bring about this change is still unclear, Netanyahu writes, wondering whether Kushner and Friedman didnt fully explain to the president what the commitment entailed. Whatever the reason, it was inappropriate and cost me a great deal.

Following the election of Biden, Netanyahu tweeted his congratulations to the president-elect while Trump was still contesting the results, though he waited for weeks for a return call after Biden entered office. In the book, Netanyahu doesnt respond to Trumps profane remarks about the prime ministers outreach to the president-elect as detailed in a recent book by Israeli journalist Barak Ravid but acknowledges that it elicited the ire of President Trump, who to this day believes that he was the first foreign leader to do so.

Netanyahu writes that despite a fraught relationship with Obama he enjoyed a close friendship with then-Vice President Biden and appreciated his frankness. Biden often repeated a line he once told Netanyahu: Bibi, I dont agree with a damn thing you had to say, but I love you.

On many occasions the feeling was mutual, Netanyahu writes.

The Biden-Netanyahu relationship is nearly 40 years old, beginning when Netanyahu first visited Washington in the early 1980s. On Bidens recent Israel trip, during the welcome ceremony at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Netanyahu was the first dignitary Biden shook hands with after his fist bumps with other Israeli leaders, despite the White Houses earlier assertion that Biden wouldnt shake hands with anyone because of a spike in coronavirus cases. You know I love you, Biden told Netanyahu, comments which were aired live on Israeli television.

At the start of the Obama administration, as Netanyahu was facing pressure to endorse a two-state solution and resume negotiations with the Palestinians, Biden told Netanyahu he would serve as his backchannel ally. You dont have too many friends here, buddy, Biden told Netanyahu during a meeting at the official vice presidents residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory, Netanyahu writes of the conversation. Im the one friend you do have. So call me when you need to.

A year later, as Biden visited Israel to ease tensions between Obama and Netanyahu, the then-vice president was blindsided by a plan to build 1,600 units for Jews in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Netanyahu, who immediately expressed regret about the move, writes that before departing Israel Biden told him in a phone call that there had been much pushback in Washington against the announcement but he was glad they were able to put the matter to bed.

Thanks for getting my chestnuts out of the fire, Netanyahu quoted Biden as saying.

Netanyahu accused the Obama administration of always judging him in the worse possible light.

Netanyahu writes that he may have struck too tough a tone with former President Bill Clinton at their first meeting in 1996. He was angry that Clinton had interfered in the Israeli election, sending his political advisers to help Netanyahus rival, Shimon Peres.

The American president bristled at what he considered Netanyahus lecturing.

But Clinton, Netanyahu writes, also seemed to know how to diffuse tensions between the two.

Bibi, Ive got to hand it to you, Netanyahu quotes Clinton telling him in their first phone call after his surprise upset. We did everything we could to bring you down, but you beat us fair and square.

Netanyahu writes that he was charmed by Clintons honesty. He was refreshingly politically incorrect.

Originally posted here:

Netanyahu memoir: Dems feeling more leftist pressure on Israel than they publicly admit - Forward

Its driven by fear: Ukrainians and Russians with Jewish roots flee to Israel – The Guardian

Posted By on October 17, 2022

A visit to Jerusalems only boxing club is like stepping into the past: the former bomb shelter in a working-class neighbourhood of Jerusalem is a riot of old-school paraphernalia, and a CD of 1970s disco provides the soundtrack for training sessions.

This is the kingdom of Gershon Luxemburg, better known as Grisha, a fit 78-year-old who barks instructions while chewing menthol gum. Born in Uzbekistan, the former Russian champion came to Israel as a young man; today he trains many new Russian-speaking migrs.

I learned to box as a child so I could fight back when I was beaten up at school for being Jewish, Luxemburg said. I fought in Lebanon and the Yom Kippur war. Jews are not afraid to fight, to defend themselves. But no one wants to die because of Putins war in Ukraine.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Israel prepared for a new wave of immigration from the former Soviet state. About 13,000 Ukrainians with Jewish heritage have made aliyah, or emigrated, since then. Unexpectedly, double that have come from Russia, meaning around one in eight Russian Jews have left the country.

Since Vladimir Putins mobilisation announcement in September, their numbers are growing. Last week, Alla Pugacheva, the queen of Soviet pop, reiterated her criticism of the war and announced she had come to Israel with her husband, who has Jewish roots.

Mikhael, who has been coming to Grishas gym for the last two years, was born and raised in Moscow. Working in the tech industry in Israel, he now finds himself unable to visit his mother and sister, who still live in the Russian capital.

Theres no way I can go home now. I decided to make aliyah and I am happy here. I did my service in the Israeli army. But in Russia its not the same. I do not want to be part of that, the 33-year-old said.

Israels law of return much reviled by Palestinians, to whom it does not apply gives people born Jewish, converts, spouses of Jewish people and those with Jewish parents or grandparents the right to move to the country and acquire Israeli citizenship.

Since 1950, Israel has seen several waves of aliyah immigration from countries including Sudan, Ethiopia and Yemen, as well as an influx of more than 1 million people after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.

For Ukrainian-born Knesset member Yuli Edelstein, a prominent refusenik who spent three years in a Siberian penal colony, there is a sense that history is repeating itself.

Danger has been part of the Jewish experience in Russia for generations. No one will ever forget that, he said.

When I left Russia I was very young and knew very little about my Jewish roots and Israel. But I had a destination. This time, people are leaving in a rush its driven by fear.

The aliyah process has been expedited for Ukrainians, who are classed as refugees, but unexpected demand from Russia has overwhelmed the Jewish Agency, the quasi-governmental body that facilitates immigration. On top of the 26,000 Russians who have already arrived in Israel so far this year, another 35,000 are waiting for paperwork to be processed.

Israels aliyah and integration ministry, the foreign affairs ministry and the treasury met after Putins military call-up to discuss emergency budgets, lodging options and organising flights for new arrivals.

Archie Bland and Nimo Omer take you through the top stories and what they mean, free every weekday morning

The Jewish Agencys work, however, is under threat. In July, Russias justice ministry recommended that the organisation be shut down for violating Russian privacy laws, sparking a diplomatic spat.

Despite pressure from its western allies to take a forceful stance, Israel has tried to remain neutral in the war in Ukraine, as it relies on Moscow to facilitate its military operations in Syria. The threat of closing the Jewish Agencys offices, however, led Israels caretaker prime minister Yair Lapid to warn that such a move would be a severe blow to bilateral relations. A case is slowly working its way through a Moscow court, and the agencys future is uncertain.

Its not clear at all what the Russians are hoping to achieve by targeting the Jewish Agency. The government is not monolithic maybe one branch is seeking to slow the emigration and another is aware of the possible diplomatic implications, said a source connected to the issue who asked not to be named to avoid jeopardising the Jewish Agencys case.

Its hard to predict what will happen next, but there are two contradictory outcomes: either people will fear to put themselves forward as candidates for aliyah, now its been frowned upon by the government, or it will lead to an even bigger surge in numbers.

Putins mobilisation led to a scramble for flights to Israel, where Russian citizens are still welcome as tourists. Five new private agencies have also opened to help Russians make aliyah, and Agence France-Presse reported that municipal administration offices across the country have seen huge increases in people looking for records to back up their claims of Jewish heritage. Many of those contacting the authorities for help are mothers desperate to get their sons out of the country.

I got an Israeli passport many years ago because I always knew something like this was possible. I always knew the dark days of the Soviet Union could return, said Anna Klatis, a journalism professor at Moscow State University who left for Jerusalem with her 16-year-old daughter in February.

It is tough for my daughter to adjust to a new place and learn Hebrew for school. Maybe she will have to do military service here. But I could not let her grow up in a place where freedoms are vanishing.

Read more here:

Its driven by fear: Ukrainians and Russians with Jewish roots flee to Israel - The Guardian

How AIPAC and DMFI Outspent the Democratic Insurgency – The Intercept

Posted By on October 17, 2022

As Maram Al-Dada, a 34-year-old aviation engineer in Orlando, Florida, prepared to speak at a rally in May 2021, he couldnt help but think of his family. One particular moment from his childhood in Gaza was seared into his memory. His grandmother would often walk him as a boy to the border fence and point to the property on the other side that had been the familys home until 1967, when the community was evacuated amid the Six-Day War. On the seventh day, the family hadnt been allowed to return, but his grandparents would sneak out at night to tend to their crops, making sure things would be in good shape for the family when they eventually did make it back. Theyd be shot at by Israeli troops and sneak back. But soon the fencing went up, leaving only the pointing to be done.

