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Pro-Israel org says Warren campaign assured them that anti-occupation staffer wouldn’t be working on Middle East policy

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The Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) was formed earlier this year by a group of well-connected Democrats and donors who were concerned about growing pro-Palestine attitudes within the party.

The group’s most consistent target has been IfNotNow, a progressive Jewish organization that has been asking the Democratic presidential candidates how they’d go about pressuring Israel to end the occupation. After IfNotNow activists asked Senator Elizabeth Warren about the issue this past July, DMFI put out a memo condemning the action and claiming that Warren had been the “victim of [a] hit-and-run.” The memo also contained sample, pro-Israel responses that it encouraged candidates to use if they happened to be confronted by IfNotNow members.

IfNotNow co-founder Max Berger is an aide to the Warren campaign, a fact that has generated predictable hysteria on right-wing blogs and pro-Israel websites. However, last week DMFI founder Mark Mellman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) that he received a call from Warren campaign manager Roger Lau, assuring him that Berger wouldn’t be working on any issue connected to “Israel policy or Jewish outreach.”

The move has drawn harsh criticism from IfNotNow members. “This is like Elizabeth Warren’s campaign calling Exxon executives to reassure them that a staffer who used to lead the effort to divest from fossil fuels on their campus is not advising their environmental policy,” tweeted IfNotNow co-founder Yonah Lieberman, “I want to believe that the Warren campaign is better than this.”

B’Tselem USA director, anti-occupation activist, and IfNotNow co-founder Simone Zimmerman tweeted, “Dang, well that hurts. Pro-tip Elizabeth Warren, if you want progressives to trust that you are a principled leader who can stand up to the corrupt establishment, I’d say caving to pressure from pro-Israel hacks & throwing grassroots activists under the bus is not the best place to start.”

In that same JTA article, Mellman attacks Bernie Sanders’ campaign for alleged anti-Israel sentiment:

It’s deeply disturbing to find a candidate who claims to be ‘100 percent pro-Israel,’ opposed to BDS and a fighter against anti-Semitism surrounding himself with a number of surrogates and endorsers who hate Israel, support BDS and have repeatedly made anti-Semitic statements We privately communicated our concern about some of his choices directly to Senator Sanders, beginning with his naming of noted anti-Semite Linda Sarsour as an official surrogate. Unfortunately, the only responses we have received from the Senator are more hostile choices on his part.

Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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6 Responses

  1. Misterioso on October 21, 2019, 11:00 am

    Despite the efforts of the so-called “Democratic Majority for Israel” to suppress it, Americans will continue to learn the ugly, thoroughly documented past and present TRUTH about Zionism and its spawn, “Israel.”

  2. genesto on October 22, 2019, 12:53 pm

    If Warren wants to re-establish cred with the progressive base on this, she should immediately fire Roger Lau!

    Playing footsie with the base on Israel/Palestine is suicidal for candidates like Warren and Bernie (though not accusing him of this, he has wavered a bit too much for comfort), who depend upon the trust and energy of that same base for having any chance of winning next year. Playing ‘safe’ on Israel/Palestine makes you no better than all the other political opportunists plugging up the candidate field at present.

  3. edwardm on October 24, 2019, 4:53 pm

    This same candidate wants American to pay reparation for slavery. No such talk for Palestinians who are at least still alive and in many cases can actually SEE where they used to live. Ready to stick it to Americans and lick up the floor for Israel, like every other candidate.

  4. henspert on October 25, 2019, 11:15 pm

    I used to be a party liner democrat. Elizabeth, Hillary and more make sick. Soon liberals will be totally Status Quo. Most of the 1960s ideals are effected. The anti establishment gen of the 60s are out of touch and I tell people, liberals think they are right but they are Left. Self examination is overdue re liberals. Republicans need to wake up too and read more. And no not the new york times, it resembles nothing from Yorkshire .

  5. Citizen on October 26, 2019, 1:18 am

    Making foreign policy a 2020 priority: J Street has targeted 2020 hopefuls, urging candidates to reconsider their relationships with AIPAC and lobbying them to express support for re-entering the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Ben-Ami says he expects to hear the candidates lay out specific plans to re-enter the 2015 deal, reverse President Donald Trump’s policies on Israel — “perhaps on day one” — and start “a very serious examination” of U.S. aid to Israel to make sure the government doesn’t “get a blank check” to use the assistance on certain activities.

  6. Citizen on October 26, 2019, 1:19 am

    The conference will feature five 2020 presidential candidates — Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro — and the top Democratic congressional leaders: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Former Obama administration officials Ben Rhodes and Tommy Vietor will moderate the one-on-one conversations with the 2020 candidates.

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