Last week, Elissa Slotkin, a first-year congresswoman from Michigan and former assistant secretary of Defense under Obama, addressed a Jewish Democratic fundraising party in Detroit, and said just what we have long insisted on saying at this website: that Jews are important players in national politics not because of our vote totals (which at most can swing Florida) but because of our campaign contributions. Ron Kampeas reports for the JTA.
In remarks recorded last weekend at a Detroit area fund-raiser for Jewish Democrats, Slotkin appeared to skewer Republicans for talking about anti-Semitism only to court Jewish support…
Said Slotkin: “We have, what I believe is a full-on attempt by the Republican Party to grab a different community and bring them into the fold, and I will just be very honest, right, they are not looking for our votes, because we are a relatively small community, they are looking for our donors, right? They are looking for our donors, and they are trying to sway us…”…
“Congresswoman Slotkin should refrain from denigrating her fellow Jews by saying that they are only wanted for their money,” the Republican Jewish Coalition said.
There is ample documentation that Jews are essential to Democratic fundraising. In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s top five donors were Jews (and Donald Trump’s top two were Jews), per the Times of Israel. Four of the Clinton five were pro-Israel. The role of Jewish donors is “gigantic” on the Dem side, says JJ Goldberg of the Forward; of the top 14 donors on an influential list, 13 were Jewish. While Stephanie Schriock of Emily’s List relates that when she was a finance director for congressional campaigns in the ’90s, she first had to go to AIPAC for a policy paper on Israel so the candidate could raise money from the Jewish community. She did so before the campaigns even had a campaign manager! This pattern goes back to the ’70s, when Jimmy Carter’s aides warned him against opposing illegal settlements because of the need to raise campaign contributions.
Let us reflect that Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota said pretty much just what Slotkin said and has never heard the end of it. Last February, Glenn Greenwald noted that House Republicans were seeking punishment of Ilhan Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib for their criticisms of Israel, and Omar famously tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” Called out to explain the comment, Omar said she was referring to AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group.
She was making Slotkin’s point: that Republicans are trying to take away pro-Israel money. Though Slotkin went further and spoke of Jewish donors. Of course Omar has been vilified endlessly for her comment, and even apologized. But Slotkin can get away with it, because she is Jewish, pro-Israel, and does not support Boycott against Israel, as Omar and Tlaib do.
Speaking of Jewish money in Michigan, Kampeas has more to say:
I reported that Jewish people for Jewish reasons were raising money to oust two people: Rashida Tlaib and Donald Trump. There was a fraught reaction because of one of the targets: Tlaib.
Kampeas’s article is deeply disturbing. It shows that the Democratic establishment, including many Jewish donors “for Jewish reasons”, is going to do everything it can to get rid of Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib in Detroit because she supports boycotts against Israel for human rights violations. Kampeas’s “Jewish reasons” are Zionist reasons.
We keep saying that the young Jews of IfNotNow are representative of the next generation of American Jews. They have got to show up in this cultural battle between the Democratic establishment and progressive women of color.
Because that’s how the battle is shaking out. Of the meager 17 to vote against the anti-boycott resolution in the House last week, a solid majority were Reps of color from minority-majority districts. There were a few white progressives, including the brave Betty McCollum of St. Paul who has sponsored legislation to remove funds from Israel over its detention of Palestinian children.
But it appears that almost all the 27 Jewish Reps in the House voted for the anti-boycott bill. So again, this is a major political divide, between progressive people of color and establishment Jews. IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace have their work cut out for them to change attitudes inside the Jewish world.
Finally, note that Kampeas is making Elissa Slotkin the poster person for his “Anti-Squad” –nine new Democrats from swing districts who are pro-Israel and are “veterans of the national security apparatus.” Kampeas says their “security backgrounds and moderation form an alternative to the progressives who have become symbols of divides within the Democratic Party…”
Security. Hidden meaning: Omar, Tlaib and AOC don’t care about the security of the country. This is going to get really ugly…