AIPAC helps oust much-loved Jewish Congressman, Twitter reacts
Tuesday was a big night for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After spending millions on attack ads against Representative Andy Levin, AIPAC were successful in helping oust the progressive congressman, whom the lobby group has described as the "most corrosive" member of Congress.
In recent weeks, as his poll numbers dropped, Levin did not try to prove his Jewish or pro-Israel credentials, something he didn't seem to see as necessary given he has served as his synagogue's president and a long-standing commitment to a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
Instead, he leaned into his progressive roots, speaking out on causes that made AIPAC target him in the first place.
In the month of July, he got arrested twice - when he marched with 16 congresswomen (he was the only congressman on the march) to the Supreme Court to protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade earlier in the summer; and in a separate act of civil disobedience, he was arrested as he marched for union workers.
He also spent the last several weeks appearing as a guest on news programmes, calling out AIPAC and their biggest donors by name, who tend to be Republican mega-donors. And at the end of last week, he topped off his campaign with a joint rally with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and fellow Michigan Congress member Rashida Tlaib (which he made his cover photo on Twitter), cementing his position as a progressive Jew and Arab ally.
"I'm not just Jewish, I'm one of 2 former synagogue presidents in Congress... I'm really Jewish. But AIPAC can't stand the idea that I am the strongest Jewish voice in Congress standing for... human rights for the Palestinian people," MSNBC host Mehdi Hassan tweeted, quoting Levin from his news show on MSNBC last week.
As the news of Levin's loss came in Tuesday night, progressives took to Twitter to praise him for being true to himself during his final weeks of campaigning.
"Hold your head high, @Andy_Levin. Powerful forces in our community targeted you because they can't bear having a Jew in Congress who defends Palestinian freedom. One day there will be many. They will remember your courage and they will honor your name," Peter Beinart, editor at large of Jewish Currents, tweeted at Levin.
Replying to Beinart’s tweet, Hanieh Jodat, who worked for the campaign of Nina Turner (who also faced an onslaught of AIPAC-affiliated attack ads), wrote: "I want to be celebrating Rep. Tlaib's victory but my [heart] is heavy. The way AIPAC has purchased seats in Congress in the past 2 years with millions is a reflection of their desperation & fear that the Palestinian liberation is now discussed on the floors of Congress as a priority."
Maya (who goes only by her first name on Twitter), who worked for the campaign of Nida Allam, another progressive who was vastly outspent by AIPAC this cycle, wrote: "As a Jewish woman I am sad to lose a brave and proud Jewish voice for Palestinian rights in Congress, @RepAndyLevin, to millions in Republican Super PAC spending. I hope he runs again and I know he will continue to speak out for peace and human rights."
Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour was among many on Twitter who suggested Levin run again in 2024.
In addition to those who paid tribute to Levin, there were also many who celebrated his loss. Some who identified as Israeli American accused the congressman of anti-semitism for campaigning with Tlaib, and some mocked Levin with memes comparing him to Muslim extremists.
In other instances, people tweeted in the days leading up to the election reminders that Michigan is an "open primary" state, meaning people can vote in the opposing party's primary election to help oust their least favourite candidate, which in the case of Republicans tends to be progressives.
It was Levin himself, who on the day before the election, and perhaps sensing his fate as his poll numbers sank, tweeted a nearly two-minute video clip of him sitting with his 90-year-old father, who had served from 1983 to 2019 as a US representative in Michigan’s 9th district, the same one where his son had served until last year’s redistricting.
"For those of you who stand up and take chances, take positions that are not always popular, that's what makes things happen in a democracy," Sandy Levin said to his son.
Andy Levin responded to his father: "I think I've learned from you and Mom that you just have to do the right thing."