Then one day in the early 1990s, about 25 years after the family had been forced from their home, a lighter-skinned man speaking broken Arabic came to their southern Gaza village of Bani Suheila looking for Al-Dadas grandmother.His grandparents still held the deed or the paper, at least but the man was now living on their property.Al-Dada still doesnt understand why the man came to see his grandmother, or what he wanted, but vividly remembers an intensely demeaning experience.

Now there was more fighting, and Al-Dada and his fellow Floridians hed moved to the Sunshine State in 2011 were there to protest Israeli evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem, and airstrikes on the Gaza strip during Ramadan, 2021. They were the latest violent attacks in what had become known as the Gaza War.

Al-Dada hadnt been back in years. In 2008, as his grandfather was dying, he tried to visit through the border with Egypt but was denied. A crossing from Israel for a Palestinian is effectively impossible, given travel restrictions that apply only to Palestinians. His grandfather died, a follow-up attempt to gain humanitarian entrance for the funeral was rejected, and he hasnt been to Gaza since.

Al-Dada saw those at the rally as another type of family. After hed gotten to the U.S., he joined the Florida Palestine Network, a thriving grassroots organization that included many Palestinian emigrs and non-Palestinian kindred spirits. One of the most active young men in that group stood next to Al-Dada: Maxwell Alejandro Frost, who, for all appearances, was a true believer in the cause. Free, free Palestine! he andAl-Dada chanted as they both got ready to address the crowd. Yall are gonna hear me say this over and over again, Frost told those gathered when it was his turn to speak. We have to demand not ask we have to demand that our leaders see the world through the eyes of the most vulnerable and use that vision to make every goddamn decision they ever make.

Following the rally, Frost, 24, posted a photo on Instagram, with the caption, Orlando is in solidarity with all facing oppression across the globe. From Palestine to Colombia, we denounce it all. He added a thank you to his friend, Rasha Mubarak, another Palestinian American, for leading the organizing of the rally. Much love! The most committed activists were all part of a group chat, where several dozen of them, including Mubarak, Al-Dada, and Frost, all celebrated the successful event.

It was also the start of something bigger. In the weeks leading up to the rally, rumors had swirled around Orlando political circles that Val Demings, the local congresswoman and former sheriff, was being courted by party leaders in Washington to run for Senate and would soon take the plunge. Frost reached out to Mubarak, who he had met amid the street protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and asked her to be part of his kitchen cabinet, an informal circle of advisers who make up the early infrastructure of a campaign. Rasha connected me with a few different politicos, people here in Florida, and stuff like that. And then she was a member of the kitchen cabinet, Frost said.

Mubarak laid out his path to victory. We need to run a really progressive race thats people-centered and inclusive of Palestinian human rights. Understanding that this is a Black seat and that many of the other establishment Democratic candidates will split the vote, she said. Frost is Afro-Latino so they thought he would have a shot, even if he wasnt a shoo-in. If hes willing to be the progressive, bold candidate, people are gonna believe in that. And hes gonna bring out a different base.

Just being the first Gen Z candidate for Congress wouldnt be enough. Being the first is historic, but changing history via policy is entirely different. Being the first Gen Z is only surface-level and what we need as his residents are deeper: a congressional leader in the state of Florida that aligns with the notion that everyone deserves to move with freedom, experience liberation, and live equitable lives. A congressional leader that did not leave any community behind. We do not have that in Florida, she said.

A week after the rally, Demings made it official. Mubarak began connecting Frost with donors around the country and activist groups in the district. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Central Florida, Mubaraks Palestinian family hailed largely from the West Bank and Jerusalem. A national political consultant and organizer, shed become a prominent figure in Orlando politics. Frost also brought on Rania Batrice, progressive Palestinian American consultant, to do his media strategy. Word spread that Frost, an anti-gun violence advocate connected to the Parkland survivors, was the genuine progressive in what was, as hoped for, becoming a crowded field. In August 2021, he officially launched his campaign.

People listen as former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner gives her concession speech after losing to Cuyahoga County Council member Shontel Brown at The Lanes on Aug. 3, 2021 in Maple Heights, Ohio.

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

In a special election to replace Rep. Marcia Fudge in the House after Fudge was named Housing and Urban Development secretary, Nina Turner, a former state senator and surrogate for both of Bernie Sanderss presidential campaigns, was polling some 30 points ahead of the field. Amid the Gaza War, she retweeted a Jewish advocacy group, IfNotNow, that is the bane of right-wing pro-Israel groups.

Jewish Insider flagged the post in an article, noting the divergence on the issue between Turner and her leading opponent, Cuyahoga County Chair Shontel Brown. Advocacy groups such as Pro-Israel America and Democratic Majority for Israel, reported Jewish Insider, have also thrown their support behind Brown, who has had to contend with Turners substantial warchest with less than three months remaining until the August 3 primary, according to the latest filings from the Federal Election Commission. Brown would not have to contend with that disadvantage for long.

Two groups Democratic Majority For Israel, or DMFI, and Mainstream Democrats PAC began spending millions pummeling Turner on the airwaves. The two were effectively the same organization, operating out of the same office and employing the same consultants, though Mainstream Democrats claims a broader mission. Strategic and targeting decisions for both were made by pollster Mark Mellman, according to Dmitri Mehlhorn, a Democratic operative and Silicon Valley executive who serves as the political adviser to LinkedIn billionaire Reid Hoffman, who funds the Mainstream Democrats PAC. DMFI has also funneled at least $500,000 to Mainstream Democrats PAC.

Our money is going to the Mainstream Democrat coalition, which we trust to identify the candidates who are most likely to convey to Americans broadly, an image of Democrats that is then electable, Mehlhorn told me earlier this year, saying he relies on the consultants linked to DMFI to make those choices. I trust them. I think Brian Goldsmith, Mark Mellman, they tend to know that stuff.

DMFI, Mainstream Democrats PAC, and the American Israel Public AffairsCommitteehave spent so much money that the question of Israel-Palestine now dominates Democratic primaries.

While DMFI is ostensibly organized around the politics of Israel, in practice, it has become a weapon wielded by the partys centrist faction against its progressive wing. In fact, DMFI, Mainstream Democrats PAC, and the American Israel Public AffairsCommitteehave spent so much money that the question of Israel-Palestine now dominates Democratic primaries.

Across the country, progressive candidates who a cycle earlier had been loudly vying for national attention with bold ideasto attract small donors were instead keeping their heads down, hoping to stay under the radar of DMFI and AIPAC.

When Justice Democrats, in the wake of Sanderss first presidential campaign, began its effort to pull the party to the left by competing in Democratic primaries, the issue of Israel-Palestine was not central to its strategy. But its candidates tended to be progressive across the board, rather than what had previously been the standard, known as PEP, for progressive except for Palestine.The insurgency inside the Democratic Party has since produced a counter-insurgency, funded heavily by hedge fund executives, private equity barons, professional sports team owners, and other billionaires and multimillionaires, many of them organized under a pro-Israel banner.

Its been a radical transformation in the politics of Israel-Palestine and the politics of Democratic primaries, said Logan Bayroff, director of communications for J Street, which describes itself as a pro-Israel, pro-peace organization. This cycle, Bayroff helped run J Street Action Fund, an outside spending group designed specifically to counter the influence of DMFI and AIPAC. It spent less than 10 percent the amount its rivals were able to put in the field.

Mehlhorn was explicit about his purpose. Nina Turners district is a classic case study where the vast majority of voters in that district are Marcia Fudge voters, theyre pretty happy with the Democratic Party. And Nina Turners record on the Democratic Party is [that] shes a strong critic, he said. And so this group put in money to make sure that voters knew what she felt about the Democratic Party. And from my perspective, that just makes it easier for me to try to do things like give Tim Ryan a chance of winning [a Senate seat] in a state like Ohio not a big chance, but at least a chance. And hes not having to deal with the latest bomb thrown by Nina. So anyway, thats the theory behind our support for Mainstream Democrats.

