Remember the 147 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election? A misguided group, including the likes of Madison Cawthorn, Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, and Jim Jordan. Tellingly, they cast their votes after 62 Trump lawsuits alleging fraud had notched exactly zero victories, and after the bloody attack on our Capital on January 6.
Gearing up for the midterms, AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) formed a powerful PAC, stocked it with millions of dollars, and endorsed 109 of these subverters of American democracy. Why in the world would they do such a thing, especially at a time when our democracy is so fragile? It’s because AIPAC is a single-issue lobbying organization. Their mission, according to their website, is to secure an unbeatable bipartisan pro-Israel voting bloc in Congress. They are so laser-focused on this goal that they are okay with empowering these 109 candidate who are all proponents of “the Big Lie” and can’t wait to further subvert our democratic institutions.
Not only are these 109 Republican candidates subverters of American democracy, they are also right-wing politicians who vehemently oppose progressive policies on voting rights, women’s right to choose, criminal justice reform, labor rights, and environmental and economic justice. This doesn’t matter to AIPAC. AIPAC is the U.S. lobbying arm of the Israeli government. As long as these candidates can be counted on to be a yes vote for all things Israel, they get AIPAC’s endorsement and considerable financial support. No matter how much damage it causes our country.
If this sounds like a bad idea to you, you would not be alone. Strongly pro-Israel Jewish leaders, such as former Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman, have sharply criticized AIPAC’s reckless national strategy, using words like “sad mistake” and “morally bankrupt.” J Street, a moderate pro-Israel, anti-occupation, pro-Palestinian rights organization rightly perceived the historical moment America is facing. They advocated that all pro-Israel groups take a “Democracy Pledge,” not to endorse any candidate who promotes “the Big Lie.” AIPAC declined to participate.
AIPAC is not only freely spreading its endorsements and its millions among Republican pro-Trump candidates who want to drive our country toward autocracy and permanent minority rule. It’s also spending big among Democratic candidates, six in North Carolina – Alma Adams, Don Davis, Jeff Jackson, Deborah Ross, Kathy Manning, and Valerie Foushee. So far, not one of them has renounced AIPAC’s endorsement and returned its money. Apparently, being linked with insurrectionists and right-wing extremists is no big deal.
So, if you are wondering what’s up with the Progressive Caucus of the NC Democratic Party (PCNCDP) rescinding its endorsement of State Sen. Valerie Foushee, this is the background. PCNCDP was understandably rattled when Sen. Foushee accepted AIPAC’s tainted endorsement and substantial funding. It was incongruous that a candidate with a proven track record of delivering on a wide range of progressive policies would allow herself to be aligned with a national strategy that is profoundly anti-democratic and empowers right-wing extremism, including white nationalism and Q-Anon conspiracies.
Rabbi Greyber and Pastor Godbee, in their May 4 editorial, fume about Sen. Foushee being attacked for being pro-Israel, about being “bullied into silence,” and why we should reject “litmus tests.” They blame PCNCDP for being “divisive.” The fact of the matter is that AIPAC and Sen. Foushee failed to meet the historical moment American democracy is now facing. All candidates in this election cycle should absolutely take the litmus test our times demand – an unequivocal pledge to preserve American democracy. All political organizations should face the same appropriate scrutiny – will they refuse to use their resources to further “the Big Lie”? Far from being “divisive,” the Progressive Caucus of the NC Democratic Party rose to this historical moment, and we owe them our thanks.
Rev. J. Mark Davidson, Exec. Director, Voices for Justice in Palestine
Rev. Dr. Paul McAllister, Chair, NC Council of Churches Racial Equity Task Force
Rev. Dr. Ron Shive, Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Burlington
Contact information: Rev. J. Mark Davidson, 118 Culbreth Circle, Chapel Hill,
(919) 265-4203, firstname.lastname@example.org