Letter to the Editor:
Dear Jewish Journal,
The cover story in the Jewish Journal about AIPAC neglected to mention a very important detail – that 109 Members of Congress were endorsed by AIPAC PAC who refused to certify in the House of Representatives the duly-elected President of the United States on January 6, 2021. AIPAC defended its action by arguing that it is a single-issue organization focused on Israel.
We know that strongly identified Americans and Jews have supported AIPAC over many years because of that organization’s advocacy for Israel and its security. Though we have disagreed with AIPAC politically on many counts, we have always respected AIPAC supporters for their love and support of a democratic Israel as the national Homeland of the Jewish people.
However, we believe that AIPAC has stepped far over the line of acceptability as an Israel-advocacy organization that allegedly supports both Israeli and American democracy with these endorsements. With American democracy facing unprecedented peril from sitting members of Congress, politicians, media organizations, and citizen groups that refuse to respect or uphold free and fair elections, it is critical that we only support and raise funds for candidates who will defend democracy and American democratic institutions. Claims of “bipartisanship” cannot excuse support for candidates who only respect fair election results when their party wins.
AIPAC’s endorsement of such a large number of candidates who are sympathetic to the aims of the violent insurrection and subversion of American democracy runs completely counter to the views and values held by the vast majority of American Jews and pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.
Former AIPAC executive director Tom Dine publicly said that if AIPAC contributes “to antidemocratic people who believe the last election was a fraud and they support the January 6 insurrection – no sir, I would not give them a dime.” And former head of the ADL Abe Foxman tweeted, “Sad mistake! Israel’s security depends on America being a strong democracy.”
Further, a large number of these congressional representatives have disturbing histories of comments and actions that are bigoted against LGBTQ people and other minorities. These candidates endorsed by AIPAC pose a serious threat to the principles of justice, equality, and democracy that help keep our country, the Jewish community, and all minorities safe.
Rabbi Laura Geller and Rabbi John L. Rosove
Rabbi Laura Geller is Rabbi Emerita of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills – Rabbi John L. Rosove is Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel of Hollywood
David Suissa responds:
I thank my friends Rabbi Laura Geller and Rabbi John Rosove for reaching out and sharing their point of view.
I too am repulsed by any congressional representative—Republican or Democrat—who would dare refuse to certify an electoral vote.
But here’s where I politely part with the Rabbis:
As much as I share their revulsion at the representatives who opposed electoral certification on Jan.6, who am I to decide that this should be the red line for everybody?
I have friends who believe that antisemitism should be the red line for all Jews. If a representative exhibits remorseless antisemitism, they don’t deserve a penny of Jewish support.
I have other friends whose red lines have to do with LGBTQ rights or climate change or funding for Iron Dome. Who am I to impose my Jan. 6 red line on them?
The point is: Who gets to choose the one and only red line that everyone must endorse?
Don’t people and organizations have the right to choose their own red lines without fear of being publicly shamed and bullied? Just like any organization, doesn’t AIPAC have the right to choose the candidates it believes will best fit its mission?
When you publicly accuse an organization of stepping “far over the line of acceptability,” that’s not mere criticism in the service of vigorous debate. That’s borderline bullying.
To attack and single out AIPAC because they won’t follow the Jan. 6 red line would not just turn me into a bully—it would violate my belief in freedom of choice.