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Mellman, in an interview with HuffPost, acknowledged that his goals extended beyond the politics of Israel and Palestine. The anti-Biden folks and the anti-Israel folks look to her as a leader, Mellman said. So she really is a threat to both of our goals.

Turner said she was told she had to distance herself from members of the Squad, particularly Muslim Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, or face an onslaught. I was told by a prominent Jewish businessman that Were coming at you with everything we got, you need to disavow the Squad, Turner said, and if I didnt do it, they were coming for me. And that also the Palestinian community didnt have rights that were more important than the state of Israel.

I even have emails right now, to this day, of local primarily business leaders in the Jewish community where they were encouraging Republicans to vote in this primary and were saying things like: We must support Shontel Brown, in no way can we let Nina Turner win this race, Turner said.

This is a very important election for our community! wrote one Turner opponent in an email to neighbors. Shontels main opponent, Nina Turner, was the honorary co-chair of the Sanders 2020 presidential campaign, as well as the leader of Our Revolution, the post-2016 organization of Sanders enthusiasts. She has raised money proclaiming her desire to join the Squad and has been endorsed by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (see Turner fundraising emails attached below).

Another neighbor forwardedthe email on to still more folks, adding, Many of us wouldnt bother with this primary election but this one is really important and electing Shontel Brown is a must. Whether a R or a D you can elect to vote in the D primary.

Shontel Brown takes pictures with her supporters after learning she won Ohios 11th Congressional District on Aug. 3, 2021.

Photo: Stephen Zenner/Getty Images

I am going to work hard to ensure that something like this never happens to a progressive candidate again, she said on election night. We didnt lose this race the evil money manipulated and maligned this election. The characterization of the funding as evil, mixed with the notion of manipulation, brought out fresh charges of antisemitism.

The race in Orlando largely stayed off the national radar through the rest of 2021, since the primary wouldnt be held until August 2022. As the year closed out, Mubarak set about posting her end-of-year Instagram shoutouts and wanted to highlight the work theyd all done the past May in opposing the Gaza War. She went to dig out Frosts old post, which had singled Mubarak out for her organizing that day and discovered it had been taken off his feed. Mubarak calledFrost out on it; she saidhe explained that a social media staffer had scoured his accounts and archived some posts and that it mustve been caught up in the sweep. Hed put it back up, he said.

But the reference to Mubarak was removed and a subtle but meaningful edit was made to the caption: Gone were references to all facing oppression across the globe and the pledge that we denounce it all.

The post now reads simply: Orlando stands in solidarity from Palestine to Colombia! When Mubarak flagged the change and her omission, she said, he explained that local endorsers have a problem with your advocacy.

Maxwell Frosts edited Instagram post.Credit: Screenshots obtained by The Intercept.

Frost told another ally that his goal was to avoid getting crushed by DMFI. Were just trying to see if we can keep them out, and maybe if they come in, they wont spend anything, they recalled him speculating.

Frost told The Intercept that he wasnt really aware of the influence of outside spending at that point in his campaign. I honestly didnt know much about outside spending at that point, or IEs independent expenditures made by Super PACs or kind of the role that they play, Frost said. I didnt really learn about the outside money that played into [Turners] race until months after, to be honest. I saw the results come in, I looked at my phone, I remember I was like, sitting in my kitchen and I was just like, Damn, we lost. I remember being surprised and being upset and then kind of saying, you know, I need to win, we need more progressives in Congress. So I hadnt really connected those dots, to be honest, and wasnt really fully aware of, kind of, the role of outside money in general in these Democratic primaries.

Campaign sources, however, say the issue was front and center, with questions about what type of positioning might keep the outside money out. When allies in the free Palestine movement warned him that capitulating to DMFI and AIPAC wouldnt let up even after he was elected, whether he capitulated or not, they recall Frost saying, Ill figure that out when I get there.

On January 31, kickstarting the primary season, Jewish Insider published a list of 15 DMFI House endorsements. Among them was Randolph Bracy, a local state senator who was considered one of the most competitive moderates in Frosts race. Mubarak texted Frost the news. Didnt think they would hop in so early, Frost replied. They hate progressives lol.

The names on DMFIs endorsement list, and the names left off, tell a story ofthe groups commitment to fighting back against the partys left flank in Democratic primaries and an increasingly extremist view of what being pro-Israel meant.

In Michigan and Illinois, Reps. Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Sean Casten (D-IL) are, with support from DMFI, waging respective battles against progressive Reps. Andy Levin (D-MI) and Marie Newman (D-IL), who have frequently clashed with the pro-Israel establishment over their criticism of the Jewish state, the Jewish Insider piece read.

Levin was an incumbent member of Congress and a scion of a powerhouse Michigan family that included Carl Levin, his uncle and a former lion of the Senate, and former House Ways and Means Chair Sander Levin, his father. Levin had been redistricted into a primary against another incumbent Democrat, Stevens, who became conspicuously outspoken about her unwavering support for Israel, becoming one of just 18 Democrats casting public doubt on the wisdom of President Joe Biden reentering the Iran nuclear deal. To include Levin among an anti-Israel cohort stretched the definition to a breaking point. Wrote Jewish Insider:

While Levin, a former synagogue president, describes himself as a Zionist and opposes BDS, the Michigan political scion has frequently clashed with the pro-Israel establishment over his criticism of the Israeli government, including the recent introduction of legislation that would, among other things, condemn Israeli settlements while placing restrictions on U.S. aid to Israel.

Michigan Democratic Reps. Andy Levin and Rashida Tlaib hold a campaign rally on July 29, 2022 in Pontiac, Mich.

Getty Images

The list also included Summer Lee. In 2018, as an unapologetic democratic socialist, she unseated a member of a powerhouse Pittsburgh political family in a state House race. Her win made national news. Now she was running for an open congressional seat with the backing of Justice Democrats, and, Jewish Insider noted, was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, which formally endorsed the BDS movement in 2017. BDS which is modeled after the effort to boycott South Africas apartheid government and stands for boycott, divestment, and sanctions was launched in 2005 by Palestinian civil society groups in response to Israels construction of a wall that cut deep into occupied Palestinian territory.

DMFI came out early for her opponent, attorney Steve Irwin. Theres a context here that I think we ought to take cognizance of, which is to say that we have had some organized groups out there that have said they are attempting to execute, in their words, a hostile takeover of the Democratic Party, Mellman told Jewish Insider, referring to the organization Justice Democrats, which cultivates progressive congressional candidates to primary moderate Democrats, but expanded his discussion to include DSA. Freshman Rep. Marie Newman had also been backed by Justice Democrats in her campaign to unseat a conservative Democrat the previous cycle. A number of those groups have moved anti-Israelism from a peripheral part of their issue agenda to a central part of their issue agenda, Mellman said. Their strategy is to go into deep-blue districts that the party doesnt care about because its going to be a Democrat no matter who wins.

Lee heard early on that her campaign was going to have an Israel problem, she told The Intercept. We heard people in the establishment talk about it, you know, Summers gonna have an Israel problem, Lee said. Its an issue that we knew was going to come up. And I think its really funny because, for me, as a Black woman who is a progressive, Israel is not, at the state level, its not an issue that we ever had to talk about, that we broached.

Lees point echoes a similar one made by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., in 2018 when getting knocked around in the press for flubbing an answer on the Israel-Palestine question. I come from the South Bronx, I come from a Puerto Rican background. And Middle Eastern politics is not exactly at my kitchen table every night, she said.

But, during the Gaza War in 2021, Lee had once posted support for the Palestinian plight. It was really one tweet that kind of caught the attention of folks, Lee said. Here, this is it, we got you. And it was really a tweet talking about Black Lives Matter and talking about how, as an oppressed person, I view and perceive the topic. Because the reality is and thats with a lot of Black and brown progressives we view even topics that dont seem connected, we still view them through the injustice that we face as Black folks here, and the politics that we see and experience here, and are able to make connections to that.

The comment was shocking to some in Pittsburgh. Charles Saul, a member of the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicles board of trustees, was later quoted by the paper saying he was concerned about Lee because shes endorsed by some people I believe are antisemites, like Rashida Tlaib.

