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AIPAC escalates recruitment drive with ‘dark money’ to challenge Israel critics

August 10, 2023 at 2:46 pm

The AIPAC logo is displayed during the policy conference in Washington, US, on 25 March 2019 [Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images]

In a bid to counter progressive candidates critical of Israel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has intensified its recruitment efforts for the 2024 US elections. The pro-Israel group is actively seeking House candidates to challenge prominent members of the “Squad”, such as Jamaal Bowman and Ilhan Omar.

AIPAC’s strategy includes courting potential candidates to challenge Omar, who has been criticised for boycotting an address by Israeli President Isaac Herzog and voting against a resolution rejecting claims that Israel is a racist state. AIPAC’s focus on incumbents who have been openly critical of Israel is seen as a more aggressive approach in its targeting of pro-Palestine candidates.

According to Jewish Insider, AIPAC is eyeing candidates like LaTrisha Vetaw, a Minneapolis councilmember, as well as Tim Peterson, a former National Guard recruiter, to challenge Omar. In New York, AIPAC is reaching out to George Latimer to potentially challenge Bowman.

Progressives are anticipating a proxy war, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warning supporters of AIPAC’s recruitment efforts and potential dark money influence in upcoming primaries.

While AIPAC’s involvement could significantly impact the races, some critics express frustration with the approach to primaries, particularly its stance on US policy toward Israel as a litmus test for candidate support.

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US lawmakers have warned that AIPAC “dark money” could be the death knell to democratic elections. AIPAC is not registered as a foreign agent even though it’s a single-issue group whose primary goal is to advance the interests of the state of Israel.

Critics have warned that the pro-Israel lobby group’s single focus on Israel often clashes with American interest. Nevertheless, it has been granted licence to shape and influence US politics in a manner which critics now say has become an “existential threat” to the Democratic party.