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Democratic "Majority" for Israel? by Michael Arria

DFI vs. Nina Turner

In this newsletter I have repeatedly wondered why Democratic Majority for Israel (a lobbying group that's very name declares a majority of Democrats support the country) refuses to mention foreign policy in their attack ads. If love for Israeli military aid and hatred of the BDS movement are such popular positions among Democratic voters then surely you'd want to mention that stuff, right?

DMFI is currently doing everything in their power to stop Nina Turner from becoming the Representative for Ohio's 11th district. They endorsed her opponent Shontel Brown back in February and since then they've spent over $600,000 on the race. They ran two television spots that don't mention Israel at all and now they're sending out mailers that don't mention the country. Instead they hilariously claim that Turner opposes raising the minimum wage because she voted against the Democratic Party platform.

Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan had a tweet wondering why DMFI doesn't mention Israel in this kind of stuff. I wrote a small post about his inquiry and mentioned that maybe they were hesitant because they know support for Israel is declining, especially among Democratic voters. The group is comprised of many pollsters after all. Pocan shared the post which led to something resembling a meltdown from whoever runs the DMFI Twitter account. I hope it's not some poor intern.

Among other things DMFI smeared Mondoweiss an "antisemitic rag." Rude! Especially coming from a group whose board member called for Gaza to burn, but I digress. Here's The American Prospect's Alex Sammon on DMFI's relationship to the Shontel Brown campaign:

The banner on the "media" section of Shontel Brown's campaign site is a quote from Mark Mellman, head of the Republican funded super PAC that has now spent more $600k on Brown's behalf. The level of coordination between DFMI and Brown in OH-11 is like nothing I've seen.

It's illegal to coordinate with a super PAC, and most campaigns would obscure those relationships. The nicest thing you could say about quoting the totally unknown president of the super PAC on the top of the website is that it's money groveling to an insane level.

Mark Mellman is an interesting person. Some might know him as DMFI's founder, others might know him as Yair Lapid's strategic adviser for the past decade. A recent piece at the Times of Israel profiles the relationship between Mellman and the current Alternate Prime Minister of Israel.

"You have to keep in mind that the vast majority of Democratic elected officials are pro-Israel, we have a pro-Israel president, we have a pro-Israel vice president, a pro-Israel speaker of the House, we have a pro-Israel majority leader in the United States Senate, and they have proven that over decades," Mellman told the paper. "There are some very loud voices that are clearly not pro-Israel. Those loud voices get much more attention than their numbers suggest they should, for a whole variety of reasons. But the fact that they get a lot of attention doesn’t mean that they’re reflecting the views of the majority of Democrats."

Just the ones in Ohio's 11th district I guess.

Screenshot of paltry crowd at "No Fear: A Rally in Solidarity With the Jewish People," posted by the American Jewish Committee, among other Jewish groups, on Facebook.

The Anti-Zionism = Antisemitism Rally

An event titled “No Fear: A Rally In Solidarity with the Jewish People" was held in DC last weekend. Pro-Israel websites reported that thousands of people showed up, but the Washington Post said it was hundreds. You're free to look at the photo above and make your own conclusions.

The rally was purportedly about standing up to antisemitism, but you only have to watch any five minutes of the festivities to learn that the focus was Israel. The event was sponsored by a number of organizations that aim to stifle Palestine advocacy and criminalize the BDS movement. In fact, many groups refused to participate once they learned what the day's tone would be. “This rally looks like it will conflate criticism of the occupation and criticism of Israeli actions with anti-Zionism, and will say anti-Zionism is antisemitic, and we want no part of that,” American for Peace Now president Hadar Susskind told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Multiple speakers equated Zionism with antisemitism. Here's some of the Republican Jewish Coalition's Norm Coleman's:

We see in the attempts to push Jewish out of academia and communities just because they are Jews. We see it in the chants of Jews Will Not Replace Us that we heard in Charlottesville. We see it in campaigns such as BDS that demonize the Jewish state of Israel, delegitimize Jewish identity and seek to destroy Jewish peoplehood. Anti Zionism is a cloak for antisemitism.”