Another thing that worried me was her equating the suffering of the Gazans and Palestinians to the suffering of African Americans. Thats one of these intersectional things. If thats her take on the Middle East, thats very dangerous, Saul said.

Lee had no doubt she would be hit, she just didnt know when or how hard. Im being very honest, there was no world in which I did not think this was gonna happen, she said. From the moment I saw the ways in which the four Black and brown women who came in in 2018, which is the same year that I came into the state House, watching the way that they had to navigate the issue, knowing the way that they had to navigate money and politics, then seeing Nina Turner, it was a very clear trend to me.

We honestly knew on day one and before. So on day zero, it was something that we were thinking about, she said. The question was always, when does it come in, but I didnt think that I would have the privilege of avoiding it.

Tweet or no tweet, Lee is convinced that she would have been targeted regardless, because the issue of Israel-Palestine is a cover for a broader assault on the progressive wing of the party. Theres a difference between having controversial views. Theres a difference between having problematic views. But what this does is it says you cant have any views, she said. To say that you should fall in line and I am still not convinced to this date that that is where they exclusively expect us to fall in line. Because the reality is is that if this were about that topic, if this were about Israel-Palestine, then they would have come into this district 10 toes talking about Israel-Palestine. But they didnt. This is a way to chill and to keep the progressive movement from growing as a whole. This is a way to temper a movement that centers, particularly Black and brown women who are progressive, and stops them from building power right here.

But not exclusively Black and brown. I mean, the reality is that they went after Andy Levin, she noted. Hes a self-described Zionist. So theyre coming after progressives and the way that were able to build power for working-class folks.

Marshall Wittmann, a spokesperson for AIPAC, denied the group targeted progressives specifically. The sole factor for supporting Democratic and Republican candidates is their support for strengthening the US-Israel relationship, he said. Indeed, our PACs have supported scores of pro-Israel progressive candidates, including over half of the Congressional Black Caucus and Hispanic Caucus and almost half of the Progressive Caucus. Our political involvement has shown that it is entirely consistent with progressive values to support Americas alliance with our democratic ally, Israel.

Theyre coming after progressives and the way that were able to build power for working-class folks.

Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, another Braddock resident was looking for a way to dodge DMFIs fire. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman was locked in what threatened to be a tight race with Rep. Conor Lamb for a Senate nomination, and Lambs campaign was openly pleading for Super PAC support to put him over the top. Early in the year, Jewish Insider reported, Mellman had reached out to Fetterman with questions about his position on Israel. Hes never come out and said that hes not a supporter of Israel, but the perception is that he aligns with the Squad more than anything else, Democratic activist Brett Goldman told Jewish Insider.

Mellman said the campaign responded to his inquiry and came with an interest in learning about the issues. Following the meeting, the Fetterman campaign reached back out. Then they sent us a position paper, which we thought was very strong, Mellman said. But it wasnt quite strong enough. Jewish Insider reported that DMFI emailed back some comments on the paper, which Fetterman was receptive to addressing in a second draft.

In April, Fetterman agreed to do an interview with Jewish Insider. I want to go out of my way to make sure that its absolutely clear that the views that I hold in no way go along the lines of some of the more fringe or extreme wings of our party, he said. I would also respectfully say that Im not really a progressive in that sense.

Fetterman, unprompted, stressed there should be zero conditions on military aid to Israel, that BDS is wrong, and so on. Let me just say this, even if Im asked or not, I was dismayed by the Iron Dome vote, Fetterman added. DMFI and AIPAC stayed out of the race.

As the campaign wore on, progressive forces consolidated around Frost. It was a meaningful achievement, since the left is often hobbled by multiple progressive candidates splitting the vote and allowing a centrist candidate to slip through. (Levi Strauss heir Dan Goldman winning a Manhattan primary with less than 30 percent of the vote is just the latest example.)

The field initially included not just Frost, but also populist firebrand former Rep. Alan Grayson and Aramis Ayala, a popular former progressive prosecutor in Orange County, Florida, who had repeatedly clashed with state Republicans. Grayson had a dedicated but diminished base in the district, but Frost, in significant part thanks to the alliance with movement organizers in the district that Mubarak helped him build, began emerging as the leading progressive. A truce was brokered,with Ayala dropping out of the race in early March andwinning the nomination for state attorney general instead.

Consolidating support was key but so was fending off DMFI. The critical question was whetherDMFIor AIPAC would put money against him. It was a conversation from the jump, honestly, because DMFI endorsed Bracy so early, recalled Mubarak. Every progressive under the sun who has even a little sympathy for Palestine, [the question of DMFI] comes up, because they just dump so much money. Frost, according to people on his campaign, made it his mission to keep the groups at bay or find a way to neutralize them. But he had a balance to strike: Until March, Ayala was still in the race, so he needed to keep the full support of the progressive wing of the party without inviting a multimillion-dollar onslaught.

The answer came in the form of Ritchie Torres. A Bronx congressman in his first term and also Afro-Latino, Torres had made a name for himself in three overlapping areas. He was at war with the progressive wing, an outspoken ally of right-wing pro-Israel groups, and a cryptocurrency evangelist.

Rep.Ritchie Torres speaks at the IAC National Summit at the Diplomat beach resort on Dec. 11, 2021 in Hollywood, Fla.

Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

Torres went on to say that his own identity as a gay man influenced how he approached the question of Israel: If the message to those who are both progressive and pro-Israel, especially to those of Jewish descent, is that in order for you to be part of the progressive community you have to renounce your identity and your history and your ties to your own homeland and you have to be in the closet that to me is profoundly evil. Thats a perversion of progressivism.

A DMFIboard member told him, It was so beautiful and almost not otherworldly, but amazing the way you speak with such honesty and conviction about Israel. I just wish we could clone you so there were a million Ritchies running around talking about Israel.

Another DMFI member on the call asked how a progressive, pro-Israel Squad could be built, and Torres told them it was all about building infrastructure and support for progressive candidates willing to side with Israel.

When the January list of races DMFI was building infrastructure around came out, the progressive campaign ecosystem breathed a sigh of relief that Austin, Texas, was not on it. Progressives were backing a would-be Squad member in the form of 33-year-old City Council Member Gregorio Casar. Frost said he watched Casars race. We watched all the races, he said, keeping up to date on everything that was going on across the country as far as voting trends, especially looking at the youth vote, different stuff like that that we thought might give us some trend information to help us in our race.

Casars absence on the list, it turned out, came after a letter he had sent that month to a local rabbi laying out his position on Israel: He was opposed to BDS, he promised; supportive of a two-state solution; and in support of military aid to Israel. He also wrote, The humanitarian crisis in Gaza and indefinite occupation in the West Bank are untenable for Israelis, Palestinians, and our collective conscience, and added that he was against unchecked settlement expansion. Casars letter to the rabbi was published by Jewish Insider the day after DMFIs endorsement list was unveiled.

The letter was in response to a lot of people continuing to insinuate that progressives, Casar said, are antisemitic. That is just not true. And in particular, I also mean really progressive members of Congress, who fight for Palestinian rights, I do not believe are antisemitic. But I have a certain policy position, which is, I do not believe we should be writing a blank check on military aid, I think that we should provide some amount of aid, but we should also make sure were not funding human rights violations anywhere in the world. So thats what I told folks when I was asked privately. People pushed for me to think about things differently and learn more, and Im always open to learning more.

He decided to put that position down on paper. I said, You know what, lets just write this down, so that Rabbi Freedman can share this with people. And that means that theres a very decent chance itll become public. I did not share it with JI, but Im not, you know, I dont hold it against journalists to get hold of things however you guys do it.

His colleagues in DSA were shocked and began the process of rescinding their endorsements. To avoid a nasty fight, Casar voluntarily rescinded his request for DSA backing. We have a long history of working with Greg Casar on health care, paid sick time, police budgets, homelessness, housing justice, union rights, and more. We will continue to discuss this issue within our chapter and many individual members will continue to support the campaign, but we will no longer be working on this campaign as an organization, the Austin chapter said in a statement.Justice Democrats, which does not have an Israel-Palestine litmus test, despite the protestations of DMFI, continued to back him, spending just over $100,000 in support.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, center, joins a rally for Democratic congressional candidates Jessica Cisneros, left, and Greg Casar, right, on Feb. 12, 2022, in San Antonio.

