This story originally appeared in Mondoweiss on July 12, 2022. It is shared here with permission.
One of the positives of this campaign season is that Democratic candidates are beginning to reflect the polls that show that Democratic voters want to condition aid to Israel over its human rights abuses. And the right-wing Israel lobby group AIPAC is starting to be a dirty word for some mainstream Democrats.
So Rep. Sean Casten, who is running for reelection in a suburban Chicago district, has returned $50,000 to a PAC closely associated with AIPAC. While Rep. Andy Levin of Michigan is running against AIPAC in his race against Democratic congressperson Haley Stevens in a newly-combined district.
Both Casten and Levin are aligned with the liberal Zionist group J Street and the so-called two-state solution. While AIPAC is now defined by its support for Republican election deniers.
But there is also more room now on the left, according to a memorandum for donors shared with us by the campaign of Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian-American running for Congress in a Detroit metro district.
The district is a moderate one historically associated with Reagan Democrats, but Arraf wants to cut off aid to Israel over its human rights violations, and her internal polls show that her background as a defender of Palestinian human rights is a plus for voters.
Arraf’s polling shows that Democratic voters are split on aid to Israel: 46% want to keep it at the same level, 44% want to reduce or end it. But when pollsters inject a strong message — Israel has committed war crimes, as determined by Amnesty International and the UN — 66% of respondents say cutting all aid to Israel is a “strong reason” to vote for Arraf. And 80% of Black voters say that’s a strong reason.
As we’ve said here again and again, the young want the Democratic Party to lean toward Palestinians. Arraf’s memorandum:
“[S]ix in ten (60%) voters under 45 want aid to Israel reduced or ended, compared to 33% who want it the same or increased, suggesting that, in time, support for Israeli military funding will fall further.”
This is internal polling aimed at recruiting donors for Arraf. She is behind establishment candidate Carl Malinga and close to progressive Henry Yanez in polls; but this memo says she has a path to victory August 2, the pollster Peter Feld asserts.
The memo suggests that running against Israel is not a liability, as it used to be considered. “[A]ll indications show Palestine is a political positive…Attitudes toward military aid to Israel undermine claims by AIPAC that strong support for Israel is ‘good politics.’”
This study lines up with wider nationwide trends. A new Pew report finds that most young people have an unfavorable view of Israel and less than half of Democrats have a positive view of the country.
This is the shift we’ve been talking about on this site for years.
Indeed, a candidate for a New York House seat, Yuh-Line Niou, has endorsed BDS. And the survey suggests that even pro-Israel stalwarts in New York, Hakeem Jeffries and Ritchie Torres, should be looking over their shoulders because they have a large number of minorities in their districts, and black voters are very open to the Palestinian message.
AIPAC knows this, which is why it keeps the word Israel out of its messaging in the districts where it’s sought to knock out Israel-critical candidates. The August 2 primary in Michigan will be another test of the lobby’s powers.
h/t Michael Arria.