POLITICO: AIPAC raises $100 million to target Israel critics in Democratic primaries POLITICO: AIPAC raises $100 million to target Israel critics in Democratic primaries

POLITICO: AIPAC raises $100 million to target Israel critics in Democratic primaries

POLITICO: AIPAC raises $100 million to target Israel critics in Democratic primaries

London - The Politico magazine website published a report prepared by Elena Schneider and Melanie Mason, in which they said that the American-Israeli Relations Committee, known as AIPAC, allocated $100 million from a “war budget” aimed at defeating progressive candidates in the Democratic Party.

The report added that the strong pro-Israel lobby, based on its successes and other groups in the 2022 midterm elections, is choosing its targets, and their number is large this time. Dave Maine, the California Democratic candidate running for the seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, found himself facing an unexpected campaign of negative ads backed by AIPAC. So he emailed Michigan Representative Andy Levin asking for advice. He defeated Levine in 2022, and lost the race after AIPAC spent $4 million campaigning against him. Levin was one of those who lost their seats after being targeted by AIPAC in the last election cycle, when the influential lobby sought to oust progressive candidates, and because of their positions on Israel .

AIPAC is targeting candidates in what is known as the “Squad” in the House of Representatives, which represents the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and whose representatives have called on the administration to move to a ceasefire.

 Levin's advice to Maine, who did not demand a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, but criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was the need to communicate with progressive Jewish groups, which is what he should have done in the previous session to maintain his seat. But Levin acknowledged that outside expenses "swamp" everyone in the primaries, and that Dave Maine could face the same fate.

The magazine quoted Levin as saying that “most” of the candidates will not be able to survive the barrage of spending, and “I fear that they will succeed in crushing them all.” This cycle, the campaign is larger, as AIPAC has allocated a budget of $100 million across all political entities for the 2024 campaigns, targeting candidates it deems not sufficiently supportive of Israel, according to three people familiar with the amount.

The magazine believes that the strategy has taken on a new and urgent dimension in these elections, especially since the Gaza war mobilizes donors.

AIPAC is targeting candidates in what is known as the “Squad” in the House of Representatives, which represents the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and whose representatives pushed the administration to take action and demand a ceasefire.

But AIPAC’s ambitions are greater. The “United Democratic Project,” the group affiliated with AIPAC, aims to monitor between 15-20 candidates in electoral areas, according to a person familiar with the group’s plans. A Democratic advisor to donor said: “They have a lot of money, and they seize any opportunity.” "Wave in front of them." The magazine points out that the war in Gaza, which led to the death of more than 30,000 Palestinians due to the Israeli retaliation for the Hamas attacks on October 7, led to a deep division within the Democratic Party and the primaries that it will hold throughout the country.

 There is intense competition in fundraising for election campaigns, as Rashida Tlaib, the Democratic representative from Michigan, and the only Palestinian-American in the House of Representatives, raised $3.7 million in the final days of 2023, which is the largest amount she has ever raised in a quarter. This came At a time when she was criticized in the House of Representatives for her calls for a ceasefire in Gaza. The United Democratic Project ended the year 2023 with $41 million saved in the bank, which is double the amount it spent in the 2022 election cycle.

J Street, the progressive Jewish lobby, has reconsidered its strategy, saying that it is counterproductive to waste resources on internal partisan disputes, according to J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami. Instead, the group will focus on the general election, spending $10 million on it. Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, a vocal critic of AIPAC, says J Street's decision is an admission by progressives that they cannot "compete with AIPAC on spending." “People are upset about where the money is coming from,” Pocan added. “When you take money from donors to Donald Trump, or donors to Nikki Haley, or Ron DeSantis, and use it in the Democratic primaries, that’s a disingenuous way to use money.”

 Mark Mellman, head of a pro-Israel group, the Democratic Majority for Israel, said the October 7 attacks had energized pro-Israel donors and engaged them at unprecedented levels.

The October 7 attacks have energized pro-Israel donors and engaged them at unprecedented levels, said the head of a pro-Israel group.

According to an analysis by Politico, AIPAC raised $19 million for the House and Senate campaigns, according to an analysis of campaign finance files. Its beneficiaries include high-ranking figures in the Democratic Party, the leader of Democrats in the House of Representatives, Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the head of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives Pete Aguilar of California, and a number of other strong supporters of Israel such as Democratic Representative of New York Ritchie Torres and Mike McCaul, Representative Republican from Texas.

 An advisor to a Democratic donor said, “October 7 led to the mobilization of thousands of dollars in donors, and certainly not from Miriam Adelson’s family,” referring to the widow of Republican donor Sheldon Adelson.

The war ignited the enthusiasm of pro-Israel groups that were not active, such as America, which supports Israel, and since its return to activity in January, it has supported 38 candidates, half of whom are Democrats and the other half are Republicans.

“After October 7, there was a need to redouble [their efforts] and find leaders to support them,” said Samantha Garlick, the group’s executive director.

A number of advisors to donors, or those close to AIPAC, indicated that Representative Cori Bush from Montana and Jamaal Bowman, Democrat from New York, are among AIPAC's most important targets in the primary elections, due to their strong support, and it has supported candidates against them in the primary elections.

Bush, who is considered a major critic of the Israeli government ,  faces Wesley Bell, who has a campaign bank balance of $400,000, versus Bush, who has $215,000.

 In New York, AIPAC recruited George LaMarr to confront Jamaal Bowman, and AIPAC raised $350,000 for his campaign.

 “AIPAC and major Republican donors are using the same far-right tactics to target black and brown representatives across the country,” Bush said in a statement.

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