Correction: The original post below indicated that Steve Emerson had worked at AIPAC. This was a mistake and is not true. Emerson’s lawyer Richard Horowitz contacted us to say “Mr Emerson was never employed nor interned at AIPAC in any fashion or capacity.” He then asked for a retraction and apology “without delay.” Consider this correction a retraction, and to Mr. Emerson, we sincerely apologize for ever implying that you worked for AIPAC, we can imagine distress and embarrassment this has caused.
MJ Rosenberg says that AIPAC and other Israel lobbyists supported Congressman Steve Rothman against Congressman Bill Pascrell in the newly combined 9th District of New Jersey– in some measure because he signed a letter to ease the blockade of Gaza– and lost overwhelmingly in the Democratic primary last night. Full post here. Excerpt:
Here is AIPAC telling the voters in New Jersey who to support. It is from the New Jersey Jewish Standard and it went out, in one form or another, to every Jewish voter in the district.
Josh Block, a former [and current] longtime spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said that Rothman’s “record of pro-Israel leadership is second to none, and in this particular race the differences couldn’t be clearer.”
Block accused Pascrell of having “actually sided against American support for Israel’s right to defend herself against weapons smuggling and attacks by terrorists.” He pointed to Pascrell’s signing of a January 2010 letter to Obama criticizing the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza. The letter, signed by 54 House members, called on the president to press for the easing of the blockade to improve conditions for Palestinian civilians.
Then Steve Emerson, the rightist Islamophobe who formerly worked at AIPAC, put out a long vicious hit piece on Pascrell depicting the Roman Catholic Pascrell as an “Islamist Fellow Traveler.” Follow the link if you want to read it. It is too vile for me to spread by quoting it.
Rothman embraced the lobby onslaught, doing everything he could to make the primary a referendum on Israel, Islam, Muslims, etc. But then James Zogby of the Arab American Institute, a Christian Lebanese-American and a strong supporter (like Pascrell) of Israeli-Palestinian peace came in to work with the district’s Arab-American population and help the local people organize for Pascrell. The issue wasn’t Israel; it was Rothman’s Arab and Muslim-baiting which offended Arab-Americans as much as Jews would be offended by an openly anti-Semitic candidate.
Few expected Pascell to withstand the onslaught with AIPAC directing PACs and individual donors to save their hero, Rothman.
But then yesterday it all blew up in AIPAC’s face. Pascrell won (in essentially Rothman’s old district) with 60% of the vote. Rothman announced his premature retirement from politics while the AIPAC crowd nursed its wounds.
To be clear, Bill Pascrell did not win because of the Israel issue. He himself is pro-Israel, just not anti-Arab. He won because of his Get Out The Vote campaign, hustling from door to door and ads like this. And because he is an effective and strong progressive from a district that appreciates that.
Nonetheless, this race was the first time that the lobby went head to head with an organized Arab-American community and its friends (notably in the non-AIPAC, non-Orthodox, Jewish community) and got that head handed to it.