Fri. Jul 12th, 2024

The 2021 election of Rep. Shontel Brown (D-Ohio), center, has become a model for pro-Israel groups hoping to beat back growing pro-Palestinian sympathy among Democrats. (Photo: Tom Williams/Getty Images)
The country’s most influential pro-Israel group has dramatically escalated its direct involvement in elections, reshaping Democratic primaries with its endorsements, campaign contributions and lavish super PAC.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) founded a super PAC, United Democracy Project, that has already spent nearly $3.5 million to influence just five congressional primaries, according to a HuffPost analysis of federal election disclosures. The size of the spending is a source of anger and anxiety for more left-leaning groups.

“They clearly are trying to intimidate people with large sums of money from small groups of people,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a more liberal pro-Israel group.

James Zogby, a pro-Palestinian activist and president of the Arab American Institute, said the new burst of spending confirmed the oft-denied influence of pro-Israel money in U.S. politics.

“It certainly makes [Minnesota Rep.] Ilhan Omar’s, ‘It’s all about the Benjamins’ comment seem less problematic than it appeared to some at the time,” said Zogby, referring to Omar’s 2019 tweet of rap lyrics implying that campaign money drove pro-Israel sentiment on Capitol Hill. (Omar apologized for the comments amid accusations of anti-Semitism.)


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