AIPAC's endorsement of 200 election deniers raises alarm among US Jews, Israelis

AIPAC's endorsement of 200 election deniers raises alarm among US Jews, Israelis
More than a quarter of the political candidates recently endorsed by AIPAC have refused to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election.
3 min read
Washington, D.C.
10 March, 2022
AIPAC's recent endorsements of 2020 presidential election deniers have raised concerns across the political spectrum. (Getty)

It's not unusual for mainstream political lobby groups to endorse politicians. What is unusual is for them to choose candidates who have tried to undermine democracy.

That’s what happened earlier this month when the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) endorsed around a hundred candidates, including many Republicans who have refused to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election.

"Since launching 10 weeks ago, America’s pro-Israel PAC has raised over $1.67 million and an additional $1 million for candidates," AIPAC tweeted, as it included a list of candidates it had decided to endorse.

"We support pro-Israel Democratic & Republican members of Congress and congressional candidates to secure the future of the US-Israel relationship."

In December, the lobby group decided to wade into candidate endorsements, adding to their already wide-ranging efforts to deepen ties between the US and Israel.

But it is being criticised for endorsing a substantial proportion - 37, or more than a quarter - of its list of more than a hundred candidates who deny the results of the 2020 presidential election.

This follows President Donald Trump's false claims that the election, which he lost to Joe Biden, was rigged, a campaign that was backed by far-right activists in the US.

Leading the calls of alarm are Israeli and American Jewish publications. A Haaretz column from 8 March reads: "Truly Horrifying': AIPAC Criticized for Endorsing GOP 'Election Deniers'".

A 9 March opinion piece in The Jerusalem Post read: "AIPAC and some of their controversial endorsements" and went on to criticise their choices of candidates.

Similarly, The Times of Israel ran an article on 4 March pointing to the conservative-leaning Anti-Defamation League chief Abe Foxman, who tweeted that AIPAC's endorsement decision was a "sad mistake".

As could be expected, the story is also being widely covered in America’s left-wing Jewish press, though it does not appear at the top of the news in non-niche publications.

What is perhaps concerning about these unprecedented endorsements for Jews across the political spectrum, is the blatant anti-Semitism - in addition to other forms of bigotry - that exists among members of America's far-right, many of whom have refused to recognise the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Over the past five years, anti-Semitism has been a regular feature in far-right demonstrations. At the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right event, men carrying tiki torches notoriously chanted repeatedly “Jews will not replace us.”

Despite the growing open bigotry - including anti-Semitism - that permeates America's far-right, Israel, long led by the right-wing Likud Party under Netanyahu, and now another right-wing party under Naftali Bennett, has increasingly embraced them. AIPAC has kept up with the trend.

"AIPAC has moved to the right. People joke that this is not the Israeli lobby, it's the Likud lobby," Ronald Stockton, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, told The New Arab. "You won't find many people there who are progressive."

In defending its endorsements, AIPAC has described itself as a single-issue group. Nevertheless, its recent decision to make endorsements, as well as its elicitation of strong negative reactions from Jews across the political spectrum - in both the US and Israel - might give AIPAC an impetus to re-evaluate its strategy.

Indeed, the vast majority of Jews in the US vote for Democratic candidates, with Joe Biden obtaining 76 percent of the Jewish vote in the last presidential election.

"AIPAC has always made it clear that they only focus on one issue: unconditional support for Israel," Anwar Mhajne, assistant professor of political science and international studies at Stonehill College, told TNA.

"AIPAC's recent decision proves that the organisation does not have any regard for US democracy or for protecting the interests of American Jews. This endorsement might affect the donations and support the organisation receives and could tilt its base of supporters to the radical right and anti-democratic forces in the US."