WASHINGTON – The American Israel Public Affairs Committee sponsored a Facebook ad last week blaming “radicals in the Democratic Party” for promoting anti-Semitism, and called on Americans not to abandon Israel, their “only Democratic ally in the Middle East.”
The ad, which leads to a petition against reducing U.S. military aid to Israel, is currently listed as inactive and was viewed by some 30,000 people, according to Facebook’s publicly available data.
“The radicals in the Democratic Party are pushing their anti-Semitic and anti-Israel policies down the throats of the American people. America should never abandon its only democratic ally in the Middle East. Sign the letter to Democrats in Congress – don’t abandon Israel!” the leading U.S. pro-Israel lobby wrote in the ad.
The most outspoken Democratic presidential hopeful on the issue of U.S. military aid to Israel is Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish and has for months been saying that the assistance should be conditioned on a change in Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. The Vermont senator has said he would “absolutely” be willing to use the aid as leverage in the U.S.-Israel relationship. Over the summer, Sanders said at an event in New Hampshire that Washington should use that leverage “in order to end the racism we have recently seen in Israel.”
Last October, Elizabeth Warren, another leading Democratic presidential contender, was asked about withholding aid to Israel if the Israeli government continued building settlements in the West Bank and moving away from a two-state solution. She replied that “all options are on the table.”
When another contender, Pete Buttigieg, was asked about the issue, he reiterated his position that Israeli annexation in the West Bank could lead to cuts in U.S. security assistance.
As of today, the United States provides Israel $3.8 billion annually as part of an agreement between the two countries that was negotiated and signed by then-President Barack Obama.
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Buttigieg took a narrow lead in the first batch of long-delayed results from the chaotic Iowa Democratic Party caucus last Tuesday, with Sanders a close second place. Warren was placed third in the initial results, released nearly 21 hours after Iowans poured into more than 1,600 public locations to begin the five-month process of picking a challenger to President Donald Trump.
AIPAC, a self-described grassroots movement of Israel supporters, aims to support Israel and works closely with Democrats and Republics in Congress to ensuring America’s backing.
Asked about the ad, a spokesperson for AIPAC told Haaretz: “This ad was directed to pro-Israel Democrats and they have responded very positively, demonstrating the deep commitment within the party to ensuring that the U.S.-Israel relationship remains strong and with bipartisan support. It is calling upon the pro-Israel Democratic majority to continue to stand up against a minority of those in the party who seek to weaken our relationship with Israel.”
The spokesperson also noted that AIPAC aired an ad in 2018 against Senator Rand Paul (Republican of Kentucky) over his attempts to block bipartisan security aid to Israel. The ad, which appeared both on social media and television in Paul’s home state, slammed him for trying to “destabilize the U.S.-Israel relationship.” Paul, however, was not accused by AIPAC of being anti-Semitic.
AIPAC will hold its annual conference in Washington from March 1-3. The event usually attracts prominent U.S. and Israeli politicians. This year, though, the conference is slated for the same week as Israel's March 2 general election and the Super Tuesday U.S. presidential primary on March 4, which may result in low attendance at the event.