My wife and I support Israel through several organizations and realize that AIPAC is an important and powerful lobbying force in support of Israel’s defense. However, while we continue to receive mailings from AIPAC we cannot bring ourselves to join that organization. We feel that AIPAC endorses and supports politicians and candidates through their new PAC and Super Pac who, while they may support Israel, are not working toward improving the lives of Americans.
An article by Ken Toltz which appeared in the Forward and the Northern California Jewish News stated,
“In the midst of the highly charged post-Jan. 6 atmosphere, AIPAC’s endorsements of over 100 Republican election deniers have publicly associated AIPAC with the insurrection and criminal conspiracy to keep Trump in office just last year. Who can honestly argue that this strengthens the U.S.-Israel relationship?”
We are proud and thankful to be Jewish Americans. America is our home country and we will always strive to make it a better place for all of our people, Jews and non-Jews. Why then support politicians who are engaging in acts that divide and create rifts among our citizens? AIPAC’s appeals cite the constant terrorism and animosity that Israel is subject to. We agree that we must support Israel with the resources to stop these attacks, not only with weapons but with diplomatic means and funding to support Israeli human services, universities and medical facilities.
However, at the same time, our nation’s children, Black church-goers, worshipping Jews, Asians and others are being gunned down in our country and some of our politicians are actively working against measures that would lessen these terrible events. Is a politician’s support for Israel while working against measures to protect American lives a reasonable political approach? We are at a frightening crossroads in our life. It has become clear that there is a neo-fascist movement going on in our country. Whether it is called Trumpism, white supremacy or Christian Nationalism, one can imagine this movement having similar parallels to what went on prior to World War II. AIPAC supporting politicians who participate in this movement or who, at least, accept it, is unimaginable.
Yes, Israel is the Jewish homeland. It is, or should be, a haven for Jews who are being persecuted throughout the world. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and a strong American ally. It has done an incredible job in developing its human, financial and technological resources and deserves our support. However, we believe that Israeli political issues need to be resolved by Israelis. We can provide input but, just as Israelis can have their own views and disagreements about their government’s policies so can American Jews and our political representatives. Disagreements over Israeli political issues by American politicians who support Israel should not disqualify them from receiving support from AIPAC. AIPAC has been forthright in stating that support for Israel is the only criteria for supporting those running for office. The organization needs to review their policies and support American politicians who support, not only Israel, but America as well.
Michael Seiden is a retired executive, past board member of Jewish Free Loan and past board chair of Jewish Family & Children’s Service in Phoenix.