And here's Israeli actress Noa Tishby blaming the Palestine movement for antisemitic acts and taking shots at Bella Hadid:

When ignorant crowds and some supermodels on Instagram hatefully and irresponsibly spread these lies about Zionism, when they chant, ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’, when they engage in the modern day libel of blaming Israel as a genocidal state, they shouldn’t be surprised when that demonization results in Jews being attacked on the streets of this beloved country.

For some reason Meghan McCain also gave a speech. "I feel like I should come up here and say 'I'm Meghan McCain and I'm a Zionist' because apparently this is now something that's controversial to say," she told the crowd. She also blamed this controversy on Instagram.

I tweeted a video clip of McCain making this statement and it was shared by the Jewish anti-occupation group IfNotNow. "Someone explain to us how Meghan McCain saying she's zionist does anything for Jewish safety?," they asked. "Also, does she know that criticism of Israel exists outside of Instagram or...?"

McCain shot back on Twitter: "Israel is the refuge of the Jewish people. Zionism supports that. You don’t need to be a member of a minority being persecuted against to be an ally ~ and to understand the difference between right and wrong."

A day after McCain's retort the Jewish Electorate Institute released a new poll on Jewish attitudes towards U.S. politics and Israel. The group surveyed 800 Jewish voters and found that 25% of them believe Israel is an apartheid state, 34% think Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is similar to racism in the United States, and 22% think Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians. These numbers go way up when the responses of younger Jewish voters are isolated. 38% of Jews under 40 think Israel’s an apartheid state, 43% think Israel’s racism is comparable to the United States’, and 33% think the country is carrying out a genocide against Palestinian people.

These numbers would suggest that maybe soon enough there won't hundreds of people at things like the No Fear rally, there will be dozens. It might still get reported as thousands though.

Odds & Ends

💻 Facebook has blocked the Palestinian Shehab News Agency from its platform for allegedly violating community standards.

🇭🇹 Several of the men involved in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise previously worked as police informants in the United States.

🇨🇺 Amid protests in Cuba President Biden has called on the government to "hear their people and serve their needs." Biden could lift the criminal embargo on the country by simply signing his name a few times but he obviously won't.

🇵🇸 Nathan Brown has a good piece on the fake controversy surrounding Palestinian text books: "The idea that Palestinian anger or action against Israel was incited directly by schoolbooks should scarcely have been credible any longer."

🤭 Former government official Michèle Flournoy called for regime change in Iran at a conference sponsored by the Mojahedin-e Khalq last weekend, a group that the United States government used to view as a terrorist organization. Flournoy co-founded WestExec Advisors with Secretary of State Blinken.

“When there is an internal regime change — when a government comes to power that renounces its revolutionary aims and terrorism — the United States will be the first in line to engage it,” she told the audience. “In the meantime, we must continue to applaud and support the important work of diaspora groups like yours that keep alive the vision of a secular, free, and democratic Iran.”

"When she agreed to the engagement, Ms. Flournoy was unaware of the affiliation. She would not have participated had she known of it, and she refused payment for the engagement once she learned of it," her people told the Daily Beast. "She has no affiliation with the MEK and will never appear at their conference again."

Eli Clifton and Matthew Petti wrote about Flournoy and the group in Responsible Statecraft:

The MEK was listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department until 2012. It has been accused of torturing and abusing its own members in exile.

However, the MEK has rehabilitated its image through its Paris-based political branch, the National Council of Resistance of Iran. Numerous Democratic and Republican politicians have appeared at NCRI conferences, sometimes in exchange for speaking fees as high as $50,000.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D–N.J.) and former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile also spoke at Saturday’s conference. So did former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said that the MEK should be “blessed and protected.”

In a Twitter statement on Saturday, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh accused these politicians of selling “themselves cheap for a Europe-hosted circus arranged by a once Saddam-backed terrorist cult with Iranian blood on its hands.”

🇾🇪 Saudi Arabia's blockade on Yemen is another brutal policy that Biden could end if he wanted to. Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid Bin Salman recently met with the US National Security Council's Brett McGurk and US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking. They made no demands to end the blockade, which led to an interesting tweet from California Rep. Ro Khanna:

Meeting with Salman w/out demanding end of blockade is not treating the Saudis as “pariahs” as Biden pledged. Yemen disaster continues. Lenderking is failing. Admin must change course fast or Congress will act. ⁦

🇵🇸 The University of Houston's student government passed a resolution in solidarity with Palestine.

Stay safe out there,