Photo: Eric Gay/AP

Mellman had been the leading pollster for John Kerrys presidential campaign in 2004 and was also a longtime AIPAC strategist. DMFI was an effort to do something of a rebrand for AIPAC within Democratic circles. AIPAC itself had become a toxic brand inside the Democratic Party after the organization worked to torpedo Barack Obamas signature foreign policy achievement, the Iran nuclear deal. Mellmans firm, the Mellman Group, had consulted for AIPACs dark-money group, Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran. The Mellman Group was also the second-largest contractor for AIPACs educational arm the American Israel Education Fund, which organized congressional trips to Israel in the year it fought the Iran deal. The biggest contractor that year was a travel business then-owned by Sheldon Adelson, a casino mogul and Republican mega-donor.

DMFI would also be able to deploy tactics AIPAC wasnt yet ready for. Before Citizens United, AIPAC had grown its power not simply with the wealth of a handful of mega-donors, but through genuine and sustained grassroots organizing. Synagogue to synagogue, from the 1980s onward, AIPAC organized powerful local support for politicians who voiced unqualified support for Israel and ran high-profile campaigns against those who deviated. AIPACs informal slogan was that it didnt have enemies in Congress, but had friends and potential friends.

David Ochs, founder of HaLev, which helps send young people to AIPACs annual conference, described in 2016 how AIPAC and its donors organize fundraisers outside the official umbrella of the organization so that the money doesnt show up on disclosures as coming specifically from AIPAC.

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In New York, with [hedge fund titan] Jeff Talpins, we dont ask a goddamn thing about the fucking Palestinians. You know why? Cause its a tiny issue. Its a small, insignificant issue. The big issue is Iran. We want everything focused on Iran, Ochs said. What happens is Jeff meets with the congressman in the back room, tells them exactly what his goals are and by the way, Jeff Talpins is worth $250 million basically they hand him an envelope with 20 credit cards, and say, You can swipe each of these credit cards for$1,000 each.

Much like the National Rifle Association, its strength was in numbers and a narrow focus on a particular issue. After Citizens United, DMFI could skip the grassroots organizing component and go straight to big-money efforts directed through Super PACs. At least 11 of DMFIs 14 board members had links to AIPAC; DMFIs founding chair, Wall Street banker Todd Richman, also sat on AIPACs national council.

Mellman told me that his work against the partys left was meant to undermine the Israeli right. I have substantial direct experience in Israeli politics, having helped bring down Netanyahu, he said, referring to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mellman had worked as a key election consultant for Yair Lapids political campaign, serving as a paid adviser, consulting with him in Washington, andmeeting with his deputy minister of foreign affairs. Lapids center-right political party, Yesh Atid, would surge under Mellmans guidance, making Lapid prime minister of Israel.

The simple fact of Israeli politics is that the right uses attacks from the U.S. and Europe to its great and consistent benefit, Mellman said. Thats correct, anti-Israel forces in the U.S. do vastly more to help the right than to hurt it. They enable Bibi to run as the guy who will stand up to the U.S. and the world to protect his country. That has been a key element of most of his campaigns. The anti-Israel far left has propped up the Israeli right and done tremendous damage to the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Dmitri Mehlhorn made a similar argument about Mainstream Democrats PACs interventions against progressives: that they were actually targeting the left to beat the right.

If you look at America as a whole, and you want the fascists not to take power, what you need to do is trade a little bit of your enthusiasm in urban districts enthusiasm that does not generally translate into meaningful votes, because a lot of those people [are] often in a safe district, [and] they often dont vote. Just trade it for people who are actual swing voters who vote but make up their mind kind of at the last minute. If you go with a populist strategy, on the other hand, he said, youre also handing a message that is going to motivate the shit out of the other side, because remember, theyre already amped to be motivated out of fear. If Nina Turner would have won that [Ohio House] race, she would have been 20 percent of Sean Hannitys chyrons out of the gate. You know, it just makes their job easier if some of what theyre saying is actually based in some fact of some sort.

Mark Mellman speaking at the 2016 Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 15, 2016.

Photo: Michael Brochstein/ZUMA Wire/Alamy

But in DMFIs first cycle, it hit obstacles. The groups first play for power, an effort to persuade Bernie Sanders to dismiss two Muslim advisers from his presidential campaign, was unsuccessful, as was DMFIs later effort to hit him with TV ads in Iowa and New Hampshire. Next, would-be Squad member Jamaal Bowman of New York overcame more than $2 million in DMFI spending in 2020 to oust Rep. Eliot Engel, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and one of the most outspoken Israel hawks in Congress. That Bowman won in a landslide, and even carried heavily Jewish precincts, was a stinging defeat for DMFI and AIPAC, as Bowman had refused to back off his support of Palestinian human rights.

On May 13, 2021, around the same time Frost was rallying in Orlando, history was made on the floor of the House of Representatives, as Democrat after Democrat paraded for an hour to denounce Israels assault on Gaza.

Throughout the 2020 cycle, AIPAC had been content to let DMFI run the big-money operation in Democratic primaries. To encourage support for it, AIPAC donors were even allowed to count money given to DMFI as a credit toward their AIPAC contributions, which then won them higher-tier perks at conferences and other events. But the unprecedented display of progressive Democratic support for Palestinians amid the Gaza War on the House floor was triggering.

Were seeing much more vocal detractors of the U.S.-Israel relationship, who are having an impact on the discussion, AIPACsHoward Kohr told the Post. And we need to respond. The problem, he said, was the rise of a very vocal minority on the far left of the Democratic Party that is anti-Israel and seeks to weaken and diminish the relationship. Our view is that support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is both good policy and good politics. We wanted to defend our friends, and to send a message to detractors that theres a group of individuals that will oppose them.

That group of individuals began coming together in January 2022. AIPAC transferred $8.5 million to the Super PAC it set up called United Democracy Project. Private equity mogul and Republican donor Paul Singer kicked in a million dollars, as did Republican Bernard Marcus, the former CEO of Home Depot. Dozens of other big donors, many of them also Republicans, kicked in big checks to give United Democracy Project a $30 million war chest. By the end of March, it had spent $80,000 on polling, as it targeted races and honed its messaging, according to disclosures.

In April, it dropped its first ads of the cycle, tag-teaming with DMFI to make sure Turners second run against Brown never got off the ground. That same month it launched its assault on Nida Allam, a Durham County commissioner and the first Muslim woman elected in North Carolina. She ran for office after three of her Muslim friends were murdered in the gruesome Chapel Hill hate crime that drew national attention. AIPAC spent millions to stop her rise, backing state Sen. Valerie Foushee in the May primary. Elsewhere in the state, AIPAC spent $2 million against progressive Erica Smith in another open primary.

Were always gonna expect the right to have more money, given that theyre operating off of the basis of big donors. But thats a little bit more of a fair fight. But now you add to what DMFI is doing 30 million from AIPAC, thats just in a whole other realm.

United Democracy Project also began hammering away at Lee,who was running in an open primary to be held the same day as North Carolinas. J Streets new outside money group had been planning to raise and spend about $2 million to compete with AIPAC, which they guessed would spend somewhere between $5 million and $10 million. That, said J Streets Logan Bayroff, would at least be something of a fair fight, given that AIPAC and DMFI had to overcome the fact that what they were advocating for unchecked, limitless support for the Israeli government, regardless of abuses was unpopular in Democratic primaries. Were always gonna expect the right to have more money, given that theyre operating off of the basis of big donors. But thats a little bit more of a fair fight, he said of the disparity between J Street and DMFI. But now you add to what DMFI is doing 30 million from AIPAC, thats just in a whole other realm.

Justice Democrats, the Working Families Party, Indivisible, the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC, and the Sunrise Movement worked in coalition with J Street on a number of races that DMFI and AIPAC played in, and where they could muster enough money, the candidates had a shot.

If you look at the races we lost, we were outspent by the bad guys 6, 8, 10 to 1. If you look at Summers race, it was more like 2-1, said Joe Dinkn, national campaigns director for the WFP.

