AIPAC and DMFI are leading scorched-earth campaigns in Democratic primaries. Progressive Jews warn the tactics are all too familiar.

By Austin Ahlman, The Intercept

In the closing days of the 2020 general election, a PAC associated with Democratic Majority for Israel spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in ads warning Americans about the dangers of electing a wealthy, out-of-touch New Yorker. Those ads were not geared toward undecided voters in swing states who were considering a vote for Donald Trump. Instead, DMFI was trying to reach Democrats in a dark-blue district in California who were preparing to vote in a low-profile race between two Democratic congressional candidates.

Protesters at the Walter E Washington Convention Center expressing support for Rep Ilhan Omar (D-MN) at the annual AIPAC convention

Their target was Jewish progressive Sara Jacobs. A local anti-poverty activist and heir of the Qualcomm fortune, Jacobs was locked in a contentious fight for California’s 53rd Congressional District against fellow progressive and San Diego City Council president Georgette Gómez, a queer Latina and daughter of working-class immigrants. Both supported most cornerstone progressive issues such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

The key difference between the two candidates — the difference that brought almost half a million dollars in spending from DMFI — lay in their stances on Israel. In a December 2019 interview with San Diego Jewish World, Jacobs spoke passionately about using U.S. policy and its assistance to Israel to promote peace with Palestinians. She also criticized a number of efforts — such as legislation condemning the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem — that hard-line pro-Israel organizations supported.

“The window for two states may be closing faster than we would like for logistical reasons,” she said. “I think all U.S. assistance needs to be viewed through the lens of ‘does it move things closer to peace?’”

Read More