J Street 'Pushes Back' Against AIPAC by Announcing New Fund for 2022 Congressional Races

J Street's 'action fund' for progressive pro-Israel candidates comes fresh on the heels of AIPAC's move last month, and explicitly seeks to counter groups 'spending millions' to push candidates to the right

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami.
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami.Credit: J Street
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON – J Street announced Tuesday the creation of a new "action fund" intended to raise $1 million for selected candidates in key Congressional elections in 2022.

The pro-Israel, left-wing group's expansion into so-called "independent expenditures" space, which sees groups independently support candidates without explicitly cooperating with them, comes a month after AIPAC officially entered the campaign scene by forming a bipartisan federal PAC and a super PAC.

The formation of J Street's independent expenditure arm, however, was in the works months before AIPAC formally made its announcement.

The new fund, supplementing and operating separately from its "JStreetPAC," which raised $9 million in the 2020 election cycle, will aim to shape public narratives around candidates who maintain both pro-Israel and pro-peace positions, according to the group's criteria, allowing it greater flexibility to back candidates facing attacks in both Democratic primaries and the general election.

J Street's independent expenditure arm will be joined by a further grassroots action fund, marking a significant expansion in the lobby group's operations.

“Over the past decade, J Street has helped to dramatically shift the American political conversation about Israel and U.S. foreign policy, making clear how much support there is for bold, principled diplomatic leadership,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement.

“Now, with American democracy itself under threat and groups to our right increasingly spending millions to push candidates towards more hawkish and conservative positions, the Action Fund will be a critical new tool of our work – allowing the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement to play a more involved role in key races of national importance,” Ben-Ami stated.

“At a time when we should all be focused on defending our democracy from those who threaten it, right-wing groups sadly are making it a priority to target progressives who refuse to adopt their outdated and unhelpful approach to Israel and US foreign policy,” Ben-Ami added. “That dynamic is ultimately harmful for Israel, for U.S. interests, and for the American Jewish community – which is why J Street will do all that we can to push back.”

The group also announced it is establishing "J Street Grassroots Action," which will channel contributions to local organizations focused on grassroots organizing. For the 2022 cycle, it will partner with Georgia Alliance for Progress and LUCHA (Living United for Change) in Arizona, the sites of key competitive Senate races that may determine the next Senate majority.

J Street's independent expenditure arm is not legally a SuperPAC, which by definition cannot directly contribute to politicians' campaigns. It can, however, solicit and spend unlimited sums to campaign for or against particular candidates.

While J Street does not need to immediately report sources of funding, it will publish the funding sources for its independent expenditure arm.

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