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How AIPAC and DMFI Outspent the Democratic Insurgency - The Intercept

Israel keeps building settlements and Palestinians keep dying. Peace is impossible this way – The Guardian

Posted By on October 17, 2022

It was early April 1988, at the height of the first intifada, and the hills were awash with spring flowers. I took the professor and activist Noam Chomsky to visit the Palestinian village of Beita near Nablus. He wanted to speak to the villagers about a recent incident in which a group of Israeli settlers from Elon Moreh, 10km (6 miles) from Beita, had got into a confrontation with some villagers while out hiking. Two of the Palestinian villagers and one of the Israeli settlers were shot and killed. The army initially blamed the Palestinians for the settlers death. It emerged later that she like the two dead villagers had been killed by a bullet fired by one of the men guarding the settlers. But, by then, the army had invaded the village, destroyed at least 14 houses, killed a third villager, arrested dozens of men in the village and deported several of them. Chomsky listened attentively and was saddened but not surprised. He had anticipated that an increased rate of settlement-building would place the occupier and the occupied, the land confiscators and those who lost their land, close together physically with predictable results.

This prediction has grown truer by the year, but I still could not have imagined the state we would be in 34 years later. Just last Friday, soldiers killed Adel Daoud, aged 14, and Mahdi Ladadweh, aged 17. On Saturday, two more teenagers, Mahmoud Al-Sous and Ahmed Daraghmeh, were killed. The number of people killed by Israeli forces this year stands, shockingly, at more than 100.

For many years, the land around Beita was generally peaceful, and we enjoyed many lovely walks in the valley below the mountain of Jabal Sabih. It was surrounded by olive orchards. The track we would walk along had smooth rocks where water flowed in winter, and in spring carpets of multicoloured wildflowers covered both sides.

Then, last February, the Israeli attorney general moved to authorise the re-establishment of the evacuated Israeli settlement of Evyatar, on land that is privately owned by Palestinians, near Beita on Jabal Sabih. Since May 2021, regular protests have been held by Palestinians against this outpost and other settlements in the area, resulting in nine Palestinians being killed and 5,300 injured.

At the time of Chomskys visit, there was still some expectation that the Israeli political opposition to settlements had some prospect of success. Today, the left in Israel is almost completely silenced. The major parties in next months elections compete on who is the greater proponent of settlements, and who takes a tougher line at quashing Palestinian resistance to it. The prime minister, Yair Lapid, and defence minister, Benny Gantz (both of liberal, centrist parties), each tries to prove to voters that, contrary to what the right claims, they are not weak on security. This means that, until the elections take place, we can only expect more Palestinians to be maimed and killed.

In the 1980s, there was also the possibility of challenging the illegal takeover of Palestinian land through appeals to the Israeli high court. But in recent times the court has proved that it is unmatched as a rubber stamp and whitewasher of the injustices of the occupation, as a Haaretz editorial put it last May. Likewise, any restraint on Israel in the form of opposition to this illegality from Britain, the EU and the US, has been entirely ineffective and restricted to formulaic statements, leaving Israel free to violate international law on building settlements in the occupied territories with total impunity.

Driving along the roads of the West Bank, one can see billboards advertising luxury flats for sale in the settlements. Not only are Palestinians excluded from the offer, but the billboards are placed on their land without permission or payment. As I drive through, with Israeli settlements dominating the hills, and road signs in Hebrew pointing to them and also renaming springs, wadis and dry rivers a great sense of alienation comes on me. I feel like a stranger in a once familiar and much-loved landscape.

But it is not only through building homes for settlers that West Bank land is expropriated. As Zeev Hever, the secretary general of Amana, a settler organisation declared in 2021: Construction takes up little ground The shepherd farms now cover an area almost twice as large as the built area of the settlements. The area now controlled by shepherd settlers is about 60,000 acres. Predictably, violence related to the control of land is on the rise.

Just like many colonial powers, Israel believes that it can quash, through force, resistance to its settlement policies, whether armed clashes or peaceful marches all of which it calls terrorism. Yet, in this, Israel is as mistaken as all colonisers have been throughout history. Palestinians will continue to resist. They can never accept the takeover of their land and their confinement to less than one third of their territory, whatever force Israel uses against them.

A few weeks after the start of the occupation in 1967, my father, Aziz Shehadeh, submitted a plan for which he was able to get the support of 50 prominent Palestinian leaders from different parts of the occupied territories for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, according to the 1947 partition borders, with its capital in the Arab section of Jerusalem. At the time there were no Jewish settlements anywhere in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem or the Gaza Strip. The argument that he used was that unless Israel, with a population of 2.7 million, negotiated with the Palestinians, it would not be able to control the 1.2 million of them who had come under its control. He proposed that, for Israel, it was like living next to a ticking timebomb. But this failed to impress the Israeli government.

Now, more than half a century later, Israel is in full control of the Palestinian population living in Israel itself and in the occupied territories. Its leaders have come to believe that the country can manage the occupation for a long time to come.

It was also my fathers belief that, without peace with the Palestinians, Israel can never live in peace. On that, he has been proven right. This week, two Israeli soldiers were killed in four days.

Raja Shehadeh is the author of We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I (Profile Books)

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Israel keeps building settlements and Palestinians keep dying. Peace is impossible this way - The Guardian

Azerbaijan’s story mirrors that of Israel Aze.Media – Aze Media

Posted By on October 17, 2022

Among the apple trees at the Genocide Memorial Complex in the Guba district of Azerbaijan, there sits a tree planted by then-Israeli defense ministerAvigdor Libermanin 2018, in memory of the victims of theArmeniankilling of more than 50,000 Muslims across Azerbaijan in 1918. The victims also included 200 Jews and the marker describing Libermans visit is a powerful reminder of the commonalities in the Azerbaijani and Israeli stories.

The complexs museum is designed as two knives pointed toward the ground, evoking the bones that were found in excavations of the site, providing evidence of the murders that took place there. The message conveyed by Azerbaijani officials at the complex is that, despite Armenian attempts to deny the events of 1918, the truth will always come out.

It was actually not the museum visit that I was mainly anticipating during my recent trip to Azerbaijan. Guba is also home to the Red Village (Krasnaya Sloboda) believed to be the worlds only all-Jewish town outside of Israel and the US, and the historic home of theMountain Jews.

There, the Mountain Jews Museum, which is now open to visitors after delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, raises awareness about the traditions of a small, proud people who know how to appreciate and preserve their culture and history, who managed to hold on to their traditions through the centuries, said the museums general-director Igor Shaulov.

The Mountain Jewish community is not necessarily well known by world Jewry, but it must not be an afterthought, as there are approximately 200,000 Mountain Jews living worldwide today. We try to pass all their traditions and cultural aspects to the next generation to preserve them for the future, Shaulov told me.

When it comes to the affinity between Azerbaijan and its Jews, the symbolism of the two museums in Guba is unmistakable. Azerbaijans Muslim majority and Jewish minority each work not only to preserve their history, but to ensure a vibrant and tolerant future.

Rolan Yusufov deputy head of the office for youth affairs at Stmegi-Azerbaijan, the International Charitable Fund of Mountain Jews said that as the Mountain Jewish communitys representative at a national youth forum, he had the chance to ask Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, How can young people preserve our countrys tolerance? According to Yusufov, Aliyev emphasized that our strength lies in diversity, mutual respect and patriotism.

As part of the youth of Azerbaijan, I feel the same responsibility and will listen to the words of our president, and help preserve the unity of our people, Yusufov said.

He added,Jews throughout history have been subjected to antisemitism, oppression, but it was in Azerbaijan that they always felt love, equality and respect. In Azerbaijan, Jews, Muslims, and Christians congratulate each other on holidays and exchange warm words and gifts.

By contrast, an October 5 article in Armenian Report states regarding Israel-Azerbaijan energy cooperation (according to a translation), The Jews do not care who they make money from, the main thing is that this money, and a lot of it, is available to a potential buyer. In this regard, the black oil sultanate is an ideal partner for greedy Jews. This aligns with the Anti-Defamation Leagues past survey research, which found that Armenians believe in a series of antisemitic stereotypes at an even higher rate (58%) than Iranians (56%).

Like Liberman before him, Defense MinisterBenny Gantzvisited Azerbaijan, as recently as this month.

Today, there are striking parallels betweenIsraeli and Azerbaijanihistory that underscore the countries unique bond. After the land was long neglected, Israel experienced a natural bloom and economic boom following the establishment of the modern state. Today, two years after liberating the Armenian-occupied territory of Karabakh affirmed as Azerbaijani territory by four UN resolutions Azerbaijan is also in the process of rejuvenating its land.

The early fruits of this labor are seen across Karabakh, whether it be the establishment of a smart village (where electronic methods and sensors collect data to efficiently manage assets, resources and services) in Zangilan, a choice that mirrors Israeli ingenuity; a new international airport in Fuzuli; and the cultural restoration of Shusha, known prior to the Armenian occupation as the Conservatory of the Caucasus due to its status as a significant political, economic and cultural center.

Azerbaijanis return to Shusha in 2020 resembled Israelis momentous return to eastern Jerusalem in 1967. Shusha and each restored city in Karabakh will eventually feature two museums one marking the tragedy of occupation and the other celebrating liberation.

Simultaneously, throughout Karabakh, the vestiges of not only neglect but intentional destruction serve as a painful reminder of three decades of Armenian occupation such as looted homes, mosques (including those that were used to house livestock), and cemeteries, as well as what UN experts estimate to be more than one million explosive devices in the area.

When Armenians had several weeks to withdraw from Karabakh following their surrender in the 2020 war with Azerbaijan, they used the time to plant difficult-to-detect explosives such as remote-controlled and plastic mines, complicating the Azerbaijani redevelopment of the liberated territories.

All that can be done as a crime with mines, they did it, says Araz N. Imanov, senior adviser to Azerbaijans president in the Karabakh economic region.

Imanov found his grandmothers skull in a looted grave. This is not only a crime against Azerbaijan, its a crime against humanity, he says. When we liberated Karabakh, we didnt expect to witness that the level of hatred was this high during the occupation.

Yet for Azerbaijan, it is only fitting to take a page from the Israeli playbook. The road to restoration and redemption in Karabakh has still just begun, and it is budding with hope for a prosperous future.

And for both Israel and Azerbaijan, nations typically subjected to media bias and double standards in the international community, the Genocide Memorial Complex in Guba can serve as continued motivation and inspiration that the truth will always come out.

JACOB KAMARAS

Originally posted here:

Azerbaijan's story mirrors that of Israel Aze.Media - Aze Media

UK-Israel relationship to hit new heights amid rocky times – CTech

Posted By on October 17, 2022

Two countries that have faced a disruptive change in the last half-decade are once again coming together to establish the future of their relationship. Despite changing prime ministers and unstable governments in recent years, Israel and the UK remain dedicated to working on a trade agreement that must consider the potential of both countries while acknowledging the challenge of recent political and social issues.

All anyone wanted to talk about 20 years ago was the peace process, a two-state solution, and no one was interested, either in the press or general, about the bilateral relationship on trade, science, and more, explained Matthew Salter, Director at the Department for International Trade in the UK Embassy based in Tel Aviv. Now, 80% of our focus with countries is on bilateral relationships and trade cooperation.

It is already a piece of history that the UK voted to depart from the EU, and with that, depart from its trade deals with countries around the world. After formally leaving the bloc in 2020, the country has been on a mission to forge friendships with nations in and out of the EU for better trade, movement, and security. For many countries, the UK replicated its trade agreements and used its one with the EU as a starting point for negotiations with Israel. According to Salter, the agreement is currently 99% goods and almost entirely neglects services.

The UK would never have been able to advance that to a more ambitious agenda because the EU wouldn't have wanted to for political or economic reasons, he explained. Salter moved to Israel 20 years ago and has worked both with the British and Israeli governments in different roles before accepting his most recent position in 2020. The minute the UK is no longer part of the EU, it can turn around and say where in the world do we want to focus our trade priorities?

Israel, as always, is looking to make friends. In its mind, the 1995 trade agreement it signed with the UK (through its EU agreement), can be updated to include new aspects such as tech and innovation, or take advantage of Israels service industry which accounts for 70% of its economy. Liz Truss, who visited Israel as UK Trade Secretary and supported this move, has been promoted to the countrys newest prime minister - although her premiership has been plagued with the death of Queen Elizabeth and a desperately unpopular tax policy that led to an embarrassing U-Turn. Despite this, it is largely expected that her successor Kemi Badenoch is set to continue the momentum that is approved by her boss.

The interesting thing about this agreement is because we've done all the easy stuff now we are doing stuff on innovation, digital trade, exchange of data and regulations for setting up fintech companies, and data privacy, and things that are not what you would have ever dreamt about when thinking of a trade agreement 10 years ago, Salter shared. Specific details of the ongoing negotiations couldnt be shared with the press, but it is expected that the new deal will include a slew of updates and opportunities not seen in the current EU agreement. There's no point in the UK negotiating an agreement with Israel if it's not a very advanced, modern agreement.

The UK is opening up its doors and saying fine we don't care if you're an Israeli company, the government is open to Israeli know-how and its been surprising the press by how welcoming its been, he said.

In the last few years, both the UK and Israel have undergone challenges on a local and global scale. Britains bumpy bounce out of the EU has caused it to reach out its hand, and Israel, isolated from its immediate neighbors, has been eager to stretch out and grab it. The agreement between the two countries is about to be updated for the first time in nearly 30 years - this time with new challenges and benefits. Israel can offer its tech and innovation, and the UK can trade freely outside of an organization that still sees Israel as politically toxic.

At the moment the time between the UK and Israel is very exciting There are exciting opportunities so it will be an exciting time to be in the UK-Israel bilateral space, Salter concluded.

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UK-Israel relationship to hit new heights amid rocky times - CTech

Israel is fifth-most educated country in the world, report says – Ynetnews

Posted By on October 17, 2022

Israel is the fifth-most educated country globally, with roughly half of the Jewish state's citizens achieving a higher education degree, according to a report from the education search platform Erudera.

The number one country in the world for higher education was Canada, with nearly 60 percent of its citizens completing a tertiary degree - referring to all post-secondary education, including universities, colleges and vocational schools.

Rounding out the top five were Japan, Luxembourg and South Korea.

"Each of these countries have a higher share of the population with a higher tertiary degree than the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) average, which stands at 39 percent," the report noted.

The top countries share some common characteristics, the report continued, including relatively high GDP per capita, lower unemployment rates and higher spending on education. However, out of the top ten countries, Israel ranked ninth in terms of spending per student in higher education.

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A pro-Israel rally Ben Gurion University

(Photo: Haim Horenshtein )

Erudera's report also pointed out a correlation between the top ten most educated populations and countries that rank high in happiness per the World Happiness Report, where Israel placed ninth in 2022.

In 2018, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, placed Israel as the third most educated country worldwide, only below Canada and Japan.

"In Israel, 88 percent of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 79 percent," the OECD found.

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Israel is fifth-most educated country in the world, report says - Ynetnews

Israel, Warrior Nation | Andy Blumenthal | The Blogs – The Times of Israel

Posted By on October 17, 2022

In response to an ongoing wave of Palestinian terror attacks this year, Israel has stepped up preventive raids in the West Bank, arresting terrorists and confiscating weapons. However, terror groups continue to threaten Israel from within, and there is even talk of a deadly third intifada. Even worse, looming over Israel is Irans menacing pursuit of nuclear weapons to destroy Israel and attack the West. As concerning as all this is, we need to try to prevent escalation and continue to seek opportunities for reconciliation and peace. At the same time, we need to remember that this is a long, ongoing war for our Jewish homeland and our survival and that we will win.

Recently, I read Israel, A Nation of Warriors by Moshe Katz, a former IDF infantryman and a seventh-degree black belt in Krav Maga (Israels official martial art). Katz provides a terrific perspective on our history (from Biblical times to present) as a warrior nation, where, despite almost 2,000 years of suffering in exile, homelessness, and oppression, our fighting prowess and heroic spirit continue unabated. Katz points out numerous keys to our strength and long-term survival:

Unlike Russias war in Ukraine, where Russian soldiers are unmotivated and see no real reason to fight on foreign soil, Jews and Israelis have every reason in the world to defend themselves. For us, it is about the right to exist! Its literally a matter of survival: protecting our families, our homes, our Jewish religion and culture, and our very existence. In every generation, empires and anti-Semites have risen up against us to try and stop us from worshipping freely; to take our land; to oppress and kill us; but they keep disappearing from existence while we are still here, thank God.

As Theodor Herzl envisioned, we fight to be free, to defend ourselves, and to be sovereign in our own promised homeland. We believe that every persons life is sacred and should be protected, and we make sure that everyone comes home from the battlefield and that prisoners are freed at almost any cost. Overall, we know and feel our purpose deeply and are motivated to fight and win, as Katz says:

When we fight, we fight not only for ourselves, but for all those generations who could not, and for all those future generations who should not.

In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, we were caught by a surprise attack, which G-d forbid could have resulted in our losing the war, so we have learned the hard way to always be prepared. That means we must be alert, on guard (like an animal in the jungle, always aware of potential predators). We work to ensure that we have the very best intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance so as never to be taken by surprise again. However, as Jews, we dont just prepare by relying on military might alone, but rather we equip ourselves with a rock-solid faith in Hashem. Similar to when Amalek attacked our old and weak from behind in the desert when we left Egyptian bondage, we turn to fight our enemy valiantly, but also, like Moses, we raise our hands to G-d to beseech Him that we should prevail. Thus, its our combination of physical and spiritual might that makes us true warriors of Hashem.

Overall, Katz points out that Israel is an unabashed gun-packing nation and that they are a peoples army, where military service is compulsory but also where there is a deep respect, appreciation, and pride in serving in the IDF. In Israel, there is a common saying about the importance of military training being grueling and realistic: Tough in training, easy in combat.

Moreover, let me add that Israel spends over 5% of its gross domestic product on defense (ranking in the worlds top 5), in addition to the $3.8 billion of annual military assistance that the U.S. provides its good friend and strategic ally. Israel also utilizes its high-tech industry to provide the best equipment for its military. Whether flying overhead with their F-35Is, advancing on land in the Merkava IV tanks, prowling undersea in German Dolphin-class submarines, or using their multi-tier layers of missile defense (Iron Dome, Davids Sling, and Arrow 3, and soon to be laser Iron Beam), Israel invests in, builds, and procures weapon systems par excellence. Finally, we wont say anything about nuclear weapons or other weapons that can do immense damage. This is called deliberate ambiguity.

Katz really hones in on our warrior mindset in making us successful:

Weakness leads to war; strength leads to peace.

Certainly, after peace with Egypt and Jordan, the Abraham Accords have brought Israel even closer to some semblance of regional peace. Additionally, the maritime deal with Lebanon this week has renewed hope for continued advances in reconciliation and peace with Israels neighbors in the Middle East. At the same time, Israel and the Jewish people must maintain absolute resolve to defend our people, to be sovereign in the land of Israel, and to safeguard our faith and worship of the one true G-d. In the end, we can be assured that all the terrorist attacks, intifadas, missiles, and Iranian nukes in the world will be no match what-so-ever for the IDF and the almighty hand of G-d.

Andy Blumenthal is a dynamic, award-winning leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.

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Israel, Warrior Nation | Andy Blumenthal | The Blogs - The Times of Israel

College leftists expand campaign to silence all talk of Zionism and Israel – New York Post

Posted By on October 17, 2022

On college campuses across the nation, progressive activists have accelerated their efforts to silence and ban any talk of Zionism. Last month, in a campaign initiated by Law Students for Justice in Palestine (LSJP) at Berkeley Law at the University of California Berkeley, nine progressive law groups amended their collective bylaws to exclude speakers that support Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel, and the occupation of Palestine. The LSJP claimed it as a win for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Woke ideologues have decided that campus freedom of speech is only for those who agree with them without the possibility for debate. And this particularly impacts Jews particularly those who are Zionist. How has this happened? Like so much of left-think, this campus debate is pitting the oppressed vs. oppressors. In this case, oppressed Palestinians who must be advocated for and kept safe from their pro-Israel oppressors.

Along the way, pro-Palestinian groups like LSJP have the right to share their views, but pro-Zionist groups not so much. And this leaves many Jewish students unable to defend themselves against increasingly hostile campus attacks.

David L. Bernstein, founder and CEO of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values (JILV), and author of the new book Woke Antisemitism: How Progressive Ideology Harms Jews has studied the ways modern anti-Semitism has been rebranded as anti-Zionism including on college campuses. Oppressor v. Oppressed is always the default orientation of the woke left, whose ideologies equate power with depravity, and powerlessness with virtue, writes Bernstein.

This ideology has become so pernicious and so widespread that mainstream Jewish leaders have little chance to move the needle on progressive attitudes to Jews and Israel, Bernstein adds.

Of course, this being the left, race has also been added into the mix. By classifying Jews as white oppressors, Bernstein argues, progressives seek to erase the history of discrimination and anti-Semitism Jews have endured for centuries. And this effort is clearly working. In a national poll commissioned by Bernsteins JILV of likely voters released this week, nearly half (45%) view Israel as an occupier/colonizer and 47 percent believe Israel has too much power.

The exile of Zionism from campus life is hardly limited to Berkeley Law. In August, Jewish on Campus, a national pro-Jewish student-led organization along with the Brandeis Center for Human Rights, filed a civil rights complaint after Jewish students were kicked out of a rape survivor support group at SUNY New Paltz because of their Zionist beliefs. More recently, a University of Vermont teaching assistant proudly posted on social media that she would be lowering the grades of Zionist students. The US Department of Educations Office of Civil Rights has since opened an investigation.

In 2020, New York University settled a complaint of anti-Semitism by a Mexican-Jewish student, but has yet to fully rid its campus of anti-Israel sentiments. In August 2022, for instance, an email distributed by NYU Law Students for Justice in Palestine referred to the omnipresent Zionist grip of the media and called the Jewish state a colonizer. Never mind that Jews have a connection to Israel dating back more than 5,000 years.

Meanwhile, just this week, Jewish students at George Washington University in Washington, DC were met with flyers posted around campus that read: Zionists Fuck Off. And later, anti-Israel protesters gathered outside the campus GW Hillel where a former IDF intelligence officer was scheduled to speak, calling for Intifadah (Arabic for uprising) and shouting Israel is a terrorist state, and GW Hillel, you have blood on your hands.

Beyond the stifling of free speech is the issue of student security. A May 2022 Anti-Defamation Leaguereport on Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019 states that some of the more radical expressions of anti-Israel sentiment can create an environment in which Jewish students may feel besieged or threatened. So much for academia and safe spaces.

This feeling of insecurity is growing beyond campus gates, says Julia Jassey, the co-founder and CEO of Jewish On Campus (JOC). Radical anti-Semitic rhetoric is being carried into the mainstream, she says, as evidenced by Kanye Wests recent public tirades. Still, Jassey believes that student sentiments are often more rooted in confusion than hate; they simply dont understand that anti-Zionism is also a deeply rooted form of anti-Semitism. And this rhetoric, she adds, is not exclusively limited to the far-left.

Blake Ziegler, a student at Notre Dame University and president of its JOC Ambassador Program, for instance, explained how right-wing campus anti-Semitism is mostly hidden from view placed on on social media sites by unaffiliated groups such as America First ND (ND for Notre Dame University), which posts anti-Semitic tropes like Jewish dual-loyalty to Israel and Holocaust denial.

Despite these deep concerns, there are some who see the campus situation as less grim. Joanna Landau, the founder and CEO of Vibe Israel, an Israel-based non-profit transforming the perceptions of Israel, suggests that the view of American colleges as a hot-bed of anti-Zionism may actually be overinflated. Particularly among the very cohorts most-often associated with such viewpoints.

A March 2022 Vibe Israel survey of 900 Latino and Black college-age Gen-Zers in progressive US markets, found that 50% of respondents actually had a favorable or very favorable opinion of Israel, while 40% had no opinion at all. A follow up survey that included images of Israel saw a 111% increase in very favorable sentiments towardIsrael, and an over 50% decrease in unfavorability.

Landaus solution to anti-Zionist rhetoric is to focus on better marketing of Israel and investing in the future of the Jewish people. But attitudes toward Jews and Israel cannot improve if progressives continue their campaigns to threaten and silence Jewish and pro-Zionist groups from having campus voices in the first place.

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College leftists expand campaign to silence all talk of Zionism and Israel - New York Post


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